May. 2nd, 2011

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Apple's Chinese workers treated 'inhumanely, like machines'

An investigation into the conditions of Chinese workers has revealed the shocking human cost of producing the must-have Apple iPhones and iPads that are now ubiquitous in the west.

The research, carried out by two NGOs, has revealed disturbing allegations of excessive working hours and draconian workplace rules at two major plants in southern China. It has also uncovered an "anti-suicide" pledge that workers at the two plants have been urged to sign, after a series of employee deaths last year.


Among the allegations made by workers interviewed by the NGOs – the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations and Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (Sacom) – are claims that:

■ Excessive overtime is routine, despite a legal limit of 36 hours a month. One payslip, seen by the Observer, indicated that the worker had performed 98 hours of overtime in a month.

■ Workers attempting to meet the huge demand for the first iPad were sometimes pressured to take only one day off in 13.

■ In some factories badly performing workers are required to be publicly humiliated in front of colleagues.

■ Crowded workers' dormitories can sleep up to 24 and are subject to strict rules. One worker told the NGO investigators that he was forced to sign a "confession letter" after illicitly using a hairdryer. In the letter he wrote: "It is my fault. I will never blow my hair inside my room. I have done something wrong. I will never do it again."MORE

March 3 2011Silicon Sweatshops: Apple supply chain workers in Asia fall ill again

Jia Jingchuan, a 27-year-old, is one of the 137 workers who fell ill at the Suzhou-based factory nearly two years ago after exposure to the chemical n-hexane, which the factory deployed on the line, without permission or protective gear, to produce touch screens for Apple products. Unlike most of the other sickened workers, Jia hasn’t left his job, staying on the factory line in the hope that his employer will pay for his recurring medical problems.MORE

2010 Foxconn: Why higher pay [alone] won't work

Suicide Warning )
2010Silicon Sweatshops: The China Connection

... behind THIS Apple's profits dwarf Microsoft

Apple's Profits Up 90%

It isn't just Apple, though:

2010 Silicon sweatshops:Foxconn still under fire

Special report: Silicon Sweatshops: Despite strict 'codes of conduct,' labor rights violations are the norm at factories making the world's favorite high-tech gadgets.

Silicon Sweatshops: Shattered dreams Migrant workers making gadgets at Taiwan's high-tech parks sign deals that make them modern-day indentured servants.

Silicon Sweatshops: Disposable workers

Luckily for them, the US has just killed bin Laden, and our press corp are notorious for being completely unable to walk and chew gum at the same time.
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Hectored, humiliated, bullied: how women bear the brunt of flexible labour
A new bestseller reveals how the financial downturn has heaped stress on those trapped in insecure, dead-end jobs

The harder he makes us work, the shittier we feel. The shittier we feel, the more we let ourselves get ground down." A cleaner sums up her life to the French journalist Florence Aubenas, who went undercover to explore the 'unmaking of the French working class' and the recession. The result, The Night Cleaner, has been a bestseller in France and is now being published in Britain, an appropriate memorial for 1 May, International Workers' Day, a reminder of forgotten traditions.

It tells its tale in gritty detail. The churn of employment agencies with their cheerful euphemisms – they even talk of solidarity – and endless training courses for jobs that the agencies and the trainees know don't exist. It's a charade in which applicants have to think up ways to convince prospective employers of their motivation for the most menial of cleaning jobs. "Needing work" is not considered satisfactory. CVs, even for temporary cleaning jobs, have to "stand out" from the crowd. The lesson that Aubenas, a successful Paris-based journalist, is taught again and again is that she is one of hundreds, even thousands, chasing every opportunity: she is surplus.

"Permanent" jobs are like gold dust in such low-paid, low-skill agency work. For a woman in her late 40s with no qualifications, as Aubenas claimed to be, she discovered there weren't even jobs in any traditional sense, there was work sliced into small portions – a couple of hours here, an hour there.MORE

Florence Aubenas, undercover on the crisis

When she had the idea for the project, Florence Aubenas read several books by undercover reporters, starting with one of the most famous Ganz unten (Lowest of the Low), in which Günter Wallraff recounts his experience when he disguised himself as a Turkish guest worker. At the time, she was plagued by doubts about the effectiveness of journalism. Does writing an article really change anything? "We were told, 'There's an economic crisis. Everything's going under.' There I was sitting at my desk wondering what to do — how to render the reality of that. Ever since I entered the working world, there had always been some kind of crisis. Problems with the economy were both omnipresent and intangible, but I didn't understand what that really meant."

It was then that she decided to leave for Caen, where she signed on the unemployment register for a firsthand experience of the job seeker's life. Her goal was "to tell the story of the people in France who are going under:" to do her job as a journalist, but delve more deeply into her subject matter to reveal something real. Instead of talking to people with a notebook in her hand, "she was going to become one of them, and accept all the limits that implied." To walk the proverbial mile in the shoes of an unemployed woman, because "not everything can be conveyed by words. I wanted to break through the barrier of language: to live there, so as not to be tempted, for example, to focus on people who know how to express themselves, as I would if I had approached the topic as a journalistMORE
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Osama Bin Laden's Obituary

With his long grey beard and wistful expression, bin Laden became one of the most instantly recognisable people on the planet. His gaunt face stared out from propaganda videos and framed a US website offering a $25 million bounty. In 2007, that bounty was doubled.

Born in Saudi Arabia in 1957, one of more than 50 children of millionaire businessman Mohamed bin Laden, he lost his father while still a boy.

Osama's first marriage, to a Syrian cousin, came at the age of 17, and he is reported to have at least 23 children from at least five wives. Part of a family that made its fortune in the oil-funded Saudi construction boom, bin Laden was a shy boy and an average student, who took a degree in civil engineering. MORE

via Daily Kos:

Oct 15, 2001 Bush rejected Taliban offer to surrender Osama

Oct. 15, 2001....After a week of debilitating strikes at targets across Afghanistan, the Taliban repeated an offer to hand over Osama bin Laden, only to be rejected by President Bush.

The offer yesterday from Haji Abdul Kabir, the Taliban's deputy prime minister, to surrender Mr bin Laden if America would halt its bombing and provide evidence against the Saudi-born dissident was not new but it suggested the Taliban are increasingly weary of the air strikes, which have crippled much of their military and communications assets.

The move came as the Taliban granted foreign journalists unprecedented access to the interior for the first time. Reporters were escorted to the village of Karam in southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban said up to 200 civilians were killed in an American bombardment last Wednesday.


How many Americans were aware of this, I wonder?

Bush, March 2002: 'I really just don't spend that much time' on bin Laden

What was Bush spending time on in March, 2002, and if fact just a month after the 9/11 attacks? Surely you remember:

October 18, 2001 – The CIA writes a report titled, Iraq: Nuclear-Related Procurement Efforts. It quotes many of the Italian report's claims, but adds that the report of a completed deal is not corroborated by any other sources. (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 36-37, July 2004).

February 5, 2002 – The CIA's Directorate of Operations – the clandestine branch that employed Valerie Wilson – issues a second report including "verbatim text"of an agreement, supposedly signed July 5-6, 2000 for the sale of 500 tons of uranium yellowcake per year. (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 37, July 2004).MORE


In July 2006, we learned that the Bush administration closed its unit that had been hunting bin Laden.
In September 2006, Bush told Fred Barnes, one of his most sycophantic media allies, that an "emphasis on bin Laden doesn't fit with the administration's strategy for combating terrorism."
And don't even get me started on Bush's failed strategy that allowed bin Laden to escape from Tora Bora.MORE

However I firmly disagree with the thrust of this postJohn McCain said he wouldn't go after Bin Laden in Pakistan

His reason was that Pakistan is a sovereign nation. And so it is, actually and just because we are the world's only superpower, doesn't mean we get to trample all over other people's sovereignty. When we finally lose that prestige years down the road, and some other superpower proceeds to violate our sovereignty, we are going to be selectively historically ignorant, aren't we?

Meantime they buried Mr. Osama's body at sea, supposedly in accordance with Islamic traditions. The reasoning given was to prevent enshrining of his remains.

Some Muslim clerics are disputing that characterization of the burial.


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