2004 No Wine Shop

2003 Philadelphia Alcohol Billboard Ban

Stop Liquor Ads on NBC

2002 Community Partners

Swisher Ain't Sweet

Marlboro Mild

1998 African Amer. & Tobacco Settlement

1998 African Amer. Tobacco Ind. Lawsuit

1997 Say No to Menthol Joe

1996 Hands off Halloween

1995 X Cigarette

1994 World No Tobacco Day Activities

1993 Defeat of PowerMaster Malt Liquor

1990 Uptown Coalition



January 2003
Volume 4 Issue 1

In this issue:

Corporate Black Caucus
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

The Congressional Black Caucus says that it has been "the conscience of
the Congress since 1969."

If that is in fact the case, why then is the caucus not taking a
leadership role on major progressive issues of the day?

Because like the vast majority of members of Congress, the caucus has
been bought off by the corporate commercial interests?

Why isn't the caucus taking a leadership role on moving the country
toward a solar economy?

Could it be because oil and auto companies like BP Amoco, Chevron, Exxon
Mobil, Shell Oil, Texaco, General Motors, Ford, Nissan, and Daimler
Chrysler give big bucks to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation?

Why isn't the black caucus speaking out against the tobacco, junk food
and alcohol companies that prey on the nation's young and old alike?

Could it be because Anheuser Busch, Heineken USA, Miller Brewing
Company, PepsiCo, Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, and Coca-Cola give big
dollars to the foundation -- and Ms. Tina Walls of the Miller Brewing
Company sits on the board of the foundation?

We wondered why the caucus has been silent on these issues, but never
really looked into it, until earlier this week, when the following note
came to our attention:

"The Congressional Black Caucus and Heineken USA hold a news conference
to announce the creation of the Louis Stokes Health Policy Fellows
Program to address issues contributing to the consistent gap in health
status between people of color and the majority population. Call Ruthie
Jones (212) 686 5300."

So, we called Ruthie Jones, who is a spokesperson for Heineken USA. She
is friendly and talkative.

It's a $250,000 grant over five years, she says.

We wanted to know how it could be that Heineken, a major alcohol
company, was sponsoring a health fellowship.

Isn't alcoholism a major cause of disease in the African American community?

She becomes less friendly and less talkative.

I'll have someone get back to you, she says.

Soon thereafter, we got a call from Aranthan Jones, who works for
Congresswoman Donna Christian-Christensen, D-VI, who spearheaded the
Heineken health fellowship.

"The CBC, with Heineken's help, is sounding the alarm and aggressively
pursuing proactive solutions to address the healthcare crisis that
exists in America today," the Congresswoman said in the press release.

So we asked Jones, will the Heineken fellows look at the possibility
pursuing federal policies to curb alcohol use in the black community?

Don't know, he says.

But listen -- Heineken is a good corporate citizen, he says.

They have built health clinics throughout Africa next to their beer
plants, to take care of the people there.

But why was nothing said in the Heineken/CBC press release about the
ravages of alcoholism?

No answer to that. But listen, he says -- Heineken has great market
penetration in our communities. We can't bring back prohibition, he says.

Mr. Jones sees nothing wrong the caucus taking big money from Heineken USA.

That's the way of the world these days, he says.

We then ring up Reverend Jesse Brown.

Reverend Brown runs the National Association of African Americans for
Positive Imagery in Philadelphia (www.naaapi.org).

He has been battling tobacco and alcohol industry in the black community
for 12 years.

"It appears that the alcohol industry has taken a page from the playbook
of the tobacco industry and is attempting to buy the silence of black
legislators," Reverend Brown says. "Black legislators were deathly quiet
on the impact of tobacco on the black community. Now, it appears that
the alcohol industry wants these black legislators to remain deaf, dumb
and blind about the toll that alcohol takes on the black community. It
also appears that the industry's agenda on health is to deliberately
downplay the health effects caused by alcoholism that is having an
extreme effect in the black community -- cirrhosis of the liver and the
need for liver transplants in the black community, pancreatic and
esophageal cancers created by the use of alcohol."

"We are disproportionately burdened with the effects of alcohol," he
says. "It shows up in other ways too. Relationships between men and
women, spousal abuse issues. Many of the crime issues are exacerbated by alcohol."

Over the years, Reverend Brown has attended the Congressional Black
Caucus Foundation events in Washington, D.C.

Over the years, to no avail, he has implored the caucus not to have
tobacco and alcohol ads at their events.

"We have asked them to take a much more active stand on the issue of
targeting of black youth by the alcohol and tobacco companies," he says.

To no avail.

Because of a strong public health movement, tobacco ads are coming down
off of billboards.

But Reverend Brown says that in his community, they are being replaced
by ads for alcohol.

Reverend Brown has been fighting for years against the alcohol industry,
especially against the high octane content of malt liquors.

He's gotten only the silent treatment from the Corporate Black Caucus.

Time for a revolt.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime
Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Multinational Monitor. They are
co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the
Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press; http://www.corporatepredators.org).

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman


Focus on the Corporation is a weekly column written by Russell Mokhiber
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