Friday, January 3, 2014

Jan 3, 2014: About the Bangladesh story that didn't make the Irving press.

I mentioned yesterday some of the companies that use use extremely cheap labour and barbaric conditions to produce goods cheaply in Bangladesh. The workers are mostly women who work seven days a week, ten hours and more a day, have no holidays, get paid only a few dollars a month, and die in rickety factories. This is  where (and why) over a thousand women were killed in a fire in 2013.

International intervention induced 74 of the companies to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord which requires better and safer conditions. It is administered by an independent authority.

17 companies refused to sign. Instead, they set up their own (and much less satisfactory) deal. It's called the Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative. It offers a good deal less protection than the safety accord - and it doesn't have none of them there independent authorities to administer it. No siree.  The companies themselves do the administering - jes' because they's nice folks.

I just unpacked my full list of the companies that set up their own accord rather than sign the real one. Monctonians  will recognize some of those companies - notably Walmart, Gap, Canadian Tire, L.L.Bean. Sears, and Target.

Funny it didn't make the Times and Transcript.

But don't feel left out. The companies that overworked, underpaid and killed those women in Bangladesh would be quite as happy to do it to you. And they already are doing it to some of you.

The information comes from a magazine called This, and it can be contacted at THIS.ORG   (The magazine has lots of interesting material; though it's not always written as clearly as it should be.)

It also has a very informative article on who is paying big money to spread the idea that our climate in not changing   (despite what most scientists think). It's not a big surprise. The money comes largely from the oil industry. It's handed out to those propaganda  whores we call think tanks - C.D.Howe Institute, Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, etc.

The "studies" conducted by these groups then get picked up by cooperative news media like the Irving press. That's why we get regular letters to the editor from the gullible who assure us they have seen proof that climate change is not happening.

Oh, I should add another story that (isn't) in the TandT. Large numbers of people are fleeing US-controlled dictatorships in Latin America. They are crowding into a Mexico which scarcely has the resources to deal with them. Why are they fleeing?

They come from countries like Guatemala which are rich in mining resources. And there are virtually no regulations. The companies employ "security guards" (armed thugs) who kick native peoples off their lands to take them for the company, who kill those who get in the way, who force brutal working conditions on the miners (both men and women), and who enjoy frequent gang rape and murder of the women.

They have also so polluted the land and the waters that much of the region will never be productive again.

Oh, and Canadian mining companies are prominent in all this. Perhaps the TandT could give us a series on who these companies are, and who the big shareholders are. After all, Mr. Harper seems determined that we are next on the list.

I spent the above time on what isn't in the paper because there is so much in the paper that isn't worth reading. There's a big story in section 1 about a British family moving to Moncton because Canada offers more opportunity than Europe does.

Hey! Big flash! That's why almost all our families came to Canada. But it won't work any more.

Europe has no opportunities to offer because Europe's capitalists did what Stalin and Mao could not do. They destroyed capitalism. American capitalism has done much the same - and Canada's capitalists are well advanced in self-destruction.

Nor will blaming the poor, and cutting their services and raising their taxes. In fact, that will have the effect of destroying us all, and more quickly.  That much has been proven many times in history. But our economic bosses don't read - or think - much. In New Brunswick, as in Canada as a whole, the lunatics are in charge of the asylum.

Anyway, there's nothing to read in section A.
There is, however, an important report on C1. The Guardian Newspaper and The New York Times are calling for clemency for Edward Snowden, the man who released the story about how the NSA was spying on the whole world, from national leaders down to people just using their cell phones.

The American government wants Snowden badly to put him in solitary for the rest of his life. The Times and the Guardian say he should be praised for what he's done. I agree; but that that's not why the story is important.

What's important is that this is one of those very rare occasions on which the The New York Times has broken step with the obediently plodding news media of North America. This is no small matter. This is an act of revolt - and the NSA will certainly treat it in that way - as will the Canadian government.

The editorial pretends to be about the revival of forestry products in NB when it's really about shale gas. It also says the US market is on the rebound when, in fact, the only part that's bounding is the very rich part - and it's been doing that for the last 35 years without doing the rest of us any good.

Norbert continues his series on prostitution. Really, it would be more useful to  hear what must be his expert opinion on presstitution.

Cole Hobson has a piece on making resolutions. Like the thousands of opinion pieces on that subject written every New Year for every newspaper in the world, it says nothing of any originality or use.

Gwynne Dyer has the only piece in the paper worth reading. It's about how the money wasted on espionage in the US could save far more lives by being switched to such things as infant care and road maintenance. And, quite seriously, he makes a very compelling case.

But it won't matter, of course, because most espionage has nothing to do with saving lives. It has to do with stealing industrial secrets, with murder, with mass killing, and with scaring us into keeping our mouths shut.

And don't believe for a minute that it doesn't happen in Canada. Our government is not only doing the same thing; it is doing it in close collaboration with the NSA, and with the bosses of the corporate world.


  1. Re: Bangladesh

    Do you not understand that a "Bangladesh Safety Accord", or a " Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative", or whatever you wish to call "it" has ONLY one purpose?

    That "purpose" is to prevent the workers from embracing trade unionism, just like what happened here (and in Europe) when normal working folks were abused by their betters. Try and picture a Canada without unions. What would the wages, and working conditions, be like here if unions didn't happen?

    Do you *think* for one moment, that the big corporations are throwing money at Bangladesh, because they have ANY feelings of "responsibility"?

  2. "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power."

    - Benito Mussolini

    So what we have here in Canada is, according to Mussolini's definition, a fascist state.