How self-absorbed computer hackers became a global, and highly disruptive, force for freedom:
“If there’s one thing that unites hacktivists across multiple generations, it’s dedication to the idea that information on the Internet should be free — a first principle that has not infrequently put them at odds with corporations and governments the world over.”
Computer hackers aren’t an especially earnest bunch. After all, lulz (a corruption of the phrase “laugh out loud” and a reference to hackers’ penchant for tomfoolery) was the primary objective of the hacker collective Anonymous before it graduated to more serious cyberoperations in the latter half of the 2000s.
Women protesting the plight of Beatriz, San Salvador
Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto Terapéutico
All most of us know is that a woman named Beatriz, a 22-year old mother of one, is critically ill in a San Salvador hospital with kidney failure, an auto-immune disorder and at the center of a growing controversy.
Beatriz is also five months pregnant with an anencephalic fetus, a fatal malformation where the brain and skull of the fetus are largely missing.
Doctors say the baby will almost certainly be born dead and with all of these factors Beatriz must abort the fetus to save her life. But Beatriz’ chance for survival is illegal in this tiny and very Catholic country.
“We hope that the Supreme Court treats this case with the urgency it merits, given that Beatriz’s life and health are at risk,” said Esther Major, Amnesty International’s expert on Central America. “She is suffering cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in being denied the medical intervention she so urgently needs.
A deadly factory collapse in Bangladesh that has so far been estimated to have killed nearly 250 people is again raising questions about the role that US companies and consumers play in perpetuating dangerous and unfair sweatshops overseas.
Yglesias was responding to the case made by University of Rhode Island history professor Erik Loomis that the factory building collapse that killed at least 244 people in Dhaka shows the need for universal labor standards across all countries. He writes in the Lawyers, Guns and Money blog:
Ultimately, we need international standards for factory safety, guaranteed through an international agency that includes vigorous inspections and real financial punishments. Of course, we are a long ways from any of this. But we have to begin at least talking in these terms, demanding accountability for workplace deaths, whether in the United States or in Bangladesh.
News reports are coming out about the circumstances of the building collapse. The LA Times reports labor activists saying that as many as 2,500 people refused to enter the building over structural concerns. Visible cracks were reason concern for the workers, but assurances from managers and the building owner proved to be enough to get the workers inside only an hour before it collapsed. Continue reading →
Sumi Abedin was making 18 cents an hour as a seamstress, putting together garments for Sean “P Diddy” Combs’ clothing line (known as Sean John Clothing) when the factory she worked in located outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, began burning.
“The door was locked and we couldn’t get out,” Abedin said, speaking through translator and Bangladeshi labor activist Kalpona Akter. She ended up having to leap from a three-story window, breaking an arm and a leg – and feeling lucky to have survived. More than a hundred did not.
Abedin and Akter are in Seattle today as part of a U.S. tour — the End Death Trap Tour, they call it — aimed at urging American corporations and clothing purchasers like Walmart and Gap to support safe, fair working conditions overseas.
Bangladesh, with 5,000 such factories and millions of garment industry workers, is second only to China as a global exporter of clothing. The garment industry is seen by many Bangladeshi officials and business leaders as one of the nation’s brightest economic prospects.
Competing largely by supplying low-cost labor, Bangladesh is also seen by many human rights and labor activists as an increasingly dangerous place for workers. Below, in the video, Abedin describes how she narrowly escaped death:
My friend Joe Brewer and his colleague Martin Kirk, proponents of /The Rules initiative, are on a campaign to get all of us to recognize poverty is not an accident or natural consequence of life. It is created and enforced. Here’s their latest installment.
A Ugandan boy looks into the camera. Photograph by bel0ved. What would you say if we told you that the biggest obstacle to eradicating poverty is the way we think about it? That the human mind and our common sense logic about how the world works is where the battle to end poverty must first be waged?
Oxfam’s Duncan Green wonders what might happen if instead of pursuing the mantra of “Make Poverty History” we seek to make inequality the target. Might sound wonky and maybe like hair-splitting, but Green thinks it could be pretty fundamental. To wit:
Inequality is all about relationships (a single individual can’t be unequal!), meaning a greater emphasis on power and politics within/between countries.
Inequality is a universal challenge – within countries, it involves everyone; internationally it obliterates North-South distinctions.
Inequality is structural – what kind of economy do we have/want? What’s balance between disequalizing sectors (finance, extractives, capital intensive agriculture) and equalizing sectors (smallscale ag, labour intensive manufacturing, smallscale retail).
Last week I spoke at a Brussels conference on inequality, organized by the Belgian NGO coalition 11.11.11. Inequality is flavour of the month right now, showing surprising staying power within the post-2015 process and elsewhere.
Despite efforts by Uganda, the United States, the AU and other partners, LRA warlord Joseph Kony remains hidden in the jungles that span the Central African Republic (CAR) and its neighbors. A recent coup in the CAR slowed down the effort that has had trouble finding the rebel leader. Uganda suspended its efforts in early April as did the US special forces group that are providing logistical and intelligence support for the hunt.
This report from 60 Minutes last Sunday shows how the US military is helping to train the soldiers who are looking for Kony and the LRA.
While the hunt goes it, it appears that Kony is settling in to the life of a farmer. Continue reading →