March 24, 2006

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire – Then and Now
by Mary Turck  

One hundred forty-six workers died in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire March 25, 1911 in New York City. Mostly women, mostly young, they were locked inside the factory, trapped as it burned. Many leaped to their deaths from ninth floor windows.

Ninety-five years later, at least 54 workers were killed in a fire in KTS Textile Industries in Chittagong, Bangladesh. They, too, were locked inside the factory, where they sewed clothing for export to the United States. The dead workers at KTS included twelve-year-old, thirteen-year-old and fourteen-year-old girls. Many workers at KTS believe the death toll was much higher than the officially-reported number, pointing out that hundreds were at work at the time of the fire.

Did you read about this tragedy? Did you see it on the evening news? I didn‚t. Workers being burned to death – that is not news. Workers dying in far-off places -- that is not news. It happens all the time. Three more workers burned to death in another Bangladeshi factory March 6. Last year, 64 workers died in the collapse of another Bangladeshi clothing factory.

KTS Textiles produced clothing for sale in the United States. Its workers competed against other textile workers in factories in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua. Workers at KTS and their counterparts in Thailand, China, and India are pitted against each other by „freeš trade. Free trade allows factories and capital to move across borders, in a global race to the bottom. At the bottom, they find the lowest wages, least restrictive health and safety laws, and the greatest opportunities to profit by polluting air, water, soil and communities. That race to the bottom is the essence of „freeš trade and corporate globalization. more...

March 23, 2006

No Light in the Tunnel
by William Greider, The Nation  

Hope and fear are always the polar forces at work in American politics and this Texas-macho President has brilliantly orchestrated the nation's fear of terrorism into a winning position. Support him, he will protect us, take the fight to the treacherous enemies and crush them. He has reminded us relentlessly of what we most fear. For many, it felt reassuring to hear his resolve. But the brave-cowboy act is over. He failed himself yesterday in the White House press room.

George W. Bush called the press conference to sell hope--give people a reason to keep on believing--but trampled his own objective. Instead, he deepened the public's fear--not of Muslim terrorists--but of his own leadership at war. Does this guy know what he's doing? He got us into this mess; does he know how to get us out?

A fatal admission was revealed when Bush was asked whether he could envision a day when US troops were out of Iraq. The President shrugged, as though the question does not apply to him. "That'll be decided," Bush said, "by future presidents and future governments of Iraq." When I heard this, I thought, that's going to be tomorrow's headline. Sure enough, it was in the Washington Times, a conservative newspaper that always rallies to Bush's side. "Bush commits until 2009," the banner headline declared.

That remark shuts down hope and kicks it out the door. Want to bring the troops home? For the next three years, forget it. Bush's comment, it is true, was more ambiguous than the headline. But it's too late for White House amplifications. The headline is the shorthand that will linger in public consciousness, repeated endlessly in the political chatter.

Does this guy have a clue? His tone of casual dismissal sends a chill down the spine. His press conference blunder will stalk George Bush until he either makes a big change in policy or personnel or actually gets us out of Iraq. He can't just smirk and walk off the stage.

March 22, 2006

Enough of the D.C. Dems
by Molly Ivins  

Mah fellow progressives, now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party. I don‚t know about you, but I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I will not be supporting Senator Clinton because: a) she has no clear stand on the war and b) Terri Schiavo and flag-burning are not issues where you reach out to the other side and try to split the difference.
You want to talk about lowering abortion rates through cooperation on sex education and contraception, fine, but don‚t jack with stuff that is pure rightwing firewater.

I can‚t see a damn soul in D.C. except Russ Feingold who is even worth considering for President. The rest of them seem to me so poisonously in hock to this system of legalized bribery they can‚t even see straight. more...

March 21, 2006

There's some awful sick puppies out there. I agree with the following article when the author says that this gives him the creeps.

Why I Saved My First Kiss for Marriage
by Stephen McArthur

In honor of the small group of men who have made abortion illegal in South Dakota, the Abstinence Clearinghouse is sponsoring A Celebration of Purity for Daughters and Fathers , April 7 in Sioux Falls. This organization, which supports state anti-abortion legislation, opposes all birth control efforts of any kind, and fights against women's choices in health care, is ecstatic with the new law. For them, it lays the groundwork for overturning Roe v Wade. And because the anti-abortion movement has always been about controlling women, this group also works against any family planning because its idea of contraception is indoctrinating young women against kissing before marriage. Yes, I said "kissing" before marriage.

Here is the message on the brochure promoting the Purity Ball 2006:

Studies show fathers hold the key to a better future for their daughters. Showing your love today will help her be a better-adjusted person, with a successful life and family tomorrow. This night is a dinner and ballroom dance event which celebrates your "little girl" and her gift of sexual purity. This night will help you impress upon your daughter that abstinence until marriage is the expected standard of behavior. It is a lifechanging, life-shaping experience!

Who should attend?

This event is for fathers and daughters aged 11 and older. Stepfathers, uncles, godfathers, grandfathers and other significant male figures may bring the young lady in their life.


Think about that. All these men, some of them "significant male figures" (does that mean brothers, boyfriends, pastors?) are bringing their "little girls" to a dance to celebrate (perhaps "worship" is a better word) her "gift of sexual purity." I don't know about you, but that gives me the creeps. (As a friend of mine has noted, for the astonishingly large number of girls who have been abused by fathers, step-fathers, uncles, brothers, grandfathers, godfathers, and other significant males, the idea of all these men bringing their 11-years olds to a "Purity Ball" that focuses on their little girl sexuality is quite more than creepy.) more...

March 20, 2006

Three Years On
Where's the Resistance Here on the Home Front?
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN and JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

Three years into the war in Iraq and now about two out of three Americans are against it, as against about one out of fifty elected politicians. In Iraq 2,315 Americans have died, and 17,100 wounded, many of them with limbs lost, some facing a lifetime in a wheel chair. Of the tens of thousands who have returned from combat to army bases or civilian life here, around 2.5 per cent are suffering from severe post traumatic stress syndrome, powder kegs, a menace to themselves and their families. There will be psychic as well as physical wreckage across America for years to come.

In Iraq, the Johns Hopkins study last September made an accounting of the full death toll wrought by the devastation of the US invasion and occupation. It concluded that "about 100,000 excess deaths" (in fact 98,000) among men, women, and children had occurred in just under eighteen months. Violent deaths alone had soared twentyfold. But, as in most wars, the bulk of the carnage was due to the indirect effects of the invasion, notably the breakdown of the Iraqi health system.

Re-working the Johns Hopkins study with the benefit of better techniques of statistical analysis Andrew Cockburn concluded here early in the New Year that on the basis of the raw sample data compiled by Iraqis for the Johns Hopkins study, the true number of dead in Iraq in consequence of the war had probably hit around 180,000, with a possibility that it had already reached as high as half a million. Of course all sets of numbers, whatever statistical analysis you accept, have been climbing steadily ever since. Where's the Resistance Here on the Home Front?

March 19, 2006

Baghdad Burning
... I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend...

  Three Years...
It has been three years since the beginning of the war that marked the end of Iraq‚s independence. Three years of occupation and bloodshed.

Spring should be about renewal and rebirth. For Iraqis, spring has been about reliving painful memories and preparing for future disasters. In many ways, this year is like 2003 prior to the war when we were stocking up on fuel, water, food and first aid supplies and medications. We're doing it again this year but now we don't discuss what we're stocking up for. Bombs and B-52's are so much easier to face than other possibilities.

I don‚t think anyone imagined three years ago that things could be quite this bad today. The last few weeks have been ridden with tension. I‚m so tired of it all- we‚re all tired.

Three years and the electricity is worse than ever. The security situation has gone from bad to worse. The country feels like it‚s on the brink of chaos once more- but a pre-planned, pre-fabricated chaos being led by religious militias and zealots. more...

March 18, 2006

MARCH 18-20 GLOBAL DAYS OF ACTION

On Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19, 2006, locally-coordinated demonstrations will take place in cities and towns across the U.S. and around the world, including in New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and many, many more. On Sunday, March 19, and Monday, March 20, young people will organize acts of resistance in their schools and communities. Fund People's Needs, Not the War Machine! End the Occupation!more...

**********

Three Years of War With No Checks, No Balances
By John Nichols  

With the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq approaching, Congress rejected reality once more and provided another infusion of funding to continue the open-ended occupation of that increasing disordered and volatile land. Nothing, not even the Bush administration's deception and intransigence, has done so much to continue the quagmire as the failure of Congress to check and balance the madness of President George.

Even as Iraq has become the "Bloody Kansas" of the Middle East, with a horrific explosion of sectarian violence that even some of the administration's most ardent apologists admit could well be a precursor to civil war, Congress remains the rubberstamp that it has always been – a fact confirmed Thursday by the lopsided House vote to meet another of the president's demands for more money to pay for his military misadventure.

By a vote of 348-71, the House approved a $91.9 billion supplemental spending bill, with the lion's share of the new funding earmarked for Iraq. Three years into a war that 60 percent of Americans now tell pollsters has not been worth the cost in lives and dollars that it has extracted from the United States, overwhelming majorities of both the Republican and Democratic caucuses in the House backed a measure that demands no real accountability of the administration – and that perpetuates a war that, according to a new Gallup Poll, 58 percent of Americans believe has had a generally negative effect on life in the United States generally.

The new money for the Iraq occupation comes on top of the $50 billion in supplemental war funding that the Congress had already approved for the current fiscal year, after spending $100 billion last year. And the administration says it will be back soon seeking another $50 billion for the coming fiscal year. All of this spending is in addition to the record $439.3 billion defense budget the president submitted to Congress. more...

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