- Sari sweatshop outside of Dhaka
- Sabeen Virani
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.
Amid all the reports of this massive tragedy, Slate’s Matt Yglesias offered a counterpoint to the moral outrage — and, indirectly, against the pleas from some Bangladeshi workers - with a blog post arguing that we should accept reduced safety rules in poor countries.
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
The long journey through the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Section 1502 in the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act has come to an end. A 3-2 vote adopted the provision that will force mining companies to detail their operations in conflict regions.
For consumers, this means that large electronics companies will be put on the spot to show that they are sourcing their minerals from conflict-free sources. The section has elicited a very strong debate and neither side was very happy with the final decision on Wednesday.
Supporters of the bill say it is a way to reduce the power of armed militias in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. If companies are unable to trade in conflict regions the areas will be forces to make changes in order to enjoy the benefits of international mineral trade. The decline in power will provide more safety for the people who have been brutalized for years.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is hosting a number of events today in anticipation of the opening of the philanthropy’s new public visitor center. Social media, and media in general, will play a big role in it.
If they use Twitter or Facebook to tell people about it, chances are the story will look like this:
Marc Smith, Connected Action
A snapshot of the Gates Foundation's Twitterverse
That’s a Twitter Map (here’s a more readable but huge link) made by Marc Smith, a sociologist who studies online communities, founder of the Social Media Research Foundation and former chief of Microsoft Research’s community technologies group.
The map, he says, indicates a fairly insular and uncommunicative bunch of folks.
“It’s mostly just an echoing of the Gates Foundation,” said Smith. “There’s not a lot of response, or engagement. Basically, it looks like people preaching to the choir.”
Here is a visual display of How Africa Uses Twitter, courtesy of The Guardian.
Though perhaps it should have been entitled Where Africa Tweets, since it’s not so much a description of how people tweet as where most tweets come from, it’s an interesting look at social media in Africa. South Africa outscores everyone, even Egypt.
I took special note of the fact that 68 percent of those polled said they used Twitter to monitor the news.
photo by Chris Bennion
A Twitter Symphony, from the play The New New News
Like tens of thousands of folks (soon to be millions), I now follow Melinda Gates on Twitter. I also follow her husband’s Tweets.
I couldn’t help wondering if they followed me on Twitter, since I write about them and their philanthropy so often. Nope, not so far. Dang, that could have boosted my numbers ….
Bill Gates also just signed up to follow Melinda’s Tweets. Bill says on Twitter that he follows 72 people and organizations. I suspect he doesn’t really follow some of those on his list, such as American Idol host Ryan Seacrest or Ashley Tisdale (I don’t know who she is but her website describes her as “one of Hollywood’s most sought after young talents.”).
Melinda has already topped Bill by following 121 people. Melinda, like Bill, follows mostly global health, social justice and development organizations. But she does follow a few media organizations, journalists and a smattering of celebrities like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and those involved in championing causes (Lance Armstrong, Christy Turlington).
What does my analysis of the Twitter-following selections of the world’s richest couple mean?
I don’t know.
Conservative British journalist Ian Birrell, formerly Prime Minister David Cameron’s speechwriter, recently got into a Twtter argument with Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
If you are familiar with reading Twitter (and reading Tweets is something of an acquired skill), you can see the entire exchange at Tom Murphy’s A View from the Cave. It apparently started when Birrell Tweeted about an article on Kagame in the Financial Times.
Here’s a post on KigaliWire that tries to put this Tweet battle in context, noting that Kagame has frequently used social media tools like Twitter to get his views out there. Continue reading