On April 24, a Bangladeshi garment factory fire in Savar (an industrial suburb of Dhaka) collapsed killing 1,129 people. It was the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry. Making clothes for companies like Walmart and Sears, fires and collapses are almost common in Bangladesh and yet owners of these buildings and factories go without being prosecuted. This article in the NYT explains how and why these disasters continue to occur without the elite owners being held responsible for their crimes.
Month: June 2013
Two Upcoming Protests Sunday May Clash in Egypt
An article in The Guardian relates that both Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi’s supporters and liberal anti-Morsi protesters may clash in huge protests tomorrow in Alexandria. On Friday, two protester’s were killed (one an American) and 70 were injured with large numbers on both sides being reported that even larger protests will be held on Sunday.
The anti-Morsi protesters are critical of the Muslim Brotherhood’s religious fundamentalism. They say that Morsi himself is becoming too authoritarian and has exerted too much control over the nation’s media institutions. But on the other side, Morsi supporters say that the president was democratically elected and the Brotherhood’s religious bent is good for Egypt.
But what I’m concerned with is that the media is blowing these events out of proportion. They need to be reported on but I do not like the rhetoric I am hearing stating that change in Egypt is over and the hope for democracy is waning. What we need to remember, though, is that democracy needs time to develop. There needs to be time for the building of institutions, for the holding of fair elections, and a strong government not held hostage by political uprisings in Tahrir Square and the streets of Alexandria.
Democracy is not dead in Egypt, in my opinion, for there are a lot of similarities between the events in Egypt and those that occurred in France between 1789 and 1898. There was Napoleon, Louis Bonaparte, the manning of the barricades, and the Paris Commune. These anti-democratic actions in France all took place until a true democracy was created over a 100 years later. The creation of a democracy does not usually run as smoothly as the one that was created here in the United States.
Guide to U.S. Whistleblowers
With Edward Snowden leaking NSA documents to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald over the last few weeks in an effort to expose secret government domestic spying exercises, the paper’s website has put together a nifty little java presentation of famous U.S. whistleblowers. Entitled “A Guardian guide to U.S. government Whistleblowers”, it’s a short, but sweet, list of prominent U.S. citizens who helped expose the government’s wrongdoings.
EU Makes Another Interesting Move to Balance Income Inequality in Times of Crisis
The European Union again proved they are willing to take much more aggressive action than the United States when it comes to putting the burden of financial crises on the backs of the wealthy instead of on the people at the bottom of the economic ladder. They announced today part of the responsibility for bailing out banks when they fail will be placed on large depositors. From the article:
The plan stipulates that shareholders, bondholders and depositors with more than 100,000 euros ($132,000) should share the burden of saving a bank…The rules break a taboo in Europe that savers should never lose their deposits, although countries will have some flexibility to decide when and how to impose losses on a failing bank’s creditors.
This seems to be a little bit of a check on banks acting badly since big investors will be watching their actions more closely in the interest of not losing their money. And as the piece further illustrates, some bankers just didn’t care when it came to dealing with the crisis and what was done with taxpayer money:
Earlier this week, Ireland’s deputy prime minister attacked “arrogant” executives at a failed bank who had mocked government efforts to tackle the country’s banking crisis.
In the tapes published by an Irish newspaper, the collapsed Anglo Irish Bank’s then-head of capital markets was asked how he had come up with a figure of 7 billion euros for a bank rescue, responding that he had “picked it out of my arse.”
I could see some flaws with the policy in that it could lead investors to put their money elsewhere or create a problem for an individual bank when a wealthy investor gets nervous and starts a run taking money out of a bank. But the pro seems to outweigh the con here and this policy is a step in the right direction of a more stable economy in times to come.
It would be nice to see the U.S. actually take some steps like the EU when it comes to income inequality. As we previously noted, the EU sees the problems that come with too much imbalance in income and they are taking action to remedy the situation. Here’s hoping the U.S. can eventually follow in their footsteps in the interest of long-term economic stability.
The 5 Ways Gay Marriage Can Win at the Supreme Court – Molly Ball – The Atlantic
The 5 Ways Gay Marriage Can Win at the Supreme Court – Molly Ball – The Atlantic.
A great summarized prep in anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling coming today. Let’s hope we get ruling #1 and the inevitable legalizing of gay marriage for all will finally come to the United States.
UPDATE: Technicality Stops Texas Abortion Bill
UPDATE: The Lt. Governor of Texas, David Dewhurst, stopped the passage of a strict abortion law that was being filibustered by democrats in the state Senate due to a technicality; Republicans upset by Dewhurst’s ruling.
Texas State Sen. Davis’ Filibuster Fails
To update a prior post regarding Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis’ attempt at a 13 hour filibuster to prevent a bill that would issue tight restrictions against abortion rights, unfortunately she has failed. The Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said she went too far off topic in her rhetoric and stopped the filibuster. Follow the link to find out more details.
Filibustering for Female Reproductive Rights
Wendy Harris, a Texas State Senator, is attempting a 13 hour filibuster to stall a female reproductive bill that would strictly limit the access to abortions in the state. An article in The Guardian spells out the restrictions that would be enforced if the bill would land on Gov. Rick Perry’s desk for he is expected enact the legislation. And at the The Guardian’s website you can see a live feed of the ongoing filibuster by Sen. Harris in the Texas State House. Let’s all get behind her and keep up with her effort’s status via the web!
Snowden As Spy Novel Protagonist
Alex Berenson, a former NYT reporter and spy novelist, wrote a very entertaining op-ed in the NYT today posing hero/villain Edward Snowden as the main character in a spy novel. And amidst all the fun is some great points about how the White House and other governing bodies have mucked-up their responses to Mr. Snowden’s actions.
Countering the Right: Foreign Affairs Op-ed Defending Drones Part II
Continued from part I here…
Carrying on the argument against the op-ed in Foreign Affairs advocating drone use, his next point gets at a key point in the debate:
Individuals join anti-American terrorist groups for many reasons, ranging from outrage over U.S. support for Israel to anger at their own government’s cooperation with the United States. Some people simply join up because their neighbors are doing so.
What he fails to mention here is that some people also hate and attack America because of the United States’ killing people overseas, which would obviously include drone attacks. We know incidents like the Ft. Hood shooting and the Boston Marathon Bombing were carried out for this reason because the perpetrators have said so. In short, it is a cycle of violence with no real end in sight or an end that is truly feasible without one side ignoring past casualties, a scenario that is highly unlikely.
But sometimes imminent and intolerable threats do arise and drone strikes are the best way to eliminate them.
This assumes, of course, every drone strike that is carried out is launched against an “imminent” threat, a point that is highly debatable since we now know drones have been used to kill people who were not after the United States. If all or even most of the “militants” killed by drones were “imminent threats”, why has the government been so reluctant to give any proof of a just a few of the lesser known casualties? We know about the bigger names killed as they are reported extensively, but they are the minority. Can’t they just give us some of the smaller fish and show exactly how they were deemed “imminent threats”? Since the attacks are carried out in the name of U.S. citizens, it is something we deserve to know and be able to confirm.
A memo released by the antisecrecy website WikiLeaks revealed that Pakistan’s army chief, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, privately asked U.S. military leaders in 2008 for “continuous Predator coverage” over antigovernment militants, and the journalist Mark Mazzetti has reported that the United States has conducted “goodwill kills” against Pakistani militants who threatened Pakistan far more than the United States.
Wait, I thought I was making the case for that being a bad use of drones? Kind of bizarre an advocate would mention it as well since this is a clear misuse of the system. And with calls for austerity and the ongoing sequester, how much of our tax dollars went into fighting Pakistan’s battles for them? As the NSA scandal has focused on secrecy from a domestic perspective, we should keep in mind that that is not the only government secrecy we should be worried about because a much more destructive kind is being carried out overseas.
A 2012 poll found that 74 percent of Pakistanis viewed the United States as their enemy, likely in part because of the ongoing drone campaign…A poll conducted in 2007, well before the drone campaign had expanded to its current scope, found that only 15 percent of Pakistanis had a favorable opinion of the United States. It is hard to imagine that alternatives to drone strikes, such as SEAL team raids or cruise missile strikes, would make the United States more popular.
And we are now taught by this that our only “alternatives” to drones are boots on the ground or bigger bombs. In other words, we can choose the “kill a lot of people approach” or the “kill even more people approach”. Here’s an idea. How about neither?
I’m reminded of a comment bin Laden made back in 2004 just before the U.S. presidential election. He stated, “…contrary to Bush’s claim that we hate freedom. If so, then let him explain to us why we don’t strike for example – Sweden?” A fair question. And since it has been so long, maybe that has changed…Nope. Still no Islamist attacks on Sweden. I wonder what those crazy Swedes do so different from the U.S.? Are they putting boots on the ground instead of using drones? Maybe their bombs are bigger? Or maybe they do neither and don’t get targeted in return. Just a thought.
Indeed, it appears that Awlaki is the only U.S. citizen who has been deliberately killed by a drone.
This is a nice dodge of the fact the government has acknowledged four Americans were killed by drones, including a minor and a man on the FBI’s Most Wanted List (who we apparently weren’t specifically targeting). He does use the word “deliberately” to deliberately ignore this fact and it’s clever. Shady, but clever. In all honesty, with thousands killed by drones, I don’t know why the author even bothers going out of his way to dodge this. It’s a well known fact at this point so who does he think he is hiding this from? It’s just a weak attempt at covering the truth about how many American citizens have been killed by drones.
The ultimate truth about drones is the faster we retire the program, the faster we will be doing something to actually stop the level of hatred in the Islamic world of one vicious aspect of United States’ foreign policy.