Bangladeshi tanneries expose child-workers to toxic chemicals
GW, 3/31 — Children as young as eight working in the tanneries of Bangladesh producing leather that is in demand across Europe and the U.S. are exposed to toxic chemicals that…shorten their lives, a report says.
Approximately 90 percent of those who live and work in the overcrowded slums of Hazaribagh and Kamrangirchar, where hazardous chemicals are discharged into the air, streets and river, die before they reach 50….
[The report was] triggered by “the widespread industrial negligence and apathy of owners of tanneries and other hazardous material factories” towards the more than 600,000 largely migrant workers who have no access to…healthcare….
…250…tanneries In Hazaribagh…discharge 6,000 cubic meters of toxic effluent and 10 tons of solid waste every day…flouting…Bangladesh’s own laws…in the employment of children under 18 in work that is harmful or hazardous.
The factories douse animal skins in cauldrons of chemicals a part of the processing of “Bengali black” leather which is exported to leather goods manufacturers in Italy, Spain and elsewhere….Workers are soaked to the skin, breathing the fumes most of the day, and eat and live in these surroundings throughout the year.
Trump’s war on miners
NYT, 3/20 — Trump’s vow to bring back the coal industry’s heyday is a delusion….inspiring…legislatures in Appalachia to resurrect…loose safety laws that endangered miners’ lives and protected owners’ profits….
…Trump….is moving to help surface mine operators by eliminating protections for Appalachian streams and hamlets inundated by mine wastes.
The Kentucky Legislature…will cut back the four annual inspections now required at a working mine to as few as one….
West Virginia….state safety and health standards, developed across years amid the grief of repeated mining disasters, would be eliminated….a…retreat from the statehouse safety concerns voiced in 2010 when the Upper Big Branch disaster took 29 miners’ lives….
…In Appalachia…the coal industry has…intimidated generations of lawmakers to favor mine owners….This latest bout, launched in tandem with Trump’s fantasy job promises, can only leave remaining miners in greater danger on the job.
Haiti: UN caused cholera atrocity, now fails to fight it
NYT, 3/20 — …the leader of the United Nations apologized to Haitians for the choler epidemic that has ravaged their country for more than six years — caused by infected peacekeepers sent to protect them — [and]….announced in December…a $400 million strategy to combat the epidemic….Under its secretary general at the time, Ban Ki-moon, the organization had resisted any…blame for the epidemic, one of the worst cholera outbreaks in modern times.
Since then…the United Nations’ strategy to fight the epidemic…has failed….A trust fund created to help finance the strategy has only about $2 million….
…Mr. Ban’ successor, António Guerres, asked for financial commitments to the trust fund by March 6. He…raise[d] the possibility of a mandatory dues assessment if there were no significant pledges.
The deadline came and sent without much response….
…Diplomats and UN officials said he had shelved the idea, partly because of strong resistance by some powerful members, including the United States….
Cholera…has killed nearly 10,000 people and sickened nearly 800,000 in Haiti…since it was introduced there in 2010 by…a UN peacekeeping force. This year, as of late February, nearly 2,000 new cases have been reported, amounting to hundreds a week.
‘Why Social Justice and Capitalism Don’t Mix’
NYT, 3/24 — …Thinx, the…feminine hygiene company…entered the growing canon of employers that have fail[ed] to live up to their socially conscious branding. Former Thinx employees, many of them women in their 20s and 30s, allege some very un-feminist practices, including substandard pay, verbal abuse and sexual harassment….
Some former employees saw their experiences…as personal betrayals, given the company’s ethos of female empowerment….Ms. [Miki] Agrawal [Thinx founder] has been accused by a former employee of unwanted physical contact…a violation of everything the company stands for….
Thinx’s story…exposes the logical limitations…about employment and profit in [a] market-driven society: that profit-seeking can be compatible with social justice….
The popular myth that profit and social justice can go hand in hand underlies every would-be ethical business venture….The problem is that the market makes entrepreneurs choose between maximizing profit and transferring to workers the full returns of their productivity….
…If Ms. Agriwal had paid…higher salaries…she might have lost business to more ruthless competitors. Instead, she [paid]…her staff what she did because of a socially entrenched wage gap, a weak job market for young workers and her employees’ willingness to work long hours and sacrifice pay for a cause….
…To uphold a profit-driven society willingly, workers must believe…that such a society “is worth their creative energy and passion” and that it “meets their need for justice and security.”
That belief…part of the culture of Thinx…eventually crashed into reality.
Imperialist war drives Afghan kids out of school and into poverty
NYT, 3/24 — When the first day of school starts in Afghanistan…3.7 million boys and girls won’t be in attendance, because of increased violence, displacement and poverty. The total number — roughly one in three school-age Afghan children — is expected to grow this year as violence between Afghan forces and the Taliban intensifies and Pakistan forces Afghan refugees to return home….
[As an example] Lina, 12…lives in a refugee camp in Kabul….
“I loved going to school, but we don’t have enough money to buy notebooks and other things….Without notebooks it was not possible to study and do homework.
“If I don’t go to school, I will become nothing in the future….“We live in…two tents. I sleep with my five brothers and sisters in one tent and my father and mother and two small sisters sleep in the other.
“For breakfast, if something is left over from dinner, we eat that. If not, we eat bread with tea. After breakfast I bring water from the well which is a one-hour walk away….Two or three times a day, I also collect small pieces of wood and plastic to burn for heating our home.
Bangladeshi tanneries expose child-workers to toxic chemicals
It’s legal: billion-dollar companies pay zero taxes, stealing trillions
NYT, 3/10 — Complaining that the United States has one of the world’s highest corporate tax levels…Trump [has]…repeatedly vowed to shrink it.
Yet…why have so many companies’ income tax bills added up to zero?
That’s what a new analysis of 258 profitable Fortune 500 companies that earned more than $3.8 trillion in profits showed….
…The report, by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy…found… 100 of them …paid no taxes in at least one year between 2008 and 2015. Eighteen…occurred a total federal income tax bill of less than zero over the entire eight-year period — meaning they received rebates….
Companies take…tax loopholes…that enable them to legally avoid paying what they owe….
Multinational corporations like Apple, Microsoft…and Coca-Cola…book profits overseas, out of the reach of the Internal Revenue Service….
…A rigged tax code …has essentially legalized tax dodging for large corporations….One five-story office building in the Cayman Islands is now “home” to more than 18,000 corporations….
Facebook, Aetna and Exxon Mobil, among others, give options to top executives to buy stock in the future at a discount….then…deduct their huge payouts as a loss….
Individual industries have…tax breaks that function as subsidies:…drilling for gas and oil, building Nascar racetracks or railroad tracks, roasting coffee,…producing ethanol or making movies (which saved the Walt Disney Company $1.48 billion over eight years….
Companies with the biggest tax subsidies over eight years…included:
AT&T ($38.1 billion); Wells Fargo ($31.4 billion); JPMorgan Chase ($22.2 billion); Verizon ($21.1 billion); IBM ($17.8 billion); General Electric ($15.4 billion); ExxonMobil ($12.9 billion); 21st Century Fox ($7.6 billon); Goldman Sacks ($5.5 billion).
Racism keeps innocent Black people imprisoned the longest
NYT, 3/8 — Black people convicted of murder or sexual assault are significantly more likely than their white counterparts to be later found innocent of the crimes, according to a review of nearly 2,000 exonerations nation-wide….
Innocent blacks also had to wait disproportionately longer…to be cleared than innocent whites….Blacks wrongfully convicted of murder…spent an average of three more years in prison before being released than whites who were cleared….
…Blacks make up a disproportionate share of the wrongfully convicted….
The causes…run from inevitable consequences of patterns in crime and punishment to deliberate acts of racism….Misconduct, such as hiding evidence, tampering with witnesses or perjury…also have contributed to the racial disparity.
‘Pro-life’ = pro-death for Ireland’s infants
GW, 3/10 — A mass grave containing the remains of infants has been found at a former Catholic care home in Ireland where it has been alleged up to 800 died….at the…former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in…Galway….
…Ages of the deceased ranged from 35 weeks to three years old….Bon Secours was one of more than a dozen such homes….The Bon Secours Sisters, a Catholic order,…received unmarried pregnant women to give birth. The women were separated from the children….The discovery confirms decades of suspicions that the vast majority of children who died at the home were interred at the site in unmarked graves….
Torment pregnant prisoners
NYT, 3/15 — When Stephanie Jorge reported to a federal jail in Brooklyn [NY]…to begin a three-month sentence for bank larceny…she was pregnant.
The correctional officers showed little interest. [When]…she began to hemorrhage, the officers would typically refuse to call an ambulance until they could summon three officers….that often took an hour or two….
At the hospital, doctors recommended bed rest and that she avoid exertion….But Ms. Jorge…was ignored the moment she was discharged back to the Metropolitan Detention Center….
Ms. Jorge…was made to strip, squat and cough A guard watched to see if contraband fell from her vagina. The bleeding worsened….
“If it was up to them,” Ms. Jorge said, “I would have lost this baby….”
The National Association of Women Judges, which sent a delegation to the jail, said the conditions were “unconscionable” and violated…rules pertaining to prisoners….Female inmates told the…Women Judges that the food is frequently rotten….
“I am ashamed of what we did to you,” one federal judge…told Ms. [Joselin] Rosario….as he ordered her to Aruba….Sealed records amounted to “an indictment of the Bureau of Prisons for what they did in your case….”
…She said one officer confiscated her vitamins and another refused to let her, then eight months pregnant, remain in bed during the inmate count. “I told her I was dizzy…” The officer replied, “You’re not dying. You’re just pregnant. Get up.”
Mexico: a police state torturing and killing
NYT, 3/17 — Even as Mexico fumes over President Trump’s aggressive stance toward its people, the Mexican government is…trying to rip up basic legal protection for its citizens at home….
The governing party says the [“reform”] bill…will make “adjustments” to Mexico’s new legal system, a linchpin of cooperation with the United States that was completed last year with more than $300 million in American aid….
…It will broaden the power of the Mexican government to detain suspects for years before trial, enable the police to rely on hearsay in court and potentially allow prosecutors to use evidence obtained in torture….
…Rather than innocent before proved guilty, it would shift…the burden of proof to the accused….
“Mexico has worked hard to promote its image as a state that defends or advances international human rights….But at home, the human rights situation is dimply dreadful: severe abuse, torture, summary executions and virtually guaranteed impunity….
…Since the drug war began a decade ago, torture and extrajudicial killings have soared….The elite marine forces…kill 30 people for every person they injure….These laws…are…transitioning the country into something like a police state….
The United States has been notably quiet about the new bills….
Capitalist China worth $500 billion
NYT, 3/5 — Mao once branded capitalists enemies of the Chinese people. In the era of President Xi Jimping, those capitalists are billionaire lawmakers — and they’re getting even wealthier.
The combined portion of the wealthiest members of China’s Parliament and its advisory board amounts to $500 billion….
...The hundred richest saw their net worth rise 64 percent in the four years since Mr. Xi took power….
…The influence of the rich in Chinese politics continues to grow….
…Private entrepreneurs now account for about 20 percent of the…delegates to Parliament.
Brits blast Trump’s fascism
NYT, 2/27 — LD50, an art gallery on a quiet street in…East London….in the era of President Trump….drew dozens of protesters…chanting slogans like “Make racists afraid again!” and “No to the Nazis!” The protest was organized…[against] the gallery’s postelection exhibition on…the white nationalist movement…[and] its anti-Semitism, racism and Islamophobia.
The exhibition opened two days after Mr. Trump was elected….
…Andrew Osborne, 42, a fine art technician…who helped organize the protest…said, “I don’t see why we should tolerate fascism”….
One protester, Jenny Graham, 44, described the area as “a diverse borough in terms of race, class, ethnicity; everyone here lives happily side by side: Jews, Muslims, everyone….I wouldn’t set foot in that place unless I had a bomb with me. No platform for…fascism”….
Mr. Osborne said he favored shutting the gallery. Asked if that would amount to censorship, he replied, “Hate speech isn’t free speech….”
Murder of Indian immigrant follows Trump’s Muslim ban
NYT, 2/27 — NEW DELHI — Jeena Sharma, 25, was applying for a work visa to the United States when news came that two Indian engineers had been shot in a Kansas bar by a man who…questioned their immigration status….
…Ms Sharma felt her own apprehension growing as the days passed and President Trump made no statement on the crime.
“”It’s definitely very scary….It’s almost as if a brown person is dead, like it doesn’t matter….”
India is second only to China as a feeder to American colleges, with around 165,000 students enrolled in the 2015-2016 school year….the largest recipients of…visas known as H-1B visas, which the Trump administration intends to cut back….
In 2009 and 2010, reports of racially motivated crimes against Indian students in Australia set off demonstrations outside the Australian embassy in New Delhi, where Australia’s prime minister was burned in effigy.
Betsy DeVos: Ignorance Trumps education
NYT, 2/8 — The just-confirmed [Trump] education secretary, Betsy DeVos….has never run, taught in, attended or sent a child to an American public school, and her confirmation hearing laid bare her ignorance of education policy and scorn for public education itself. She has donated millions to, and helped direct, groups that want to replace traditional public schools with charter schools and convert taxpayer dollars… [to] send children to private and religious schools….
Ms. DeVos has spent tens of millions and many years in a single-minded effort to force her home state, Michigan, to replace public schools with privately run charters….She has consistently fought legislation to stop failing charters from expanding and lobbied to shut down the…Detroit public school system and channel the money to charter, private or religious schools, regardless of their performance….
…Ms. DeVos appeared largely ignorant of challenges facing college students,…skeptical of Education Department policies to prevent fraud by for-profit colleges — a position favored, no doubt, by Mr. Trump, who just settled a fraud case against his co-called Trump University for $25 million.
South Africa: ‘apartheid still there’
NYT, 2/16 — Khayelitsha — …Zwai Lugogo…lives in a shack here in Cape Town’s largest [B]lack township, making do with thin walls of painted metal….
…Working hard…but barely scraping by….“That money…is just not enough to be able to take care of our families,” said Mr. Lugogo, 34….
South Africa is now considering…a national minimum wage.…[of] about $1.50 an hour…close to the median wage in a country where the official unemployment rate is 27 percent and nearly half the population lives in poverty….in one of the world’s most unequal societies….
…Black South Africans, who make up 80 percent of the population, earned only one-fifth of what whites did in 2015….
…The African National Congress…has governed the country since 1994….[had] the party’s worst showing in elections since…1994….
On weekday mornings, soon after daybreak, the men and women of Kjayelitsha leave their neighborhoods and….commute…up to a couple of hours each way….
Many said…cost[s] them a quarter or a third of their monthly wages…. [On] the bus…Makatiso Sekhamane…[was] knitting a black cap….[which] supplemented the $400 a month she made working six days a week cleaning white people’s homes. Her husband earned maybe $150 repairing refrigerators….
…Many of the employed[‘s] wages are far below the salaries earned by the few residents in the nicest homes….Sinovoyo Gada’s family moved here in 1998.
“There was no road here, just gravel,….no houses, just shacks….”
…After…three years….she now works four days a week…earning $60 a week. About 30 percent of that, or $18, goes to transportation. Ms. Gada, 22, is part of the “born-free” generation of black South Africans who came of age after apartheid’s fall….
“The apartheid, it’s still here,” she said….
Employers control the…power over people like her, she said.
U.S. terrorist raid kills Yemeni
NYT, 1-31 — …In an American commando raid in central Yemen….after initially denying…civilian casualties, Pentagon officials backtracked…after reports…trickled in and grisly photographs of bloody children…killed in the attack appeared on social media….
Yemen’s foreign minister…condemning the Special Operations [said]…”The extrajudicial killings and killing civilians are acts that support terrorism.
…Another…official said that at least eight women and seven children, ages 3 to 13, had been killed in the raid.
S. Africa’s ‘concentration camp’ for mentally ill
NYT, 2/3 — Corpses of psychiatric patients were found with head injuries and unexplained bruises. Relatives were not informed of the deaths of their loved ones. The transfers of mentally ill patients were seen as business opportunities….
…94 psychiatric patients died…last year after being moved…to facilities that were likened in some cases to concentration camps….
…Facilities were overcrowded and “full of hungry patients,…” some were wearing pants held together with shoelaces….
…others died from “things like dehydration, diarrhea, epilepsy, heart attacks, all other things except mental illness.”
Demopublicans refuse to pay for GIs exposed to cancer-causing nuclear tests
NYT, 1/31 — When Tom Snider arrived…to clean up the fallout from dozens of nuclear tests…Army officers immediately ordered him to put on a respirator and bright yellow suit designed to guard against plutonium poisoning.
A military film crew snapped photos and shot movies of Mr. Snider,…a 20-year-old radiation technician, in the new safety gear. Then he was ordered to give all the gear back…. He spent the rest of his four-month stint…wearing only cutoff shorts and a floppy sunhat.
“I never saw one of those suits again,” Mr. Snider, now 58, said….”It was just propaganda.”
Today Mr. Snider has tumors on his ribs, spine and skull…resulted from his work on the crew….
Roughly 4,000 troops helped clean up the atoll….Most did not even wear shirts, let alone respirators. Hundreds…are now plagued by…brittle bones, cancer and birth defects in their children. Many are already dead. Others are too sick to work.
The military says there is no connection between these illnesses and the cleanup….[and] refuses to pay for the veterans’ medical care….a longstanding pattern in which the government has shrugged off responsibility for its nuclear mistakes….
…Veterans have been denied care because shoddy or intentionally false radiation monitoring was later used as proof that there was no radiation exposure….
For two years, the…veterans have been trying, without success, to win medical care from Congress….As new cases of cancer emerge nearly every month, many…wonder how much longer they can wait….
…Documents….show that the government used troops instead of professional nuclear workers to save money. Then it saved even more money by skimping on safety precautions….
…Of 431 of the veterans….20 percent reported cancer. An additional 34 percent…reported…problems…related to radiation, like failing bones, infertility and thyroid problems….
Paul Laird….then a 20-year-old bulldozer driver…began scraping topsoil that…contained plutonium. He was given no safety equipment.
“The dust was like baby powder. We were covered in it,” said Mr. Laird, now 60…. “But we couldn’t even get a paper dusk mask. I begged for one daily. My lieutenant said…use a T-shirt.”
….When he turned 52, he found a lump that turned out to be kidney cancer. A scan…showed he also had bladder cancer….
He applied repeatedly for free veterans’ health care for radiation but was denied….
“When the job was done, they threw my bulldozer in the ocean because it was so hot,” Mr. Laird said. “If it got that much radiation, how the hell did it miss me?”
….A 1950 Supreme Court ruling bars troops and their families from suing for injuries arising from military service….
“A lot of guys can’t survive anymore, financially,” said Jeff Dean, 60….
Mr. Dean developed cancer at 43….bones in his spine deteriorated. Unpaid medical bills left him $100,000 in debt.
“No one seems to want to admit anything….I don’t know how much longer we can wait, we have guys dying all the time.”
Drug profiteers conspire to jack up insulin prices
NYT, 1/31 — A lawsuit…accused three makers of insulin of conspiracy to drive up the prices of their life-saving drugs, harming patients who were being asked to pay for a growing share of their drug bills.
The price of insulin has skyrocketed,…with Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lily raising the list prices of their products in near lock step [that]…have little to do with increased production costs.
The lawsuit….cites several…patients with diabetes who, unable to afford their insulin treatments, which can cost up to $900 a month, have resorted to injecting themselves to control themselves with expired insulin or starving themselves to control their blood sugar….
A recent study…found that the price of insulin nearly tripled from 2002 to 2013.
Obama sets up deportations of Haitians for Trump
NYT, 1/12 — …”It’s important for the Haitian voice to be heard….Not just for the incoming government , where we have so many reasons to be worried , but for the current government because of the actions they’ve taken on Haitian immigrants” [said the director of Haitian women for Haitian Refugees]….
…In September, the Obama administration detained Haitians at the United States-Mexican border…and ordered deportations. Some pregnant women and mothers with children were given temporary…reprieve…but their husbands were deported.
After Hurricane Matthew struck in early October, the administration…resumed deportations in November.
Chicago kkkops: rampant torture and killings
NYT, 1/14 — A blistering report…described…the Chicago Police Department…[as] saying excessive force was rampant, rarely challenged and chiefly aimed at African-Americans and Latinos….
…The investigation laid out in chilling detail unchecked aggressions: an officer pointing a gun at teenagers on bicycles…; officers using a taser on an unarmed, naked 65-year-old woman with mental illness….
…After officers used excessive force, their actions were practically condoned by supervisors, who rarely question their behavior….
Officers used force such as punching…to restrain…suspects but videos showed officers’ use of force was unnecessary….
…”Officers engaged in…unnecessary foot pursuits…and too often ended with officers unreasonably shooting someone — including unarmed individuals”….shooting at vehicles without justification….
Several activists said the findings were unsurprising….but expressed little confidence… [Change] would take place….
…“The system is corrupt,” said Dorothy Holmes, whose son was killed by a Chicago police officer in 2014….We want these officers charged as criminals….”
…A chilling video…showed a white police officer shooting a young black man, Laquan McDonald, 16 times. For months, the city fought to keep the…camera footage from being made public….
…Two years ago…black men…said they had been tortured and abused in the 1970s and 1980s at the hands of a “Midnight Crew” of officers overseen by a notorious police commander….A task force…concluded that racism had contributed to a long pattern of institutional failures by the police….
Just weeks after the…investigation, an officer shot and killed…a teenager said to be wielding a bat, and an elderly neighbor it by stray bullet….Last summer, another officer fatally shot an unarmed teenager in the back as he was running away.
Myanmar: new ruler, same old capitalism
GW, 1/13 — For decades, the punishment for speaking out against Myanmar’s rulers was…a very long stretch behind bars. The new democratic government led by Aung San Suu Kyl, which took power last April, insisted that era was over….
Myo Yan Naung Thein…has been on trial for criminal defamation, accused of insulting the commander-in-chief of the armed forces….detained without bail since early November….
He is one of dozens of people arrested on similar charges under the rule of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy. Many expected the party…to bring an end to prosecutions brought under broad and repressive laws. Instead, they have skyrocketed.
Eight billionaires’ wealth = 3.6 billion people’s
GW, 1/20 — The world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population….Oxfam said it was “beyond grotesque” that a handful of rich men are worth $426 billion, equivalent to the wealth of 3.6 billion people.
Private prison corporations lock away the profits
GW, 6/24/16 — Getting locked up is unlikely to be good for your health but it’s terrific business for the booming private industry supplying…jails and prisons….
…Companies…market everything from jumpsuits and meal trays to masks to stop prisoners from spitting, straitjackets and other full-body restraints….
Donald Trump…has called for increased outsourcing of prisons. “I do think…private prisons…work a lot better.”
The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world…2.2 million [70 percent of inmates are black and Latino]. State prisons and county jails are adding healthcare to…services that are outsourced to for-profit companies….The industry is worth more than $3 billion a year….
…About 200 inmates died under the care of California Forensic Medical Group…between 2004 and 2014….The company is facing a class-action lawsuit in Monterrey county over medical and mental healthcare failures….
Lawsuits haven’t stopped…Corizon Health, the largest private prison healthcare provider in the U.S. from steadily increasing earnings. Corizon’s revenue has grown…to $1.55 billion in 2015….
The companies making the most money from prisons in America are Geo Group and Corrections Corporation of America which, combined, run more than 170 prisons and [immigrant] detention centers. CCA made revenues of $1.79 billion in 2015.