Turkish mining accident demands justice

This despondent man is a coal miner in Manisa, Turkey waiting for hundreds of other miners to be rescued from a mine explosion on May 13th. Several media sources report Turkey has one of the worst safety records in the world in number of accidents. Thousands have been killed & tens of thousands permanently disabled by accidents. Of course, mine safety does not just include prevention of methane gas explosions but also protection from black lung disease which kills & disables tens of thousands of miners. And since they’re now shooting down striking miners in cold-blood (the Marikana strike in South Africa, 2012), mine safety also includes the right to strike & demand workplace safety.

It’s hard to see how international comparisons of workplace safety can be reliable when reporting agencies are governmental. The data collected is subject to alteration, obfuscation, & outright deceit. Does any country really want to publicize the number of child miners? The lack of safety equipment? The coercive & brutal labor-management relations & repression of labor organizing? The devastation of the environment?

Some media quote unidentified experts who claim Turkey’s mine safety record is due to poor safety regulation, which does not distinguish it one iota from the US, China, Brazil, South Africa, India, Bolivia, Peru, & elsewhere. In 21st century US, mining regulatory agencies are still formulating safety rules & mining union officials don’t seem in any rush for them despite continuing accidents & deaths, especially from black lung disease. In one ten year period in the US (1995-2005), 10,000 miners died from black lung disease.

The experts (whose names are best left anonymous to protect them from shame) claim cultural attitudes toward workplace safety are involved in Turkey’s disregard. What cultural attitudes would those be? And how do they differ from greed in the US or China or India or South Africa or elsewhere? Or are experts again talking through their hats?

You give some experts long enough & eventually they get around to spilling the beans; they don’t know when to shut up: what’s really behind this outrageous safety record they claim is the lack of education & low level of organization among Turkish miners. We can dismiss that lack of education thing as an insult directed at working people from a whole repertoire of degrading put-downs. But the low level of organization thing, meaning strong unions, matters quite a lot. Many Turkish miners are unionized but judging from public response of union officials to the numerous accidents, it is likely as compromised as miners unions elsewhere which also think occasional peeps of protest suffice in place of militant action demanding safety.

Turkey’s prime minister Erdogan is being chided (when excoriation would be more appropriate) for saying: “Explosions like this in these mines happen all the time. It’s not like these don’t happen elsewhere in the world,” & he reeled off a list of global mining accidents since 1862 to prove his point. Fact is (& as despicable as Erdogan is), they do happen all the time–like the 2010 Chilean mine collapse where 32 miners were buried alive for two months. Last year, after a three-year mock investigation, prosecutors dropped any possible charges against the mine owners. So these accidents don’t just happen; the mine owners get to walk away scot-free from prosecution.

Workplace safety is a pivotal issue around the world & not just in mines. We only need look at working conditions for sweatshop workers, including fires & building collapses. Formulating & enforcing safety regulations is good. Working people organizing & demanding safe work conditions without compromise is infinitely better. Rules are good; kicking ass is more decisive.

(Photo by Soner Kilinc/Anadolu Agency)

Did Irish rebels die so Irish politicians can grovel with the worst of them?

First the Irish government fetes Betty Windsor, now they’re fawning over Donald Trump. Is this what Irish rebels died for!? Or are they turning over in their graves so fast they’ve become an important new source of energy?

As far as we know, Irish media isn’t known for radical sympathies but even they took issue with this unfortunate scene at Shannon airport, calling it depressing, a pity, & “pathetic gombeenism of the shabbiest & most insecure kind.” We don’t have a clue what gombeenism is but certainly hope it’s sufficient damnation for such groveling. If it isn’t, we leave it our modern Irish rebels to do it in with justice.

“The Donald,” as this nincompoop likes to calll himself, is there to set up a $50 million golf-hotel complex in Doonbeg, County Clare. There goes the neighborhood.

(Photo by YouTube from IrishCentral.com)

The barbaric immigration policies of the European Union

Most people around the world feel cynicism toward their governments; contempt might be more appropriate but that would be too equivocal. What their actions merit is nothing less than hatred for the breathtaking disregard they show toward human life. Hatred is maligned but it’s the very life force of justice. Governments belong to the oligarchs who see working people as mere chattel. Justice holds human beings, of whatever stature in life, as brothers & sisters. Every violation of that trust deserves nothing less than hatred.

So when we read yet another report of undocumented immigrants drowning in the Mediterranean Sea trying to cross to Europe, we take that very personally. The young immigrants in this photo are disembarking from a rescue vessel in Piraeus, Greece after a boat carrying them from North Africa capsized on May 5th. The Greek coast guard said 36 people were rescued & 22 people drowned, including four children. Several are missing & may never be accounted for. What the hell does the coast guard think happened to them? That they miraculously incarnated back on the coast of North Africa? They drowned due to the European Union’s (EU) barbaric immigration policies.

This was the third fatal immigrant boat disaster just this year off the Greek & Turkish coasts, including one in January & one in April. Traumatized survivors speak of the horrors of watching their spouses & children drown. Many children died in the January capsize. But there are just as frequent capsizes & drownings all over the Mediterranean. There was in fact another just yesterday off the coast of Libya where 36 immigrants died.

The Libyan official who addressed the disaster blamed immigrants for the spread of crime, drugs, & disease in his country. (And here we thought it was the corrupt officials.) He blamed the accident on human smugglers, & pledged to continue functioning as a southern flank of EU immigration policy. He couldn’t even be bothered to express condolences to those who had lost beloved family members.

Even a Greek official expressed mock condolences, saying he was “devastated” by the May 5th disaster–though he went on to blame it on “modern-day slave traders” making a killing on immigration. A UN refugee agency issued its usual wimply condolences, saying it was “deeply saddened” by the deaths; it should have denounced EU immigration policies for the unspeakable violations of human rights.

Most of the immigrants in the three disasters off the Greek & Turkish coasts were from Syria, Somalia, Eritrea, & sub-Saharan Africa. In other words, most were coming from war-torn regions & were in fact refugees, not immigrants–in the shabby sense that international law parses these differences among immigrants. Rather than condolences, the UN might consider some criminal actions against the EU & every government complicit in these crimes against immigrants.

And there’s one more matter to be addressed: accounts of the Greek coast guard & immigrant survivors from the January 2014 disaster (that killed so many children) differ on the circumstances of that accident. According to immigrant witnesses, the capsized vessel was being towed by the coast guard at high-speed while people were screaming for help. These are criminal allegations of the most consequential sort, violating so many international laws that the UN’s failure to demand an investigation amounts to collusion. Let’s call a spade a spade!

Immigration is a human right! Open the borders! (We would add, Deport the oligarchs but there isn’t a nation that will take them. They’re worthless & don’t know how to do a damn thing.)

(Photo of immigrants from AFP)