Article 43

 

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The ‘F’ State And Historical Blindness

17 Ways To recognize Fascist Weeds In The Rose Garden
By Invicta R. Salusa

Even if you are not a political VISIONARY or a history buff, and even if you try to live in an impersonal, non-activist vacuum, it is almost impossible not to SEE THE SIMILARITIES and the grim realities of how the following list of dictators came into their power and held onto it.  I am referring to:

· Hitler’s Nazi Germany

· Mussolini’s Italy

· Francos Spain

· Salazar’s Portugal

· Papadopulos

· Chile under Pinochet

· Misilovecs Bosnia and

· Indonesia under Suharto

· Iraq’s Saddam Huessein

All of the above were well-known dictators and fascists.  They are still clearly present in our historical vision.  Yet in America TODAY that is supposed to be one of the most POLITICALLY AWARE countries on earth, it seems that the only ones who are not suffering from historical BLINDNESS at this crucial time are unembedded journalists, historians, history teachers, political and environmental activists and a small but aware general public, like me, who simply love freedom and don’t want to give it up.

Because a few of us haven’t lost either our historical memories or insights from an overdose of American consumerism, mind-clogging junk food, cell phones, mall-walking and liberal-bashing, it is relatively easy to look at our current 100-year history and see an alarming number of patterns emerging that repeat themselves in every fascistic regime.  Just play match-up with the following 17 recognized ways that fascist governments of the past have gotten control of countries and elected despots to its highest offices.  Check these against whats currently happening in America today, right NOW.  If one is objective and honest with oneself, it is impossible NOT to see a political profile emerging that will leave you feeling very uneasy. 

Here are seventeen common denominators that act as the prelude to forming a fascist state:

1. Unite the country in shock, anger, FEAR and protest behind a horrorific INCIDENT that has been secretly set up by the government and executed by outsiders.  Then lay blame on selected scapegoats. It’s easy to DIVERT attention from the real intent by choosing appropriate SCAPEGOATS upon which failures and national frustration can be heaped.  Historically, Jews, communists, socialists, liberals, infidels, homosexuals and all types of religious and racial minorities as well as anyone who protests against the regime have taken their turn being labeled as potential terrorists and treated as such.

2. Obtain and establish a slow, subtle, CONTROL of the mainstream mass media through mergers and secret deals, then SYSTEMATICALLY get rid of mainstream writers, producers and journalists of integrity and truthfulness. The first signs of this are watered down versions of the current news on both national and local levels.  Then slowly impose some form of censorship is slowly imposed (and sometimes its not done so slowly) the EXCUSE for which is for the sake of national security and the common good, or simply for moral purposes.  Media personnel, afraid of losing careers, licenses, news resources (from equally controlled news services) advertisers, etc. will usually cave in to this and convince themselves that it is a ethical journalism.  The first to go are journalists, TV and radio broadcasters and producers that have enjoyed a reputation for reliable and honest journalism for many years, depending upon how popular they are with the public.  Most of the owners of mainstream TV, radio and newspapers, like Rupert Murdoch, are already an integral part of the current power elite.  Media moguls in bed with the power elites purchase as many media outlets as possible creating only one or two mega-media monopolies that are easier to manage, censor and control.  In some countries that have been taken over by a coup, the government has simply nationalized the media altogether.

3. Create an OBSESSION with NATIONAL SECURITY through a fear of the terrorists, the evil-doers, the infidels or a demonized minority group from another race or religion. The rallying cry here is usually, It’s MY country, right or wrong!.  Propagandizing phony patriotism encourages citizens, even children, to spy on their family members and neighbors in the name of that patriotism.  Using these methods it is easy to turn the populace against people of other nations when they pose opposition that disagrees with the current spin.  Strengthening national paranoia by strongly promoting propaganda in the media has always been very effective.  It is also necessary to convince the people that it is better to part with some of their personal freedoms in order to be safe, to fight terrorism so that it is more difficult to go around forming plots against the government.  Sometimes the media just prints out-and-out lies and they are readily accepted by a traumatized public.

4. Promote rampant nationalism, making those who do not participate in FLAG WAVING and patriotic bumper-stickering appear somehow unpatriotic. This is a further extension of #3.  Again, to accomplish this it is crucial to control the media.  People love to feel that they are a part of something and enjoy the sense of power that comes with that feeling.  Intense nationalism: hanging out flags and waving them at every opportunity; wearing symbols of the state as a patriotic gesture, using propaganda slogans on homes and vehicles, promoting military support and pride and calling for national unity against terrorism, the infidel, the intellectual liberals, or whatever the regime decides to is the flavor of the day are all part of this syndrome.

5. Convince the people that militarism and a formidable military establishment is their only hope of safety and security in a world filled with terrorism and those who would destroy their freedom. This is also an extension of the nationalism referred to in #3.  Despotic regimes aiming at complete control have always used the military and its ARMS INDUSTRIES to back them up.  Of course, it is important to convince the people of the necessity to allocate billions of the local currency to pay for this because of the publics need for safety and security for their families.  A glossy, expensive, all-out recruiting promotion of the young that glamorizes the military adventure and its benefits is also necessary unless the regime is REALLY aggressive and insists on complete military conscription, as many third world countries have done.

6. Disdainfully deny the most basic human rights to whatever race, nationality or religious group chosen as the scapegoat(s). This means that in the current ATMOSPHERE of fear and terror basic human rights and political prisoners rights, as recognized under the Geneva Conventions, must be ignored, excused or be denied altogether because of terrorism.  By cleverly and constantly playing on their fears, people will become used to tolerating abuses. that normally would shock and disgust them.  Massive amounts of DISINFORMATION, secrecy, black ops operations and denial in the government and media that anything illegal or unnecessary is happening are necessary to carry this out effectively.

7. Intensify actions under #6 by insisting that DETAINMENT WITHOUT CHARGES and suspension of the right of habeas corpus is necessary to get to the truth and obtain the enemy’s secrets. This scenario is more serious than number 6.  Here they excuse the use of torture, mind drugging, and blackmail by threats to a persons family and even murder as tools of nterrogation.  After awhile, with enough media promotion, the public becomes accustomed to viewing these activities as some form of justice to those who threaten their freedoms.

8. Create open disdain, even hatred, for artists, philosophers and intellectuals and get rid of university faculty that cannot be adequately controlled. The bane of any fascistic regime is informed people who refuse to accept the current spin.  Traditionally, students, teachers and professors, librarians, free-press publishers, independent political writers, unembedded journalists, independent film makers, producers, actors, video and recording artists, Internet dataminers and specialists and graphic or fine artists whose work DOES NOT CONCUR with the dogma-of-the-day are a threat to those seeking power and dominance over their own country and other nations.  Traditionally, freethinkers are usually some of the first to be fired from their jobs, asked to resign, or rounded up and persecuted as enemies of the state.  To fascists, such people are considered subversive to patriotism and national security if their art or their journalism does not follow the party line.  Those with unorthodox ideas, unencumbered spirituality (as opposed to those who belong to the organized religions), and common dissenters must be tightly controlled, silenced (usually by family blackmail), attacked or simply ELIMINATED or disappeared.

9. Support BigBiz and BIG PHARMA BigAgra and BigArms.  Here’s a five-pronged effort to protect and promote Mega-Biz and all its cushy benefits to the F-state:

· Obtain massive INTELLIGENCE GATHERING through personal health, education and financial institutions with the COOPERATION of health care establishments, insurance and security agencies.

· Protect big business and the medical, pharmaceutical, mega food producers and natural resource-exploiting industrialists from harmful law suits and other legal access by injured and/or informed people;

· Allow business to flourish by offering it a role in the social and political control of the people by removing some of the economic SAFEGUARDS of banks (through credit, mortgages and insurance) and ensuring the continuance of a wage-slave class by controlling their overall debt.

· Promote exploitation through business from the local franchise level up to the major corporations by manipulating consumerism in print, Internet and consumer media.

· Establish a national identity card program and other means to provide extensive surveillance of the public on all levels and to TRACK their business, health and other transactions.  This can be done subtlely by adding microchip information to credit, bank and medical I.D. cards.

10. Start DISMANTLING the power of LABOR UNIONS and stop new efforts to form unions, even when wages are below the poverty line; eliminate or outsource jobs and diminish or eliminate most social programs for the poor. Organized labor is always a threat to the power mongers because it can challenge the power elite and often win through sheer numbers and by denying management’s unfair demands.  Strong unions give a voice to the lower middle class and the working poor, making it more difficult to keep them under strict control.  A wage-slave class is imperative to a fascistic government that seeks to keep affluence within manageable ranges of upper middle class and the power elite.  Indigent, homeless people are usually people who have lost their jobs and their homes through outsourcing, cutbacks, lay-offs, etc.  Without any economic resources, they are then considered to be expendable and unnecessary to society in general.

11. Establish and maintain a POLITICAL POWER ELITE, ruling structure based on cronyism, nepotism, shared corruption and a complete LACK OF INTEGRITY. This has always been the MOST effective means of obtaining and maintaining total, repressive control of a country.  Big Biz and Big (Extended) Family has always supported Big Gov financially, ensuring its continued wealth and power in exchange for access to public lands and resources (well-organized national ecological theft).  When the corruption of government covers a very broad range of agencies, the public will be likely to accept it.  With these strategies in place, and media concurance, the country is kept under control and the public is kept in the dark.  Because of the threat from national security hanging over the public, and the ruling regime can do ANYTHING and everything to gain more power.

12. Promote male dominance in the power structure and use only token females in key positions who will do as they are told. Women have traditionally been forced to take a second place in male-dominated societies.  Today, especially in western nations, although women have more power than ever before, the world power elite of sees this as a potential threat and does not really support womens rights although they appear to do so.  Taking away a woman’s power to control her own reproductive system, her economic viability and freedom of choice goes deep into the agenda of a repressive power structure.  Most former fascistic regimes were very homophobic and against birth control and abortion because, after all, if women had reproductive rights, control over their bodies, their economic future and ever-expanding political influence, where would the war-mongers get their future military cannon fodder?  Dont be deluded:  allowing women true equality is unacceptable to this type of regime so they feature cookie-cutter versions of family values, and moral values, stressing religion and demonizing anyone who is different (like homosexuals).  Women who do well professionally in these fascistic governments even in high offices, are well used as spokespeople and highly visible showpieces in order to give the illusion of equality in government.  Their positions are maintained as long as they do exactly as they are told and never step outside the box or do any independent thinking.

13. Bind together religious and secular issues, drawing the RELIGIOUS conservatives and the right wing together by intermingling messianic moralist issues with campaign platforms. The object is to blur the lines of demarcation between church and state.  Creating a gray area between church and state, using coalitions of well-known religious leaders (especially those who have political ambitions) to make a fascist regime appear to be law-abiding and mandated by God to protect the righteous has always been a useful tool.  Selling the messianic story that “God is on our side” to the masses is conducted for the power elite by priests and ministers who have been duped into believing that they are doing the right thing.  Their only criterion is that they must first believe that those in power are in league with God and not Satan.  This blurring provides the power structure with a great way to cover up even the most disastrous and heinous acts.  Actions contrary to any true Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Hindu, or Buddhist precept of faith or behavior; strictly forbidden under any religions rules or a country’s constitution become routine.  Its a pity that too many well-meaning, good people find out the truth too late.  Moral discrepancies are excused by convincing people that the end justifies the means.  When most people see tacit approval from the pulpit MIRACLES can happen like stealing elections right under everybody’s nose!

14. Make glowing election promises (never intended to be kept, of course) to convince the right wing and middle-of-the-road voters that the new leadership intends only the best for the nation. The sincerity of the principle candidate is all-important here.  In most countries the voters want to see a wholesome, all-around knowledgeable person who doesn’t appear to be smarter than everyone else.  Even though they know it takes a lot of political clout and tremendous amounts of money to get a candidate to the national level, people want to feel they’re electing a good ole boy, who is to some extent one of them.  If this person is from the working or peasant class, has some education and the gift of making generalized speeches, all the better.  It’s important to have commonality with the middle class because they pay the bulk of the taxes and they need to think that they have some real clout.  This is a mistake as far as the power elite are concerned because in a Fascist state what they actually have is credulity and the inability to see through the professional power-spin.  They are easily convinced if they are told what they wish to hear.

15. Hold fraudulent and very expensive elections, RIGGING public opinion and exit polls with the help of an embedded and controlled media. Ah!  The MEDIA again!  In the never. never lands of public opinion, this field of dreams is SO easily sowed with millions and millions of corporate, private and taxpayer money that it is almost impossible to trace where the mythology of a free election begins and ends!  These are the days of electronic voting, hanging chads, skewed exit polls, massive pay-offs, intimidation, confusing voting times and venues, and even holding telephone campaigns based on out-and-out lies, destroying or refusing to accept votes or diverting votes so the opposition can’t count them.  These are all equally effective tools in gathering enough votes to deliver any election up to the would-be dictator!

16. When the election is delivered (note, I didn’t say won), slowly renege on each election promise using appropriate excuses. First, it’s important to put as many family members and military cronies into the power structure as possible.  Then new members are appointed to each key cabinet, ministry or other government position and the courts are stacked with judges sympathetic to the cause. This becomes a loyal and sympathetic government SERVING ONLY THE POWER ELITE and the potential dictator able to profess plausible answers as to why election promises are not kept.

17. Once the new leader has been installed, the stage is set, to secretely CREATE A FEW HORRIFIC INCIDENTS perpetrated on the unsuspecting public.  Then a pre-emptive military strike and/or occupation of another country can be proposed and carried out. This will allow enraged citizens to vent their spleen by visiting the horrors of war on the alleged culprits.  So what there is collateral damage and high civilian mortality that’s war!  A massive and expensive war effort with untold benefits to the power structure can then either be carried out alone or in liaison with another government.  The agenda of choice is to:

a. strike the enemies of the state before they can strike again;

b. destroy those who hate freedom and democracy;

c. bring freedom and democracy to a repressed nation; or

d. stop those who threaten the safety of the people, etc., etc.

Of course, there will be dissenters to this plan but thats what they build concentration camps for, isn’t it?

Credit: Maryfire Stirling

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Posted by Elvis on 12/31/06 •
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Psychiatrist Calls To Impeach Bush

By CAROL WOLMAN, MD
Board Certified in Psychiatry
Co-chair, IMPEACH BUSH-CHENEY
Member, THE LONGHGOUSE COALITION
December 30, 2006

We the people” HAVE BEEN AND ARE BEING badly abused by the BUSH ADMINISTRATION. We’ve been DIENFRANCHISED by DIEBOLD, a major Bush donor. Our Congress, our elected Representatives, have been corrupted, intimidated into going along with SHREDDING of the CONSTITUTION. The incoming Democrats, whom we elected in protest, plan to play ball with Bush.

We’ve been LIED INTO Iraq and our taxes are being used to support all kinds of atrocities there. Our reputation as an honorable nation has been destroyed, and hatred has been stirred up against us all over the world.

Our treasury is being drained, the public sector, on which we rely for essential services and infrastructure, is being STARVED. Rampant CRONYISM and RIPOFFS go unchecked.

Our LAND is being defiled with pollutants, clearcutting, exploitation of pristine areas. Standards of cleanliness and safety have been lowered or ignored. Public utilities are being “privatized”, including the health care system, the prison system, the energy system, so that the PUBLIC WELFARE IS SUBORDINATED TO PROFIT. The COMMONS is being destroyed.

We are being systematically stripped of our FREEDOMS. Freedom of the PRESS has all but vanished, and the TV networks and major newspapers have become propaganda organs. Freedom of assembly and speech are being THREATENED. Individual PRIVACY has disappeared. Habeas corpus is NO MORE.

Our FUTURE is being mortgaged. We are leaving our kids an overheating planet, since the BUSHIES WON’T ACKNOWLEDGE GLOBAL WARMING, let alone do anything about it. We are leaving them an enormous debt, and a set of laws that allows FASCISM to be imposed at will.

Our emotions are being manipulated by the constant fake terror alerts. Meanwhile we are being terrorized into SUBMISSION TO BUSH, with reports of concentration camps under construction by Halliburton, warrantless TAPPING of our phone calls and emails, scary legislation like the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act, and the MILITARY COMMISSIONS ACT.

I could go on and on- you, reader, can add your own outrages to the list. The point is, ”we the people” are being abused by the members of the Executive Branch, whose job it is to carry out OUR will, the will of “we the people”.

As a people, we are now depressed. We feel helpless to stop the depredations. Our massive repudiation of the Iraq occupation and the Bush administration at the polls seems to have been pointless. The Iraq occupation is escalating again- more troops, more money for Halliburton and Carlyle. The Democrats has said that “impeachment is not on the table”. A feeling of hopelessness and dread of what the future will bring is hanging over us.

We are like a wife trapped in an abusive marriage, who feels that duty and economics prevent her from leaving. Perhaps she still feels some love and loyalty to the husband who mistreats her. Perhaps she feels she deserves ill treatment, or that she’s too weak and pitiful to do anything about it. She becomes depressed and resigned to a dismal life.

When a woman is being abused by her husband, it is commonly accepted that he is committing criminal acts, and needs to be brought to justice. First of all, she is separated from him, and he is served with a restraining order to prevent further abuses. Safety first. The case is then investigated by the District Attorney, and if enough evidence is found, he is indicted and brought to trial. If convicted, he may serve some time, depending on how bad the abuse has been.

All this helps the victim to realize that it is wrong to be mistreated, and that justice is on her side. She regains a sense of power and self-esteem, and is able to manage her life. She sees some hope and happiness ahead.

We the people need to separate from Bush and Cheney. The mechanism for this is impeachment. Pelosi’s plan to “work with” Bush is co-dependence, allowing the perpetrator to continue his abuse. In this case, enabling the criminals to continue their ripoff of the public amounts to co-conspiracy, opening the Congresspeople who go along to criminal charges.

A statement by House leaders of intention to investigate for impeachment, and a REFUSAL to cooperate with Bush plans to escalate in Iraq, etc, etc, would amount to a restraining order, preventing further harm to “we the people”. Safety first.

This should be followed by a thorough investigation and impeachment by the House, which acts as the “district attorney"- the attorney for “we the people”. Impeachment = indictment. The evidence will surely be strong enough to warrant conviction by the Senate, even if the Democrats do lack a 2/3 majority there. Public airing of Bush and Cheney’s high crimes through the House investigation will force the Senate to convict, and eject them from office. They can then be tried as ordinary citizens in a regular criminal court.

We the people will become empowered, as we are supposed to be under our Constitution. We will be able to restore paper ballots and ensure fair elections. We will be able to address the pressing problems of global warming, budgetary crisis, nuclear pollution, and all the other ills which we will inherit from 6 years of Bush’s plundering. Our self-esteem as a nation, and our reputation among nations, will be restored.

Impeachment is the only way this can happen. Impeachment is peaceful, legal and democratic.

Power to the people!

In the name of the Prince of Peace, who taught us to speak truth to power.

Carol S. Wolman, MD is a psychiatrist in Northern California. A lifelong peace activist, she has written extensively on the psychology of our times. She is actively working to impeach Bush and Cheney, and suggests you join or form a LOCAL GROUP at She is running for Congress as a nonpartisan write-in candidate in CA district 1, and is a coordinator of THE LONGHGOUSE COALITION.

SOURCE

BUSH NEEDS TO BE IMPEACHED FOR HIS OWN GOOD
NEW DARK AGE OF DOGMA
IMPEACH BUSH-CHENEY

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Chrysler Signs China Car Deal

By Tom Krisher, AP Business Writer
Yahoo News
December 29, 2006

DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group and China’s CHERY AUTOMOBILE CO have agreed on a plan for the Chinese manufacturer to build small CARS to be sold worldwide. The cars, which already are being designed, would be based on an existing model but will be modified jointly by Chrysler and Chery engineers, Chrysler spokesman Jason Vines said Friday. Chrysler is taking the lead on the design and will ensure that the vehicles meet high quality standards, he said. 

They will be sold at Chrysler dealerships in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere under a Chrysler Group brand as either a Dodge, Chrysler or Jeep.

Chery will build tiny cars known in the industry as “B-cars,” but it also may build something larger for Chrysler, Vines added.

The deal needs to be approved by Chrysler’s supervisory board, which meets next month, and by the Chinese government.

The move gives Chrysler a relatively quick entry into a growing segment of the car market where it now has no significant product, and it prepares the company in case gasoline prices escalate again to above $3 per gallon, said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. The average retail price of gasoline in the U.S. ended 2006 at around $2.34 a gallon, or 14 cents higher than a year ago.

Alan Helfman, general manager of River Oaks Chrysler Jeep in Houston, said the pact will give dealers coverage in all segments of the car market. “I think that’s an INCREDIBLE DEAL,” he said.

Chrysler has been seeking a Chinese partner to build small cars, saying it CANNOT make money by manufacturing them in the United States due to high LABOR and OTHER COSTS.

WE CAN’T BUILD ONE here in that segment. You can’t make any money on it. That’s why we need a partner,” Vines said.

He said Chrysler would unveil a prototype “fairly soon,” although no date has been set. Production will not start until sometime after 2007, Vines said.

Chrysler would not say how many cars Chery would build or how much they would cost. It also would not reveal the financial terms of the agreement. The letter of intent was signed about two weeks ago, Vines said.

Chery had plans to begin exporting vehicles to the U.S. as early as next year in a joint venture with U.S. entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin’s Visionary Vehicles, but the deal fell apart in November.

“Both sides agreed a joint venture was not a good idea,” said Visionary Vehicles spokeswoman Wendi Friedman Tush, adding that Chery wanted to modify existing cars and Bricklin wanted totally new products.

Visionary Vehicles is now pursuing other Chinese manufacturers and will announce an agreement soon, she said.

The deal with Chery will help Chrysler in the U.S., but it also gives the company small vehicles to sell in growing global markets such as India and China, Cole said.

To be successful, automakers have to be ready with cars and trucks for different economic and fuel price situations, Cole said.

“If you don’t have that entry-level small car and we see $3.50 or $4 per gallon, that could be a huge problem of really not having a product in a segment that would be very hot with high fuel prices,” Cole said.

Energy analysts predict the $3 level could be within reach in some parts of the country next summer, but that prices in 2007 should mainly be lower than in 2006, when they averaged $2.38 a gallon nationwide.

The agreement also helps Chery by giving it access to design, engineering and manufacturing skills that it doesn’t currently have, Cole said.

The Chery-produced cars likely would be sold for $8,000 to $10,000, and would have to be high quality to compete with Chevrolet, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and other automakers that already are selling B-cars, Cole said. Chrysler likely would give Chery more credibility than it would have had selling the cars on its own in the U.S., he said.

Cole said the Chrysler-Chery deal likely won’t be the largest one between a U.S. automotive company and a Chinese manufacturer. General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. already have significant manufacturing deals with CHINESE COMPANIES that could be larger, he said.

GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said the Chery cars certainly would compete against Chevrolet’s Aveo small car, which is built by GM Daewoo in South Korea. But he questioned whether the Cherys would be able to carve out a niche in a competitive market.

“The car would have to be good enough to earn its way into the segment,” Wilkinson said.

The United Auto Workers UNION, which has been critical of companies that move manufacturing jobs overseas, would not comment on the Chrysler-Chery deal.

Last year, GM settled several legal disputes with Chery over allegations that it had stolen GM’s design of the Spark minicar, which looks similar to the Chery QQ.

GM had sued to prevent Chery from selling the car in various markets, including Asia and Eastern Europe.

Terms of the settlement weren’t fully disclosed, but Chery agreed not to market its vehicles under the Chery name in the United States. GM and Chery also agreed not to take further legal action against each other.

SOURCE

Credit: Eduardo Felix

Posted by Elvis on 12/31/06 •
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Wal-Mart Relations

The company made buying American a national cause—but these days, WAL-MART spends its money elsewhere. Countless jobs have followed—and in overseas factories, foreign workers have suffered: 

Massive Reliance on Imports.

Buying American takes second place to the bottom line—and foreign suppliers benefit:

Abandons Buy American Program. In February 1985, Walton wrote 3,000 American manufacturers and wholesalers to announce that the chain wanted to buy more American goods. Walton said: “We cannot continue to be a solvent nation as long as we pursue this current accelerating direction. Our company is firmly committed to the philosophy by buying everything possible from suppliers who manufacture their products in the United States.” Today, however, over 80 percent of Wal-Mart’s 6,000 global suppliers are based in China. [Wal-Mart Press Release, 3/13/85; Wal-Mart Literature, 1994; PBS Frontline, 11/16/04]

China’s Eighth Largest Trading Partner. In 2004, almost 10 percent of everything imported to the United States from China was imported by Wal-Mart—making the company, if it counted as a sovereign nation, China’s eighth-largest trading partner. [Business Week Online, 10/7/05; Charles Fishman, The Wal-Mart Effect, 2006]

Increasing Dependence on India. In March 2004, Business Line reported that Wal-Mart intends to outsource $11 billion in textile merchandise over the next few years. The company has planned to buy $1.5 billion dollars worth of goods from India in 2006, and has increased operations out of its Bangalore office—which already employs 80 staffers focused on new outsourcing relationships. [Business Line, 3/26/05; Bloomberg News, 7/11/05; Women’s Wear Daily, 3/13/06]

More than 60,000 Suppliers in 70 Countries. A Wal-Mart website declares: “As the world’s largest retailer, we’re in thousands of communities around the USA and 15 other countries. We buy products from MORE THAN 60,000 SUPPLIERS IN 70 COUNTRIES.”

Buys Local Elsewhere. During discussions about sourcing in other countries, Amy Wyatt of the store’s international corporate affairs division said that 90 to 95 percent of products in Wal-Mart’s stores outside the United States—including stores in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom—are generally produced in the region. “In the United States, our local sourcing is not as high as 90 percent,” she said. “The manufacturing just doesn’t exist.” [Tico (Costa Rica) Times, 3/17/06]

Internal Report Exposes Wal-Mart’s Lack Of Commitment To International Workers Rights. In a 2005 study, Wal-Mart audits its international factory inspection program and the results are not promising. Only 20 percent of inspections are unannounced and 89 percent of all inspections find medium to severe violations. With only 200 associates covering five regions around the globe, it appears workers will have to suffer under poor working conditions for years to come. [Wal-Mart’s 2005 Report on Ethical Sourcing, 7/31/06]
Hurting American Manufacturers.

Hurting American Manufacturers

Wal-Mart works to keep the green flowing—even if that means red ink for American suppliers:

Ruining Rubbermaid. In 1994, Rubbermaid won accolades as the most admired company in the United States—but five years later, its fortunes fell so hard that the company sold itself to a competitor. When the price of a key component of its products went up, Rubbermaid asked Wal-Mart for a modest price increase—but Wal-Mart said no, and stopped sales of Rubbermaid products. At a Rubbermaid factory in Wooster, Ohio, that meant the loss of 1,000 jobs. [PBS Frontline, 11/23/04]

Advises Supplier: Open a Factory in China. To land a supply contract with Wal-Mart, the Lakewood Engineering and Manufacturing Company—a Chicago fan manufacturer—had to locate manufacturing operations in Shenzhen, China. Workers there make $.25 an hour—while the company’s Chicago workforce earned an average hourly $13. [Los Angeles Times, 11/23/03]

Advises Mr. Coffee to Move Overseas. Mr. Coffee—which won awards for moving manufacturing operations back to the United States—faced pressure to shift production to China even at the height of Wal-Mart’s ‘Buy American’ program. After Wal-Mart demanded a $1 reduction in the wholesale price of a brisk-selling four-cup coffeemaker in 1985, Mr. Coffee executives scouted for factory sites in China—and executives say Wal-Mart encouraged offshore production even as it promoted its ‘Made in the USA’ campaign.” [The Commercial Appeal, 6/8/01; Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/14/04]

Forces Huffy Bikes to Brake US Production. Despite decades of making bicycles in the United States, Huffy was forced by Wal-Mart price pressures to close three factories and lay off thousands of workers. The mayor of Celina, Ohio—where Huffy closed a large factory—said Wal-Mart’s “demand for cheaper bicycles drove Huffy out of Celina.” [Mansfield News Journal, 12/8/03]

Minimum Social Responsibility

Suppliers pay subpar wages—but Wal-Mart pays little mind:

Dropped from Socially Responsible Investing Index. In 2001, Wal-Mart was removed from the nation’s largest “socially responsible” mutual fund, the Domini 400 Social Index, because of its human rights standards. The Domini Index is described as the “the first benchmark for stock funds to screen for social responsibility.” Kyle Johnson, the project manager for the index, stated “Wal-Mart is a market leader in retail, yet has not taken a leadership position on labor issues and has been unresponsive to calls for change from shareholders.” [Palm Beach Daily News, 6/12/05; International Shareholder, 4/17/01; The Los Angeles Times, 5/18/01]

Wage Violations at Supplier Factories. According to Wal-Mart’s own audit, “several serious violations are still found consistently at the factory level, including problems with payment of overtime compensation, coaching of workers for worker interviews, and the use of `double-books’ to hide true numbers of hours worked or wages/benefits paid.” [Wal-Mart Stores Inc. 2005 Ethical Sourcing Report]

Sweatshop Labor

The drive for low prices produces another result: neglected human dignity:

Toys Built in South China Sweatshop. A China Labor Watch report detailed the mistreatment of workers in a factory making small toys for Wal-Mart. As of early December 2005, violations against workers at the Lungcheong factory were as follows: the systematic denial of maternity leave, work-related injuries leading to termination, illegally denying health insurance, mandatory overtime work, insane quotas and employing underage workers. [China Labor Watch, December 2005, China Labor Watch SOURCE (PDF)]

Sweatshops for Kathie Lee Gifford Products. Charles Kernaghan, director of the New York-based National Labor Committee, testified before Congress in 1996 that Kathie Lee Gifford’s clothing line was being produced in sweatshops around the globe. He reported that Global Fashion Plant in Choloma, Honduras—a Wal-Mart vendor that produces clothing for the Kathie Lee apparel line—employed pregnant women and children under harsh conditions and paid only 31 cents an hour. In 2000, The National Labor Committee reported that workers at Qin Shi Handbag factory in Zhongshan, China—which made handbags for Kathie Lee Gifford’s Wal-Mart line—were forced to work 14-hour shifts, seven days a week for little or no money. [Arkansas-Democrat Gazette, 5/24/96; National Labor Committee, “Made in China: The Role of U.S. Companies in Denying Human and Worker Rights,” 5/25/00]

Exposed on NBC’s Dateline. In 1992, NBC’s Dateline reported that 11-year old workers from Bangladesh were making t-shirts for Wal-Mart. [New York Times, 12/24/92]

Rock-Bottom Wages

Compared to Wal-Mart’s United States workers, laborers for overseas suppliers earn pennies on the dollar:

Low Pay Scales. The average full-time United States Wal-Mart employee earns $10.11 per hour. In Swaziland, a worker at a Wal-Mart subcontractor earns 53 cents per hour; in Indonesia, a worker at a Wal-Mart subcontractor earns 46 cents per hour; in Nicaragua, a worker at a Wal-Mart subcontractor earns 23 cents per hour; and in Bangladesh and China, workers at Wal-Mart subcontractors earn 17 cents per hour. [Institute for Policy Studies, “Wal-Mart’s Pay Gap,” 4/15/05]

Missing Overtime Pay. In 2004, the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) documented violations of overtime pay rules at Wal-Mart garment supply factories in Nicaragua, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Swaziland. In September 2005, ILRF filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of workers in China, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Swaziland, and Indonesia. Workers in these countries complained of being “kicked and beaten, locked in factories, fired for supporting a union and not paid the minimum wage or overtime.” [Institute for Policy Studies; New York Times, 9/16/05; Corporate Legal Times, 11/05]

Chinese Workers Earning Too Little to Afford Wal-Mart. The influx of cheap labor from the Chinese countryside allows Wal-Mart to produce its goods at extremely low prices. The Pearl River Delta, home to some of China’s newest and largest factories, is a breeding ground for poor working conditions, environmental destruction, and inadequate urban planning. With the help of the Chinese government, infrastructure improvements mean more and more workers will descend upon this area to toil away in horrible conditions. With wages around $100 dollars a month, most workers cannot even afford the products they produce. [BusinessWeek, 7/26/05; China Daily, 11/29/04; San Francisco Chronicle, 12/29/04]

---

How well does the world’s largest company treat the people who make its success possible? A look around uncovers troubling facts—and shows that when it comes to keeping employees from working together to ask for respect, Wal-Mart knows few limits

Ignoring Labor Laws

State and federal regulators have hit Wal-Mart for violating rules on work hours and leave:

Family Leave Laws. Wal-Mart has received numerous fines for violating the Family and Medical Leave Act in locations all over the country—firing workers while on federally protected medical leave. In 2005, Wal-Mart was fined $188,000 by the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission for violating California state law by failing to reinstate a woman after she completed her maternity leave. [U.S. Department of Labor, via Freedom of Information Act; California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, case no. E 200203 M-0774-00-pe, C 03-04-026; Sacramento Bee, 6/14/05.]

Off-the-Clock Work. In 2000, Wal-Mart paid $50 million to settle a lawsuit that involved 69,000 workers in Colorado who had allegedly been forced to work off the clock. In 2002, a federal grand jury in Oregon found Wal-Mart employees were forced to work off the clock and awarded back pay to 83 workers. In December 2005, Wal-Mart was ordered to pay $172 million to 116,000 current and former California workers for violating a 2001 state law that requires employers to give 30-minute, unpaid lunch breaks to employees who work at least six hours. In the United States, Wal-Mart has 53 class action lawsuits over wage and hour violations. [New York Times, 11/19/04; Associated Press, 2/17/04; Associated Press, 9/19/05; Associated Press, 12/22/05.]

Hiring Undocumented Workers. Wal-Mart paid $11 million to settle a federal investigation called “Operation Rollback,” which found hundreds of undocumented immigrants working off the clock to clean stores. In 2003, federal agents raided 61 Wal-Mart stores and arrested 250 undocumented immigrants. [Washington Post, 3/19/05; Los Angeles Times, 10/24/03.]
Skipping Work Breaks. In 2000, an internal Wal-Mart audit found that of 128 stores, 127 of them were “not in compliance” with company policies providing for work breaks. [Indiana Lawyer, 5/7/03.]

Using Child Labor

Federal investigators found Wal-Mart complementing low wages with low ages:

Employing Teens in Unsafe Conditions. In January 2005, after an investigation of 27 stores in three states, Wal-Mart reached a settlement with the United States Department of Labor for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Wal-Mart paid a $135,540 fine for allowing 85 workers, aged 16 and 17, to participate in activities prohibited to minors—“including loading and occasionally operating or unloading scrap paper balers, and operating fork lifts.” Wal-Mart signed an agreement with the Department’s Wage and Hours Division regarding future child labor conditions. [U.S. Department of Labor Press Release, 2/14/05.]

Negotiating for Weak Enforcement. An audit by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the child labor agreement between Wal-Mart and the Department of Labor found “serious breakdowns in the WHD [Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division] process for negotiating, developing, and approving such agreements. These breakdowns resulted in the WHD entering into an agreement that gave significant concessions to Wal-Mart. Specifically, the agreement provided for advance notification by WHD of Wal-Mart investigations, and gave Wal-Mart the ability to avoid civil money penalties (CMP) under certain conditions. In exchange, the agreement primarily committed Wal-Mart to continue measures that were already in place or required by law. Also, WHD did not consult with the Office of the Solicitor (SOL) in developing and approving the agreement.”

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said: “This report constitutes an unexpected and virtually unprecedented indictment of the U.S. Department of Labor’s sweetheart deal with Wal-Mart. [It] should lead us to be more vigilant and vigorous in enforcing our state child protection laws.” [U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Audit, 10/05; Hartford Courant, 11/1/05.]

Source: WALMART WATCH

WAL-MART’S DEAL WITH THE US LABOR DEPARTMENNT
WAL-MART’S UNION EXCLUSION CLAUSE
WAL-MART DRAGGING DOWN US LABOR STANDARDS

Posted by Elvis on 12/31/06 •
Section Dying America
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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Border Agents Petition

SIGN THE PETITION to stop this injustice.

Two U.S. Border agents were CONVICTED AND SENTENCED to 11 and 12 year prison terms for shooting a Mexican drug smuggler who had crossed our border illegally and physically assaulted one of the agents

This outrageous injustice took place near El Paso, Texasa hotbed of illegal activity, where drug smugglers, and violent gang members illegally crossing from Mexico are often encountered. On February 17, 2005, U.S. Border Ignacio Ramos (a former nominee for border patrol agent of the Year), and Jose Compean attempted to apprehend a fleeing ILLEGAL ALIEN at our border.

Today, both are facing 20 year prison terms, and even more outrageous, this same illegal alien is now suing the U.S. for $5 million claiming his civil rights were violated. Click HERE for the Lou Dobbs report.

Both agents must surrender to federal authorities on January 17, to begin their terms.

Posted by Elvis on 12/30/06 •
Section News
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