Yet Another Reason to Boycott Target: Target Plans to Sell Dirty Gold in Canada

Target  makes large contributions to ultra right wing homophobic Republicans, if that is not enough reason to avoid shopping their or using their credit cards there is this:


by Amanda Kloer

January 18, 2011

Target recently announced plans to expand their business to Canada, where they will open several new stores within the next couple of years. That means they’ll be able to sell gold mined with forced and child labor to Canadian consumers, as well as Americans. Unless, of course, Target is willing to abide by the No Dirty Gold campaign’s “Golden Rules” and stop selling gold that exploits kids.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor, child labor in the gold industry is a significant problem in 17 countries. In fact, gold is the #1 product produced with child or forced labor in the world. In the Philippines, for example, children as young as ten are forced to work for long hours in gold mines, instead of attending school. In Vietnam, child traffickers lure children into jobs at mines, only to deny them pay and keep them trapped in slavery. And in Peru, children as young as five help their parents gather and clean rocks in dirty, dangerous conditions. The stories are much the same in places like Burkina Faso, Columbia, Ghana, and Ecuador — children are forced to labor so consumers can buy cheap gold.

Since Target is one of the few major retailers yet to sign on with the “No Dirty Gold” campaign’s Golden Rules for companies, child labor could be in any or all of their gold jewelry. And by supporting an industry that thrives on the use of children and slaves, Target is helping child traffickers and gold suppliers who use kids get rich and stay rich.

So far, over 2,000 members have asked Target to obey the Gold Rules and stop selling jewelry that supports child labor in the gold industry. But Target has remained silent. Now with their expansion to Canada, the company has the opportunity to sell gold tarnished by labor abuses to a whole new set of customers. Perhaps Canadian consumers can be the ones to convince Target to sign onto the Golden Rules and stop selling products that support forced child labor. Before they reach Canada.

Target should respect Canadian and American customers enough to sell them jewelry that wasn’t made at the expense of children’s lives. Join the campaign and tell Target not to sell tarnished gold in any country.

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Class Privilege

Privilege is a tricky topic as those who have it often claim to not have it or to even understand what privilege is.

There are all sorts of privilege including white skin privilege, male privilege, heterosexual privilege and even cis-sexual/gender privilege*.

But I sometime think class is the greatest of all privilege.

It separates those women who come from a certain level of wealth from those who do not in a manner that often transcends male privilege, which tends to operate in the status gap between men and women of the same class.

The leveling of class difference between the higher status woman and the lower class man is the stuff of dramas such as Lena Wertmuller’s “Swept Away” or John Huston’s “African Queen”.

As some one working class by birth and red by education my class analysis derives in part from Marx.

Identity politics have made the divide and conquer strategy of the wealthy corporate elites easy.  It is the Confederate Strategy.  I say that because prior to the Civil War most white people in the South did not own slaves.  Most of the people who died in the Civil War were were not the slave owning rich nor the the wealthy northern industrialists.  Those who died like those who do most of the dying in all wars were united by one common bond.  They were poor.  Now they may well have believed heart and soul in the cause they were being asked to murder and die for but they had little invested in the out come and results of that war.  Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight…

Racism is an instrument of control it plays upon skin color and demands that one identify as that skin color with all the attributed traits supposedly innate, when about the only real non socially constructed attribute is the amount of melanin.  Racism based on origin is especially ironic given the knowledge that if we go far enough back we are all African with common shared ancestry.

Enslave people, deprive them of human dignity, prevent them from having the same from the womb opportunities of education and contacts that people who are the rich and powerful from before their parent’s conception have and you create a class that will be the worker class. A class who you can rely upon to murder and die to protect the interests of the rich and powerful.

Racism is used to keep people who share common class oppressions from uniting to form structures such as unions that help even out the power balance between the rich who own so much (80% of all wealth is in the hands of the top 20% of people in the US).

In the late 1960s SDS/Weatherman, which offered a Marxist analysis of class, appealed to me because I saw that  the kids being sent to die in Vietnam and murder for the interests of the rich were united by class.  That whether white or people of color they were mostly poor or middle class.

I was skeptical of second wave feminism that said all women were oppressed the same no matter one’s color or class.  I thought, “How stupid do you think I am?”.  You are connected with a degree from one of the Seven Sisters/Ivy League with no student loans and can take unpaid internships while I’m working at minimum wage and can barely afford to take a class now and then. You think we are equally oppressed?  It is insulting to be taken for a fool.

I’ve wound up feeling the same sort of way about ENDA.

Somehow it seems like the people it will most affect are those who already have privilege.  The privilege of degrees and job experience garnered as men, often as heterosexual men for whom transitioning has been stepping on the social status elevator and hitting the down button.

This is not meant to open the whine stream about how people never had male privilege so close that tap before responding to this.

Working people in the US, Canada, Europe and other places we used to called the developed nations or the industrialized nations are being fucked over by the globalization process.

Our jobs are being taken away from us and given to people who make pennies per hour. (See Marx on surplus value creation)  This gives working people an even smaller slice of the money pie.

ENDA might help the privileged, but and here is the but…

On Facebook, Katrina Rose asked “What’s On the Menu” which I am repurposing from her point about marriage equality vs ENDA.

ENDA will do nothing to guarantee a living wage with health care benefits.

These sorts of measures may benefit the privileged with the resources to fight for their rights in a court of law.

Nor will ENDA do anything about too many people chasing too few jobs with Human Resource departments able to pick and choose from that huge pool based on often whimsical reasons rather than concrete qualifications.

ENDA will do nothing to end the ability of corporations and businesses to employ and fire at will.

So what is on the menu?

The same thing that is on the menu for everyone else in the 17% real unemployment class.

Part time hell, McJobs, baristas and wait staff with advanced degrees.

The top 20% in this nation control 80% of the wealth and the bottom 80% are being …force to give the top 20% even more through austerity measures.

The right wing in this country has destroyed the unions and legal aid. they want to ban class action law suits.

Since the Reagan years we have had drug testing. Hiring is on a strictly subjective basis and one can be fired for any reason or no reason what so ever.

This is the reality for all workers in the new servant economy. Particularly older workers with a memory of a time when things were different.

So workers are angry and sullen and afraid to even think of revolt.

The idea that ENDA will do anything to change this is kind of delusional. Look at the rate of unemployment of young African American men.

Membership in the privileged class that makes up that top 20% starts when your parents were born.  If you aren’t part of that class the likelihood of your moving into that class via personal ability is very slim unless you are in sports or the arts and even then…

I think the transcentric point of view of this situation is often due to a loss of status when transitioning from male to female.

For those of us born either people of color, working class white or too obvious it has been a life long reality.

For many of us the computer industry was like manna from heaven but that was too much like those old manufacturing jobs. They are now in India along with the tech support jobs that gear heads who were either asocial or non conformist used to work even 15 years ago.  The sort of job where they didn’t give a shit about your piercings and tats. Or gender presentation, as skill actually meant something.

Maybe we all need a greater level of working class consciousness and a lot of healthy class rage at the way the corporations and wealthy are destroying the world.

Maybe we need to have a world wide revolution that redistributes wealth and power from the hands of the few rich right wing oligarchs and levels out the wealth disparity.

As it is it is only a matter of time until all working people are reduced to living in hovels and scavenging from the garbage piles of the rich 20%.  A fortunate few of us will get to wait on and be servants to that class, the rest of us are disposable.

Welcome to the proletariat.

*As much as I hate the construction sometimes there is no avoiding the term cis-sexual or cis-gender.

In Wreckage of Lost Jobs, Lost Power

From The New York Times:

Published: January 19, 2011

Alone among the world’s economic powers, the United States is suffering through a deep jobs slump that can’t be explained by the rest of the economy’s performance.

The gross domestic product here — the total value of all goods and services — has recovered from the recession better than in Britain, Germany, Japan or Russia. Yet a greatly shrunken group of American workers, working harder and more efficiently, is producing these goods and services.

The unemployment rate is higher in this country than in Britain or Russia and much higher than in Germany or Japan, according to a study of worldwide job markets that Gallup will release on Wednesday. The American jobless rate is also higher than China’s, Gallup found. The European countries with worse unemployment than the United States tend to be those still mired in crisis, like Greece, Ireland and Spain.


Why? One obvious possibility is the balance of power between employers and employees.

Relative to the situation in most other countries — or in this country for most of the last century — American employers operate with few restraints. Unions have withered, at least in the private sector, and courts have grown friendlier to business. Many companies can now come much closer to setting the terms of their relationship with employees, letting them go when they become a drag on profits and relying on remaining workers or temporary ones when business picks up.

Complete article at:

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Vatican warned Irish bishops not to report abuse

Just arrest the perverts and send them to prison.  Criminals shouldn’t be able to hide behind religion.

From Yahoo News:

By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Shawn Pogatchnik, Associated Press Tue Jan 18, 3:24 pm ET

DUBLIN – A 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland’s Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police — a disclosure that victims’ groups described as “the smoking gun” needed to show that the church enforced a worldwide culture of covering up crimes by pedophile priests.

The newly revealed letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican’s rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland’s first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits.

The letter undermines persistent Vatican claims, particularly when seeking to defend itself in U.S. lawsuits, that Rome never instructed local bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police. It instead emphasizes the church’s right to handle all child-abuse allegations and determine punishments in house rather than give that power to civil authorities.

Signed by the late Archbishop Luciano Storero, Pope John Paul II’s diplomat to Ireland, the letter instructs Irish bishops that their new policy of making the reporting of suspected crimes mandatory “gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature.”

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Stasi,the Role Model For Authoritarian Policing Everywhere

Peace groups, anti-globalization, tree huggers, pot heads, animal rights activists, anarchists, socialists, commies can all count on having police spying on them.

Aryan Nation, Tea Party, KKK, Minutemen, Nazis and general right wing groups….. But, the police have other things to do like watching the Senior Citizen Quaker Vegan Pacifists Against War.

I’ve been rather bent out of shape by the raids on the homes of activists last year.

But no matter how little privacy we have in the US we can generally count on the Brits to work hard to out do us.  After all the movie “V for Vendetta” was set in the UK for good reason.

From The Guardian UK :

Clean-up of covert policing ordered after Mark Kennedy revelations

Alan Travis, Paul Lewis and Martin Wainwright

January 18, 2011

The government said today that a private company run by police chiefs should be stripped of its power to run undercover spies in the wake of a Guardian investigation into the police officer Mark Kennedy, who spent seven years posing as an environmental activist.

The Home Office minister Nick Herbert and senior police officers acknowledged for the first time that “something had gone very wrong” in the Kennedy case, which led to the collapse last week of the trial of six people accused of planning to invade a Nottinghamshire power station.

Herbert said that the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), a limited company with responsibility for some sensitive national operations, is to lose control of three teams involved in tackling so-called “domestic extremism”. Ministers and senior officers hope the decision may defuse the controversy surrounding revelations of long-term undercover surveillance of peaceful protest groups.

Later in the day the national policing watchdog announced the launch of an official inquiry into undercover police work carried out by Acpo. The review by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) will investigate Acpo’s decade-long infiltration of the protest movement, assessing whether operations have been “authorised in accordance with law” and “proportionate”.

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The Student Loan Debt Bubble

From Counter Punch:

The Curse of the First American Austerity Generation

January 11, 2011

It was announced last summer that total student loan debt, at $830 billion, now exceeds total US credit card debt, itself bloated to the bubble level of $827 billion. And student loan debt is growing at the rate of $90 billion a year.

There are far fewer students than there are credit card holders. Could there be a student debt bubble at a time when college graduates’ jobs and earnings prospects are as gloomy as they have been at any time since the Great Depression?

The data indicate that today’s students are saddled with a burden similar to the one currently borne by their parents. Most of these parents have experienced decades of stagnating wages, and have only one asset, home equity. The housing meltdown has caused that resource either to disappear or to turn into a punishing debt load. The younger generation too appears to have mortgaged its future earnings in the form of student loan debt.

The most recent complete statistics cover 2008, when debt was held by 62 percent of students from public universities, 72 percent from private nonprofit schools, and a whopping 96 percent from private for-profit (“proprietary”) schools.

For-profit school enrollment is growing faster than enrollment at public schools, and a growing percentage of students attending for-profit schools represent holders of debt likely to default. In order to get a better handle on the dynamics of student debt growth, it is helpful to sketch the connection between the current crisis in public education and the recent rapid growth of the for-profits.

Crisis of Public Education Precipitates Private Growth

Since the most common advise to the unemployed is to “get a college education”, and tuition at public institutions is at least half or less than private-school rates, public higher education institutions have been swamped with an influx of out of work adults. This has resulted in enrollment gluts at many state colleges. At the same time, tuition is increasing just when household income and hence the affordability of higher education are declining.

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