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February 2011 Archives

On the road to burma

Tomorrow I leave for the land of stupas. Burma is part of the Southeast Asian quintet. Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma are some of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. We have never spent more than a few hours in Burma crossing from the Thai border at Mai Sai. This trip will be over a week visiting most of the major attractions this Buddhist country has to offer. Many have asked why I would want to go to a repressed country ruled by a military junta, and where civil rights are only a dream. It's exacltly for this reason that I have wanted to visit this country for a long time. A few years ago we visited Cuba on a special visa. It was one of the greatest travel experiences we ever had. Hope springs eternal. People who have very little appreciate what they do have. They also appreciate each other and those they meet more than in countries where prosperity abounds. When I think about the people of Southeast Asia I think  of a people filled with spirituality. It's funny - but people who have very little and are non materialistic have very little to lose and so they find peace and happiness in their very existence. I know very little about Buddhism but I have always been stricken by the concept of living in the "now". As I travel through Burma I intend (internet permitting) to post photos and some viewpoints which are really not the topic of this blog. Please feel free to visit by new blog which is currently stand-alone but will be part of my new website to be released soon. . A little wordy but when its attached to the new site it will be seemless. Dennis F Feeley

"hot coffee" tells the truth about frivolous lawsuits

How many times do I have to hear the story about the woman who sued McDonald's because she was burned by hot coffee and won "millions of dollars"? It's been almost 20 years now. Well the truth about that case and many others is finally out. A new documentary movie is currently being previewed at the Sundance film festival called "hot coffee" - and it's getting great reviews. According to a recent interview (youtube) of the film's producer the movie is Michael Moorish in style. It tells the whole truth about the McDonald's case and many other cases where corporate America has brought its mega media power to bear. Susan Saladoff who appears in the video is a former consumer rights lawyer for Democracy Now. She and her team have done countless interviews and research dispelling the fiction about frivolous law suits. If anything -  she says the opposite is true. After the McDonald's case corporate money in unlimited amounts poured into public relation campaigns aimed at convincing us that this case was apocalyptic and the ultimate sign that our civil justice system had gone "haywire". Their mantra was that juries could not be trusted, and consequently the only way to prevent corporate America from financial ruin was to pass tort reform laws that would limit their responsibility and maintain their bottom line - which of course is $$$. We have seen the financial power that these huge corporations can bring to bear on the outcome of public opinion. Just look at the last political cycle we suffered through. Because of the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case (see prior posts) restrictions on corporate spending for political campaigns is unlimited. The same buying power has been used, according the Saladoff interview, to finance huge campaigns aimed at limiting responsibility. Here's the thing - Why has big business always looked at trying to solve their problem of neglect by punishing those who are hurt? Do we really believe that jury verdicts in any given year for injuries caused by neglect are anywhere near what these corporate executives take home? Why not try spending the money you're using in these campaigns to make your products safer? Wouldn't it make more sense to prevent the injury rather than avoid responsibility? It's a time proven fact that without accountability then impersonal corporate mentality will always try the shortest and easiest way to cut expenses. Restricting lawsuits and limiting damages is just the first step. Next they will want complete immunity. Stay tuned and I will post on when this movie is released. For now you can go their website hotcoffeethemovie. Dennis F Feeley          

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