Court Officer Sexually Assaults Woman in Court, Arrests Her #Vaw #WTfnews


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When Everyone in Court Ignores Her Pleas for Help

The Clark County family court is under heavy scrutiny after a video showed a woman who said she was sexually assaulted being arrested.
June 11, 2013  |
 Employees from Clark County family court in Nevada are under investigation for covering up an alleged sexual assault by a court officer,according to KLAS-TV, a CBS affiliate.

An internal affairs investigation has also revealed larger problems at the court, like more allegations of sexual assault and violence.

The story KLAS-TV focuses in on is what happened to Monica Contreras. The mother of a two-year-old daughter went to family court in August 2011 on a routine divorce case. Her husband didn’t show up, and so his request for a temporary restraining order was denied.

Things went downhill for Contreras from there, and there’s video to prove it. Court officer Ron Fox told Contreras she needed to be searched for drugs. According to Contreras and an internal investigation that verified her story, Fox touched her breasts and ordered her shirt to be lifted up. Contreras then went to the hearing master, Patricia Donninger, to tell her that Contreras’ requests for a female officer to conduct the search were ignored.

A second officer then begins to arrest Contreras. Fox says that it was because Contreras made “false allegations.” The news outlet notes that they could not find a “law that would support the arrest. It is also highly unlikely a sexual assault victim would be placed under arrest by the alleged assaulter.”

Meanwhile, the hearing master was looking away while Contreras was pleading with her to pay attention to what was happening to her. “How can you do this to me? How can you watch?” she asks.

The court lieutenant did not inform anyone about the alleged sexual assault.

Two months after the arrest, Contreras filed a complaint, and an internal affairs investigation got underway. But eventually, Fox was fired, though he maintains his innocence. His attorney said the arrest of Contreras was legal because nobody in the court tried to halt his actions.

But nobody informed Contreras about the investigation, Fox’s firing or that her claims were verified. The news outlet had to do that.

The internal investigation isn’t over yet. KLAS-TV reports: “Clark County courts are widening their investigation into why this incident, and a growing number of assault allegations, were never reported by family court management to internal affairs.”

Alex Kane is AlterNet‘s New York-based World editor, and an assistant editor forMondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

 

1 Black Man Is Killed Every 28 Hours by Police or Vigilantes in USA #Racism #WTFnews


How America Is Perpetually at War With Its Own People

From the war on drugs to the war on terror, law enforcement’s battle against minorities serves as pacification.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Eugene Ivanov

May 28, 2013  |
 Police officers, security guards, or self-appointed vigilantes extrajudicially killed at least 313 African-Americans in 2012 according to a recent study. This means a black person was killed by a security officer every 28 hours. The report notes that it’s possible that the real number could be much higher.

The report, entitled “Operation Ghetto Storm”, was performed by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, an antiracist grassroots activist organization. The organization has chapters in Atlanta, Detroit, Fort Worth-Dallas, Jackson, New Orleans, New York City, Oakland, and Washington, D.C. It has a history of organizing campaigns against police brutality and state repression in black and brown communities. Their study’s sources included police and media reports along with other publicly available information. Last year, the organization published a similar study showing that a black person is killed by security forces every 36 hours. However, this study did not tell the whole story, as it only looked at shootings from January to June 2012. Their latest study is an update of this.

These killings come on top of other forms of oppression black people face. Mass incarceration ofnonwhites is one of them. While African-Americans constitute 13.1% of the nation’s population, they make up nearly 40% of the prison population. Even though African-Americans use or sell drugs about the same rate as whites, they are 2.8 to 5.5 times more likely to be arrested for drugs than whites. Black offenders also receive longer sentences compared to whites. Most offenders are in prison for nonviolent drug offenses.

“Operation Ghetto Storm” explains why such killings occur so often. Current practices of institutional racism have roots in the enslavement of black Africans, whose labor was exploited to build the American capitalist economy, and the genocide of Native Americans. The report points out that in order to maintain the systems of racism, colonialism, and capitalist exploitation, the United States maintains a network of “repressive enforcement structures”. These structures include the police, FBI, Homeland Security, CIA, Secret Service, prisons, and private security companies, along with mass surveillance and mass incarceration.

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement is not the only group challenging police violence against African-Americans. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network has been challenging the policy of stop-and-frisk in New York City, in which police officers randomly stop and search individuals for weapons or contraband. African-American and Latino men are disproportionately stopped and harassed by police officers. Most of those stopped (close to 90%) are innocent, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. Stop Mass Incarceration also organizes against the War on Drugs and inhumane treatment of prisoners.

Along with the rate of extrajudicial killings, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement report contains other important findings. Of the 313 killed, 124 (40%) were between 22 and 31 years old, 57 (18%) were between 18 and 21 years old, 54 (17%) were between 32 and 41 years old, 32 (10%) were 42 to 51 years old, 25 (8%) were children younger than 18 years old, 18 (6%) were older than 52, and 3 (1%) were of unknown ages.

A significant portion of those killed, 68 people or 22%, suffered from mental health issues and/or were self-medicated. The study says that “[m]any of them might be alive today if community members trained and committed to humane crisis intervention and mental health treatment had been called, rather than the police.”

43% of the shootings occurred after an incident of racial profiling. This means police saw a person who looked or behaved “suspiciously” largely because of their skin color and attempted to detain the suspect before killing them. Other times, the shootings occurred during a criminal investigation (24%), after 9-1-1 calls from “emotionally disturbed loved ones” (19%) or because of domestic violence (7%), or innocent people were killed for no reason (7%).

Most of the people killed were not armed. According to the report, 136 people or 44%, had no weapon at all the time they were killed by police officers. Another 27% were deaths in which police claimed the suspect had a gun but there was no corroboration to prove this. In addition, 6 people (2%) were alleged to have possessed knives or similar tools. Those who did, in fact, possess guns or knives were 20% (62 people) and 7% (23 people) of the study, respectively.

The report digs into how police justify their shootings. Most police officers, security guards, or vigilantes who extrajudicially killed black people, about 47% (146 of 313), claimed they “felt threatened”, “feared for their life”, or “were forced to shoot to protect themselves or others”. George Zimmerman, the armed self-appointed neighborhood watchman who killed Trayvon Martin last year, claimed exactly this to justify shooting Martin. Other justifications include suspects fleeing (14%), allegedly driving cars toward officers, allegedly reaching for waistbands or lunging, or allegedly pointing a gun at an officer. Only 13% or 42 people fired a weapon “before or during the officer’s arrival”.

Police recruitment, training, policies, and overall racism within society conditions police (and many other people) to assume black people are violent to begin with. This leads to police overacting in situations involving African-American suspects. It also explains why so many police claimed the black suspect “looked suspicious” or “thought they had a gun”. Johannes Mehserle, the white BART police officer who shot and killed 22-year-old Oscar Grant in January 2009, claimed Grant had a gun, even though Grant was subdued to the ground by other officers.

Of the 313 killings, the report found that 275 of them or 88% were cases of excessive force. Only 8% were not considered excessive as they involved cases where suspects shot at, wounded, or killed a police and/or others. Additionally, 4% were situations were the facts surrounding the killing were “unclear or sparsely reported”. The vast majority of the time, police officers, security guards, or armed vigilantes who extrajudicially kill black people escape accountability.

***

Over the past 70 years, the “repressive enforcement structures” described in the report have been used to “wage a grand strategy of ‘domestic’ pacification” to maintain the system through endless “containment campaigns” amounting to “perpetual war”. According to the report, this perpetual war has been called multiple names — the “Cold War”, COINTELPRO, the “War on Drugs, the “War on Gangs”, the “War on Crimes”, and now the “War on Terrorism”. This pacification strategy is designed to subjugate oppressed populations and stifle political resistance. In other words, they are wars against domestic marginalized groups. “Extrajudicial killings”, says the report, “are clearly an indispensable tool in the United States government’s pacification pursuits.” It attributes the preponderance of these killings to institutionalized racism and policies within police departments.

Paramilitary police units, known as SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams, developed in order to quell black riots in major cities, such as Los Angeles and Detroit, during the 1960s and ’70s. SWAT teams had major shootouts with militant black and left-wing groups, such as the Black Panther Party and Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) in 1969 and 1974, respectively. SWAT teams were only used for high-risk situations, until the War on Drugs began in the 1980s. Now they’re used in raids — a common military tactic — of suspected drug or non-drug offenders’ homes.

The War on Drugs, first declared by President Richard Nixon in 1971, was largely a product of U.S. covert operations. Anti-communist counter-revolutionaries, known as the “Contras”, were trained, funded, and largely created by the CIA to overthrow the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua during the 1980s. However, the CIA’s funding was not enough. Desperate for money, the Contras needed other funding sources to fight their war against the Sandinistas. The additional dollars came from the drug trade. The late investigative journalist Gary Webb, in 1996, wrote a lengthy series of articles for the San Jose Mercury News, entitled “Dark Alliance”, detailing how the Contras smuggled cocaine from South America to California’s inner cities and used the profits to fund their fight against the Sandinista government. The CIA knew about this but turned a blind eye. The report received a lot of controversy, criticism, and tarnishing of Webb’s journalistic career, which would lead him to commit suicide in 2004. However, subsequent reports from Congressional hearings and other journalists corroborated Webb’s findings.

Moreover, major banks, such as Wachovia (now part of Wells Fargo) and HSBC have laundered money for drug dealers. Therefore, the very threat that the Drug War claims to eliminate is perpetuated more by the National Security State and Wall Street than by low-level street dealers. But rather than go after thebigger fish, the United States has used the pretext of the “war on drugs” to implement draconian police tactics on marginalized groups, particularly poor black communities.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan passed the Military Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies Act, which provided civilian police agencies equipment, training, and advising from the military, along with access to military research and facilities. This weakened the line between the military and civilian law enforcement established by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, a Reconstruction-era law forbidding military personnel from enforcing domestic laws. Five years later, in 1986, Reagan issuedNational Security Decision Directive 221, which declared drug trafficking a national security threat to the United States. This militarized the U.S. approach to drugs and overall policing. Additionally, the global war on terror and growth of the National Security State expanded this militarization of domestic police under the guise of “fighting terrorism”.

The adoption of military tactics, equipment, training, and weapons leads to law enforcement adopting a war-like mentality. They come to view themselves as soldiers fighting against a foreign enemy rather police protecting a community. Nick Pastore, a former Police Chief of New Haven, Connecticut from 1990 to 1997, turned down military equipment that was offered to him. “I turned it all down, because it feeds a mind-set that you’re not a police officer serving a community, you’re a soldier at war,” he told the New York Times. He said “tough-guy cops” in his department pushed for “bigger and more hardware” and “used to say, ‘It’s a war out there.'” Pastore added, “If you think everyone who uses drugs is the enemy, then you’re more likely to declare war on the people.” Mix this war-like mentality with already existing societal anti-black racism and the result is deadly. Black people, who, by default, are assumed to be criminals because of their skin color, become the victims of routine police violence.

The fact that a black person is killed by a police officer, security guard, or vigilante every 28 hours (or less) is no random act of nature. It is the inevitable result of institutional racism and militaristic tactics and thinking within America’s domestic security apparatus.

 

Adam Hudson is a journalist, writer, and photographer.

 

What Does the Oscars Have Against Women? #oscarwomen


It’s time for a serious national conversation on male bias in the film industry.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

February 20, 2013  |

Stop the presses! Hollywood is still a man’s world. If you have any doubt, consider this: last year, six entire Academy Awards categories were completely free of female nominations. It’s even worse this year, up to seven. The roster of 2013 nominees includes 140 men and a paltry 35 women. Getting nominated is a huge factor in career success for every aspect of the film business, from acting and directing to editing and production.

So what’s up with the man bias?

Might have something to do with the fact that a bunch of older white dudes hold the cards when it comes time to pick winners. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the brainchild of Louis B. Mayer, the legendary head of MGM, comprises mostly working professionals in film and television. Its membership is highly secretive, and includes only people who have been nominated for an Oscar, recommended by at least two current members, or endorsed by the branch’s membership committee or the academy staff.

Sound kind of like a frat? It is. According to a 2012 study by the L.A. Times, 77 percent of Oscar voters are male. They also have a median age of 62. The study found that some of the academy’s 15 branches are nearly all white and male. “Men compose more than 90% of five branches,” noted the Times, “including cinematography and visual effects. Of the academy’s 43-member board of governors, six are women; public relations executive Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the sole person of color.”

That is a sorry state of affairs. As Julie Barton, president of the Women’s Media Center, recently put it: “In a film industry where 78% of the top-grossing 250 films of 2012 had no female writers, and 89% of them had no female directors, the Hollywood boys’ club needs to start admitting women.”

Academy leaders say they have been trying to diversify, but they face a daunting problem: the entire industry lacks diversity. Fewer than one in five screenwriters is female, and women directors make up less than 10 percent of the total. A vicious, self-reinforcing cylce exists in which guys pick the winners, winners get the jobs, and then these same folks go on to join the boys club.

There are very few signs that the circle will be broken any time soon, despite the recent success of women like Kathryn Bigelow, whose film The Hurt Lockerlanded her a Best Director award in 2009. (Her most recent film, Zero Dark Thirty, is up for several awards this year, including Best Actress, though Bigelow was not nominated for Best Director this time around.) Unfortunately, Bigelow is the exception that proves the rule in a business where sexism pervades every aspect. Consider pay scales: in 2009, the median annual pay in film was about $76,500 for men, compared with just $62,500 for women.

Predictably, movies made by men are also made for men. The Bechdel test, invented by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, tests movies for gender bias. The test is based on three questions: Does a movie contain two or more female characters who have names? Do those characters talk to each other? If so, do they discuss something besides men? The test demonstrates that movies in which women act as the handmaidens to male adventures are still the norm, and even in films with female characters, the interactions between the women are primarily concerned with what the male characters are doing.

Looking at recent movies, Zero Dark Thirtypasses the Bechdel test, because even though the women in the film talk to each other about Bin Laden, he’s certainly not a love interest, and their conversations have a political context and often concern the planning of strategy. Gangster Squad, on the other hand (one of the most stupifyingly tedious films I have ever seen, and that’s saying a lot) flunks the Bechdel. There are two named female characters, but they don’t have anything to say to each other, and they probably couldn’t hear each other if they did, for all the pointless shooting.

Americans are patting themselves on the backs right now for Oscar-nominated films like Lincoln and Django Unchained that purportedly further the conversation on race. But there’s a deafening silence on how the film industry remains stuck in testosterone-soaked aspic when it comes to sexism.

Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of ‘Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.’ She received her Ph.d in English and Cultural Theory from NYU, where she has taught essay writing and semiotics. She is the Director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.

 

#Olympics: NBC Gives a Big Middle Finger to Over 100 Million Americans Without Cable TV


 

People all over the world are watching the Olympics online, but a lot of Americans are just out of luck.
July 29, 2012  |  Alternet.org

Comcast and NBC logos.

Comcast and NBC logos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every four years, much of the world comes together to compete in – and watch — the Olympic games. Everyone on earth can catch this year’s games online, with the exception of one group: Americans who don’t have a subscription to cable TV.

NBC, which holds the U.S. rights to the games, is giving an Olympic-sized middle finger to a lot of households by offering the games online, but only to those with cable. I am one among a growing number of Americans who have given up their boxy television and watch content on their computers using services like Netflix streaming, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video. According to Nielson, about 48 million households don’t have cable TV – that represents around 37 percent of the population. (This figure includes satellite TV subscribers, who are also out of luck when it comes to streaming the games. But it doesn’t factor in people with, say, both sattelite and an old-fashioned TV with an antenna laying around – that group can catch games on NBC, but not those carried on MSNBC.)

I would gladly pay for the privelege of watching the Olympics online. $9.95 would be a no-brainer, I’d almost certainly go $14.95, and might have even pulled the trigger at $19.95. So NBC isn’t just depriving a third of the population an opportunity to watch the games, it’s not only getting a lot of criticism – the hashtag #NBCFail is all over Twitter – but the company is also leaving tens of millions in revenues on the table.

According to TorrentFreak – a bit-torrent site – while limited access to the games is only going to send people looking for illegal streamers, “NBC and the IOC are fully prepared to act against Olympic pirates to protect their commercial interests.” It’s a bit odd when you think about it, given that NBC isn’t offering the service itself, other than to cable TV subscribers who would be crazy to choose a shaky Chinese mirror site over their cable TV. Again, like many, I’d pay for the service if I could.

What is NBC thinking? On its face, their strategy appears to be in keeping with a lot of content-providers’ apparent preference to treat their potential customers like thieves – fiercely “protecting” their intellectual property — rather than coming up with innovative ways to offer their stuff to the growing audience of online-only media consumers at a reasonable price. Corporate culture is weighed down heavily by short-term thinking.

But there’s more to it than that. Comcast, the country’s leading cable provider, is the majority shareholder in NBC Universal, NBC’s parent company. And Comcast has a problem: it’s hemorrhaging cable subscribers. According to Nielson, between 2010 and 2011, cable subscriptions declined by almost 8 percent, while households that get their video via satellite, online, or from their telco increased by about 7 percent. (Actually, Comcast has two problems, the other being that people hate the company – it consistently scores terribly on consumer satisfaction surveys.)

Despite the fact that NBC enjoys the use of airwaves that belong to the American people, Comcast fears that those 37 percent of households who don’t feel the need for company’s boxes anymore are a harbinger of the future, and it seems to be willing to cut us off from the Olympic games to protect its core business (which is extra annoying for those of us who still fork over money for its broadband services). Comcast has long viewed the Olympics as a means of making cable more attractive – in 2009, before it bought a majority share in NBC

 

People all over the world are watching the Olympics online, but a lot of Americans are just out of luck.Universal, Comcast upset the International Olympic Committee by announcing plans to launch a cable channel dedicated to the games (including off-year trials and world championship events). NBC also squawked, and it may be that holding the rights to the Olympics through 2012 was part of the broadcasters appeal for Comcast.

 

The irony is that Americans jonesing for this year’s games can get around Comcast’s blackout by doing what people in repressive countries whose governments censor the internet have long done: set up a mirroring service that makes it look as if their computer is located somewhere else, like London. These services cost $5-$10 per month, and allow users to catch all the games, in high definition and without tape-delay, on BBC.com.

An extra bonus is that the BBC apparently thinks that the games are dramatic enough on their own merit, and don’t go in for the cheap, contrived melodrama that NBC’s producers seem to adore. #NBCFail, indeed.

 

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He’s the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy. Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.

 

 

How American Corporations Transformed from Producers to Predators


Over the last 30 years, corporations have turned on the 99 percent. Here’s how it happened and how to fight back.

April 1, 2012  |  William Lazonick, Alternet

Photo Credit: AlterNet

Corporations are not working for the 99 percent. But this wasn’t always the case. In a special five-part series, William Lazonick, professor at UMass, president of the Academic-Industry Research Network, and a leading expert on the business corporation, along with journalist Ken Jacobson and AlterNet’s Lynn Parramore, will examine the foundations, history and purpose of the corporation to answer this vital question: How can the public take control of the business corporation and make it work for the real economy?

In 2010, the top 500 U.S. corporations – the Fortune 500 – generated $10.7 trillion in sales, reaped a whopping $702 billion in profits, and employed 24.9 million people around the globe. Historically, when these corporations have invested in the productive capabilities of their American employees, we’ve had lots of well-paid and stable jobs.

That was the case a half century ago.

Unfortunately, it’s not the case today. For the past three decades, top executives have been rewarding themselves with mega-million dollar compensation packages while American workers have suffered an unrelenting disappearance of middle-class jobs. Since the 1990s, this hollowing out of the middle-class has even affected people with lots of education and work experience. As the Occupy Wall Street movement has recognized, concentration of income and wealth of the top “1 percent” leaves the rest of us high and dry.

What went wrong? A fundamental transformation in the investment strategies of major U.S. corporations is a big part of the story.

A Look Back

A generation or two ago, corporate leaders considered the interests of their companies to be aligned with those of the broader society. In 1953, at his congressional confirmation hearing to be Secretary of Defense, General Motors CEO Charles E. Wilson was asked whether he would be able to make a decision that conflicted with the interests of his company. His famous reply: “For years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

Wilson had good reason to think so. In 1956, under the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, the U.S. government committed to pay for 90 percent of the cost of building 41,000 miles of interstate highways. The Eisenhower administration argued that we needed them in case of a military attack (the same justification that would be used in the 1960s for government funding of what would become the Internet). Of course, the interstate highway system also gave businesses and households a fundamental physical infrastructure for civilian purposes– from zipping products around the country to family road trips in the station wagon.

And it was also good for GM. Sales shot up and employment soared. GM’s managers, engineers and other male white-collar employees could look forward to careers with one company, along with defined-benefit pensions and health benefits in retirement. GM’s blue-collar employees, represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW), did well, too. In business downturns, such as those of 1958, 1961 and 1970, GM laid off its most junior blue-collar workers, but the UAW paid them supplemental unemployment benefits on top of their unemployment insurance. When business picked up, GM rehired these workers on a seniority basis.

Such opportunities and employment security were typical of most Fortune 500 firms in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. A career with one company was the norm, while mass layoffs simply for the sake of boosting profits were viewed as bad not only for the country, but for the company, too.

What a difference three decades makes! Now mass layoffs to boost profits are the norm, while the expectation of a career with one company is long gone. This transformation happened because the U.S. business corporation has become in a (rather ugly) word “financialized.” It means that executives began to base all their decisions on increasing corporate earnings for the sake of jacking up corporate stock prices. Other concerns — economic, social and political — took a backseat. From the 1980s, the talk in boardrooms and business schools changed. Instead of running corporations to create wealth for all, leaders should think only of “maximizing shareholder value.”

Read full article here

Listen Up, Guys: If The Catholic Bishops Win, It’s The End of Sex As You Know It


One of the most stunning things about this whole contraception farce is the number of men who are still sitting this out, on the assumption that this is just another “women’s issue.” They don’t think they’ve got a dog in this fight; it’s got absolutely nothing to do with them.

Griswold v. Connecticut is nearly 50 years behind us, which means that three generations of American men have come of age under the sweet delusion that the not-getting-pregnant piece of their sex lives is handled by the same invisible fairies who clean the bathrooms. Since almost all of the top-shelf contraception methods are acquired and managed by women, men have apparently gotten very accustomed to not ever having to think about pregnancy at all. It’s her issue, her body, her problem. And so the politics of contraception have nothing to do with them, either.

Listen up, guys. We need to talk. Because if you don’t think this is your problem, you are simply not paying attention.

Here’s how this goes down. If contraception goes away, your sex life as you have known it is OVER. (It’s impossible to overstate this.) Say goodbye to one-night-stands, third-date sleepovers, friends-with-benefits, debauched Spring Break memories, Hooters, lap dances, living together before marriage, sleeping in the same bed after marriage, and all those friendly girls whose memory still makes you smile years later.

And say hello to stern fathers, uptight women, heavily chaperoned dates, guilt, shame, shotgun weddings, big and early families, separate bedrooms (the only form of birth control the Catholic bishops wholeheartedly approve of), and a whole lot more NO in your life than you can possibly even begin to imagine right now.

Also, gentlemen, make no mistake about this: going solo won’t provide much solace, either. Because once these people have succeeded in taking away your happy, easy love life, they’re coming after your porn stash next. They want you wanking even less than they want you fucking. Hope you enjoy frequent cold showers, because it’s about the only thing you’re going to have left when they’re done with you.

Don’t believe me? Ask you dad, or your granddad, or any straight male over the age of 60 about how it was when they were young. They’re the last ones left who are old enough to remember The World Before Griswold. If you’re younger than that, you cannot possibly have the barest freaking idea how awful it was.

If ignorance is bliss, American men are out there floating around in the seventh level of heaven right now. You’ve been lucky enough to live your lives in the most sexually open era in human history — and contraception is the one and only thing that made all that possible. If it goes away, it’s straight back to the Dark Ages — not just for us ladies, but for you, too.

It’s been lovely here on top of the world. But you need to look down, right now, to fully understand just how far you’ve got to fall.

Source- Sara Robinson, Alternet

iEmpire: Apple’s Sordid Business Practices Are Even Worse Than You Think


Apple Inc.
New research goes beyond the New York Times to show just how disturbing labor conditions at Foxconn, the “Chinese hell factory,” really are.
February 7, 2012 |

Behind the sleek face of the iPad is an ugly backstory that has revealed once more the horrors of globalization. The buzz about Apple’s sordid business practices is courtesy of the New York Times series on the “iEconomy. In some ways it’s well reported but adds little new to what critics of the Taiwan-based Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer, have been saying for years. The series’ biggest impact may be discomfiting Apple fanatics who as they read the articles realize that the iPad they are holding is assembled from child labor, toxic shop floors, involuntary overtime, suicidal working conditions, and preventable accidents that kill and maim workers.

It turns out the story is much worse. Researchers with the Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) say that legions of vocational and university students, some as young as 16, are forced to take months’-long “internships” in Foxconn’s mainland China factories assembling Apple products. The details of the internship program paint a far more disturbing picture than the Times does of how Foxconn, “the Chinese hell factory,” treats its workers, relying on public humiliation, military discipline, forced labor and physical abuse as management tools to hold down costs and extract maximum profits for Apple.

To supply enough employees for Foxconn, the 60th largest corporation globally, government officials are serving as lead recruiters at the cost of pushing teenage students into harsh work environments. The scale is astonishing with the Henan provincial government having announced in both 2010 and 2011 that it would send 100,000 vocational and university students to work at Foxconn, according to SACOM.

Ross Perlin, author of Intern Nation, told AlterNet that “Foxconn is conspiring with government officials and universities in China to run what may be the world’s single largest internship program – and one of the most exploitative. Students at vocational schools – including those whose studies have nothing to do with consumer electronics – are literally forced to move far from home to work for Foxconn, threatened that otherwise they won’t be allowed to graduate. Assembling our iPhones and Kindles for meager wages, they work under the same conditions, or worse, as other workers in the Foxconn sweatshops.”

The state involvement shows Foxconn and Apple depend on tax breaks, repression of labor, subsidies and Chinese government aid, including housing, infrastructure, transportation and recruitment, to fatten their corporate treasuries. As the students function as seasonal employees to meet increased demand for new product rollouts, Apple is directly dependent on forced labor.

The real story of the Apple-Foxconn behemoth, then, is far from being John Galt incarnate. Their global dominance is forged in the crucible of China’s state-managed authoritarian capitalism. Since the 1980s China has starved rural areas to accelerate the industrialization of coastal cities like Shenzhen, where Foxconn first set up shop in 1988. Scholars who study China’s economy and labor market link rural underdevelopment to the creation of a massive migrant work force that serves as the foundation of the country’s industrialization. Deprived of many rights, migrants are recruited to work in Foxconn’s city-sized complexes by government employees with false promises of good-paying jobs that will help them escape rural poverty. A large percentage of migrant workers are student interns as they are recruited from poor rural regions like Henan and sent to work in coastal metropolises like Shenzhen.

Read more here

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