government

McDonald’s Promise Sustainable Beef

Posted on Updated on

McDonald’s, the biggest purchaser of beef in the US has promised that it will begin buying beef from a verified and sustainable source by 2016.

There is a but… They don’t know what verified sustainable beef actually is!

There is no definition of beef, for anybody that is, so this claim by McDonald’s is ambitious in more ways than one I guess. On the plus side McDonald’s are working with suppliers such as Wal-Mart to come with a definition they can work within, but this sounds a bit like asking a fox to guard the chickens. It’ll be a definition that suits McDonald’s but which may not actually resemble anything you or I might understand as beef. So on the negative side the players are setting the rules!

Image

When I go to my local butcher and ask for a cut of beef I fairly well know what I’m looking at is beef. This might not be so clear with a McDonald’s definition I venture. Beef could end-up being something that’s mechanically reclaimed beef which is roughly equivalent in terms of protein content.

Image

Bob Langert, McDonald’s vice president has explained that they are not ready to give a figure for how much beef will be from a verifiable sustainable source in 2016, its an “aspirational goal” he says, you better believe it if they don’t actually know what beef is I reckon. But it has been speculated that the process to get from zero to 100% beef from verifiable sustainable sources could take 10-years.

But think about this for a moment; the route the beef takes – cattle farm – suppliers – slaughter houses – patty makers… burger on a bun.  All parts of the supply chain act independently with each taking a profit and still we have the £1.99 Happy Meal!

How do they do it for the money?

Nonetheless verifiable sustainable beef or not a McDonald’s burger will still be 550 calories, and half the recommended level of fat for a day.

Dieudonne; A Sinister Clown

Posted on Updated on

SINISTER CLOWN

I have been following with interest and repulsion in equal measure the Dieudonne saga in France, partly because I’m obsessed with France and partly because of my innate fear of all things fascist/right-wing/nazi and following the very public goal celebration in the UK by Nicolas Anelka recently.

Dieudonne shows have been cancelled in some parts of France but not without a public outcry from some sections of the society that this is an attack on freedom of speech or freedom of expression. But I find myself thinking as one who will willingly defend the right of freedom of speech even when I fundamentally disagree with the sentiments being expressed, that actually even a bad clown can make a mistake and may even break the laws of the land. Wearing a red nose or pretending to give humor never prevented anyone from committing a crime. If a thief steels a motorcycle he has committed a crime even when he does in an amusing way.

However, Dieudonne, the sinister clown seeks to further his obnoxious views through so called humor. By going on a tour, publishing dates and venues he is being provocative and foolish. The French have not prevented his freedom of expression but have prevented public discord and a potential for civil conflict. Dieudonne is not a victim, he has not suffered a crime against humanity, he has had his talentless show which trades on scandal and abuse brought to a close in the name of public safety.

Dieudonne only speaks to those who cling onto the unintelligible thought of anti-Semites, to them his act, if indeed that is what it is, is a source of humor. He therefore only speaks to a small but nonetheless nuisance minority of people. To this day there are conferences and a vast number of books which speak of the Nazi Holocaust, a permanent stain on modern society. To think that this could be a subject for humor frankly beggars belief.

The notion that the law can impose limits on public behavior to me is something which should and must be challenged frequently. But the exploitation of crimes against humanity for the humor of a very few is not an area I would recommend to anybody as a place to challenge accepted decencies. His act is a cynical insult for his own reward. His act is one of many which seeks to raise the infamous beast of anti-Semitic thought from the ashes of hate.

It is quite amazing to me to notice that resistance of Dieudonne and his like comes from all sides, both left and right leaning thought. Of course Dieudonne argues that he provides a refuge in humor from the Zionist, he may well do this but I ask what is Zionism in 2014?

Certainly 100 years ago when the thought was to make a Jewish state the idea was simple; to provide a state that all Jews from around the world could come to where safety was guaranteed. I recognize the visionary genius of Theodor Herzl without question. However, Zionism in 2014 may look as if it is all about the West Bank and Gaza but really is this so? I think Zionism today is the same as it ever was, especially when you consider the threats from Iran, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Hesbollah, Hammas…

If only Dieudonne could see the threats from without the ‘Zionist’ state maybe then he wouldn’t be such a sinister clown about it all.

To add to the anti-Semitic attacks which are frequent the need for humor at the expense of the dead is an insult. To do this at the expense of Holocaust dead is a crime!

Tax exemption for overtime

Posted on Updated on

A world map of countries by gross domestic pro...
A world map of countries by gross domestic product at purchasing power parity per capita in 2006 from the World Bank. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was trawling through the net this afternoon when I came across a truly revolutionary, innovative idea on the economy!

Increase the purchasing power of workers.

As an idea its probably what most, if not all governments would want to achieve. Well, reading Philippe Doucet he seems to have a great idea on how to actually do it.

Income tax exemption for overtime working!

Over the last 12 months the French public believe that their personal purchasing power has decreased. They don’t feel quite as wealthy as they did. People all over the developed economies of the west are being asked (told) to work harder for less pay. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that his idea will in any way address unemployment, that is a factor that can only be dealt with over time (years). But by increasing the purchasing power of those in work it can only assist industry and services to survive this longest of all drawn-out recessions.

The struggle with unemployment is about skills in my view. Skills training, up-skilling, vocational education is the way to deal with unemployment. Under-qualified employees are a burden to business both in supporting the reduced productivity, and the cost of employing appropriately trained employees.

The time is now for the debate concerning workers pay and how its taxed. The idea of tax exemption for overtime comes from the left of French politics is true, but it makes it a no less valid proposal in an environment of stagnation of ideas. Radical; yes, Inspired; yes, Fresh; YES!

There’s also the hidden benefit of reduced employment costs, business too will benefit financially (well they will here in the UK). Of course this policy represents an increase in sophistication for employers and employees alike, but consider the benefits to the economy. The economy is treated to a boost whilst fairness to workers is also addressed.

Since the debacle of the Banking crisis, the ineptitude of our politicians this seems to me an idea that addresses so many issues of perceived (in)justice that I almost cannot understand why it hasn’t been proposed earlier.

The government of the day is voted for on its supposed ability to defend the interests of the populace who voted for them. Higher paid workers (myself included) and those who earn big bonuses (bankers…) will not benefit from this policy, it will be those who do the real work. The middle and working classes.

I don’t support this policy because of some high minded principle but from a very practical stand-point. More money in the economy will benefit everybody.

Doreen Lawrence

Posted on

I’ve just read breaking news that Mrs. Doreen Lawrence is to be made a Baroness.

I’m not generally speaking in favor of peerages but on this occasion I am more than willing to make an exception.  I cannot think of a more deserving person.

Image

Doreen Lawrence has led a legal & media campaign to find out what happened to her son, Steven Lawrence who was killed in 1993 in a racist attack which was not investigated properly at the time by an institutionally racist Police Force.  This woman and her family should be thanked by everyone (black, white and any other ethnicity you could mention) for the efforts she has put into the campaign.

I am a huge admirer of Doreen Lawrence for her dignity in quite adverse circumstances; she deserves recognition and I applaud the Labour Party (in this case) for recommending her.

WJC International Letter of Outrage

Posted on Updated on

The Sejm, the Polish Parliament, recently voted to make the kosher preparation of meat, the backbone of Jewish dietary laws, ILLEGAL. This means that Poland has become the first country in Europe since the end of World War II to ban shechita – kosher slaughter.

In effect Polish Jews have been told to quit the country or stop being Jewish if they want to stay in Poland.

Image

Prior to WWII Poland was home to the largest Jewish population in Europe.  Of course the Nazi Holocaust changed that for ever, but in July 1946 ethnic Poles murdered Jews in a pogrom in Kielce.  Today no more than a few thousand are left.

We’ve been here before and what comes next is more attempts to wipe out Jewish culture, to make it impossible for Jews to live peacefully with, contributing to and adding to the other local cultures & traditions.

As with ALL religious groups provided they are not in some way harming others then they must be protected, safety and rights of religious practice guaranteed. Any movement that begins with the outlawing of shechita is virtually guaranteed to adversely affect not only the Jews of Poland but, eventually, Jewish communities everywhere.

I strongly recommend that you (of any faith or none) stand with WJC and sign the International Letter of Outrage.

Go to:  http://www.worldjewishcongress.org/shechita-campaign/take-action?utm_source=WJC+Shechita+Petition&utm_campaign=92a098aef3-schecita_campaign_email_test7_25_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_504680ba00-92a098aef3-318845805

Lessons from Occupy

Posted on Updated on

On-line protest and business have nothing in common? Yeah?  Well I think they have more in common than either side would really like to admit to.  Kalle Lasn Advertising Executive turned environmentalist started it all with his anti-consumerist Adbusters magazine.  See #OCCUPYWALLSTREET – are you ready for a Tahrir moment?

Image

So what are the lessons?

Commitment

Motivation to achieve results; when goals and objectives are aligned to passion and personal values then motivation is at its strongest.

Listen to your Clients

When faced with a challenge then ask, ask as many stakeholders as you can possible think of to ask.  Go out and ask, you should even ask those who you think might not actually have anything to say.

Keep it simple

Your message, your product offering, your service proposition should be clear and easy to understand.  Your message must be able to fit in a Tweet.  Hashtags provide a way to put your message across while making sure its to the point!

Your Client is a person

The experiences, the services, the products you offer may standardized but you really must  speak to your client as a person, an individual.  Individual may well work in teams, work for organisations but individuals will speak for themselves.

Decentralise

Facilitation is the key, meetings don’t need to be Chaired, decisions should be reached through consensus.  Participation from all stakeholders brings social value added, unless organisations can show themselves to be responsive they will be seen as the enemy.

Gillard v Rudd; what a mess!

Posted on Updated on

It must, has to be, the most shocking political comebacks of all time, the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been defeated by Kevin Rudd in a snap leadership election by the man she replaced in 2010, Kevin Rudd.

Frankly I’m amazed that the Aussie Labour Party had the election at all after the previous shenanigans in the Gillard v Rudd push-pull, have an election, don’t have an election soap opera that is the Australian Labour Party.  But Rudd has done it (at last), he’s been smarting since 2010 when he lost to JG and he’s been bitter ever since.

Image

Rudd won the vote 57 to 45 and its reported that several ministers have resigned their positions.  Not a big shock since the last (aborted) attempt to have a vote wound-up with JG appointing a number of her supporters to key positions.  The idea being that she would bring stability to the party and stand a (slim – almost nil) chance of winning the General Election in September.

However, with Rudd at the helm the Labour Party looks set for a huge, massive, staggering, crushing defeat at the elections.  Opposition leader Tony Abbott has called on the government to move the election forward to August, because of the “paralysis” in leadership.  Opportunistic? well yes but to be honest I’d do exactly the same in his place.

Leaving the chamber where the ballot was held, Gillard told reporters: “Three years ago I had the honour of being elected Labor leader.  This privilege was truly humbling. I thank the Labor Party for that privilege and I thank the Australian people for their support.  I’m confident I leave the prime ministership having strengthened our relationship with our partners, all of them.”

Rudd defended his challenging JG at such a turbulent time for the party. “For the nation’s sake it is time for this matter to be resolved. We are on course for a catastrophic defeat unless there is change”.  Oh you really think so?  No s__t Sherlock!

Well JG lasted 3-years and I must hand it to her, not only has she had to contend with an opposition looking to exploit every chink in her and her party’s policies but she’s had the constant barracking and competition from within; Kevin Rudd.  Under the circumstances, global economic melt-down, the reduction in the Chinese demand, being the figure head for major mining deals with Chinese companies, the constant threat from the opposition and Kevin Rudd as well as the so-called gender wars; you know what?  I think she’s done well!  In fact I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again I’d vote for her!

The gender thing by the way was (is) a big deal in Australia but don’t let it cloud your views about JG, its significant but not the only thing she should be remembered for, but it was entertaining while it lasted.