Updated December 22, 2013
A lawsuit (pdf) was filed against the Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority and its former director December 18, 2013, by a former employee of the airport. Former Grand Junction Mayor Bill Pitts, who has knowledge of the case, appeared at a small gathering of local citizens at a bagel shop on Main Street Friday morning, December 20, to talk about the case.
Asked about the fraud at the heart of the case, Pitts explained part of it involves the long, black, electrified security fence constructed on three sides of the airport in 2011. The fence hurt airport-related businesses economically, forcing them to close or relocate. Pitts pointed out that a fault in the fence project is that it exists on only three sides of the airport, leaving an entire two-mile stretch along the north edge of the airport unprotected. When former airport manager Rex Tippets filled out a form required for the fencing project, Pitts said, there were numerous boxes that needed to be checked. One of them asked “Will any of the public be affected by the fence?,” and Tippets answered “No.” Despite how the public was affected by it, Pitts said no public hearing about the fence was ever held. Read more »
A French appeals court has let stand a 2009 conviction against the Church of Scientology for organized fraud. The case started in 1998 after two women complained that the Scientology Church had scammed them. One woman said she was manipulated into paying 20,000 euros for Scientology products, including “exclusive scriptures” an “electrometer,” or “e-meter,” the Church said she needed to measure her mental energy. Another woman said her employer, who was a scientologist, ordered her to undergo testing and enroll in Scientology courses as a requirement to keep her job. She refused and was subsequently fired. The 2009 conviction required the French branch of the Church of Scientology to pay a fine of 600,000 Euros (about $812,000) for fraudulently extorting money from followers. The Church calls the ruling “a show of anti-religious extremism” and “an affront to justice and religious liberty” and plans to appeal the ruling to the European Court of Human Rights. The Church of Scientology was founded in the U.S. in 1953 by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer. Its followers believe that humans are inhabited by immortal spirits that have lived thousands of previous lives in other worlds. In the 1980s the Church of Scientology acquired its own cruise ship called the FreeWinds, a 400 foot vessel based in the Caribbean, which the Church says helps followers reach a level within the church titled “Operating Thetans.” Famous scientologists include Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley.
Main Source: UK Telegraph, October 17, 2013
The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce took the time to endorse school board candidates in a what is supposed to be a nonpartisan race, but hasn’t publicly advocated against the single biggest issue hurting businesses large and small in western Colorado right now: the government shutdown. The Colorado National Monument is closed, negatively impacting tourism and hospitality businesses. Major events scheduled to be held on BLM land have been canceled. The shutdown is hurting the local real estate industry, federal employees are furloughed, disabled veterans are preparing to lose their benefits, women on the WIC program are facing a loss of funding to feed their infants and news story after local news story has been covering the pain the shutdown is causing local businesses. But where is the Chamber on this issue? Have they contacted their House Representative to demand an end to the shutdown? They haven’t said. Have they issued a position statement on it? Not that anyone has heard. Their October newsletter doesn’t even mention the shutdown. No press releases, no news alerts, no advocacy to stop it. Why is the Chamber MIA on the government shutdown? Could it be another indicator that the Chamber is, in fact, a partisan political group rather than a pro-business group?
Kickstarter, a crowd-source funding platform for creative projects, helped raise $60,000 for a group of atheist shoe makers to start an atheist shoe company in Berlin, Germany. The company, AtheistBerlin.com, also known as AtheistShoes, hand-makes trendy suede lace-up shoes with soles that say, in large, etched lettering, “Ich bin atheist” (“I’m atheist”) or “Loves Darwin.” Presumably, when a person wearing the atheist shoes walks through a puddle or on a dusty road, for example, the shoes will stamp “I’m atheist” or “Loves Darwin” onto the road with every step. Some of the shoe styles have irreverent names like “Naughty Schnitzel Pilz,” and they come in colors like “Candy Testicle” (a limited edition), or “Kitten Testicle Gray.” But after Atheist Berlin started shipping their shoes, they encountered problems with delayed and lost orders for shoes sent to the U.S. To diagnose the problem, AtheistBerlin conducted a study: They shipped two packages to 89 different people in 49 U.S. states using the United States Postal Service for final delivery. One package had the company’s branded packing tape on it that said “ATHEIST,” and the other was shipped with neutral tape. All packages were shipped at the same time. The results? Packages sealed with “ATHEIST” tape took an average of three days longer to arrive, and were ten times more likely to never make it to their destination. One package with the ATHEIST tape sent to Michigan arrived fully 37 days after the neutrally-marked package. The company conducted the same test in Germany and to several other European countries and found no similar bias. The results, they conclude, demonstrate a significant bias in quality of shipping in the U.S. against atheist-branded packages. The company stopped using atheist-branded packing tape on their shipments to the U.S. and have noted improvement in delivery times. Atheist Shoes also says that since they conducted the study, some people have expressed an interest in buying atheist packing tape. The company is looking into getting enough of it manufactured that they can sell it.
Recently City Market grocery stores, a chain owned by Kroger Company, started running billboards in Grand Junction, Colorado that say “Your health matters to us.” The ads boast that City Markets have dietitians, pharmacies, “natural and organic” foods, “health centers” and “NuVal,” a scoring program that ranks the nutritional value of some foods they sell on a scale of 1 to 100. I called a local City Market store to find out how to get in touch with one of their dietitians but was told they didn’t really have any. “It’s misleading,” said Pansy Hubbard, a Grand Junction City Market service counter employee about the billboard campaign. She said there aren’t any registered dietitians at any of the Grand Junction stores. People with a computer and an Internet connection can find their way to Kroger’s website, where, if you dig a little you can find links to email addresses of dietitians, but the inference that City Markets have dietitians available at their stores is patently false, at least in our area. But the stores’ claim about dietitians isn’t even the most misleading part of the ad. The biggest thing that negates City Market’s claim that “Your health matters to us” is that all their stores knowingly sell a product that kills hundreds of thousands of Americans every year: cigarettes. City Market sells cigarettes, a known addictive and deadly product, because they make lots of money off them. Money is what matters to City Market and Kroger Company, not their customers’ health. Some stores can honestly claim to care about their customers’ health. Target stores, for example, stopped selling cigarettes chain-wide in 1996, and are still very much in business. Other stores that truly promote healthy lifestyles have quit selling cigarettes and said publicly that selling tobacco products is not conducive to their pro-health mission. They are absolutely right. Read more »
A chemical flavoring used to create that delicious, buttery flavor in microwave popcorn, when heated, can cause a life-threatening, irreversible obstructive lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterates. The chemical, called diacetyl, was first found make popcorn manufacturing workers sick in 1985, after two workers employed in a factory where the flavoring was used developed a rare lung disease. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), tested the air in the employees’ workplace, found a high concentration of diacetyl, and confirmed a link between workers’ exposure to the chemical and their reduced lung function. Since then, hundreds of workers have reported becoming sick after working around the chemical. According to NIOSH, diacetyl is used extensively in the flavoring and food manufacturing industries. Diacetyl doesn’t just affect factory workers, either. Wayne Watson of Denver, Colorado, ate two bags of microwave popcorn every day for ten years and developed the lung disease now known as “popcorn lung.” In September, 2012, he was awarded $7.2 million in a lawsuit against Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation, which made the popcorn, and the Kroger and Dillon Companies, the grocery store chains that sold it. In his suit, Watson pointed out that neither the manufacturer nor the grocery stores warned customers that diacetyl — also recently linked to Alzheimer’s disease — was dangerous. In December, 2012, Sensient, a flavoring company in Indianapolis, Indiana, agreed to pay a fine for violating Indiana OSHA workplace standards for use of diacetyl. The company also agreed to reduce its use of the chemical. In 2004, a jury awarded another couple, Eric and Cassandra Peoples of Joplin, Missouri, a total of $20 million for health injuries they incurred due to workplace exposure to the chemical. So far, food manufacturers have paid out over $100 million in damages to workers who were exposed to the chemical and got sick. Despite this, FDA still lists the chemical as safe on its website.
The U.S. government has invested billions to determine the causes behind traffic fatalities and used that information to make policies that have markedly reduce traffic deaths in the United States. Government research on traffic safety has led to the widespread use of seat belts, front and side impact air bags, child safety seats and other advances that have greatly advanced road safety and reduced vehicular deaths for Americans. The number of deaths annually from firearms in the U.S. closely approximates the number of traffic fatalities — roughly 30,000 deaths per year from each. Yet there has been little research into, or advances made in reducing gun deaths. Why? Because the National Rifle Association (NRA) has long worked behind the scenes to block laws allowing the collection and dissemination of data about the impact of gun ownership on Americans’ safety. The NRA quietly pushed a provision that was inserted into the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) restricting the data doctors can collect from their patients about their ownership and use of firearms. From 1986 and 1996, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control conducted peer-reviewed research into the impact of the presence of guns in people’s homes. While there is a widespread belief among gun owners that the presence of guns in their homes makes them safer, the CDC found the opposite — that having a gun in the home creates a 2.7 times greater risk of homicide and a 4.8 greater risk of suicide for the occupants. The NRA took action to prevent CDC from publicizing these results, and blocked continued funding of government research into the impact of firearms on citizen safety. Read more »
Cardiac patients who experience atrial fibrillation are routinely prescribed anti-clotting drugs to help prevent strokes. For many years, the most popular anti-clotting agent has been warfarin, marketed as Coumadin. Warfarin is the active ingredient in rodenticides like D-Con, which work by causing rats and mice to bleed to death internally. Coumadin works by depleting the body’s level of active Vitamin K, a clotting factor present naturally in many foods. But Coumadin has major drawbacks. Patients taking it require frequent monitoring to assure they have the correct levels of the anticoagulant in their blood, and have to be careful about what they eat, because foods high in Vitamin K can alter Coumadin’s effectiveness. Recently new anti-clotting drugs have come on the market that have been hailed as major improvements over Coumadin because diet not a factor and patients taking them require little or no monitoring for blood levels. With brand names like Pradaxa (dabigatran), Xarelto (rivaroxaban) and Eliquis (apixaban), the new drugs are being hailed by investors in Big Pharma as “blockbuster” drugs, and their manufacturers are, as usual, aggressively marketing them through television ads. But these drugs can be quite costly in several ways. Pradaxa and Xarelto cost around $3,000 a year, while warfarin costs as little as $200. But a much bigger problem for patients is that there is no known antidote to the new drugs for patients who experience bleeding emergencies. Read more »
Next time you dine out, take a close look at your check. Restaurants are starting to round the pennies on customers’ bills up or down, usually to the nearest nickel, to avoid having to deal with pennies. Chipoltle restaurants were caught doing this without notifying customers, and when customers noticed the practice and expressed irritation, the chain added a line on the bill titled “rounding” to openly account for the missing change. They also started rounding down in diners’ favor.
Apparently it’s worth it.
Restaurateurs say rounding speeds up finalizing bills and eliminates the hassle and expense of dealing with pennies, which are quickly becoming passe’. After all, pennies are now so worthless that people drop them all the time and don’t even bother to pick them up. Some businesses cope with the penny problem with “take a penny, leave a penny” jars, but many are just throwing up their hands and declaring they are done dealing with pennies altogether. Read more »