New app for boycotting Koch Brothers, Monsanto, etc.

This video from the USA is called Koch-blocked! App Helps You Boycott Koch Brothers and Monsanto.

From Forbes magazine in the USA, by Clare O’Connor:

5/14/2013 @ 8:57AM

New App Lets You Boycott Koch Brothers, Monsanto And More By Scanning Your Shopping Cart

In her keynote speech at last year’s annual Netroots Nation gathering, Darcy Burner pitched a seemingly simple idea to the thousands of bloggers and web developers in the audience. The former Microsoft MSFT +2.29% programmer and congressional candidate proposed a smartphone app allowing shoppers to swipe barcodes to check whether conservative billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch were behind a product on the shelves.

Burner figured the average supermarket shopper had no idea that buying Brawny paper towels, Angel Soft toilet paper or Dixie cups meant contributing cash to Koch Industries through its subsidiary Georgia-Pacific. Similarly, purchasing a pair of yoga pants containing Lycra or a Stainmaster carpet meant indirectly handing the Kochs your money (Koch Industries bought Invista, one of the world’s largest fiber and textiles companies, in 2004 from DuPont).

At the time, Burner created a mock interface for her app, but that’s as far as she got. She was waiting to find the right team to build out the back end, which could be complicated given often murky corporate ownership structures.

She wasn’t aware that as she delivered her Netroots speech, a group of developers was hard at work on Buycott, an even more sophisticated version of the app she proposed.

“I remember reading Forbes’ story on the proposed app to help boycott Koch Industries and wishing that we were ready to launch our product,” said Buycott’s marketing director Maceo Martinez.

The app itself is the work of one Los Angeles-based 26-year-old freelance programmer, Ivan Pardo, who has devoted the last 16 months to Buycott. “It’s been completely bootstrapped up to this point,” he said. Martinez and another friend have pitched in to promote the app.

Pardo’s handiwork is available for download on iPhone or Android, making its debut in iTunes and Google GOOG +0.52% Play in early May. You can scan the barcode on any product and the free app will trace its ownership all the way to its top corporate parent company, including conglomerates like Koch Industries.

Once you’ve scanned an item, Buycott will show you its corporate family tree on your phone screen. Scan a box of Splenda sweetener, for instance, and you’ll see its parent, McNeil Nutritionals, is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson JNJ +0.73%.

Even more impressively, you can join user-created campaigns to boycott business practices that violate your principles rather than single companies. One of these campaigns, Demand GMO Labeling, will scan your box of cereal and tell you if it was made by one of the 36 corporations that donated more than $150,000 to oppose the mandatory labeling of genetically modified food.

Deciding to add that campaign to your Buycott app might make buying your breakfast nearly impossible, as that list includes not just headline grabbers like agricultural giant Monsanto but just about every big consumer company with a presence in the supermarket aisle: Coca-Cola, Nestle, Kraft, Heinz, Kellogg’s, Unilever and more.

Buycott is still working on adding new data to its back end and fine-tuning its information on corporate ownership structures. Most companies in the current database actually own more brands than Buycott has on record. The developers are asking shoppers to help improve their technology by inputting names of products they scan that the app doesn’t already recognize.

And if this all sounds worthy but depressing, be assured that your next trip to the supermarket needn’t be all doom and gloom. There are Buycott campaigns encouraging shoppers to support brands that have, say, openly backed LGBT rights. You can scan a bottle of Absolut vodka or a bag of Starbucks coffee beans and learn that both companies have come out for equal marriage.

“I don’t want to push any single point of view with the app,” said Pardo. “For me, it was critical to allow users to create campaigns because I don’t think it’s Buycott’s role to tell people what to buy. We simply want to provide a platform that empowers consumers to make well-informed purchasing decisions.”

Forbes reached out to Koch Industries and Monsanto for comment and will update this story with any responses.

Update: Tuesday’s traffic surge is causing some problems for Buycott. Pardo says he’s working to fix issues with the Android app in particular. “The workload is a bit overwhelming now,” he said. “For example, our Android app was just recently released and the surge of new users today has highlighted a serious bug on certain devices that needs to be fixed immediately. So all other development tasks I was working on get put on hold until I can get this bug fixed.”

Update 2: Pardo has had to temporarily remove the Android app from the store to fix glitches. He told Forbes on Wednesday: “Things are *slightly* more stable, but the app is now #10 in the App Store overall, which is pretty unbelievable. I simply didn’t set up the servers to be prepared to handle 10+ new users every second. I was expecting a more manageable rise. I had to pull the Android app from the store because I haven’t had a second to address the issues with it and I’ll take any relief I can get right now. Will continue to try and get it in decent shape but I’ll eventually need some sleep!”

After Sparking Outrage In Detroit, Koch Brothers’ Tar Sands Waste Now Piling Up In Chicago: here.

Koch pipeline spills 400 barrels of crude oil in Texas: here.

Greenwald: Koch Brothers Are Cowards in the ‘Worst Way’: here.

KOCH-BACKED GROUPS TO SPEND NEARLY A BILLION IN 2016 The $889 million planned is double the $407 million raised in 2012. [WaPo]

TOM STEYER: I CHALLENGE THE KOCH BROTHERS TO A DEBATE “The integrity of American democracy is at stake — and there’s nearly a billion dollars standing between a solution to climate change and the future of our children. Last year, I challenged the Koch brothers to meet me for a debate so that we could have an open, transparent exchange of ideas. Unfortunately, they refused, so I’m about to give them another chance. I am formally inviting the Kochs — again — to participate in a public debate. To stand up, be counted, and publicly justify themselves to the American people who are about to be overwhelmed by their electoral buying power.” [HuffPost]

Dark Money review: Nazi oil, the Koch brothers and a rightwing revolution. New Yorker writer Jane Mayer examines the origins, rise and dominance of a billionaire class to whom money is no object when it comes to buying power: here.

27 thoughts on “New app for boycotting Koch Brothers, Monsanto, etc.

  1. I don’t own a smartphone. Up to this point, I could not find any good reason why I should have one. The time might have come to change my mind :-). It might take time until that app covers products here in Germany, but I find the idea excellent. Consumers should be able to find out easily who is behind their products. This then provides the basis for pressure campaigns.


    • I don’t own a smartphone either. But there are more useful apps, like bird guides, which mean you don’t have to carry a big bird book with you into nature reserves, but only a small smartphone 🙂


      • Reason number 2 :-). I often hear birds I cannot identify.
        Looks like what I want is not so much the smartphone as communicator (I like to be alone and undisturbed at times) but more a kind of “tricorder” :-).


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  3. Charles Koch Resignation From Birch Society

    Fri Jul 5, 2013 10:45 am (PDT) . Posted by:
    “ernie5776” ernie5776

    Charles Koch joined the John Birch Society at the suggestion of his
    father, Fred Koch, who was a founding member of the JBS and served on
    its National Council.
    However, Charles resigned from the John Birch Society in May 1968, along
    with his friend, JBS National Council member Robert D. Love.
    Link below is to correspondence available online for the first time,
    which reveals the reasons for their resignations. In addition, there is
    the subsequent request by JBS founder Robert Welch to Charles Koch that
    he consider becoming a JBS National Council member.
    More info: ernie1241 at AOL dot-com


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  6. “I like to give on a scale where I can see impact…” – David Koch

    Earlier this year, a number of Republicans flew to California to make fundraising pitches to more than four hundred wealthy conservative donors attending a private conference hosted by the Koch brothers.

    It’s worth taking a moment to ask the question, who are the Koch brothers, and what do they want?

    The Koch brothers are the second-wealthiest family in America worth $82 billion. For the Koch brothers, $82 billion in wealth apparently is not good enough. Owning the second-largest private company in America is apparently not good enough. It doesn’t appear that they will be satisfied until they are able to control the entire political process.

    This issue isn’t personal for me. I don’t know the Koch brothers, but I do know this. They have advocated for destroying the federal programs that are critical to the financial and personal health of middle class Americans.

    Now, most Americans know that the Koch brothers are the primary source of funding for the Tea Party, and that’s fine. They know that they favor the outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and that’s their opinion. It’s wrong, but that’s fine as well.

    But it is not widely known that David Koch once ran for Vice President of the United States of America on the Libertarian Party ticket because he believed Ronald Reagan was much too liberal. And he ran on a platform that included the following:

    “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt and increasingly oppressive Social Security system.”
    “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
    “We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws…”
    “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”

    In 1980, David Koch’s presidential ticket received one percent of the vote from the American people. And rightly so. His views were so extreme they were rejected completely out of hand by the American people.

    But fast forward almost thirty-six years, and one of the most significant realities of modern politics is just how successful David Koch and the like-minded billionaires attending his retreat have been at moving the Republican Party to the extreme right. The ideas above that were dismissed as downright crazy in 1980 are now part of today’s mainstream Republican thinking.

    The Koch brothers, and billionaires like them, have bought up the private sector and now they’re buying up the government. It’s up to us to put a stop to them, but it will require all of us standing together with one voice on this issue.

    Your $3 donation to our campaign today is a contribution towards the dismantling of a corrupt system of campaign finance held in place by the Koch brothers and their billionaire friends.

    Donate $3

    Here’s the truth: The economic and political systems of this country are stacked against ordinary Americans. The rich get richer and use their wealth to buy elections, and I believe that we cannot change this corrupt system by taking its money. If we’re serious about creating jobs, health care for all, climate change, and the needs of our children and the elderly, we must be serious about campaign finance reform.

    So far in this election, less than four hundred families have contributed the majority of all the money raised by all the candidates and super PACs combined. According to media reports, one family will spend more money in this election than either the Democratic or Republican Parties.

    This is not democracy. This is oligarchy.

    Our job is not to think small in this moment. The current system of campaign finance in this country is utterly corrupt. That is one of the reasons I am so proud of how we have funded our campaign — over 2.5 million contributions from working Americans giving less than $30 at a time. But our campaign is unique.

    We must pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, and I will not nominate any justice to the Supreme Court who does not make it abundantly clear that she or he will overturn that decision. We need legislation that requires wealthy individuals and corporations who make large campaign contributions to disclose where their money is going. And more importantly, I believe we need to move towards the public funding of elections.

    Our vision for American democracy should be a nation in which all people, regardless of their income, can participate in the political process, can run for office without begging for contributions from the wealthy and the powerful.

    Your $3 donation to our campaign today is a contribution towards the dismantling of a corrupt system of campaign finance held in place by the Koch brothers and their billionaire friends.

    Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be in New York City to deliver a major speech about our need to create a financial system that works for all Americans, not just the few. I’ll be in touch shortly after. I hope that you’ll keep an eye on your inbox for my message.

    In solidarity,

    Bernie Sanders


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  8. Koch Executive Disputes Book’s Account of Founder’s Role in Nazi Refinery

    A senior executive of Koch Industries sent a letter on Tuesday to the company’s employees disputing a new book about the Kochs and other conservative families,

    saying it significantly exaggerated the role of the company’s founder, Fred C. Koch, in constructing an important refinery for the Nazi regime in Germany.

    Mr. Koch, who died in 1967, was the father of the billionaire political activists Charles G. and David H. Koch, who now control the family business. The book, “Dark Money,” by Jane Mayer, reports that in 1934, Mr. Koch’s company, known as Winkler-Koch Engineering, “provided the engineering plans and began overseeing the construction” of a large oil refinery in Hamburg. Her book cites archival documents, a study of the Nazi-era oil industry, and other published work.

    By Ms. Mayer’s account, the refinery was personally approved by Hitler and played an important part both in the German war effort during World War II and in the growth of the Koch family business.

    “Fred Koch’s willingness to work with the Soviets and the Nazis was a major factor in creating the Koch family’s early fortune,” Ms. Mayer wrote.

    But in the letter to employees, company officials disputed elements of that account and said Ms. Mayer had unfairly taken Mr. Koch’s work out of context.


  9. Every time I’ve run for office, I’ve had the same opponent.

    His name is David Koch. David is the owner of the second largest private company in America. He made his money the old-fashioned way: he inherited it. Incredibly, his father got rich helping to industrialize and arm the Soviet Union. For many years, David Koch was a member of the Libertarian Party. He has served on the board of directors of the right-wing Cato Institute.

    Koch lives in New York. He often attends the theater. As far as we know, he has never lived in Florida. But he wants to choose who represents Florida in the Senate. And it isn’t me. Just a few days ago, his “Senate Leadership Fund” flaks put out this statement:

    “We want Alan Grayson to lose. His Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders agenda of more government may appeal to uncompromising liberals, but it’s the wrong direction for our country.”

    He hates my guts.


    Because I have guts.

    If you like the idea of having a Senator with Guts, chip in $3 or more to help us win this election, no matter how much David Koch spends against us >>

    Let me explain . . .

    After my first term in Congress, David Koch, his brother, and their billionaire friends named me their Number One target in the House. They spent more against me than any other group spent against any other Member of the House.

    Think about that. I was only one member of the U.S. House of Representatives, out of 435. I represented one-quarter of one percent of America. And yet as of Oct. 11, 2010, roughly TWENTY PERCENT of spending in the entire country by these shadowy right-wing groups was spent to defeat . . .


    That was my first term in Congress. I had no seniority. I didn’t sit on the most powerful committees, like the Appropriations Committee or the Ways and Means Committee. I wasn’t a member of the Democratic Leadership. So why would these right-wing groups spend nearly 20 percent of their entire national budget to try to defeat me?

    Because I can’t be bought. I won’t do what they tell me to do. And I won’t back down.

    They defeated me that election cycle. Luckily, thanks to you, and thousands of our other supporters across the country, they haven’t been able to beat me again since then.

    But this election is going to be different. They hate having me in the House, but they’d hate having me in the Senate even more. And they’re going to spend whatever it takes to stop that from happening.

    I need you now more than ever, to help me fight back against the Koch brothers and their billionaire friends. Will you help us, by chipping in $3, or whatever you can afford, to fund our campaign?


    Alan Grayson


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