As happens with so much news these days, the Edward Snowden revelations about National Security Agency (NSA) spying and just how far we’ve come in the building of a surveillance state have swept over us 24/7 — waves of leaks, videos, charges, claims, counterclaims, skullduggery, and government threats. When a flood sweeps you away, it’s always hard to find a little dry land to survey the extent and nature of the damage. Here’s my attempt to look beyond the daily drumbeat of this developing story (which, it is promised, will go on for weeks, if not months) and identify five urges essential to understanding the world Edward Snowden has helped us glimpse.
|By: Michelle Chen Saturday April 27, 2013 11:30 am|
There are few ways to make a decent living in Bangladesh, but there are many ways to die trying. The cruel weight of that reality bore down on a Dhaka factory complex on Wednesday as it crashed to the ground and instantly extinguished hundreds of lives and livelihoods.
As of this writing, the body count at Rana Plaza is about 300 and rising, with hundreds more workers still unaccounted for, and the 72-hour emergency window for recovering trapped people alive almost gone.
|By: Michelle Chen Monday April 22, 2013 7:35 am|
Wal-Mart’s business model runs on the art of delusion. Clean aisles and bright decor insulate customers from the unseemly factories that produce the brand’s sought-after bargains. But when Wal-Mart’s label was found plastered all over the charred remains of a massive factory fire in Bangladesh last fall, the ugliness at the root of the retail giant’s supply chain was exposed.
|By: DSWright Monday February 4, 2013 2:49 pm|
When Chinese Communist Party leader Deng Xiaoping formally embraced Neoliberalism in the late 70s it was the final victory for the right-wing within the party. What followed was an opening up of China to Western business for the presumed benefit of all. In reality, China would invert the Maoist principles of the cultural revolution to restructure the country under a system of State Capitalism. The Chinese State, organized and operated by the Communist Party of China, would run the country for its own profit with the Chinese people becoming the State’s property, slaves in effect.
|By: David Seaton Saturday December 8, 2012 6:00 pm|
The great mystery of American politics, a mystery which no one in the world can fathom, not even most Americans, is why so much money, hot air and spittle is being spent on literally paralyzing the American political system and making it impossible, not just to negotiate solutions, but to even have an intelligent conversation about solving the problems facing everyone, everywhere today. For that is what the Tea Party is really about: making first thought, then negotiation, and finally action impossible.
What is all this sound and fury covering up?
|By: Michelle Chen Saturday September 15, 2012 5:00 pm|
About a century after the shock of the Triangle fire spurred major safety reforms in New York and helped catalyze the U.S. labor movement, two catastrophes in Pakistan on Tuesday revealed that similarly dangerous factories still flourish outside of the United States, in the Global South. A massive fire at a textile factory in Karachi (reportedly with ties to the European market) killed more than 250 workers, and a shoe factory in Lahore was also engulfed in flames, killing 25.
|By: Michelle Chen Sunday September 2, 2012 7:00 pm|
Apple wants you to know it’s working hard to fix the biggest bruise on its reputation: the treatment of workers in its vast production chain. So for the past several months, the company has partnered with the Fair Labor Association, a mainstream watchdog group, to audit factory conditions at Apple’s most notorious supplier company, Foxconn. FLA says in its “remediation verification” report that Foxconn has tightened oversight of its ultra-efficient machine.
But the changes have mostly aimed to clean up some of the excesses of Apple’s labor system without shifting its fundamental structure.
|By: Michelle Chen Sunday December 4, 2011 5:00 pm|
The marketplace has always been at the heart of India–exuberant bazaars brimming with local hawkers and traditional wares and foods. But the country’s old-fashioned markets may soon be eclipsed by the towering “free market” of globalization, as multinational superstores push the government to open the gates.
The India Cabinet wants to enable businesses with 51-percent foreign direct investment to enter India’s retail sector–basically inviting in big box behemoths like Wal-Mart under the banner of efficiency and consumer choice. But many Indians aren’t buying it.
|By: June Carbone Sunday November 20, 2011 1:59 pm|
Kalleberg’s solution requires rethinking the social contract, a tough sell in individualistic America. He refers to the European concept of “flexicurity,” which seeks to combine employer flexibility with worker security. Doing so requires rethinking the relationship between public and private. The essential elements of such a model require universal, affordable, portable health insurance which ideally should be separated from employment. It also requires a more secure and portable pension system, more generous unemployment insurance, and greater opportunities to acquire new skills and education over the course of a lifetime. If employment is more transient and employers invest little in their workers, then a revitalized social safety net needs to fill in the gaps.
|By: Michelle Chen Saturday November 19, 2011 9:00 am|
With the U.S. economy stuck in a constant rut and Europe going into a tailspin, President Obama is looking to escape to the East. While the nations of the Asian Pacific rim face strains of their own, from massive inequality to climate change, their growth rates look positively zen compared to the stagnant economies that used to run the world.
So for the past several days President Obama has been charming Asia-Pacific officialdom, hoping these “emerging” economies can prop up the West’s sagging empires.