Poor people used to live in slums. Now the ‘economically disadvantaged’ occupy ‘substandard housing’ in the inner-cities. And a lot of them are broke. They don’t have ‘negative cash-flow’, they’re broke. Because many of them were fired. In other words, management wanted to ‘curtail redundancies in the human resources area’, and so many workers are no longer ‘viable members of the workforce’.
Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins. It’s as simple as that.
The CIA doesn’t kill anybody, they ‘neutralize’ people, or they ‘depopulate an area’. The government doesn’t lie, it engages in ‘disinformation’. The Pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in something called ‘sunshine units’. Israeli murderers are called commandos, Arab commandos are called terrorists. The Contra killers were known as ‘freedom fighters’. Well if crime fighters fight crime and firefighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight?
The role we all played in the Bangladesh tragedy
April 29, 2013
The first thing Shariful noticed was debris falling from the ceiling. Then he heard a crash as the factory floors gave way and the building crumpled. He fell from the seventh to the first floor‘faster than an elevator’s speed.’Next he heard people screaming: mostly women and children.
There were three crèches in the eight-floor factory. When Shariful gained consciousness he saw dust. He felt a sewing machine crushing his left leg and then he saw death. Everywhere. Dead pale bodies powdered with fine brown dirt. Shariful didn’t know this, but a pregnant woman went into labour around this time. Of course she shouldn’t have been at work. No-one should have been at work. Factory inspectors ordered the building be evacuated the day before but the owners ignored them. Workers who complained were threatened with dismissal. So the 3000 workers filed into the Dhaka factory last Wednesday against their will. As I write, the death-toll stands at 350, but is predicted to rise to 1000.
I learnt about the collapse of the Bangladeshi garment factory a few hours after it happened. I was lying in bed chatting on skype to a friend who is living in Dhaka. It was around 9.00 at night and I was already in my pyjamas: Benetton pyjamas in fact. My floor was its usual mess, strewn with clothes that I had proudly bought for ten dollars or less from Big Bargain Discounts as well as some more respectable work clothes: Gap, Zara, H&M and Levis. ‘It’s OUTRAGEOUS’ I railed, ‘the factory owners made them go back to work when they knew the building was unsafe.’ My friend agreed. We also tsked the government for doing so little to enforce basic safety standards for workers.
But as I hung up the phone the question of fault nagged me. There I was clothed in pyjamas that had been made if not in that factory then in one like it. The labels found inside the collapsed factory included Benetton, Mango, Joe Fresh, Primark and C&A. My floor was littered with dresses and tee-shirts that had been run through the sewing machines of people working in prison conditions or even possibly now dead.When I buy food I always ask where it has come from, but the same question never arises when I buy clothes. Any qualms about how much a worker must be getting paid if I manage to get a shirt for ten dollars are successfully repressed. But as first world consumers of third world products, how responsible are we for what happened in Dhaka? How much are my modern first-world luxuries dependent upon the dark satanic mills of a Dickensian global south? And if I would never buy battery hen eggs then why on earth would I buy clothes made in similar conditions? And why are there no warning labels on clothing such as we now expect to see on food?
The question of responsibility and what is to be done stretches from the global to the minutiae, from international labour standards to the clothes racks of Myer. It’s a question that stems from our commercial imperialist past and will continue into our neoliberal future. And it’s a question that centres on the lives of women.
We could start by blaming the illegally built building, although it’s certainly not the first. Five months earlier 112 workers died in a fire in the Tazreen garment factory. The workers burnt to death because the gates had been locked from the outside. We could also blame the fact that there are only 18 inspectors to monitor the 100,000 factories in the Dhaka area. Or we could blame the fact that all foreign retailers except Tommy Hilfiger, Tchibo and Calvin Kelin have refused to sign the Fire and Building Safety Agreement that would establish a system of independent factory inspectors. All this is true, and terrible, but there’s also a larger context.
The only reason why clothing companies go to places like Bangladesh, Cambodia, or the US-Mexican border, is because they’re on a hunt for cheap labour and they no longer want to invest in building factories. The minimum wage in Bangladesh is $37/month and there is an entire shadow economy that pays even less. The profit margin for Bangladeshi manufacturers is low so they subcontract out their labour to factories with illegal risky practices. While the foreign retailers report stellar annual profits, some Bangladeshi manufacturers often barely break even. The only way they can make profits is through increasing work hours often to 12-14 hour days, and avoiding building safety regulations and environmental standards.
As global capital sniffs like a ravenous wolf around the world in search of cheap labour, who are the workers who end up caught in its jaws? Liesbeth Sluiter from the Clean Clothes Campaign estimates that 84% of workers in the global clothing industry are women, which is 30-40 million women worldwide.
Fauzia Ahmed says factories prefer women because they’re excluded from male-dominated union movements and so are less likely to strike. And because they’re women they’re paid less, even in instances where they do the same work as men. Most of these women are young, poor and rural. They are as Sluiter describes: ‘women whose children sleep beneath the sewing machine and begin to help out as soon as their fingers can manage to thread a needle; some who wear nothing but black clothes to work when menstruating, because toilet visits are restricted and stains on their clothes will shame them; pregnant women who stand all day; women who are sexually harassed and psychologically intimidated…’
Surely there is no other issue where first world women’s consumerism collides so dramatically with the conditions of third world women. I mean, I wonder what Sex and the City would have looked like if Carrie turned her mind to these issues. But leaving Carrie’s ethics aside, let’s think about a feminist response.
Firstly, I think we should demand that labels be placed on clothing so that we know what we’re buying. Secondly, we try to buy locally and to buy less. Thirdly, we campaign with the many feminists from the global south who have demanded that labour standards be established by the International Labour Organisation and enforced with sanctions by the World Trade Organisation. Capitalism is a prowling, salivating beast
that needs to be tamed with regulation and personal ethics.
#4… & most importantly: Let’s not tame capitalism; let’s destroy it.
I’d like to stress the point people’s record brings up with this article. One common misconception, especially in the united states, is that somehow regular people are to blame for the terrible conditions in these factories. Working people don’t determine working conditions or set wages, capitalists do.
If you were to go up to someone who was shopping at Walmart and say, “Shame on you. You shouldn’t buy these products they were made in sweat shops.” You’d be dead wrong. Working people don’t have the luxury of going and buying labor safe products because they are more expensive, and spending extra money on cloths, or food, makes life harder over here. Being “anti-consumerist” is just pitting the needs of american workers against the needs of Bangladeshi workers, in the end we both lose.
While I could think many way to help get american workers to help the workers in Bangladesh i’ll save that for another time. In conclusion, don’t buy into capitalist propaganda. Consumerism is not the enemy capitalism is.
For a long time, corporations and governments have used the tried and true tactic of divide and conquer: they’ve tried to convince us that the immigrant rights struggle is different from the worker rights struggle, which is different from the climate justice struggle, to name just a few of the efforts to make the world a more sustainable place.
Of course, those divisions are false and self-serving: all of those struggles are linked by both cause and effect. The corporations, institutions and systems that caused environmental destruction by prioritizing the wealth of the few over the health of the many are the exact same ones that have trampled the rights of workers, immigrants, and the poor. And environmental crises like climate change promise to hit immigrant and poor communities the hardest.
Last week, Greenpeace hosted an Action Camp in Southern California for 160 activists where we focused intently on pushing back against those false divisions.
The Coastal Canyons Action Camp was the second annual direct action training camp that Greenpeace has hosted in our recent history. Activists learned to drive boats, honed their climbing skills, and practiced creating blockades to their bodies on the line to prevent environmental injustice when necessary. Artists focused on how to tell the story of our protests in clever, beautiful, provocative ways.
The participants represented a range of communities from the environmental movement and beyond. Some of the participants had worked with Greenpeace for years, but some never had. Some hailed from communities directly impacted by pollution, and some didn’t. There were veterans from the coalfields, the Keystone XL pipeline fight and the forest defense movement, and other folks who may not have thought of themselves as environmentalists first and foremost. They identified with the struggles for immigrant rights, worker rights, indigenous rights and more. Long-time activists affiliated with groups like the Catalyst Project, Indigenous Environmental Network, Rainforest Action Network, and Ruckus Society shared their experience too.
There were people of color and white people. People from indigenous nations attended. Many of the activists skewed younger, but people in their 50s and 60s were there to share their wisdom too. A few parents brought young children, and some whole families attended together. There were people who identified as men, women, transgendered, straight, gay, lesbian and queer, and people who do not identify with any of those words.
None of this is to say that the camp was a perfect picture of the diversity that the environmental movement – including Greenpeace – is still far from achieving. The process isn’t easy – learning how to understand and work with people who are different from yourself rarely is. Even within the camp, tensions arose as activists had to learn to work with new kinds of people. We also recognized that many of the groups with whom we could be forging alliances were absent.
But despite the challenges, the activists at camp worked to recognize each other as allies.
The skills that the activists learned at camp will be crucial tools. They’ll help a new generation of activists with Greenpeace and other groups confront environmental injustice at sea, on land and in the air.
But beyond the climbing harnesses, boats, blockade gear and paintbrushes, the new alliances we formed may have been the most powerful tool that any of us added to our collective arsenal last week.
Stoned, naked, armed and dangerous: more disturbing images from an Israeli soldier’s Instagram
Golani Brigade soldier Osher Maman, who came from a troubled youth in Florida, posts photos of himself breaking Israeli military law and playing with weapons in irresponsible ways. Source
As Mor Ostrovski’s now infamous Instagram image of a Palestinian child in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle generated disgust around the world, the Israeli army claimed that the photograph was “a severe incident which doesn’t accord with the IDF’s spirit and values.”
It is understandable that an occupation army that markets itself as the “most moral army in the world” would attempt such damage control.
Those who follow matters closely know that the photograph was an apt symbol for the Israeli army’s contempt for the lives of Palestinian children, as well as for the total impunity soldiers accused of crimes against Palestinian civilians enjoy. Even in terms of “misuse” of social media, it was no isolated incident.
Israeli soldiers’ use of social media has given a unique insight into an “army” that functions more like a rabble – with soldiers misusing weapons, breaking laws, and expressing violent and extreme views and posting images of themselves doing it online.
From troubled Florida youth to the Israeli army
A case in point is Osher Maman, another 20-year-old Israeli soldier currently enlisted in the “elite” Golani Brigade.
Maman’s Instagram account currently includes 549 images which show, among other things, images of him mishandling weapons and breaking military laws. The earliest date from April 2012 and the most recent from today. An illustrative selection – with tags where he included them – are used throughout this post. Maman also expresses deeply racist and even genocidal views towards Palestinians and Arabs.
Maman, who grew up in Naples, Florida after his family left Israel a decade ago, made the news in 2006 when as a 14-year-old he brought a BB gun given to him by his parents to school and used it to threaten two girls.
Osher Maman’s Facebook page, which features many of the same images that can be seen on his Instagram account but also goes back earlier, identifies him as a former student of Barron Collier High School in Naples, Florida, and uses the nickname “Eazybaby” which resembles the name of his Instagram account eazybaby310.
An Osher Maman was a member of the graduating high school class of 2010 according to the Naples Daily News on 5 June 2010.
Maman’s Facebook bio says: “From israel to Miami to the I.D.F Kik: eazybaby310 An active assassin/hitman” and identifies himself as a member of Barak, the 12th Battalion of the supposedly “elite” Golani brigade. This is corroborated by many images he has posted of weapons, uniforms and other military paraphernalia bearing the insignia of this battaltion.
Maman wrote a message on Facebook on 13 August 2011:
im leaving to the israeli army this monday, just wanted to say.. fuck the police, fuck barron collier high school and all the staff, fuck all the judges, fuck all you little hater faggots that blow up my fb and phone talking shit, fuck the bitches that cheated on me, fuck the virus i just got on my computer and whoever created it, fuck you fuck you fuck you, whos next…
One year later, Maman celebrated the anniversary of his move in another Facebook status:
So one year ago i moved here to join the army… Im not gonna make up some bullshit glorious story to break your heart… I just did it to beat up terrorists and shit… Happy one year anniversary Mmmmmffffffckasss!!!
Not exactly a boy scout
An image he posted of its insignia indicates that Maman was recruited directly from the United States via “Garin Tzabar” a program that recruits Jews and Israelis from overseas into the army. Maman identifies himself as a Garin Tzabar member on his Google Plus account.
A comment made on a website dedicated to Garin Tzabar, from the Facebook account of Maman’s mother, Batya Sabag, a social media consultant in Naples, Florida, also identifies her son as a graduate of the program.
One of the requirements of the Garin Tzabar program is a “Certificate of Good Conduct (proof of no prior criminal record).”
This military recruitment program for the Israeli occupation army is run by the Israel Scouts.
According to an image posted by Maman, on 5 April 2012 his military service had begun 138 days previously (which would be November 2011) and will end on 19 November 2014.
A montage posted by Osher Mamam features a blindfolded and bound Palestinian prisoner, weapons, and tags that reveal fantasies of violence. Source
Misuse of weapons
When Maman was arrested and charged in the BB gun incident – classified by authorities as a weapon, not a toy, his father, Zion Maman, told media that “the culture in Israel has a more relaxed view about toy guns.”
Basic rule of gun safety: don’t put your finger on the trigger unless you intend to shoot. Source
That relaxed view extends to real guns, mortars, grenades and all sorts of other heavy weapons that Osher Maman is seen handling, sometimes naked, and using as toys and props in disturbing images he posted online.
These images suggest that the Israeli army exercises little control or discipline over weapons.
This gun appears to be loaded and it’s definitely not a toy. Source
Does the Israeli army just leave mortar shells lying around for use as Instagram props? Source
Playing God? Note the caption Osher Maman has attached to this image of what might be the controller of remote weapon system. Source
Maman posts images of himself breaking military law
A criminal offense under Israeli military law, Golani brigade soldier Osher Maman smokes marijuana in his uniform. Source
Images posted on Maman’s Instagram account show him smoking marijuana in uniform and on duty, in direct contravention of Israeli army order “33.011 - Use of Drugs - procedures for report, detention, and initiating a military police investigation.”
Military order 33.011 states that the use of drugs, including hashish, “constitutes a criminal offense and harms the army, so this order does not leave room for the commanders’ discretion.” It adds that, “All soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces are prohibited from possessing drugs, taking them, or trading in them.”
Osher Maman shows off his stash. Possession is a criminal offense under army law. Source
What does it mean that the Israeli army recruits a soldier, with a dubious history, who is stupid enough to post images of himself committing more criminal offenses?
Is this a man who should be handling – playing with – lethal weapons in any circumstances? Or does it mean that this Most Moral Army so lacks discipline that soldiers like Maman can break the law without fear of consequences?
A lust for violence and genocidal hatred of Arabs
Osher Maman freely expresses his deep, even genocidal hatred of Palestinians and his desire to see them oppressed and killed. Responding to a comment on one of his images, for example, Maman told the commenter
Lmao for all I care you can comment all my pictures, you’re still a fucking Arab pile of shit, you even smell like it. You’re never going to win over israel (the chosen people) bc you’re a bunch of slaves, shit I probably am the slave master of some Arab who’s related to you… An you all will stay trapped in gaza and every little shittt village that you Palestinians have inside of israel. And you will continue to go to our jails and to have your houses broken in to. Basically your life will be shit until you all die, so go ahead and have fun commenting on my pictures of that’s going to make your death a little better…
Note the horrifying tags Israeli soldier Osher Maman, who took a BB gun to school as a teen and used it to threaten two girls, has attached to this image. Source
In addition to the endless stream of photos of himself and his buddies posing with guns, Maman shares images and slogans glorifying violence, especially, of course, against Palestinians.
Over a map of Gaza, the Hebrew slogan says “Soon to be a giant theme park.” Source
Osher Maman is not a “rotten apple.” He, along with Mor Ostrovski – the author of the infamous photo of the boy in the crosshairs – is another symbol of the occupation army under whose arbitrary and dictatorial rule Palestinians have been forced to live for decades.
It is soldiers just like these who whine to the Israeli media that they can’t be more brutal and violent against Palestinians because cameras are watching them.
It is soldiers just like these who are responsible, though never punished or held to account, for the killings of Palestinian children like Samir Awad, Salih al-Amarin and Muhammad al-Salaymeh, young men like Mustafa Tamimi and Rushdi Tamimi and young women like Lubna Hanash among so many thousands more.
With thanks to Benjamin Doherty for research and to Dena Shunra for research, translation and analysis.
DOWNLOAD FOR FREE: http://bit.ly/broalitbmh
Brother Ali offers up a free 7 song EP for your listening pleasure. The Bite Marked Heart features Phonte (Little Brother, Foreign Exchange) Stokley Williams (Mint Condition), Singer/songwriter Nikki Jean and Aby Wolf. Beats provided by Jake One and Ant. Ali is currently putting the finishing touches on his 6th studio album Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color.
tracks 1,2,4,6,7 produced by Jake One
tracks 3,5 produced by Ant
Source: SoundCloud / rhymesayers
Palestinian in “critical condition” on day 203 of hunger strike
February 12, 2013
Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi is in “critical condition” after 203 days spent on a hunger strike, activists said, sparking fears on Monday that he might not survive his protest against Israel’s abusive prison system.
Issawi is one of thousands of Palestinian prisoners who have gone on hunger strikes in the past year to denounce Israel’s policy of administrative detention and poor life conditions in prisons.
The 33-year old has been refusing food since July 2012, making it one of the longest hunger strikes in the world.
Issawi stopped drinking water and taking vitamins earlier this month, and is refusing medical care. His weight dropped to less than 47 kilograms and he is confined to a wheelchair, suffering from loss of vision, fainting and vomiting blood.
“His heart could stop at any moment,” said Daleen Elshaer, a coordinator for the Free Samer Issawi Campaign.
Elshaer told Al-Akhbar that Issawi’s lawyer and human rights activists were denied accessed to Issawi until Saturday during his most recent hospitalization outside of the infamous Ramlah prison.
Issawi was first arrested in 2002 and sentenced to thirty years in prison over weapons possession and forming a military group. He was released in an October 2011 prisoner swap agreement between Israel and Hamas in which the Jewish state freed 1,027 mostly-Palestinians in exchange for an Israeli soldier captured in 2006.
He was rearrested on 7 July 2012 and accused of violating the terms of his release by leaving Jerusalem. Israeli prosecutors are seeking to cancel his amnesty and detain him for 20 years, the remainder of his previous sentence, despite there being no other charges against him.
Another Palestinian hunger striker, Jaafar Ezzedine, recently threatened to follow in Issawi’s footsteps and refuse water unless Israel meets his demands, according to the Palestine News Network.
According to prisoners rights group Addameer, 4,743 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of January, including 178 in administrative detention.
While the campaign to free Issawi has tried to attract broader international attention, Elshaer said they are too often faced with a wall of silence.
“Samer is non-violently resisting a violent occupation, but nobody is willing to talk about him because he is Palestinian,” she said. “Would it take his death for people to cover his story?”
Elshaer added that Issawi’s family has been repeatedly harassed by Israeli forces. Water access was cut to his sister’s house, and his brother’s home was reportedly demolished by the Israeli army in early January.
But while Issawi’s health is a big cause for concern for his supporters, they keep faith in him and his cause.
“God is protecting him because he is innocent,” Elshaer asserted.