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Chocolate manufacturers basically say that they will keep using child slave labor until someone stops them

Just in time for Easter! Accidental Hedonist - The Chocolate Manufacturers' Report Card on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. So first this:
Ten years ago, the Chocolate Manufacturers signed the Cocoa Protocol, an international agreement aimed at ending child labor in the production of cocoa. The reason they did so was that it was becoming apparent that many of the cocoa beans that were being sold by the cocoa commodity brokers, and were being purchased by representatives from the likes of Mars, Hershey's, Guittard, and Archer Daniels Midland, were grown and/or processed by children, some of whom were no better than slaves on the plantations where they toiled. This Protocol was designed to develop and implement voluntary standards to certify cocoa produced without the "worst forms of child labor," (defined according to the International Labor Organization's Convention 182).
But then they swiftly dismantled all the regulatory and oversight groups. And now:
The report then goes on to say that due to working in a competitive environment, the members of the Chocolate Manufacturers Association may find it "impossible to effectively self-regulate an ultimately overcome the human rights issue of child labor at the root of their supply chain." Think about that for a moment - This report, written at the behest of the chocolate companies who signed the Protocol, states that these same chocolate companies may be so self interested in profits, that they cannot (and by inference, will not) ensure that that the cocoa they purchase was not grown or processed using the worst forms of child labor , i.e. child slavery.

SETI shut down due to budget concerns

If aliens come, we will have no idea. Observations: Budget crunch mothballs telescopes built to search for alien signals
The hunt for extraterrestrial life just lost one of its best tools. The Allen Telescope Array (ATA), a field of radio dishes in rural northern California built to seek out transmissions from distant alien civilizations, has been shuttered, at least temporarily, as its operators scramble to find a way to continue to fund it. In an April 22 letter to donors, Tom Pierson, CEO of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., explained that the ATA has been put into "hibernation," meaning that "starting this week, the equipment is unavailable for normal observations and is being maintained in a safe state by a significantly reduced staff." The ATA is a partnership between the SETI Institute, which is responsible for building the telescope array, and the University of California, Berkeley, which is responsible for operating it. Astronomer Franck Marchis, who is affiliated with both institutions, broke the news on his blog April 22. . . .

April 22, 2011

Krugman: Patients Are Not Consumers

Another great one from the most rational guy ever. Patients Are Not Consumers - NYTimes.com
Here’s my question: How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as “consumers”? The relationship between patient and doctor used to be considered something special, almost sacred. Now politicians and supposed reformers talk about the act of receiving care as if it were no different from a commercial transaction, like buying a car — and their only complaint is that it isn’t commercial enough. What has gone wrong with us? . . . Now, what House Republicans propose is that the government simply push the problem of rising health care costs on to seniors; that is, that we replace Medicare with vouchers that can be applied to private insurance, and that we count on seniors and insurance companies to work it out somehow. This, they claim, would be superior to expert review because it would open health care to the wonders of “consumer choice.” What’s wrong with this idea (aside from the grossly inadequate value of the proposed vouchers)? One answer is that it wouldn’t work. “Consumer-based” medicine has been a bust everywhere it has been tried. To take the most directly relevant example, Medicare Advantage, which was originally called Medicare + Choice, was supposed to save money; it ended up costing substantially more than traditional Medicare. America has the most “consumer-driven” health care system in the advanced world. It also has by far the highest costs yet provides a quality of care no better than far cheaper systems in other countries. But the fact that Republicans are demanding that we literally stake our health, even our lives, on an already failed approach is only part of what’s wrong here. As I said earlier, there’s something terribly wrong with the whole notion of patients as “consumers” and health care as simply a financial transaction. Medical care, after all, is an area in which crucial decisions — life and death decisions — must be made. Yet making such decisions intelligently requires a vast amount of specialized knowledge. Furthermore, those decisions often must be made under conditions in which the patient is incapacitated, under severe stress, or needs action immediately, with no time for discussion, let alone comparison shopping. . . .