Coca-Cola Confidential

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5 Dark Secrets

About Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola was invented in 1886 by a pharmacist named Dr. John Stith Pemberton, who was also a Civil War vet and morphine addict. Coke is based on a drink called Vin Marine, which was brewed by Parisian chemist Angelo Mariani. Today, Coca-Cola is the most popular soft drink in the world. These are its five darkest secrets.

 5. Actively Worked To Make Sure Kids Drank Coca-Cola Instead of Healthy Choices

In the 1990s, many soft drink companies were trying to attract consumers in a very saturated market. Coca-Cola’s plan was to go after high school students and hopefully get them to choose their brand for life, which is pretty much the same way that tobacco companies used to lure customers.

In the mid-1990s, Coca-Cola started to sign “pouring contracts” with schools. In exchange for premiums that were paid to the schools, Coca-Cola wanted exclusive rights to sell their products in vending machines and in the cafeteria. The schools, who often worked with tight budgets, usually agreed to do it. In some cases, Coca-Cola gave many schools around $30,000 up front and then a commission for the exclusive rights to sell Coke products in their schools for 10 years. In one case, Coca-Cola gave $90,000 to a school in Syracuse, New York, to build a stadium that had a big Coca-Cola sign on it.

While that may not seem super sinister, where it gets into the shady territory is that schools were then encouraged to sell Coke and given bonuses if they sold more product. They were also told that they would make less money if they sold healthier options, like milk or fruit juices, instead of soft drinks. In some cases, healthier options weren’t available at all because Coca-Cola didn’t approve them to be sold in the schools.

Now, 20 years later, there is an obesity epidemic in America. Of course, Coca-Cola has contributed to this problem and they have even acknowledged this in their own reports. For the past 10 years, the single biggest threat to Coca’s Cola profit has been obesity.

4. Their Water Problems

While the recipe for Coca-Cola is a closely guarded secret, one main ingredient that they need to produce the sugary drink is water. It takes 0.71 gallons of water to make 0.26 gallons of Coca-Cola. This becomes a major headache when Coca-Cola decides to set up bottling factories in places that don’t have a lot of water to begin with. Examples of where this has happened are in several states in India, and several places in Latin America.

What happens is that Coca-Cola sets up a bottling plant, they use up too much ground water. That causes water shortages in the area, which means there isn’t enough water to drink or to irrigate crops, which then leads to food shortages. After a decade of protesting, one plant in India was shut down in 2015, but Coca-Cola plants using up too much local water is still a problem in India, Latin America, and in developing countries around the world.

3. Coca-Cola No Longer Contains Cocaine (For a Pretty Racist Reason)

One of the most famous rumors about Coca-Cola is that the original recipe used cocaine… and it’s totally true. They used coca leaves which contained the cocaine alkaloid, which is used to make powdered cocaine.

 It’s tough to say exactly how much cocaine the original drink contained, but there was a little bit in it. Also, the original Coca-Cola was alcoholic as well. However, in 1886, Atlanta (where Coke was bottled) enacted prohibition. So the alcohol was removed and more sugar was added, but the cocaine remained an ingredient in the drink for the next decade.

In 1899, Coca-Cola started selling their drinks in bottles. The bottles were popular among African-Americans because they didn’t have access to fountain pop due to segregation laws. However, this started a panic among some white middle and upper class people. Some very vocal members of those communities were terrified that black people who were empowered by a cocaine drink might start attacking them, and they wouldn’t be able to stop them. In response to the fears, Coca-Cola started to phase out cocaine from the recipe in 1903, and replaced it with caffeine and even more sugar.

2. Coca-Cola and The Colombian Unions

On December 5, 1986, a right-wing paramilitary unit showed up at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Carepa, Colombia. One of the plant’s union executives, Isidro Segundo Gil, went to ask what the squad wanted and they opened fire on him, killing him. Later that night, the paramilitary group went to the union’s headquarters, where they destroyed their equipment and then burned the place to destroy all the records inside.

The next day, the paramilitary went into the bottling plant and gave the union workers a choice: quit, or die like Gil. Obviously, many of the employees, who were earning $380 to $400 a month, quit their jobs. After they quit, the paramilitary shacked up in the bottling plant for two months. When the plant reopened, the union workers were replaced with workers who were paid $130 a month.

While there is no conclusive evidence that anyone from Coca-Cola’s main office ordered any of the murders, critics point out that Coca-Cola did very little to investigate the murders. In fact, they didn’t complain to the Colombian government that the paramilitary killed their workers or that they were squatting in their facility for two months.

Also, at the time of the assassination, the union workers were trying to negotiate better working conditions with the bottling company Bebidas y Alimentos, which was contracted by Coca-Cola to bottle their product in South America. In the years after the murder, Bebidas has refused to negotiate anything with their workers.

Finally, this wasn’t the only Coca-Cola union to be targeted. At least five other union members working with Coca-Cola were killed in Colombia and the union members were told to quit or die themselves.

In 2001, the Sinaltrainal union brought a lawsuit against Bebidas and Coca-Cola, but the motion against Coca-Cola was dismissed in 2003.

1. Coca-Cola and Peruvian Farmers

As we’ve mentioned, the original Coca-Cola formula contained a small amount of cocaine. When they changed the formula, they had a company called Maywood Chemical Works, which is now the Stepan Company, import coca leaves into the United States from Peru.

Once in the United States, Stepan, who still imports the coca leaves for Coca-Cola, removes the alkaloid that is the key component in powdered cocaine and then they send Coca-Cola the decocainized coca leaf extract. As for what Stepan does with the cocaine alkaloid? Well, they sell it under government supervision for medical use.

For over a century, when drug laws were enacted like the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 and the Jones-Miller Act of 1922, they made special exemptions to allow Coca-Cola to keep importing coca plants; making them one of the few American companies that were allowed to import the coca plant. As time went on, Coca-Cola’s popularity increased and Stepan couldn’t sell all the cocaine alkaloid it extracted. This led to special legislation being passed so that Stepan could destroy the excess cocaine alkaloid under government supervision.

 The problem is that coca leaves can be used to make many other products besides Coca-Cola and cocaine like tea, candies, and flour, but the coca farmers in Peru, called cocaleros, can only access the American market through Coca-Cola because of the drug laws that were enacted to stop cocaine from getting into America. With only one purchaser of their product, the cocaleros can do little more than accept Coca-Cola’s terms. As a result, the farmers stay poor, while Coca-Cola made $41 billion in 2016.



Flawed Justice

Top Tenz from WIF

Top Tenz from WIF

Top 10 Worst Aspects of the

American Justice System

The United States has a Constitution that protects its citizens from abuse in the criminal justice system. The right to a trial, to fair treatment by law enforcement are enshrined. Importantly, the Eighth Amendment also protects those convicted from cruel and unusual punishment.

In spite of all this, the American penal system is broken in many ways. Here are ten human rights crises that are happening right now, as a result of American justice.

10. Three Strikes Laws


Three Strikes laws became popular in the mid-90s, heralded as a way to be tough on crime. The idea was to remove repeat offenders of serious crimes from society. Three strikes laws mandate minimum punishments of usually 25 years for a third “serious” offence. The first example of a 3-strikes law actually came from Texas in the 1980′s, but they were introduced at their strongest and most infamous in California in 1994. There are similar laws in 26 states.

Many examples of convictions under the law have caused them to be considered disproportionate, if not outright cruel. Stories include people given 25 to life for stealing a pair of socks, or some baby shoes. Two life sentences involve the theft of pizza — one of a single slice — though this was overturned after five years due to public outrage. A law team from Stanford began challenging many of these rulings one by one, often using what they term the “You’ve gotta be kidding me” defense. There are stories of judges and prosecutors writing to those convicted, apologizing about the excessive nature of sentences.

Campaigners were able to have the law amended in California at the end of 2012, allowing prisoners with minor, non-violent convictions to appeal their sentences. Whilst many have been freed since these rule changes, there are still fights to release others that have served lengthy sentences for minor crimes.

9. Over-Incarceration


You might have heard that the US has just 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of its prison population. The prison population increased by 700% between 1970 and 2005, compared to a 44% increase in the population as a whole. Recently, California’s prison system was operating at almost 150% capacity, with prisoners placed in increasingly small holds.

Prison overcrowding has been linked to problems with psychological health and increased prisoner violence. It also causes obvious issues for the staff. This problem doesn’t look to go anywhere anytime soon, either; federal prisons ran at 139% capacity towards the end of 2011, and this is set to increase to 145% by 2018, according to a report by the Bureau of Prisons.

8. High Recidivism


Recidivism, or reoffending, is a big issue in the United States. A study in 2006 by the bipartisan Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons found that 52% of former prisoners were re-convicted.

Prison is popularly seen as a means of punishment and isolation from the rest of society. Unfortunately when people get out of prison, they’re back in the same position that led them to commit a crime, but with even less chance of getting a job and resuming their life. After all, who wants to hire a felon? In recent years, programs focused on greater rehabilitation have proven a success in several states.

Internationally, the lowest recidivism rate can be found in Norway. There, the justice system is much more focused on preparing people to re-enter society as useful and productive individuals, rather than punishing them for their misdeeds. Whilst many might be uncomfortable with being “soft” on criminals, Norway’s murder rate is an eighth of that in the US. The choice to be made is between an extremely thorough punishment, or improvement to society as a whole – both don’t work together.

7. Lack of Compassionate Release in Federal Prisons


Prison is not set up to care for people with serious or terminal illness. Keeping people locked up after a stroke, or in the late stages of cancer, can cause suffering that may be considered inhumane or excessive. That is the reason for compassionate release, and it is very much in the spirit of the Eighth Amendment, which forbids cruel and unusual punishment.

Yet the compassionate release system in the US, particularly in federal prisons, is shockingly poor. An April 2013 review by the Department of Justice found the Bureau of Prisons’ compassionate release program was poorly managed and inconsistent. They also concluded that a better system would save money, due to the high cost of caring for seriously ill inmates.

Grounds for release can vary from prison to prison – some will release a prisoner with 6 months to live, while some grant freedom to someone with a year left. Worse, prisonerscannot challenge the BOP’s decisions in courts, and compassionate release is rarely granted. Many die while waiting for a decision to be made.

6. Placing Children in Solitary Confinement


Solitary confinement is known to present the risk of mental illness, including depression, anxiety, and even psychosis. This risk is particularly pronounced in children. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has called for a ban on solitary confinement of children in correctional facilities. They also call for any child that’s been confined alone for 24 hours or more to be evaluated by a mental health practitioner.

Human Rights Watch reports that children as young as 13 have been confined for over 22 hours per day. In their report, they quote a youth from Florida subjected to the treatment: “The only thing left to do is go crazy – just sit and talk to the walls.” This problem is particularly bad for the 90,000 youngsters held in adult prisons that are often kept apart for their own protection. Ironically, the majority of youth suicides in prisons take place amongst those kept in solitary confinement.

5. Prison Healthcare


Prisoners have significantly more risk of health problems than the general population. Infectious disease can spread in the confined environment of a jail. Addiction and mental illness are also obvious risks. Other, more surprising, statistics show that prisoners are 55% more prone to diabetes and 90% more likely to have had a heart attack than those on the outside.

The right to healthcare in prison is protected by the Eighth Amendment, and it’s big business.Illinois recently signed a $1.4 billion contract with Wexford Health Sources to provide healthcare for ten years, despite never auditing them.

Providing adequate healthcare to prisoners is not just important for them, but for the wider community. Proper care in prison reduces the burden on society when prisoners are released, and reduces the risk of disease being spread on the outside. Despite this, the number of prisoners with health complaints that don’t have access to medical care is high. One study found that 14% of federal prisoners and a fifth of state prisoners hadn’t seen a health-care provider in spite of persistent issues. Thousands of prisoners die in custody each year. Many of the deaths are preventable, caused by undiagnosed or untreated problems.

4. Sentencing Children to Life in Prison


The United States is the only country in the world that sentences children to life in prison without parole, sometimes as young as 11 years old. Often these sentences are automatic, and the circumstances of the child aren’t taken into account. Until 2005, it was even considered constitutional to execute young criminals, and 365 people under the age of 18 have been executed in US history. Today, almost 3000 people are serving life sentences for crimes committed as youths, effectively fated to die in prison.

Many groups have called for an end to these sentences, pointing out that children aren’t emotionally and physically mature enough to be held culpable in the same way as an adult. Amnesty International describes the policy as a violation of international law and standards of justice recognized around the world.

3. Prison Rape


Prison rape is almost a cliché, and normalized in popular culture, but the statistics paint a pretty horrifying picture. Whether in prison or not, rape is rape and is about as horrific a crime as can be committed, short of murder. Estimates of the number of prisoners that have been sexually victimized by fellow inmates or staff put figures at as high as one in ten. In sheer numbers, that’s over 200,000 people that have been the victims of sexual assault in prison.

Men and women are both at risk of assault. Bisexual and gay inmates, male and female, are at highest risk of being raped. In thousands of cases, the perpetrator is a member of prison staff. In one case in Alabama, a guard that impregnated an inmate received six months for “criminal sexual misconduct,” but wasn’t charged with rape. Lawyers for the woman in question believe the case wasn’t investigated properly.

2. Placing Children on Sex Offender Registers


The Human Rights Watch recently published a report that highlights the problem of children being placed on sex-offender registers. The intention of such registers — to protect children from predatory pedophiles — is good. Unfortunately, the laws behind these have proved susceptible to misuse and ineffectiveness.

Some of the crimes described in the report for which children were forced to register include a thirteen-year-old girl, convicted for willingly having sex with her twelve-year-old boyfriend and becoming pregnant. The boyfriend was also convicted and registered as a sex offender. Luckily, this was later overturned by a higher court, which pointed out “the law was not intended to apply to such cases.” Meanwhile, a fifteen-year-old girl was convicted of distributing child pornography for posting nude photographs of herself online. She was tried as an adult and required to register as a sex offender for life, despite the fact she was the sole child victim of her “crime.”

Individual injustices might almost be forgivable where a law serves a greater good, such as protecting children. But these laws often serve only to stigmatize and victimize youngsters for making decisions or performing actions which, in many cases, they are too young to understand. The HRW notes, “Several studies—including one study of a cohort that included 77 percent youth convicted of violent sex offenses—have found a recidivism rate for youth sex … are so low that they do not differ significantly from the sex crime rates found among many other (and much larger) groups of children, or even the general public”.

In general, the picture painted is that of a system that drains police and court resources, ruins the lives of children and their families indefinitely, fails those it aims to protect, and serves as a carriage for significant injustices.

1. The Death Penalty


The United States is one of only 21 countries to use the death penalty. It is the only country in the Americas to have carried out executions in 2012 (43 in total.)

There is a growing international trend towards abolition of execution. For example, only one country in Europe — Belarus — still has the death penalty on its books. That’s because there is no evidence that the death penalty works as a deterrent any more than any other type of sentence. Murder rates are lower in states without the death penalty, and have remained consistently so for over two decades.

One of the biggest arguments against the death penalty is the fact that innocent people are convicted to die. Some of them are released, but humans are fallible and there are undoubtedly innocent people that have died at the hands of the state. A bill in Florida actually seeks to speed up the execution process, despite the fact that had it been in place previously, people would now be dead that were released in light of new evidence.

Groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on the US to abolish the death penalty altogether. If the United States wishes to consider itself a humane and dignified country, then it surely must.

Flawed Justice

Teach your children well

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Teach Your Children Well

I see a backward trend, do you?

We are learning how to replace words with symbols……from our children. The only problem with that is: we will not unlearn what we’ve been taught, but the newest generation, whatever their designation, is embracing a writing style that is driven by its instantaneous nature AND the concern about data plans.

I realize that email is falling out of favour, but encourage them to use it, when time is relatively abundant and the wonders of automatic spell check is in force.

Our society is being reduced to communicating with a single opposed appendage. Can you guess which one that is? Clue one: It’s not the nose.