Category Archives: Slavery

The Grim Truth of Chinese Factories Producing the West’s Christmas Toys

Gethin Chamberlain reports for The Observer:

Related image[…] An investigation with the US-based NGO China Labor Watch reveals that toys including Barbie, Thomas the Tank Engine and Hot Wheels were made by staff earning as little as 86p an hour.

Overtime can run to nearly three times the legal limit. In some factories – including one producing Happy Meal toys for McDonald’s from the new DreamWorks movie Trolls – that means some are on 12-hour shifts and have to work with hazardous chemicals.

According to China Labor Watch, the world of toys may be heaven for children, but it is a world of misery for toy factory workers.

The group’s founder and executive director, Li Qiang, said: “We can’t tolerate that children’s dreams are based on workers’ nightmares, and we must fight against the unfair oppression of workers who manufacture toys.”

Undercover investigators infiltrated four factories, and the group shared wage slips and pictures with the Observer to support their findings.



Will Donald Trump Appoint White Supremacists If He Gets Elected?

Thom talks about an open white supremacist associated with the Donald Trump campaign and asks whether these are the types of people the Republican nominee will appoint if he wins the election. (Thom Hartmann Show)

From Slavery to Mass Incarceration, Ava DuVernay’s Film “13th” Examines Racist U.S. Justice System

Amy Goodman speaks to Ava DuVernay, whose new documentary ’13th’ chronicles how the U.S. justice system has been driven by racism from the days of slavery to today’s era of mass incarceration. She also speaks totwo people featured in the film, Malkia Cyril of the Center for Media Justice and Kevin Gannon of Grand View University. As well as Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, about how ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) has played a central role in the expansion of the U.S. prison system. (Democracy Now!)

‘Slave-Gate’ Joins Bill O’Reilly and Fox News’s Ugly History of Race-Baiting

Lloyd Grove reports for The Daily Beast:

Fearless Falklands War correspondent Bill O’Reilly is an ace reporter whose nose for news also placed him at the front door of a shadowy JFK assassination figure at the very moment the guy was committing suicide with a shotgun, but also (alas) an innocent victim years ago of a frivolous sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a scheming female producer—if only in his own self-justifying fantasies and fabrications.

Now he has added once again to his fictional record of excellence.

O’Reilly’s latest journalistic exploit—deigning to lecture Michelle Obama on the facts of slavery in America—comes just as his employer, Fox News, is painfully clearing away the smoking rubble of an asteroid strike: fired anchor Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against the conservative-leaning cable network’s powerful founder and chairman, Roger Ailes, and Ailes’s shocking forced resignation last week in a cloud of scandal.

But you see, the 66-year-old uber-popular Fox News personality—who has slapped his name on a series of best-selling confections (Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, Killing Jesus, etc.) largely researched and written by a co-author, Martin Dugard—is something of a history scholar, at least in his own mind.


High Street Fashion and Sweatshop Deaths of Bangladesh: Interview with Owen Espley

Afshin Rattansi speaks to Senior Economic Justice Campaigner at War on Want, Owen Espley, about the fashion’s worst industrial accident, the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, what the brands involved have done in its aftermath and it’s effects on the UK’s high street. (Going Underground)

The Dark Side Of Chocolate

This 2010 documentary shows that the exploitation and slavetrading of African children to harvest chocolate was still occurring a decade after the cocoa industry pledged to end it. (The Dark Side of Chocolate)

Beyoncé Invokes Black Panthers and Black Lives Matter at Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show: Interview with Dave Zirin and Vince Warren

Amy Goodman talks to Dave Zirin, sportswriter for The Nation, and Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). Both men discuss Beyoncé paying tribute to the Black Panthers and the Black Lives Matter movement during her halftime show at Super Bowl 50 where the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers. Zirin also talks about the protests that have been taking place in San Francisco prior to the event. (Democracy Now!)

Santa’s real workshop: The town in China that makes the world’s Christmas decorations

Oliver Wainwright reported for The Guardian last December:

A Christmas corridor in District Two of Yiwu International Trade Market.There’s red on the ceiling and red on the floor, red dripping from the window sills and red globules splattered across the walls. It looks like the artist Anish Kapoor has been let loose with his wax cannon again. But this, in fact, is what the making of Christmas looks like; this is the very heart of the real Santa’s workshop – thousands of miles from the North Pole, in the Chinese city of Yiwu.

Our yuletide myth-making might like to imagine that Christmas is made by rosy-cheeked elves hammering away in a snow-bound log cabin somewhere in the Arctic Circle. But it’s not. The likelihood is that most of those baubles, tinsel and flashing LED lights you’ve draped liberally around your house came from Yiwu, 300km south of Shanghai – where there’s not a (real) pine tree nor (natural) snowflake in sight.

Christened “China’s Christmas village”, Yiwu is home to 600 factories that collectively churn out over 60% of all the world’s Christmas decorations and accessories, from glowing fibre-optic trees to felt Santa hats. The “elves” that staff these factories are mainly migrant labourers, working 12 hours a day for a maximum of £200 to £300 a month – and it turns out they’re not entirely sure what Christmas is.


Merry Christmas…

“Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.”~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Inside Saudi Arabia: Butchery, Slavery and History of Revolt

In episode 005 of The Empire Files, Abby Martin looks at Saudi Arabia, the new head of the United Nations panel on Human Rights. Abby takes a look inside the brutal reality of this police-state monarchy, and tells the untold people’s history of resistance to it. With a major, catastrophic war in Yemen and looming high-profile executions of activists, she exposes true nature of the U.S.-Saudi love affair. (The Empire Files)

The Empire Files: Enter the World’s Biggest Prison

The American Empire holds more prisoners than any other country on earth, both in total numbers and per capita. In this episode of The Empire Files, Abby Martin explores the dark reality of the U.S. prison system: the conditions, who is held in them, and the roots of mass incarceration. (The Empire Files)

Blood on the Catwalk: Interview with Andrew Morgan

Afshin Rattansi talks to Andrew Morgan, director of documentary The True Cost. They discuss the human and environmental impacts of the fashion industry, from sweatshop labour to polluted waters and the death and destruction that comes with the clothes we wear. (Going Underground)

Will the UN Tackle Impunity for Peacekeepers Who Sexually Abuse Women and Children? Interview with Paula Donovan

Interview from 2nd July with Paula Donovan, co-director of AIDS-Free World. She is part of the Code Blue campaign, which seeks to end the sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations military and non-military peacekeeping personnel. (Democracy Now)

The Hypocrisy World Cup

Campaigners target Qatar World Cup: Interview with Andrew Jennings

Andrew Jennings a British investigative journalist who has been covering corruption involving FIFA and the IOC for many years. He is the author of a number of books including The Great Olympic Swindle, FOUL! and Omerta. All of which are available via his website, Transparency In Sport.

The Dark Side of Football Transfers

Oliver Brown reports for The Telegraph:

‘Even with only his workaday shoes and a scuffed football, Souleymane Oeudraogo exudes instinctive talent. Close control skills, keepy-uppy, volleys on the spin: all are effortless. This spartan municipal training pitch in southwest Paris is his habitual terrain. But something is amiss. Oeudraogo looks too gaunt to be a central defender, the position he plays. And the 21-year-old is wearing only a gilet to stave off the piercing late-afternoon chill. He tells me it is his only jacket.

Oeudraogo is a professional footballer who two years ago stood on the cusp of joining the Burkina Faso national team. He arrived in Paris eight weeks ago, after 24 months of moving between clubs and academies in Senegal, Portugal and Belgium.

He is one of thousands of young players hoping to catch a break this month. For January brings the absurd largesse of football’s midseason transfer window, when an estimated £150 million will be lavished by Premier League clubs across 31 chaotic days. In the final week of the last summer window, Argentina’s Angel di María joined Manchester United for a £59.7 million fee, a British record. The Colombian Radamel Falcao also moved to Old Trafford, from Monaco, for an eye-watering loan of £6 million a year.

Oeudraogo, however, belongs to a growing underclass for which the top European leagues are but a shimmering mirage. Enticed on false premises from West Africa, South America and parts of the Far East by unscrupulous agents, their transfers to Europe are less about chasing the dream than living through a nightmare. Oeudraogo has wound up in the French capital as a victim of football’s version of human trafficking. He has no contract, no connections, and couch-surfs between apartments in the Paris projects. “It’s really harder than I thought it would be,” he says quietly.’


Prison Factory: Amazon’s Deplorable Warehouses

iEmpire: Apple’s Sordid Business Practices Are Even Worse Than You Think

Arun Gupta writes for AlterNet:

‘Behind the sleek face of the iPad is an ugly backstory that reveals once more the horrors of globalization. The buzz about Apple’s sordid business practices comes courtesy of the New York Times series on the “iEconomy.” In some ways it’s well reported but adds little new to what critics of the Taiwan-based Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer, have been saying for years. The series’ biggest impact may be discomfiting Apple fanatics who as they read the articles realize that the iPad they are holding is assembled from child labor, toxic shop floors, involuntary overtime, suicidal working conditions, and preventable accidents that kill and maim workers.

It turns out the story is much worse. Researchers with the Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) say that legions of vocational and university students, some as young as 16, are forced to take months’-long “internships” in Foxconn’s mainland China factories assembling Apple products. The details of the internship program paint a far more disturbing picture than the Times does of how Foxconn, “the Chinese hell factory,” treats its workers, relying on public humiliation, military discipline, forced labor and physical abuse as management tools to hold down costs and extract maximum profits for Apple.’


From Sex Worker to Seamstress: The High Cost of Cheap Clothes

‘Cambodia’s aggressive anti-trafficking campaign is designed to rescue and rehabilitate sex workers. But many women say authorities in Cambodia are actually forcing them into a trade where conditions and pay are even worse: making clothing for Western brands. VICE founder Suroosh Alvi traveled to Phnom Penh to speak with former and current sex workers, officials, and labor organizers to investigate what is happening to those swept up in the country’s trafficking crackdown.’ (VICE)

Christopher Columbus: The ISIS Of His Day

Columbus Day: How Is This Still A Thing?

The Economist alleges slavery wasn’t all bad

Ben Lawson writes for the Atlantic Journal Constitution:

The Economist has been getting an earful after it published a book review claiming a book unfairly portrayed slave owners. Yeah, you heard me right.

The article published Thursday is a review on Edward Baptist’s book, “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.”

This is the line that has people particularly fired up: “Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains. This is not history; it is advocacy.”‘


Slaves of Happiness Island: Abu Dhabi and the Dark Side of High Art

Molly Crabapple writes for Vice:

‘[…] Reports about the conditions of workers in the Gulf have been wide and probing. Articles contrast the glittering skyscrapers they build and the scant wages they receive. In May, the New York Timespublished a scathing exposé of labor abuses at NYU Abu Dhabi.

But what’s often lost in much of the reporting about foreign labor in the United Arab Emirates—and Abu Dhabi specifically—is the agency of the workers themselves. The men I met in the Gulf are brave and ambitious—heroes to their families back home. They dared to chase better prospects and were met with repression instead. In a country where the faintest whisper of dissent can get you deported, more than a hundred strikes have rocked the construction industry in the past three years. While workers may be lied to and forced to live and work in brutal conditions, they also—improbably—are fighting back.’


Cambodia’s Ongoing Human Trafficking Problem

Kyla Ryan reports for The Diplomat:

Cambodia’s Ongoing Human Trafficking Problem‘Victims of sex trafficking are often girls from poor families, who are tricked into working as prostitutes. Many girls are also sold to brothels by their own parents, often to pay off debts. A majority of the children taken into prostitution were students at the time, although children are vulnerable regardless of their school attendance. Girls who are forced to work in brothels endure regular rape and abuse, and may be tortured if caught attempting to escape. Some of the girls in the brothels are just 5 years old. Trade in virgins is also a big market, with buyers paying from $500 – $4000 to purchase a young girl’s virginity.

This shocking trade can be linked at least in part to Cambodia’s tragic history. The genocide during the Khmer Rouge era from 1975 to 1979 killed approximately two million people. The educated and religious communities of mainly Buddhists were nearly wiped out, along with social institutions, leaving behind a fractured society after the Khmer Rouge regime collapsed. Although the country has shown signs of development, there is a large wealth gap, and Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in Asia.


The Untold History of Independence Day: Interview with historian Peter Linebaugh

“Counter-Revolution of 1776”: Was the U.S. Independence War a Conservative Revolt in Favor of Slavery? Interview with historian Gerald Horne

‘As the United States prepares to celebrate Independence Day, we look at why July 4 is not a cause for celebration for all. For Native Americans, it may be a bitter reminder of colonialism, which brought fatal diseases, cultural hegemony and genocide. Neither did the new republic’s promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” extend to African Americans. The colonists who declared their freedom from England did not share their newly founded liberation with the millions of Africans they had captured and forced into slavery. We speak with historian Gerald Horne, who argues the so-called Revolutionary War was actually a conservative effort by American colonists to protect their system of slavery. He is the author of two new books: “The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America” and “Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba during Slavery and Jim Crow.” Horne is professor of history and African American Studies at the University of Houston.’ (Democracy Now!)

Primark Shopper Discovers ‘Cry for Help’ Stitched into £10 Dress

Ellen Stewart reports for My Daily:

Primark has come under fire after a shopper discovered the words, “Forced to work exhausting hours” hand-stitched on the label of a £10 floral dress. Rebecca Gallagher from Swansea said she was shocked to discover the apparent “cry for help” emblazoned across the label of her new purchase. The 25-year-old has vowed never to wear her bargain find for fear it could be the result of exploitative labour.

“I was amazed when I checked for the washing instructions and spotted this label,” she told the South Wales Evening Post. “It was stitched by hand to say ‘Forced to work exhausting hours’ and sewn in with the other normal labels.’ “To be honest I’ve never really thought much about how the clothes are made. But this really made me think about how we get our cheap fashion,” she explained.’


Slave ships & supermarkets: Modern day slavery in Thailand

‘Slavery is back. Modern day slave ships have been used to provide feed for prawns supplied to some of the world’s biggest supermarkets, including: Tesco, Aldi, Walmart and Morrisons. A six-month Guardian multimedia investigation has, for the first time, tracked how these supermarkets use suppliers relying on slave labour to put cheap prawns on their shelves.’ (The Guardian)

Portraits of People Living on a Dollar a Day

Eric Wuestewald writes for Mother Jones:

‘Living in a wealthy nation, it’s easy to forget that a whopping one-sixth of the world’s population subsists without stable sources of food, medical care, or housing. More than a billion people around the world are believed to live on a dollar a day—and often less. While the circumstances leading to that sort of extreme poverty are varied and complicated, the situations faced by the planet’s poorest are depressingly familiar. A new book out this week painstakingly documents the circumstances of some of them. Written by Thomas A. Nazario, the founder of a nonprofit called The Forgotten International, and vividly reported and photographed by Pulitzer Prize winner Renée C. Byer, Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor offers a window into these people’s everyday lives, and calls for action on their behalf.’


U.S. brands fail to act on Bangladesh tragedy