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polly7

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Gender: Female
Hometown: Saskatchewan
Home country: Canada
Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 11,404

Journal Archives

How NAFTA Drove Mexicans into Poverty and Sparked the Zapatista Revolt

By EDELO, Creative Time Reports

The North American Free Trade Agreement, passed 20 years ago, has resulted in increased emigration, hunger and poverty (with Video)

December 30, 2013

Mexico was said to be one step away from entering the “First World.” It was December 1992, and Mexico’s then-president, Carlos Salinas, signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The global treaty came with major promises of economic development, driven by increased farm production and foreign investment, that would end emigration and eliminate poverty. But, as the environmentalist Gustavo Castro attests in our video, the results have been the complete opposite—increased emigration, hunger and poverty.


While the world was entertaining the idea of the end of times supposedly predicted by the Mayan calendar, on December 21, 2012, over 40,000 Mayan Zapatis . tas took to the streets to make their presence known in a March of Silence. The indigenous communities of Chiapas—Tzeltales, Tzotziles, Tojolobales, Choles, Zoques and Mames—began their mobilization from their five centers of government, which are called Caracoles. In silence they entered the fog of a December winter and occupied the same squares, in the same cities, that they had descended upon as ill-equipped rebels on January 1, 1994, the day NAFTA came into effect.

In light of the 20th anniversary of NAFTA’s implementation and the Zapatista uprising, we set out to explore both the positive and negative effects of the international treaty. The poverty caused by NAFTA, and the waves of violence, forced migration and environmental disasters it has precipitated, should not be understated. The republic of Mexico is under threat from multinational corporations like the Canadian mining company Blackfire Explorations, which is threatening to sue the state of Chiapas for $800 million under NAFTA Chapter 11 because its government closed a Blackfire barite mine after pressure from local environmental activists like Mariano Abarca Roblero, who was murdered in 2009.

Still, one result of the corporate extraction of Mexico’s natural resources and displacement of its people that has followed the treaty has been the organization and strengthening of initiatives by indigenous communities to construct autonomy from the bottom up. Seeing that their own governments cannot respond to popular demands without retribution from corporations, the people of Mexico are asking about alternatives: “What is it that we do want?” The Zapatista revolution reminds us that not only another world, but many other worlds, are possible


Full Article: http://www.alternet.org/world/how-nafta-drove-mexicans-poverty-and-sparked-zapatista-revolt?akid=11347.44541.RWB6aQ&rd=1&src=newsletter941851&t=19

What war?

And here's a little more info on the weapons you seem to believe are better than any other and the devastation they cause.

By Medea Benjamin

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Excerpts:

On October 29, the Rehman family—a father with his two children—came all the way from the Pakistani tribal territory of North Waziristan to the US Capitol to tell the heart-wrenching story of the death of the children’s beloved 67-year-old grandmother. And while the briefing, organized by Congressman Alan Grayson, was only attended by four other congresspeople, it was packed with media.

Watching the beautiful 9-year-old Nabila relate how her grandmother was blown to bits while outside picking okra softened the hearts of even the most hardened DC politicos. From the Congressmen to the translator to the media, tears flowed. Even the satirical journalist Dana Milbank, who normally pokes fun at everything and everyone in his Washington Post column, Example: covered the family’s tragedy with genuine sympathy.

The visit by the Rehman family was timed for the release of the groundbreaking new documentary Example Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars by Robert Greenwald of Brave New Foundation. The emotion-packed film is filled with victims’ stories, including that of 16-year-old Tariq Aziz, a peace-loving, soccer-playing teenager obliterated three days after attending an anti-drone conference in Islamabad. Lawyers in the firm pose the critical question: If Tariq was a threat, why didn’t they capture him at the meeting and give him the right to a fair trial? Another just released documentary is Wounds of Waziristan, a well-crafted, 20-minute piece by Pakistani filmmaker Madiha Tahir that explains how drone attacks rip apart communities and terrorize entire populations.

Just as the visit and the films have put real faces on drone victims, a plethora of new reports by prestigious institutions—five in total—have exposed new dimensions of the drone wars.


Full article and more on the Global Drone Summit November 16-17 in Washington DC: http://www.zcommunications.org/drones-have-come-out-of-the-shadows-by-medea-benjamin.html

Human Rights Watch

Amnesty International

License to Kill, released by the Geneva-based group Al Karama

Adding to these well-researched reports by non-governmental organizations are two documents commissioned by the United Nations. One is by Christof Heyns, the UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The other is by Ben Emmerson, the special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism.

Video.

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/2/8/codepink_repeatedly_disrupts_brennan_hearing_calling

Thursday’s confirmation hearing for CIA nominee John Brennan was briefly postponed to clear the room of activists from CODEPINK after they repeatedly disrupted Brennan’s testimony. One woman held a list of Pakistani children killed in U.S. drone strikes. Former U.S. diplomat Col. Ann Wright interrupted Brennan while wearing a sign around her neck with the name of Tariq Aziz, a 16-year-old Pakistani boy who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011. Wright and seven others were arrested. We speak to CODEPINK founder Medea Benjamin, who also disrupted the meeting and recently visited Pakistan to speak with victims of drone strikes. "It’s not only the killing, it’s the terrorizing of entire populations, where they hear the drones buzzing overhead 24 hours a day, where they’re afraid to go to school, afraid to go to the markets, to funerals, to weddings, where it disrupts entire communities," Benjamin says. "And we are trying to get this information to our elected officials, to say, 'You are making us unsafe here at home,' to say nothing of how illegal, immoral and inhumane these policies are."


JOANNE LINGLE: 178 children killed by drones in Pakistan. And Mr. Brennan, if you don’t know who they are, I have a list. I have a list with all the names and the ages.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: All right, I’m going to—we’re going to halt the hearing. I’m going to ask that the room be cleared and that the CODEPINK associates not be permitted to come back in. Done this five times now, and five times are enough.




"Go to Sleep or I Will Call the Planes"

—By Adam Serwer| Wed Apr. 24, 2013 6:01 AM PDT

A week ago, activist Farea al-Muslimi was live-tweeting the aftermath of a drone attack on his childhood village of Wessab in Yemen. Monday, he was testifying before a Senate subcommittee on the legality and impact of the Obama administration's targeted killing program. It was the first time Congress has heard from a witness with anything close to first-hand experience with being on the receiving end of a drone strike.

"Women used to say go to sleep or I will call your father," Muslimi said. "Now they say go to sleep, or I will call the planes."

Last week's strike killed Hameed al-Radmi, described by the US government as an Al Qaeda leader, and four suspected militants. But Muslimi told the Senate that Radmi had recently met with Yemeni government officials, and could easily have been captured, rather than killed in a strike that alienated everyone in the village.

"ll they have is the psychological fear and terror that now occupies their souls," Muslimi said of the residents of Wessab. "They fear that their home or a neighbor's home could be bombed at any time by a U.S. drone." President Obama received some backup from an unlikely source—Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has spent the last week criticizing the Obama administration for handling the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings in civilian court. Graham said although he would prefer to capture terror suspects, Yemeni officials couldn't be trusted to apprehend them. "The world we live in is where if you share this closely held information you're going to end up tipping off somebody," Graham told Muslimi.


Full Article: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/04/yemen-drone-strikes-senate-hearing

http://childvictimsofwar.org.uk/get-informed/drone-warfare/

“Even one child death from drone missiles or suicide bombings is one child death too many. Children have no place in war and all parties should do their utmost to protect children from violent attacks at all times.” Sarah Crowe UNICEF

US: Strikes Kill Civilians in Yemen Youtube video by Human Rights Watch

Remote Killing of Civilians

The US has used armed drones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and recently in the Phillipines. Over 200 children have already been killed in these strikes since 2004. See The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Change.org

Cease deadly drone strikes that kill civilians in Pakistan.

http://www.change.org/petitions/cease-deadly-drone-strikes-that-kill-civilians-in-pakistan



"Real people are suffering real harm" but these civilian deaths by drones are being mostly ignored by governmental oversight agencies and also by the news media according to James Cavallaro of Stanford University, one of the authors of a study by Stanford and NYU in the report, "Living Under Drones". The results of this recent study reported on Sept. 25, 2012 concludes that only about 2% of drone casualties are top militant leaders. Up to 884 civilians, including 176 children have been killed in Pakistan since 2004 due to drone strikes.

"Will I Be Next?" US Drone Strikes in Pakistan

In October 2012, 8-year-old Nabeela ventured out with her 68-year-old grandmother Mamana Bibi to do daily chores in their family's large, open field. Moments later, Mamana was blasted into pieces by a US drone strike that appears to have been aimed directly at her. Amnesty International did not find any evidence she was endangering anyone, let alone posing an imminent threat to the US. Yet a year has passed and the US government has not acknowledged Mamana Bibi's death, let alone provided justice or compensation for it.

"Will I be next?," a new report from Amnesty International, finds that this killing, and several other so-called targeted killings from US drone strikes in Pakistan, may constitute extrajudicial executions or war crimes. Based on interviews with 60 survivors and eyewitnesses to these strikes, "Will I be next?" documents potentially unlawful killings and abuses, and makes recommendations to the US government for how to uphold the right to life and ensure accountability for any unlawful killings.




http://dronespakistan.amnestyusa.org/

http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/security-and-human-rights/drones/will-i-be-next

War from Above
by Richard Hugus / January 2nd, 2014

There is little news about the down side to hosting drones in all these areas of the country, each with a populace that has simply not been consulted. Drones first came to our attention at the beginning of “the war on terror.” We learned of them first as weapons for highly illegal, cowardly, and indiscriminate “targeted killings” in foreign lands? These weapons have murdered countless innocent people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia pursuant to “kill lists” drawn up every week by the CIA and Pentagon, and approved by the White House. These weapons fulfill the US Air Force’s fantasy of “death from above,” carried out by pilots working in the security and comfort of US bases who, acting as judge, jury, and executioner, destroy supposed enemies from computer consoles as if it were a video game. The cowardliness of wars of aggression being conducted against innocent people in dirt-poor lands by unseen “UAV pilots” in air-conditioned offices thousands of miles away cannot be over-emphasized. This is what unmanned aircraft have brought so far to the reputation of the United States – a new low in the entire universe of human ethics. Murder abroad is but the advance of capitalism at home. Wedding parties in Afghanistan have been decimated so that Amazon can deliver cds and smart phones to our door by drone.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/01/war-from-above/

Voices From the Drone Summit:
On one occasion, Hale located an individual who had been involved with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The man was riding a motorcycle in the mountains early in the morning. He met up with four other people around a campfire drinking tea. Hale relayed the information that led to a drone strike, which killed all five men. Hale had no idea whether the other four men had done anything. Hale had thought he was part of an operation protecting Afghanistan. But when the other four men died – a result of “guilt by association” – Hale realized he “was no longer part of something moral or sane or rational.” He had heard someone say that “terrorists are cowards” because they used IEDs. “What was different,” Hale asked, “between that and the little red joy stick that pushes a button thousands of miles away”?
http://www.zcommunications.org/voices-from-the-drone-summit-by-marjorie-cohn.html

I learned all kinds of things. We were told that a lot of people killed by drones were people who would have been very easy to capture. We got examples of young men who were travelling and had just passed a checkpoint, and a mile after they were killed by a drone. Or people who were living right outside the capital city, Sana’a, and maybe would have turned themselves in to figure out why the US wanted to kill them, but they had no way of knowing.
http://www.zcommunications.org/drone-wars-by-medea-benjamin.html

The two drone strikes in November show that these attacks don’t just kill and maim individuals. They also blow up peace talks. They weaken democratically elected governments. They sabotage bilateral relations. They sow hatred and resentment.
http://www.zcommunications.org/drone-strikes-in-pakistan-reapers-of-their-own-destruction-by-medea-benjamin.html

http://www.livingunderdrones.org/

http://unmanned.warcosts.com/stream

http://dronespakistan.amnestyusa.org/

Kareem Khan is free. And you should care.
by William Boardman / February 26th, 2014

In 2009, my home was attacked by a drone. My brother and son were martyred. My son’s name was Hafiz Zahinullah. My brother’s name was Asif Iqbal. There was a third person who was a stone mason. He was a Pakistani. His name was Khaliq Dad…. Their bodies were covered with wounds. Later, I found some of their fingers in the rubble.

– Kareem Khan, a Pakistani journalist, speaking of his personal experience with civilians killed by Americans, in the documentary “Wounds of Waziristan,” 2013

… it is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties, a risk that exists in every war. And for the families of those civilians, no words or legal construct can justify their loss. For me and those in my chain of command, those deaths will haunt us as long as we live, just as we are haunted by the civilian casualties that have occurred throughout conventional fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

– President Obama, May 23, 2013, at the National Defense University

http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/02/obama-drones-on/

http://www.journeyman.tv/66218/short-films/wounds-of-waziristan-hd.html

Mandela and Cuba: Another Memory Hole

By Alex Doherty

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Since his death, western media commentary on the late Nelson Mandela has largely consisted of sanitized depictions of Mandela as a saintly, pacifistic, latter day Gandhi. A bloodless “kumbaya figure” (in Seamus Milne's memorable words) whose political vision for South Africa extended little further than the extension of the South African franchise. In the days following his death Mandela was eulogised by the most unlikely figures – from those who directly aided the apartheid government, recent heads of state whose actions in the Middle East were harshly condemned by Mandela, to musicians who flouted the cultural boycott of South Africa and politicians recently engaged in efforts to disenfranchise black Americans. Mandela's famous talent (overplayed and uprooted from its strategic context) for forgiveness has been so effectively by media commentators that the commemoration of his death has become a sort of ethical bath for the rich and powerful in which past sins and inconvenient facts are washed away.

Left critique of the mainstream media's typically atrocious performance has largely centred on the hypocrisy of the media's relaying of unquestioned protestations of admiration for Mandela from those political leaders (past and present) of states that played key roles in propping up the apartheid government in Pretoria and ensuring the survival of a regime, anachronistic as it was cruel, until the last decade of the twentieth century (though as recently detailed on New Left Project the scale of western collusion with the apartheid regime has been underplayed even by these critics). One issue that has not been widely noted is the excising from history of Cuba's role in the defeat of apartheid and the external depredations of the apartheid regime as it sought to maintain the internal system of white supremacist rule by destroying nationalist anti-imperialist forces on its borders. The contrasting roles of the United States and Cuba regarding South Africa were part of a broader pattern in which the United States supported counterrevolutionary forces throughout Africa. As part of that counterrevolutionary struggle South Africa was a valued ally of the United States – particularly regarding the newly independent Angola.


The media's careful avoidance of the contrasting Cold War roles of the United States and Cuba regarding South Africa is not of mere academic consequence. As George Orwell understood, control of historical narratives gives elites a powerful grip over public perceptions of present realities and grants those elites greater latitude in their future action. Continued imperialist intervention, military or otherwise, in the so-called developing world by the United States and her allies depends heavily upon the public's belief in the 'basic benevolence' of the western powers. The belief that the United States plays an essentially benign role in world affairs depends in turn upon a highly distorted picture of the historical role of the United States.

One important aspect of this is a childishly manichean depiction of the Cold War as a pure struggle between good and evil (a portrayal that is greatly aided of course by the extremely repressive character of the Soviet bloc). Recognition of the role of Cuba in aiding the ANC whilst the western powers backed apartheid is, of course, hardly serviceable to maintenance of this conventional Cold War narrative. The media's impressive avoidance of the context of the Castro-Obama handshake and of the significance of Castro's speech at the commemoration service is then merely one of countless ways in which history is shaped by the media to serve the powerful and ensure that western control over the developed and developing world continues undisturbed.


Full article: http://www.zcommunications.org/mandela-and-cuba-another-memory-hole-by-alex-doherty.html

Getting into zcommunications has been iffy recently, so here is another source, for anyone interested: http://www.opendemocracy.net/alex-doherty/mandela-and-cuba-another-memory-hole

Where will it kick off next?

In the networked age, country-specific predictions of political unrest like poverty or inequality are pointless

Paul Mason

The Guardian, Friday 27 December 2013 19.31 GMT


......... excerpts:

These societies were supposedly the beneficiaries of globalisation and marketisation. But up close, the rising middle class felt shut out. So now "masked guy with gym membership who hates corruption" has joined the "graduate without a future" on the list of social archetypes through which we try to understand the unrest.

If you read the Economist Intelligence Unit's latest attempt to guess where it will kick off next, it becomes clear how hard this is to do with conventional thinking. For the unit it is places with high inequality, heavy corruption, economic crisis and a collapse in trust. So Nigeria (the biggest economy in Africa), Egypt and Argentina all figure high on the red list of countries where there is a "very high risk" of conflict threatening the political order, with Brazil, South Africa and China merely "high risk". Though an advance on the straight-line thinking that linked revolts simply to the post-2008 economic crisis, I still think this misses something. When people ask me where it is going to kick off next, I say: "In people's heads."

The scale of repression now, even in stable democracies, is so high that those with a grievance take much longer to trip over into action that risks arrest. Though their armed forces are increasingly wrapped up in concerns about the laws of war, there is no Geneva convention in the modern conflict between riot cops and protesters. So what looks like acquiescence is not that. What looks like social order is merely the skin on a deep disorder. China watchers are used to this concept. The Chinese internet is seething with discontent, even as everybody in public bows down to the official line. But at a more general level it is true across the developed world. In the past there was very little to fear from movements that were all ideas and little action. But we live in an information economy now. Critical ideas have a materiality to them, and repression seems to fuel critique.

Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden have hardly been made folk heroes in the western media. But in the informal world, the world of online conversation, they are metaphors for "what happens". Challenge unlawful state surveillance, spill the beans on military atrocities in Iraq and you become a candidate for Guantánamo-style torture and mind games. In such a situation "metrics" – on poverty, inequality or trust – are hardly relevant in the prediction of unrest.


Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/27/political-protest-networked-age-edward-snowden

Why the Internet Giants Oppose Federal Surveillance

The Nation / By Zoë Carpenter

IT companies won't address the privacy implications of selling Americans' personal information to online advertisers.

December 26, 2013

Eight prominent Internet technology companies unveiled an open letter last week calling for reforms to the government surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden. “The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual—rights that are enshrined in our constitution,” reads the letter, published on a website that lays out five principles for reform, including greater oversight and transparency, as well as an end to bulk data collection.

Executives from seven of the firms will meet with President Obama on Tuesday, in the shadow of a federal judge’s ruling that the collection of domestic phone records is "almost certainly" unconstitutional. The opinion from US District Judge Richard Leon reinforces the impression that NSA overreach constitutes a primary threat to privacy and civil liberty. But some privacy advocates caution that even if the NSA’s programs are scaled back, surveillance infrastructure will persist in the private sector—thanks to the same companies now calling for reform, whose business models depend on the collection and sale of vast quantities of personal information.

“It’s one-stop shopping for the NSA,” warned Jeffrey Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a consumer privacy advocacy group. “What they’ve done is create a global commercial surveillance system that is engaged in the same kind of pervasive tracking and analysis .”

The engagement of IT companies in the debate about the state’s surveillance powers seems like a clear win for reformers. Though they lack detail, the firms’ principles align with many of the changes called for by privacy advocates. This is the first time that the tech giants—including Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and Apple—have made a joint political statement, and the move is well-timed: early in the new year Congress will weigh competing legislation with the potential to roll-back some of the NSA’s overreach, or enshrine data collection programs in law. With a combined value of $1.4 trillion and a growing lobbying presence in Washington, these companies wield considerable influence


Full article: http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/why-internet-giants-oppose-federal-surveillance?akid=11314.44541.XZBaqy&rd=1&src=newsletter940963&t=19

Exposing the Phony 'Peace Process' in Israel-Palestine: Negotiators Have Been Warning 'Time Is

Running Out' for 30 Years

Mondoweiss / By Max Blumenthal

Exposing the Phony 'Peace Process' in Israel-Palestine: Negotiators Have Been Warning 'Time Is Running Out' for 30 Years
The popular refrain now holds little meaning, except maintenance of the status quo.


December 26, 2013 |
This piece originally appeared on Mondoweiss, and is reprinted here with their permission.

“I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.”
— Golda Meir


Since the dawn of the peace process, serious men and women have warned that time was running out on a two state solution. If dramatic, urgent measures were not taken and painful compromises not made, the apocalypse would soon be upon us all. Though the peace processors rarely stated what the End of Days would look like, its form was always implied: The failure to establish a Palestinian state somewhere in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip would bring Israeli apartheid into the open, plunging the Jewish state into a crisis of legitimacy that would result in its rapid unraveling.

The transformation of an ethnically exclusivist Jewish state into a multi-ethnic confederation or democratic bi-national state is absolutely unacceptable to all parties involved in the peace process. That includes the Palestinian Authority, whose legitimacy rests on the notion that it will eventually become the steward of an autocratic Arab state with the consent of Israel and support from the U.S. and E.U. So as the facts on the ground render Palestinian statehood a fantasy, the peace processors must continually wind back the alarm clock on apartheid, indefinitely postponing the date with destiny to preserve the status quo and secure their paychecks.

Below, I have compiled news clippings dating back to 1981 that demonstrate the unusually fluid conception of time in the minds of the peace processors. Time may have run out long ago, but for them, it is never too late to negotiate.


Full article: http://www.alternet.org/world/exposing-phony-peace-process-israel-palestine-negotiators-have-been-warning-time-running-out?akid=11314.44541.XZBaqy&rd=1&src=newsletter940963&t=17&paging=off¤t_page=1#bookmark

10 Companies Vying for 2013 Corporate Hall of Shame: What’s Your Pick for the Worst Offender?

AlterNet / By Tara Lohan

December 17, 2013



Monsanto is a tough act to follow. When it comes to despised companies, it's set the bar pretty high. Last year the company claimed the top prize in Corporate Accountability International’s Corporate Hall of Shame. That may have had something to do with Monsanto evangelizing toxic chemicals, bullying small farmers and steamrolling GMO right-to-know legislation.

Corporate Accountability International has spent decades working to hold law-flouting companies accountable for their environmental, health and human rights abuses. The organization has taken on the tobacco lobby, water privatization and junk food behemoths that target children with relentless advertising. In 1992 they launched their Corporate Hall of Shame. Recent winners include Monsanto in both 2012 and 2010 and Koch Industries in 2011. In 2007 and 2008 they picked three winners: Exxon, Halliburton and Wal-Mart (2007) and Blackwater, Archer Daniels Midland, and Wal-Mart (2008).

"Of note, in the 1990s and early 2000s, Corporate Accountability International used the Hall of Shame to not only identify corporate abuse but also launch campaigns to successfully challenge those corporations' behaviors," said Corporate Accountability International's Kara Kaufman. "For instance, Waste Management significantly reduced lobbying and campaign contributions after grassroots efforts following the corporation's induction into the Hall of Shame in 1996. In 1998, Columbia/HCA was inducted into the Hall of Shame, prompting a three-year campaign to challenge its practice of taking over nonprofit and community-owned hospitals, dumping patients without insurance, and using its political clout to get away with these abuses. In 2000, Columbia/HCA altered its policies and practices to limit its political role , dramatically reducing its lobbying force and halting its election contributions."

Below are CAI’s top 10 picks for 2013. Cast your vote for the worst offender here.


http://www.alternet.org/environment/9-companies-vying-2013-corporate-hall-shame?akid=11306.44541.mW-qBD&rd=1&src=newsletter939697&t=12

Thanks to NAFTA, Conditions for Mexican Factory Workers Like Rosa Moreno Are Getting Worse

Texas Observer / By Melissa del Bosque

The difficult and dangerous working conditions that Rosa and at least 1.3 million other Mexican workers endure were supposed to get better. They didn't.



Photo Credit: Alan Pogue

December 11, 2013 |

.... On this night, Feb. 19, 2011, she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong, a premonition that perhaps she shouldn’t go. But she needed the money. It was the final shift in her six-day workweek, and if she missed a day, the factory would dock her 300 pesos. She couldn’t afford to lose that kind of money. Her family already struggled to survive on the 1,300 pesos (about $100) a week she earned. Unable to shake the bad feeling, she’d already missed her bus, and now she’d have to pay for a taxi. But the thought of losing 300 pesos was worse. She had to go. Rosa kissed her six children goodnight and set out across town.

In the Mexican border city of Reynosa, the hundreds of maquiladoras that produce everything from car parts to flat-screen televisions run day and night—365 days a year—to feed global demand. Rosa worked from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. at a factory called HD Electronics in a sprawling maquiladora park near the international bridge that links Reynosa, an industrial city of 600,000, to Pharr, Texas. Like the 90,000 or more workers in Reynosa, the 38-year-old Rosa depended on these factories for her livelihood. In the 11 years since she moved to the city, she had welded circuitry for Asian and European cell phone companies, assembled tubing for medical IV units to be shipped over the border to the United States, and worked on a production line assembling air conditioners for General Motors.

This was her second month at HD Electronics, a South Korean firm that had moved to Reynosa in 2006 to produce the metal backing for flat-screen televisions made by another South Korean firm, LG Electronics—a $49 billion corporation. LG also has a plant in Reynosa and could scarcely keep up with the North American demand for its plasma and LCD televisions.

At HD Electronics, Rosa operated a 200-ton hydraulic stamping press. Every night, six days a week, she fed the massive machine thin aluminum sheets. The machine ran all day, every day. Each time the press closed it sounded like a giant hammer striking metal: thwack, thwack, thwack. The metal sheets emerged pierced and molded into shape for each model and size of television. At the factory, 20 women, including Rosa, worked the presses to make the pieces for the smaller televisions. Nearby were 10 larger presses, each of which took two men to operate, to make backings for the giant-screen models.


Full Article: http://www.alternet.org/labor/after-20-years-nafta-thanks-nafta-what-happened-mexican-factory-workers-rosa-moreno?akid=11305.44541.10ylde&rd=1&src=newsletter939436&t=21

6 Crimes Against Nature Perpetrated By the Food Industry

AlterNet / By Martha Rosenberg

While many procedures on factory farms are cruel, breeding animals into mutants and violating mother/offspring bonds are truly crimes against nature.

December 19, 2013

The horrors of factory farming are multifold. Treating animals like heads of lettuce—"forget it's an animal" says one farming magazine—has created institutionalized ruthlessness toward animals, workers and the environment at the same time it harms humans who eat the products. Factory farming even damages the economy thanks to meat-related obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and greedy, short-sighted land-use policies.

While many procedures on factory farms are cruel, some practices like breeding animals into mutant-like parodies of their original species and violating mother/offspring bonds are truly crimes against nature.


Full Article: http://www.alternet.org/food/6-crimes-against-nature-perpetrated-food-industry?akid=11305.44541.10ylde&rd=1&src=newsletter939436&t=9&paging=off¤t_page=1#bookmark

“Bride and Boom!”

We’re Number One... In Obliterating Wedding Parties

By Tom Engelhardt

Source: TomDispatch.com

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The headline -- “Bride and Boom!” -- was spectacular, if you think killing people in distant lands is a blast and a half. Of course, you have to imagine that smirk line in giant black letters with a monstrous exclamation point covering most of the bottom third of the front page of the Murdoch-owned New York Post. The reference was to a caravan of vehicles on its way to or from a wedding in Yemen that was eviscerated, evidently by a U.S. drone via one of those “surgical” strikes of which Washington is so proud. As one report put it, “Scorched vehicles and body parts were left scattered on the road.”

It goes without saying that such a headline could only be applied to assumedly dangerous foreigners -- “terror” or “al-Qaeda suspects” -- in distant lands whose deaths carry a certain quotient of weirdness and even amusement with them. Try to imagine the equivalent for the Newtown massacre the day after Adam Lanza broke into Sandy Hook Elementary School and began killing children and teachers. Since even the New York Post wouldn’t do such a thing, let’s posit that the Yemen Post did, that playing off the phrase “head of the class,” their headline was: “Dead of the Class!” (with that same giant exclamation point). It would be sacrilege. The media would descend. The tastelessness of Arabs would be denounced all the way up to the White House. You’d hear about the callousness of foreigners for days.

And were a wedding party to be obliterated on a highway anywhere in America on the way to, say, a rehearsal dinner, whatever the cause, it would be a 24/7 tragedy. Our lives would be filled with news of it. Count on that.

But a bunch of Arabs in a country few in the U.S. had ever heard of before we started sending in the drones? No such luck, so if you’re a Murdoch tabloid, it’s open season, no consequences guaranteed. As it happens, “Bride and Boom!” isn’t even an original. It turns out to be a stock Post headline. Google it and you’ll find that, since 9/11, the paper has used it at least twice before last week, and never for the good guys: once in 2005, for “the first bomb-making husband and wife,” two Palestinian newlyweds arrested by the Israelis; and once in 2007, for a story about a “bride,” decked out in a “princess-style wedding gown,” with her “groom.” Their car was stopped at a checkpoint in Iraq by our Iraqis, and both of them turned out to be male “terrorists” in a “nutty nuptial party.” Ba-boom!


Full Article: http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175787/
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