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Save Darfur was an Oil Play

I remember when you couldn't throw a stick without hitting someone who didn't want to SAVE DARFUR. And boy did they need hitting with a stick. All those high school and college students activated by OBAMA 08 lined up to add Darfur to their extracurriculars. Why? The usual manipulative pictures and imperialist propaganda. Sudanese refugees needed saving. Bleeding Hearts' Burden. George Clooney was showered with activist laurels for playing Hollywood's ambassador to Darfur. Soon enough pacifists were calling for military intervention, a "no-fly zone" but enforced with force. Denied, the US provided the military intervention covertly, and ultimately the southern fossil fuel rich portion of Sudan was lopped off for the multinational profiteers.

Why I Occupy Walmart

MY ENDGAME in occupying Walmart is to rally union members to the Occupy Movement. Union members, not unions. Taking the fight straight to Walmart, one of the most despicable, exploitative despoilers of the world's people and economy is something the big unions should have been doing thirty years ago. Maybe their members will finally see that they've been sold up the river by their supposed representatives. That neither local nor national unions are expressing solidarity with us on the sidewalks of these super centers is proof that the only wages and working conditions they've been protecting are their own.

Egyptians support Wisconsin workers

I'll rally to support the Wisconsin unions, AND let's hope they too can rise above what immediately threatens them to see that the oppressed of the world have a common enemy.

How come Pottery Barn rules don’t apply to Haiti?

When Tony posted nearly three years ago (!) about how shocking conditions in Haiti had become, it was a magnet for people saying the starving kids pictures (from Medicins sans frontiers, internationally respected medical aid agency, just not so much here in America) were recycled pictures from Ethiopia 3, 2 and one decade ago. Then when that was refuted, and before they raised that Stupid Response again, the people of Haiti were blamed for their own misfortunes. As though their LEADERS had actually been empowered by popular vote instead of installed, against the expressed will of the People, by and for the profit of American Corporate Hegemony. Alternating with French Hegemony until the AmeriCorp bought out the French. We broke it, we supposedly bought it, right? That's the one of the irRationale for staying in Iraq and Afghanistan. (rationale is both plural and single, I checked, you didn't, kiss off) Of course, it's not the American Corporations who are Paying the bills "we" ran up by breaking all the pottery, although they seem to be getting quite a lot of public funding to manipulate the Public Army and the Public intelligence community and the public "rebuilding" campaign, which mostly consists of taking very expensive videos and photographs of Other People moving the shards around. Much the same way they're paid to watch and take pictures while other people bury the Dead "shards" in Haiti. Through public funding for their private "efforts". Some have seen fit to criticize my frequent use of Capitalization and italics and bold type and ComBinatiOns Of tHem but some people need a little help finding juicy nuggets amidst the kibble. Both are Nourishing Mind Food but the juicy bits are more fun. Sometimes. Some of the people have difficulty seeing, which is a condition with which I can easily relate. Others are just kind of inured to reading and hearing Bullshit from the likes of Glenn Beck and need a little help finding emphasis in NORMAL thoughts. It's not that Glenn Beck is mentally defective, it's what he's paid to say, in the Corporate anticipation of the Audience being mentally defective. In a way, though, the situation in Ethiopia and Haiti is the same case, revisited. "Conservative" (their own code word for Racist Right Wing Extremists) Pundits insist that black people are incapable of governing themselves so it's up to the Great White Father in Washington to guide and assist and let's face it, outright Rule Over the poor little darkie savages. But Ethiopia has for several occasions been the richest nation on earth and in cumulative time they managed to do it for longer than the Americas have actually experienced European Rule. Intermittently because the times Ethiopia has been devastatingly poor have been periods of colonial rule. Like the Romans exacting tribute from them, and in the past couple of centuries European and European-American Corporate Rule turning Their nation into Our plantation. Same with Haiti. When the U.S. went to war with Hawaii and deposed their "tyrannical"

Saipan abuses impervious to outrage?

A 2006 article in MS Magazine exposed labor abuse in the US territories of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Have conditions changed since protectors Tom Delay and Jack Abramoff were dislodged? Consider that US Senator Daniel Kahikina delivered this condemnation of human exploitation in the Saipan in 1998. The Commonwealth shares our American flag, but it does not share the American system of immigration. There is something fundamentally wrong with a CNMI immigration system that issues permits to recruiters, who in turn promise well-paying American jobs to foreigners in exchange for a $6,000 recruitment fee. When the workers arrive in Saipan, they find their recruiter has vanished and there are no jobs in sight. Hundreds of these destitute workers roam the streets of Saipan with little or no chance of employment and no hope of returning to their homeland. The State Department has confirmed that the government of China is an active participant in the CNMI immigration system. There is something fundamentally wrong with an immigration system that allows the government of China to prohibit Chinese workers from exercising political or religious freedom while employed in United States. Something is fundamentally wrong with a CNMI immigration system that issues entry permits for 12- and 13-year-old girls from the Philippines and other Asian nations, and allows their employers to use them for live sex shows and prostitution. Finally, something is fundamentally wrong when a Chinese construction worker asks if he can sell one of his kidneys for enough money to return to China and escape the deplorable working conditions in the Commonwealth and the immigration system that brought him there. There are voices in the CNMI telling us that the cases of worker abuse we keep hearing about are isolated examples, that the system is improving, and that worker abuse is a thing of the past. These are the same voices that reap the economic benefits of a system of indentured labor that enslaves thousands of foreign workers -- a system described in a bi-partisan study as "an unsustainable economic, social and political system that is antithetical to most American values." There is overwhelming evidence that abuse in the CNMI occurs on a grand scale and the problems are far from isolated.

Horton Hears Your Fetus

Can you think of anything more terrifying for a pregnant teen than to imagine a large clumsy elephant will begin to stomp all over your right to decide what to do in you moment of crisis because he thinks he hears the distress call of your unborn accidental pregnancy?

Living better at the expense of others

Perhaps you thought it couldn't get worse. Colorado College hosts speakers who deny global warming, or dismiss the "one or two degrees." They have speakers who champion imperialism by debt. Coming up, on February 26th at Packard Hall, CC has asked Wal-mart VP of public relations Ray Bracy to address economic development. I kid you not, his address is: "Saving People Money So They Can Live Better: A Global Perspective."   Do you almost want to hear this pitch? Materialism to live better. Exploitation the means to an end. A global picture of happiness? Now that's going to take balls.   In the meantime, consider the bronze statue Survival of the Fattest, and this WTO lament, for Art In Defense Of Humanism: I'm sitting on the back of a man He is sinking under the burden I would do anything to help him Except stepping down from his back.

Ugly Dolls more than skin deep

Do you remember several years ago, when Ugly Dolls crawled out of the Cabbage Patch like that season's Troll Doll? We have an obsession with fugly. Except they were trendy, hand sewn in someone's attic and sold at exclusive boutiques, but had the aesthetic sophistication of sock monkeys, sharing 98% of their DNA. Uglydolls were the must-have gift for those whose taste was thread-bare chic. These eclectic one-of-a-kind one-offs were, it appeared, sewn by a single hand, or at most by several one-handed cottage industrialists. The design called for single flat panels stitched together without too much care, with scraps fastened cockeye to form the features. Of course the price you paid for such deliberate off-the-wall on-the-mark anti-production-value plush toys reflected where you could get them. Melrose Avenue haute-suture or Ebay. I found an Uglydoll display at a local boutique and saw the burgeoning cast of character-actors and side-kicks the collection has become. Plus now, to spare the mythical not-so-nimble seamstresses behind the first batch, these new generation Uglies herald from China. There is no good reason I suppose to deny the mass market access to the fruit of playful creative ninnies. But lo, the price tags are still show-off high! Is there no consumer benefit to derive from 55¢/hr wages? Running shoes which are priced $150 at retail cost less than $2 to make. But we know Nike has to recoup an incredible amount for R&D. They've got us running on air for goodness sake, that technological leap had to be expensive. Plus someone's got to pony up for the clever ads. Nike CEO Phil Knight doesn't advertise just for the sake of his vanity. The only engineering required with ugly plush toys is how to inject into the factory process the "slight variations which enhances [sic] their appearance of uniqueness." Can you picture Chinese overseers enforcing deliberately sloppy -but fastidious- handiwork? So why would the prices be kept so high? Even if sold only through specialty stores which require a 100% Keystone markup, there would still be leeway. Can you do the math? Probably the labor expended to make one plush toy would remain constant over the varying production scenarios. Let's compare the options: Manufacturing wages in the US have declined sharply, but at $12/hour, for how much did they have to sell the original Ugly? If we were considering a sweatshop in Los Angeles, the wage would be $4-$6/hour. So now we've half-ed it. Contracting a factory in Saipan or Guam, among the US possessions, would mean half again as much, $2-$3/hour and we'd still get to say MADE IN AMERICA. Moving the production to Mainland China means a prison wage of $0.55/hour. That's less than 1/20th of the original cost. Unless we hear news reports of Chinese laborers landing dream jobs sewing Ugly Dolls from straw to gold, somebody is making quite a grotesque, not even fugly, mark-up.

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