Sunday, March 25, 2007

Wal-Mart blasted

PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD "" On average, one Wal-Mart cargo container enters the United States every 45 seconds, and local activists are saying the government practice of checking only 5 percent of them is not enough.

Local civic leaders and members from the activist group WakeUpWalMart have called for Wal-Mart, the No. 1 importer of port containers in America, to "help stop the next 9/11" and reverse its lobbying efforts against 100 percent scanning of port containers. Activists claim the chain's actions are helping to keep America's ports and cities vulnerable to a possible terrorist nuclear attack.

A news conference was held at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Wednesday to announce a campaign against the retail giant.

"Wal-Mart has a simple choice to make," said Jim Carvalho, a member of WakeUpWalMart and a political representative from United Food and Commercial Workers. "What is more important "" Wal-Mart's profits or America's security? Sadly for Wal-Mart, we know the answer is profits first and America's security second."

Carvalho said WakeUpWalMart held the news conference at the shipyard because yard workers are similar to those working at ports around the country that are at the most risk.

He said he believes Wal-Mart is worried additional container scanning will decrease profits.

"Even if it cost $100 to scan each container, it would only raise the cost of the goods inside by .2 percent," he said.

In itscampaign to get 100 percent of port containers checked, has launched a new television ad critical of the store.

Wal-Mart spokesman Robert Traynham disagreed with Carvalho's group.

"This union-funded ad is in poor taste and is an irresponsible attempt to avoid the facts, prey upon people's fears and disparage our company," he said.

Traynham said customers will know "this is a desperate campaign that is rooted in politics and nothing else."

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1 (implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007), which would require 100 percent scanning of cargo containers bound for the United States. The U.S. Senate is currently debating its version of the 9/11 bill.

Kyle Noonan, assistant communications director for Maine Congressman Tom Allen, attended the rally, saying Allen "will continue to be a strong ally for 100 percent scanning of port containers.".....

No comments: