Sweatshop industry waging public relations campaign for respectability

The sweatshop industry isn’t going down without a fight. To counter the harrowing images & news from Bangladesh & Cambodian garment factories, they’ve launched a public relations campaign. They’ve thrown down the gauntlet & are going to fight their way back from damnation to respectability. The first volley came in a Los Angeles Times series by a reporter named Kenneth R. Weiss. Our man Weiss holds many journalist awards–which says nothing about his talents but plenty about the state of US journalism. Suitably, he holds a bachelor’s degree in folklore & probably a minor in active imagination. He was given a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to fabricate fairy tales on sweatshop workers in Bangladesh.

In the banal journalistic style so popular today, Weiss picks out a single Bangladeshi woman to give testimony to the emancipating affects of sweatshop work on her life. He probably had to bribe her with a couple free meals since sweatshop wages aren’t enough to buy food.

Weiss does make an obligatory reference to “horrific industrial accidents & accusations of labor abuses” but says the picture of sweatshop labor “gets more complicated” when you account for the lack of options for women “in this poor, traditional Muslim society.” So our man makes the case for sweatshops as part of women’s liberation & gets to throw in an Islamophobic swipe as well.

More important than knowing your opponents in politics is knowing your allies because the phony ones line up to position themselves for a more bitter betrayal. Weiss quotes Sajeda Amin as an authority on how sweatshops have created greater independence for women in Bangladesh. Amin is a sociologist from Bangladesh working for the Population Council in New York & has a whole list of impressive credentials–particularly from the eugenics movement. She has a special interest in young women since she wants them all sterilized to address overpopulation & poverty. Sustainable wages are no part of her equations.

Then Weiss drags out Charles Kernaghan, the director of Global Labor & Human Rights & a frequent spokesperson on Democracy Now about sweatshops. Hopefully Kernaghan is misquoted when he reportedly said ‘It’s fantastic they have this common industry to put women to work.’ Sweatshops are just barely a step above outright slavery & Kernaghan considers them “fantastic” rather than deplorable?

We would be wise to ignore these pathetic fools & apologists for exploitation & listen to the voices of sweatshop workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, & elsewhere around the world since sweatshop manufacturing is the wave of the future under neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism. They tell a different story, filled with violence. We must respond to the mythology being stitched in media newsrooms & eugenics think tanks with the truth about sweatshop workers & their increasing strikes & struggles for economic & political justice.

Weiss is also preparing a series on overpopulation, hunger, & women’s rights & is being treated as an authority. He’s no longer receiving a wage from the LA Times but there’s no need to wonder who his paymaster is now. He hit the double jackpot for media jackasses & is likely collecting checks from both the sweatshop & eugenics industries. Shame on his sorry ass!

This photo of a sweatshop in Bangladesh accompanied the article by Weiss. Please note how spiffy & clean it looks & how well-dressed the sewers. It probably cost Walmart a bundle to stage that tableau.

(Photo via Pulitzer Center)

Hucksterism & shysterism in US politics aint Irish

Irish Central.com, the sister website of two Irish-American newspapers, bills itself as the website for the “global Irish diaspora,” whatever the hell that is. It’s been a long time since Tipperarry for most of us but now we can claim to be part of a diaspora. I feel like a refugee already & my family has been around these parts for 100 years. Wait till the German side of my family catches on to all this; we’ll be laying claims to Westphalia.

Sometimes the site has useful news; other times it’s making foolish boasts about Obama’s Irish roots as the great-great-great grandson of a carpenter from County Offaly or B. Clinton’s Irish heritage as the great grandson of immigrants from County Fermanagh. One of their newspapers actually named Clinton Irish American of the Year in 1996 & inducted him into the Irish America Hall of Fame in 2011. Are they that desperate for heroes or do they just like sucking up to power?

Today they’re reporting about the scandals surrounding Al Sharpton. They’re aghast & simply nonplussed that such an unsavory fellow with a long rap sheet of fraudulent misconduct, including mob connections & being an FBI informant, would have his own MSNBC show. Worse than that, his virtues are extolled publicly by both NYC mayor de Blasio & Obama.

This isn’t the first time Irish Central has displayed a credulity indistinguishable from idiocy. They broke the hard news in 2009 that billionaires Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, David Rockefeller Jr., George Soros, & several others were meeting secretly. Have they ever known them to scheme publicly? In the same year, they reported rock star Bono snubbed George Bush by dodging a hug from him. Bono wasn’t snubbing Bush, for heaven’s sake; he was trying to get to his ass so he could kiss it. Irish Central has got to get its stories straight.

The successes of Al Sharpton are no mystery at all if you pull your nose out of a phony Irish history of leprechauns & green beer & look US politics straight in the eyes. Sharpton is from the same political tradition as Clinton & Obama–& that aint Irish! It’s called hucksterism & shysterism.

(Photo of Sharpton from Irish Central.com)

The perils for Central Americans immigrating through Mexico

Maybe it’s the dirgeful music in this video that evokes such sadness, maybe it’s actually seeing the danger of hopping on & off moving trains, but it’s more likely seeing these young immigrants from Central America trying to mask their terror & tears as they explain why they’re taking this immensely hazardous trek through Mexico to the US border to find work. They have spouses, children, & other family members dependent for survival on their successfully getting across the border. Thousands of minor children are among those traveling. Their lives are endangered every mile of the way as a result of US & Mexican immigration policies which are nothing less than barbaric & racist as hell.

Immigrants, typically starting their trip in Chiapas, MX, have to hop on & off at least ten or fifteen freight trains during the 1,500 mile trip. The trains are called El tren de la muerte (The train of death) or La Bestia (The Beast) because so many immigrants who fall asleep riding the top are jolted off & lose limbs or are decapitated. The crime statistics are harrowing: 80% will be assaulted or robbed; 60% of the women will be raped; according to Mexico’s human rights commission, thousands will be disappeared in mass kidnappings; hundreds will be found in mass graves & others will never be found.

While the train companies & the Mexican government show such unspeakable & criminal contempt for human life, thousands of poor Mexican families & immigrant & human rights groups provide food, shelter, clothes, medicine, alerts about danger, & emotional support along the way. Many of them may well have family who made the same trip; most just know the full meaning of human respect & solidarity.

This governmental treachery is repeated around the world, affecting the lives & well-being of millions of people. Immigration is a human right! Open the damn borders!

(Photo of 29-year-old Honduran man is from video)

Cow fighting in Switzerland: another silly human sport

Anyone who admires cows will at first be quite indignant at this story. Every spring in Switzerland, cows & heifers from the Herens breed (Eringer in German) are made to fight one another in cow fighting contests. Unlike the barbarisms of bull-fighting, it is cow against cow, not human against bull to the death, but it still attempts to turn one of nature’s most docile & peace-loving animals into fighting machines.

They say the Herens girls are a feisty breed, more aggressive than an Angus or a Holstein or all the other breeds, but when it comes to aggression that sure isn’t saying much. To a cow, feisty means stomping hooves, bellowing & mooing, a little pushing & shoving, maybe a some head-butting & locking horns–& drooling, lots of drooling. These days, the Herens are bred specially for cow combat rather than milk & meat since the winner is crowned queen, garnishes a fancy cowbell & big bucks at market. (Now we know where beauty contests came from.)

The Herens are big girls but apparently have no killer instinct at all & are completely easy-going toward humans–except against the cow fighting officials who use cattle prods to induce them to exhibit some of that feisty. Those guys, called rabatteurs, apparently have to worry about a stampede from bovines reluctant to hurt one another or to engage in even mock warfare. One cow-fight enthusiast likened them to the Monty Python soccer game between German & Greek philosophers: lots of rumination, very little action.

An anthropologist from the University of Geneva studied cow fighting & concluded the competitions were used to resolve conflicts between people. That might be giving them more dignity than they deserve. But even an animal rights group that showed up to protest thought the cows, showing more aggression toward officials than each other, got the upper hand.

Humans can learn a lot from our bovine sisters: the next time military recruiters come calling, start mooing & pawing the ground & making like there’ll be a stampede.

(Photo by Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone)