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Category Archives: Wage Slavery
Posted: December 18, 2019 at 9:17 pm
Have you ever wondered howa pair of jeans can cost $24?
In less than two weeks, companies like Fashion Nova, which dress fashion influencers on the Internet, create jeans, dresses, and coats that appear to cost hundreds of dollars at a discount price. A caress for your wallet, yes, but a hammer blow tothe hands of those who thread the needles. Most of them are undocumented people who work in slavery-like conditions.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has reported hundreds of cases regarding the affordable fashion company built on the backs ofvulnerable people.
"Los Angeles [wrote investigative journalist Kitty Bennett in NYT]is full of factories that pay their workers illegally and as little as possible, fighting foreign competitors, who can pay even less,and thus feeds a system of sweatshops."
From 2016 to the present year, the DOLdiscovered that Fashion Nova's clothing was manufactured in factories that owed $3.8 million in back wages to hundreds of employees, according to federal documents reviewed by the NYT.
Underthe aggravating circumstances, these factories contracted to produce what you put on twice and then keep in the closet payaround $2.77per hour almost the tip you would give thekid who mows your lawn after school.
Who washes the dirty laundry?
Mercedes Corts (56), a former worker at Coco Love, a ramshackle factory near Fashion Nova's offices in California, used to make about $270per week the equivalent of $4.66per hour. She worked every daywithout rest andwas paid according to how fast she could produce fourcents per shirt sleeve and about fivecents for the side seams.
"There were cockroaches. There were rats," she explained to Bennett. "The conditions were not good."
When Corts left Coco Love in 2016 and reached an agreement with the company for $5,000 in back pay.The labels she sewed were worth $12 more than double her hourly wage.
It was at those samegarment factories contracted by Fashion Nova, where federal investigators found evidence of worker abuse, the NYT reported.
"In September, three department officials met with Fashion Nova attorneys to tell them that, for four years, the brand name clothing had been found in 50 factory investigations that paid less than the federal minimum wage or did not pay overtime," the reporter wrote.
From 2016 to the present year, Labor discovered that Fashion Nova clothing was manufactured in factories that owed $3.8 million in back wages.
However, under federal law, brands cannot be penalized if they can provethey were unaware of theabuses. Today, the NYT says, no retailer has been fined in Los Angeles for hiring the services of these sweatshops.
The company, in statements to The Times, assured that all its workers would be duly compensated and that "any suggestion that Fashion Nova is responsible for badly paying anyone who works on our brand is categorically false."
Meanwhile, the chain of precariousness continues. While fashion influencers keep wearing clothes that look expensive, those who sew and rivet their dresses cannot take a single selfie in which they appear smiling.
Posted: at 9:17 pm
The H&M group sells an estimated three billion articles of clothing per year. Its revenue makes it among the top three fashion retailers in the world.
Clothing for its brands, including H&M, Arket and & Other Stories, is manufactured in 40 countries, the company said; in Bangladesh alone, it sources from 275 factories that employ half a million workers.
As it sprawls ever farther around the globe, hopping from trend to trend, how can H&M keep track of how the skirts, pants and sweaters it sells are made? How, for example, can it monitor whether, in faraway countries, workers are being paid less than they need to live, forced to work hours of overtime in precarious conditions?
This spring, after almost three years of preparation and coordination by 40 team members from Hong Kong to Stockholm, and at a time when scrutiny of the global fashion industry and its shadowy supply chain is greater than ever, H&M introduced an effort to do exactly that and to make it public for shoppers.
Now, the company says, it can be held accountable for the origins of its products. If consumers care to look.
Browsing the H&M website this month, you may find yourself taken with a ladies amber sweater with Hiver written on the front, or else a pair of pink childrens leggings, with smiling bunny faces and ears that stick out from the knees for $4.99.
Click on the product sustainability tab on the page, and you will learn they were made in Bangladesh by some of the 13,000 workers at the Jinnat Apparels & Fashion plant in Gazipur, a dense manufacturing neighborhood near Dhaka.
This is part of the companys new consumer-facing transparency layer. H&M shoppers can now find out not only the country where clothing was manufactured, but also details on materials and recycling, the name of the supplier or authorized subcontractor where a garment was made; the factory address; and the number of workers employed there.
Customers shopping in physical stores can also have access to this information by using the H&M app to scan the product price tag.
There are limits to how much information youll get, of course. The sustainability tab wont tell you that Jinnat sprawls over seven floors, each the size of a football field, or that employees perch in front of whirring sewing machines making white cotton T-shirts, monitoring 337 high-tech embroidery appliances and snipping at stray threads.
And you wont find out that this single company makes 400,000 pieces (roughly 110 tons) of clothing per day, or around 10 to 12 million units per month, up to a quarter of which will be bound for H&M.
Nevertheless, it is the first effort of its kind by a retailer of this scale.
H&M created the system by building a bridge between its supplier and production databases and then linking it to its retail interfaces. (The company declined to say what the project cost.)
Pascal Brun, the head of sustainability for the H&M brand, said the new public transparency layer showed that the company had nothing to hide regarding labor or environmental practices, or how H&M products were made.
It is not going to change the world, he said. But it is about building a foundation for real change, given we cant build this industry from the ground up all over again.
Transparency has become the key driver of change in the fashion industry, which used to be about as untransparent an industry as it could possibly be, said David Savman, the head of production for the H&M group, from a factory floor in Dhaka.
Tanned and golden haired, the Swede filed between rows of workers and inspected sequined T-shirts, asking line managers about different cotton hybrids and admiring fire doors.
Change came crashing down on the industry with the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh in 2013, a factory collapse that led to the death of more than 1,000 workers, with scores more disfigured or disabled for life.
In the wake of the catastrophe, several Western retailers found they had sold clothes sourced from the factory, or had little to no idea where the clothes they sold were sourced from. All have since come under increasing public pressure to investigate, police and invest in exactly where and how their products were made.
There is also pressure for them to be as transparent about their findings as possible (though some have been far more forthcoming than others about taking action).
The creation in Bangladesh in 2013 of two five-year fire and safety monitoring agreements between retailers and unions made significant improvements and reforms.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which is legally binding, was signed by more than 200 retailers including H&M and Inditex (neither of which had any ties to Rana Plaza, but plenty of other alleged supply chain abuses). The other agreement is the nonbinding Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, which was signed by Walmart, Gap and Target.
Both have spurred improved working conditions in many Bangladeshi factories, and calls for other countries to adopt similar standards.
These agreements, now up for renewal, have sidelined some of the countrys most dangerous factories, and cut their ties to most Western retailers, though not all. A Wall Street Journal investigation in October found that Amazon continued to sell clothes from Bangladeshi factories that other retailers had blacklisted because of their inability to pass safety requirements.
Pressure from consumers has also prompted brands like H&M to proactively support local suppliers who create safe and profitable businesses in places like Bangladesh.
We choose not to work with a lot of suppliers that other rivals work with so they can save on costs, said Karl-Johan Persson this fall. (In 2018 six suppliers in Bangladesh were phased out by H&M because of their poor sustainability performance.)
Mr. Persson, the billionaire chief executive of H&M, sat in the hygge-style library for the companys army of young designers in Stockholm as he defended his family companys business model and its contributions.
He declined to specify how much H&M spent annually on transparency efforts, other than to say the investment had continually hurt short-term profit in order to ensure the long-term survival and growth of the company.
His argument is that by working in low-cost areas, H&M is creating jobs and investing in the economy; by making its partnerships public, it is accepting its own liability.
But often, Mr. Persson said, the focus ends up on what we dont do.
The new transparency layer project has been cautiously applauded by some human rights and fashion advocacy groups and union leaders. But many have also said that H&Ms efforts do not go far enough, questioning whether improvements like this are worthwhile if they merely prolong the existence of a system where profits and shareholder interests are continually placed ahead of employees, suppliers and the environment.
Currently, customers do not have access to information on workers wages at individual factories, or local minimum fair living wage commitments and calculation methodology. Nor does the transparency layer offer a breakdown of the pricing structure that could specify how labor costs are calculated.
Transparency is primarily a means to an end, and mere information about where a garment is produced does not automatically guarantee meaningful changes in factory labor conditions, said Aruna Kashyap, senior counsel for the womens rights division at Human Rights Watch, which is part of a coalition that started the Transparency Pledge (of which H&M is a signatory).
H&M is among the leaders on supplier transparency, and other companies should follow this practice, Ms. Kashyap said. But that doesnt mean that H&M and other companies that are transparent have fixed an industry model that is replete with problems.
Even after the Rana Plaza tragedy, the global business model for producing low-cost clothing remains the same. Most brands dont own their own production facilities, but instead contract with independent factories to make their garments. Generally, in these factories, located in mostly developing economies, very low wages are paid to workers using manufacturing processes that are geared toward expediency rather than the environment.
Subcontraction or homeworking remain common, and make it even harder to track where clothes come from.
The industry is operating at an almighty scale. In total, across the fashion industry, 80 billion garments are produced each year, according to Greenpeace, with consumer demand and appetite for trend-fueled fashion only growing stronger, in part thanks to a digital culture powered by social media and the wallets of a young emerging global middle class.
The worldwide apparel and footwear markets expected growth, pegged at roughly 5 percent through 2030 by Euromonitor analysts, would risk exerting an unprecedented strain on planetary resources by raising annual production of fashion to more than 100 million tons, according to a Euromonitor report.
The pressure to meet those demands, and the demand for ever-cheaper labor, are at odds with the move toward transparency and tightly managed supply chains. Many major brands in Europe and North America continue to have limited information about the factories and workers producing their wares.
Inspections are usually delegated to third-party auditors, which have proven to be far from foolproof and at the mercy of the often uneven tides of developing nations.
Revelations of egregious failures within the garment industry still emerge on a regular basis. A Guardian story in October reported that the active wear company Lululemon had been sourcing clothing from a factory where Bangladeshi female factory workers said they were assaulted.
This month, in Delhi, India, a fire broke out in a factory that made school bags and killed 43 workers, including children, who were asleep on the floors inside.
Last year, Transparentem, a nonprofit focused on investigating human and environmental abuses in the apparel industry, published a report about abusive conditions and forced labor at a set of Malaysian apparel factories that made wares for brands in North America and Europe such as Primark, Asics, Nike and Under Armour.
According to the Transparentem report, many workers, often migrants from Bangladesh and Nepal, said that they paid steep recruitment fees to acquire jobs. These could take years to pay back, resulting in debt bondage, a common form of modern slavery that occurs when a person is forced to work to pay off debts for little or no pay.
Factories limited employees movements by withholding their passports; it wasnt unusual for them to live jammed together in squalid conditions. Many also had to pay a government levy on foreign workers out of their own paychecks (a practice that was legal when Transparentem interviewed workers in 2016 and 2017).
The physical distance, cultural distance, and often time zone difference have all meant that there are inherent challenges in understanding the labor conditions in any manufacturer supply chain, said Benjamin Skinner, the founder and president of Transparentem.
Brands have largely trusted suppliers to follow certain rules with employees and the environment and then verified that those policies were being followed, Mr. Skinner said.
But based on his organizations work, he added, the verify part can be pretty weak. Because auditors would alert factory owners to their visits, or only interview workers in the presence of their bosses, it created an environment where noncompliance was easy to hide.
This gap between intent and reality also emerged in a May report from University of Sheffield researchers in Britain on apparel companies not delivering on promises to pay workers a living wage.
Generally set by governments (sometimes with input from foreign and local businesses, unions and NGOs), living wages can differ significantly between countries, with benchmarks sometimes geared to maintaining a countrys competitiveness as a low-cost manufacturing destination rather than the needs of workers.
The wages can also be significantly less sometimes even falling below the poverty line than the living wage as defined by outside groups, which broadly incorporates food, housing, medical care, clothing and transportation.
Many companies, including Adidas and Puma, referred to components of a living wage in their supplier codes of conduct, the researchers said, but the wording around requirements was very vague, leaving fulfillment an option and the legal minimum wage the only requirement.
On top of all this, the researchers noted that companies relied heavily on outside auditors to ensure codes of conduct were being followed, running into the same issues outlined by Mr. Skinner.
Many of these firms are beholden by financial conflict of interest since they are hired by companies who could decide not to continue to hire them if they identify too many problems, they wrote. Often, they visited only top suppliers, leaving out the many subcontractors where abuses can be the worst.
After Transparentem revealed the Malaysian abuses to 23 companies with direct or indirect buying relationships with the factories, most said that they would take action.
Buyers and suppliers were able to negotiate the return of passports and secure the reimbursement of recruitment fees for workers at several facilities. (By November 2018, the total amount of fees paid and scheduled to be paid exceeded $1.4 million.)
Still, under the current system, the industry status quo means major garment manufacturers are mopping up mistakes, rather than not making them at all. This is the problem H&M is trying to solve.
Mr. Savman of H&M said that because H&M did not own factories, all sustainability efforts and investments like a Dhaka training center ultimately focused on supporting and promoting processes and mechanisms between suppliers, unions and workers that made them self-sufficient when it came to problem solving.
A self-reporting system called the Supplier Partnership Impact Program allowed H&M to see issues and regulate what sort of monitoring was needed and where. National Monitoring Committees round table discussions between H&M employees, union representatives and factory owners attempted to resolve pay disputes and abuse allegations at factory level.
Alongside regular auditing by independent groups, Mr. Savman said, H&M still frequently sent its own employees to monitor factories, sometimes by prearrangement but often unannounced.
His colleague Payal Jain, the sustainability manager for H&Ms global supply chain who started her career as a factory worker in India, said that H&M visited its factories several times per week, and 2,500 audits were made in the country per year.
That may sound like a lot, but it is an average of 10 per factory in 365 days. Or less than once per month. The company was also criticized by the Clean Clothes campaign last year, which said H&M had not met a 2013 commitment made to ensure suppliers would pay a living wage to 850,000 textile workers by 2018.
(H&M said it had reached at least 600 factories and 930,000 garment workers with its fair living wage strategy, and did not share the Clean Clothes Campaigns view of how to create change in the textile industry.)
Additionally, some factory owners say that despite support from H&Ms sustainability teams, they experience pressure from the company or from production teams who still want more product at a cheaper price or they threaten to pull their business and go to even less expensive hubs, like Ethiopia.
Ms. Jain said cost of labor was not a negotiable part of a supplier contract. But if suppliers are paid less, or overtime is required to complete a contract, the likelihood is that shortfall will get passed down the chain.
Brands like H&M offer training, help union members establish themselves in my factory and guide us on investing in the business, which are all very good and important things, said Lutful Matin, the manager of Natural Denims, another factory near Dhaka. It employs 6,900 workers to make garments for H&M, Zara, Mango and Esprit.
But then their buying teams still drive down order values and I feel such pressure, Mr. Matin said.
He had proudly shown off the conditions and quality of his products. But, he said, while I know Ive invested more in my factory than competitors, they still get orders. There are always new certificates and alliances that need to be passed. Globally the trading market is getting tougher. Sometimes I dont know how easy it will be to survive.
While the work it does is recognized by its recognition in projects like Fashion Revolutions Transparency Index, H&M believes the best way to get consumers thinking about who made their clothes is to talk to them close to the point of sale.
Consumers have a lack of trust and say they dont always know how to make the right choices, said Anna Gedda, the head of sustainability for the H&M group. She added that it was a constant struggle to work out how much information a customer may want versus what might make them switch off or walk away from a sale.
From Dhaka, Mr. Savman was more forthright. We are still at the stage where if you put two T-shirts, one cotton and one recycled cotton, which is 30 percent more expensive, the majority of consumers will still take the first option, he said. We put a lot of information out there, like the product transparency layer. But how much do customers engage with it? Not a lot yet.
Nearby, the managers and owners were keen to show off the scope and quality of their Jinnat complex, from their high-quality Italian knitting machines and subsidized food store and medical facilities to the anonymous complaint boxes on every floor and payment system so that workers can be compensated directly and efficiently.
As tens of thousands of workers streamed back into the steamy streets for their lunch break, Abdul Wahed, the chairman, looked on.
We are extremely proud of the factory here, and the work we have done, he said. People can know when and where we make their clothes. The onus is on them to click.
Woolworths says it has started paying back unpaid wages to workers, rejecting suggestions of ‘wage theft’ – ABC News
Posted: at 9:17 pm
Posted December 16, 2019 19:34:36
Woolworths says it has started paying back some of the estimated $200 million to $300 million it owes workers.
The supermarket giant told investors at its annual general meeting in Sydney it had started making back payments for the past two years to nearly 6,000 supermarket staff for unpaid wages, superannuation and interest.
Woolworths is facing a class action and an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman after the company discovered it had underpaid staff members, including supermarket managers, under the General Retail Industry Award over the past decade.
It is one of a number of big companies, including the ABC, which have admitted to underpaying their workers.
Chairman Gordon Cairns told the meeting Woolworths had gone through worker records for 2018 and 2019 which involved 11 million data points each year.
"To discover we have underpaid so many of our team members has been incredibly disappointing," Mr Cairns said.
Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci told reporters after the meeting the company was still working through the rest of the payments owed to workers, including in other parts of the company such as department store Big W and bottle shop Dan Murphy's.
"Step one, well progressed, will be done before Christmas," he said.
"And then we'll really get focused in the new year on making sure we do the same analysis across all of the businesses inside the Woolworths Group."
"We hope to have done the first two years of that ideally in the next couple of months and get the whole process wrapped up by the end of June at the latest."
Mr Banducci will forfeit a $2.6 million bonus and Mr Cairns will have his director fees cut by 20 per cent because of the scandal.
Investor Paul Cohen said he wanted to see more accountability at Woolworths for the underpayment scandal.
"I think it's absolutely disgraceful. If they can't work out a payroll then the people who are responsible for payroll should be at the very least questioned if not shown the door," he told the ABC.
"I definitely think that heads should roll.
"There must be people who are responsible for that area who are either very negligent or completely incompetent. So I think they should definitely be shown the door."
Fellow shareholder Joyce Yong agreed.
"I've been a Woolworths shareholder for a long, long time and the things that came out in the news certainly weren't edifying at all."
Mr Banducci denied the underpayment scandal was "wage theft".
"Theft is premeditated. It has a deliberate element to it. And that is not in our case.
"It doesn't mean we don't need to fix it."
The supermarket giant also heard complaints from farm workers who said they were not paid properly by fruit and vegetable suppliers.
Katie Hepworth from the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility called on the company to do more to combat modern slavery and labour violations by suppliers in Australia and overseas.
The company was also grilled about the social impact of its hotels and poker machines business amid allegations two of its hotels in New South Wales supplied free drinks to gaming patrons.
Investors overwhelmingly supported the company's plans to merge its alcohol and pubs businesses, Endeavour Drinks and ALH Group, so they can be spun off into a separate company next year and floated on the stock exchange or sold.
Woolworths is one of the biggest poker machine operators in Australia and the spin-off proposal comes amid public pressure on the company from gambling reform advocates and investors.
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Posted: at 9:17 pm
The Qatari official in charge of organising the most controversial edition of the football World Cup since the tournaments inception in 1930 has claimed that criticism of his countrys treatment of migrant workers will have a ripple effect that will improve regional labour standards.
The 2022 World Cup has been dogged by criticism of its hosts kafala system, which ties migrant workers to so-called sponsorship by their employer, meaning they cannot move jobs or leave the country without the employers approval.
In an interview in the Qatari capital, Doha, Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary general of the supreme committee organising the event, said a definitive end to the kafala system would be set out next month and he wanted reforms to apply not just to workers employed on World Cup projects but across Qatar and more widely.
There are already signs of reforms being picked up in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, he said.
The abolition of kafala, he said, would mean every person living in the country has the freedom to move from one job to another and can live their lives, change jobs whenever they want and leave the country as they want.
Qatar says it is also planning labour market reforms, including introducing elected workers welfare forums to raise complaints with employers, and a more than 50% rise in the minimum wage.
It says it will be the first Gulf state to apply a uniform minimum wage that disregards nationality and is applicable not just to construction workers.The rise in the minimum wage is something I am very excited about, Thawadi said.
All Gulf states make heavy use of low-paid migrant labour, often from India. In the case of Qatar, the indigenous population now makes up only 10% of the countrys total of 2.8 million people. The Indian population of 700,000 alone dwarfs the number of locals.
A report by Amnesty International in September said thousands of migrant workers were still being exploited in Qatar despite repeated promises to improve workers rights.
Dismantling Qatars exploitative labour market with its echoes of slavery, which was only abolished there in the 1950s could have huge repercussions not just for Qatars rapidly evolving society but for Gulf economies as a whole.
Thawadi claimed that some of the criticism levelled at Qatar since it won the right to stage the World Cup a decade ago had been ill-informed, cynical or even vicious.
This week Qatar is hosting Liverpool FC among other clubs in the Club World Cup, a tournament seen as a chance to test newly built infrastructure including a 37-station metro system, match scheduling and the overall fan experience.
Octobers World Athletics Championships in Doha were marked by rows and rows of empty seats and complaints from athletes about a lack of atmosphere. Thawadi said lessons have been learned and with 1.5 million fans due to visit for the World Cup, lack of enthusiasm would not be an issue.
Football and the World Cup can break down stereotypes. The passion for this game like no other creates a bond and bridges gaps, he said.
World Cup organisers have repeatedly warned fans that they will have to be respectful of Qatars local laws and customs, including a ban on homosexuality.
Thawadi, a football fan who admires Liverpool and what he called its leftwing fanbase, said meetings with community groups such as Spirit of Shankly and Kop Outs, an LGBT supporters club, had averted an embarrassing boycott of this weeks event. Nevertheless, he said LGBT fans would be welcome only if they refrained from public displays of affection.
He said alcohol would be on sale in specified fan zones and in hotels but not on street corners. Alcohol is not part of our culture but hospitality is.
A sin tax has raised the price of beer to 10 a pint, an issue Thawadi said needed addressing. But he regarded such matters as a two-way street. Let us try to understand each other as human beings, he said. We are a conservative culture, not a closed culture.
Houtan Homayounpour, the Do ha chief for ILO, a UN employment rights agency that has been working on reforms with the Qatar government since 2017, said progress was being made but there were many more milestones to pass.
Homayounpour cited the heat-related death toll among migrant workers, a lack of autopsies and delays in payment of wages as areas of concern.
The flow of information to the families of dead and injured workers has been mixed. For instance, the family of Zac Cox, a British worker who died when he fell from a gantry, struggled for many months to extract information on the circumstances of his death. Only after relentless pressure did Thawadis committee set up a British judge-led inquiry.
Thawadi said he was committed to implementing the inquirys findings. We dont want Zacs death to go without us learning or contributing to the welfare of other people, he said.
Thawadi, 41, a former law student at Sheffield University, said the labour reforms were intended not just to help Qatar survive the current glare of publicity. None of the work we have done is to satisfy the spotlight or the critics, he said.
Our nations commitment is that these will be sustainable changes. Yes, some people have criticised the pace, but you need to build the foundations before you live in a house.
See the original post here:
Posted: at 9:17 pm
The Freedom From Slavery Forum was held inside the UNECA headquarters this week. The gathering had leading anti-human trafficking and modern slavery activists and civil society leaders and has discussed a wide range of issues to combat human trafficking and modern slavery.
Among those that attended the three day event that began on Tuesday, were high profile international activists including Bukeni Waruzi, a United States activist with Free the Slaves, Purva Gupta of the Global March Against Child Labor India and Mark Makinde, Dignity Foundation for Relief and Development from South Africa.
The gathering takes place as Ethiopia was chosen as a model nation where the group intends to work towards its elimination. This comes as the nation strives to create thousands of jobs to help address the urgent issues of unemployment and has yet to build the mechanism to not have its population become victims of exploitation, including having a lack of minimum wage and employment standards.
We intend to work with partners, civic organizations and government institutions to help root-out the causes of [modern] slavery in Ethiopia, Bukeni Waruzi, the newly appointed Free the Slaves Executive Director based in Washington DC told The Reporter. As an important nation, Ethiopia is to be used as a model and others to emulate on our future work here.
Earlier this year, Ethiopia rose the age of employment from 14 to 15 to avoid child labor, which according to the United Nations estimates that 25 percent of enslaved people remain children.
The U.N. estimates that more than 40 million people are trapped in modern forms of slavery, worldwide and many of them are forced to work without pay as domestic servants, in construction, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing industries, generating USD 150 billion in illicit profits annually.
According to Free the Slaves, 71 percent of slaved victims are women and girls, 38 percent of slavery victims are forced into marriage slavery, and 50 percent are in labor slavery while 13 percent are in sex slavery.
It is estimated by the United Nations International Labor Organization that there are 9.2 million people enslaved, while Asia and the Pacific seem to have a widespread issue with 25 million people believed to be enslaved.
The United Nations intends to end child labor by 2025 and forced labor by 2030. Held for the seventh time this year, this is the first time the annual event was held in Ethiopia.
Read the rest here:
Posted: at 9:17 pm
A depiction of the Battle of Bud Bagsak, which was fought in June 1913 near the end of the Moro War. (US Army Center of Military History)
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For a decade and a half, the US Army waged war on fierce tribal Muslims in a remote land. Sound familiar?Ad Policy
As it happens, that war unfolded half a world away from the Greater Middle East and more than a century ago in the southernmost islands of the Philippines. Back then, American soldiers fought not the Taliban, but the Moros, intensely independent Islamic tribesmen with a similarly storied record of resisting foreign invaders. Precious few today have ever heard of Americas Moro War, fought from 1899 to 1913, but it was, until Afghanistan, one of Americas longest sustained military campaigns.
Popular thinking assumes that the United States wasnt meaningfully entangled in the Islamic world until Washington became embroiled in the Islamist Iranian revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, both in the pivotal year of 1979. It simply isnt so. How soon we forget that the Army, which had fought prolonged guerrilla wars against Native Americans throughout the 19th century, went onoften led by veterans of those Indian Warsto wage a counterinsurgency war on Islamic Moros in the Philippine Islands at the start of the new century, a conflict that was an outgrowth of the Spanish-American War.
That campaign is all but lost to history and the collective American memory. A basic Amazon search for Moro War, for instance, yields just seven books (half of them published by US military war colleges), while a similar search for Vietnam War lists no less than 10,000 titles. Which is curious. The war in the Southern Philippines wasnt just six years longer than conventional American military operations in Vietnam, but also resulted in the awarding of 88 Congressional Medals of Honor and produced five future Army chiefs of staff. While the insurgency in the northern islands of the Philippines had fizzled out by 1902, the Moro rebels fought on for another decade. As Lieutenant Benny Fouloislater a general and the father of Army aviationreflected, The Filipino insurrection was mild compared to the difficulties we had with the Moros.
Here are the relevant points when it comes to the Moro War (which will sound grimly familiar in a 21st century forever-war context): the United States military shouldnt have been there in the first place; the war was ultimately an operational and strategic failure, made more so by American hubris; and it should be seen, in retrospect, as (using a term General David Petraeus applied to our present Afghan War) the nations first generational struggle.
More than a century after the US Army disengaged from Moroland, Islamist and other regional insurgencies continue to plague the southern Philippines. Indeed, the post-9/11 infusion of US Army Special Forces into Americas former colony should probably be seen as only the latest phase in a 120-year struggle with the Moros. Which doesnt portend well for the prospects of todays generational struggles in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and parts of Africa.
Soldiers and officers streaming into what they dubbed Moroland at the turn of the century might as well have been entering Afghanistan in 2001-2002. As a start, the similarity between the Moro islands and the Afghan hinterlands is profound. Both were enormous. The Moro island of Mindanao alone is larger than Ireland. The more than 369 southern Philippine islands also boasted nearly impassable, undeveloped terrain36,000 square miles of jungle and mountains with just 50 miles of paved roads when the Americans arrived. So impenetrable was the landscape that soldiers called remote areas the boondocksa corruption of the Tagalog word bundokand it entered the American vernacular.
The Moros (named for the Muslim Moors ejected from Spain in 1492) were organized by family, clan, and tribe. Islam, which had arrived via Arab traders 1,000 years earlier, provided the only unifying force for the bakers dozen of cultural-linguistic groups on those islands. Intertribal warfare was endemic but more than matched by a historic aversion to outside invaders. In their three centuries of rule in the Philippines, the Spanish never managed more than a marginal presence in Moroland.Current Issue
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There were other similarities. Both Afghans and Moros adhered to a weapons culture. Every adult male Moro wore a blade and, when possible, sported a firearm. Both modern Afghans and 19 century Moros often used American occupiers as a convenient cudgel to settle tribal feuds. The Moros even had a precursor to the modern suicide bomber, a juramentado who ritualistically shaved his body hair and donned white robes before fanatically charging to his death in blade-wielding fury against American troops. So fearful of them and respectful of their incredible ability to weather gunshot wounds were US soldiers that the Army eventually replaced the standard-issue .38 caliber revolver with the more powerful Colt .45 pistol.
When, after defeating the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay and forcing the quick surrender of the garrison there, the United States annexed the Philippines via the 1898 Treaty of Paris, the Moros werent consulted. Spanish rule had always been tenuous in their territories and few Moros had even heard of Paris. They certainly hadnt acceded to American rule.
Early on, US Army officers deployed to Moroland contributed to the locals sense of independence. General John Bates, eager to focus on a daunting Filipino uprising on the main islands, signed an agreement with Moro tribal leaders pledging that the United States would not meddle with their rights and dignities or religious customs (including slavery). Whatever his intentions, that agreement proved little more than a temporary expedient until the war in the north was won. That Washington saw the relationship with those tribal leaders as analogous to its past ones with savage Native American tribes was lost on the Moros.
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Though the Bates agreement held only as long as it was convenient for American military and political leaders, it was undoubtedly the best hope for peace in the islands. The limited initial US objectives in Morolandlike the similarly constrained goals of the initial CIA/Special Forces invasion of Afghanistan in 2001were so much wiser than the eventual expansive, futile goals of control, democratization, and Americanization in both conflicts. US Army officers and civilian administrators couldnt countenance for long Moro (and later Afghan) practices. Most advocated the full abrogation of the Bates agreement. The result was war.
The pacification of Morolandlike that in the war on terrorwas run mostly by young officers in remote locales. Some excelled, others failed spectacularly. Yet even the best of them couldnt alter the strategic framework of imposing democracy and the American way on a distant foreign populace. Many did their best, but due to the Armys officer rotation system, what resulted was a series of disconnected, inconsistent, alternating strategies to impose American rule in Moroland.
When the Moros responded with acts of banditry and random attacks on American sentries, punitive military expeditions were launched. In the first such instance, General Adna Chaffee (later Army chief of staff) gave local Moro tribal leaders a two-week ultimatum to turn over the murderers and horse thieves. Understandably unwilling to accept American sovereignty over a region their Spanish predecessors had never conquered, they refusedas they would time and again in the future.
Colonel Frank Baldwin, who led the early campaign, applied brutal, bloody tactics (that would prove familiar indeed in 21st century Afghanistan) to tame the Moros. Some younger Army officers disagreed with his approach, however. One, Captain John Pershing, complained that Baldwin wanted to shoot the Moros first and give them the olive branch afterward.
Over the next 13 years of rotating commanders, there would be an internal bureaucratic battle between two prevailing schools of thought as to how best to pacify the restive islandsthe very same struggle that would plague the post-9/11 war on terror military. One school believed that only harsh military responses would ever cow the warlike Moros. As General George Davis wrote in 1902, We must not forget that power is the only government that [the Moros] respect, a sentiment that would pervade the book that became the US Armys Bible when it came to the 21st century Arab mind.
Others, best personified by Pershing, disagreed. Patiently dealing with Moro leaders man-to-man, maintaining a relatively light military footprint, and accepting even the most barbaric local customs would, these mavericks thought, achieve basic US goals with far less bloodshed on both sides. Pershings service in the Philippines briefly garnered attention during the 2016 presidential campaign when candidate Donald Trump repeated a demonstrably false story about how then-Captain John Pershing (future commanding general of all US forces in World War I)a rough, rough guyhad once captured 50 Muslim terrorists, dipped 50 bullets in pigs blood, shot 49 of them, and set the sole survivor loose to spread the tale to his rebel comrades. The outcome, or moral of the story, according to Trump, was that for 25 years, there wasnt a problem, OK?
Well, no, actually, the Philippine insurgency dragged on for another decade and a Muslim-separatist rebellion continues in those islands to this day.
In reality, Black Jack Pershing was one of the less brutal commanders in Moroland. Though no angel, he learned the local dialect and traveled unarmed to distant villages to spend hours chewing betel nut (which had a stimulating effect similar to modern Somali khat) and listening to local problems. No doubt Pershing could be tough, even vicious at times. Still, his instinct was always to negotiate first and only fight as a last resort.
When General Leonard Wood took over in Moroland, the strategy shifted. A veteran of the Geronimo campaign in the Apache Wars and another future Army chief of staffa US Army base in Missouri is named after himhe applied the scorched earth tactics of his Indian campaigns against the Moros, arguing that they should be thrashed just as Americas Indians had been. He would win every single battle, massacring tens of thousands of locals, without ever quelling Moro resistance.
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In the process, he threw out the Bates agreement, proceeded to outlaw slavery, imposed Western forms of criminal justice, andto pay for the obligatory American-style roads, schools, and infrastructure improvementsimposed new taxes on the Moros whose tribal leaders saw all of this as a direct attack on their social, political, and religious customs. (It never occurred to Wood that his taxation-without-representation model was also inherently undemocratic or that a similar policy had helped catalyze the American Revolution.)
The legal veneer for his acts would be a provincial council, similar to the American Coalition Provisional Authority that would rule Iraq after the 2003 US invasion. That unelected body included Wood himself (whose vote counted twice), two other Army officers, and two American civilians. In his arrogance, Wood wrote to the American governor of the Philippines, future President William Howard Taft: All that is necessary to bring the Moro into line and to start him ahead is a strong policy and vigorous enforcement of the law. How wrong he would be.
Career advancement was Leonard Woods raison dtre, while knowledge about or empathy for the Moro people never ranked high on his list of priorities. One of his subordinate commanders, Major Robert Bullardfuture commander of the 1st Infantry Division in World War Inoted that Wood exhibited a sheer lack of knowledge of the people, of the country. He seemed to want to do everything himself without availing himself of any information from others.
His tactical model was to bombard fortified Moro villagescottaswith artillery, killing countless women and children, and then storm the walls with infantrymen. Almost no prisoners were ever taken and casualties were inevitably lopsided. Typically, in a campaign on the island of Jolo, 1,500 Moros (2% of the islands population) were killed along with 17 Americans. When the press occasionally caught wind of his massacres, Wood never hesitated to lie, omit, or falsify reports in order to vindicate his actions.
When his guard came down, however, he could be open about his brutality. In a macabre prelude to the infamous US military statement in the Vietnam era (and its Afghan War reprise) that it became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it, Wood asserted: While these measures may appear harsh, it is the kindest thing to do. Still, no matter how aggressive the general was, his operations never pacified the proud, intransigent Moros. When he finally turned over command to General Tasker Bliss, the slow-boiling rebellion was still raging.
His successor, another future Army chief (and current Army base namesake), was a far more cerebral and modest man, who later would help found the Army War College. Bliss preferred Pershings style. The authorities, he wrote, forget that the most critical time is after the slaughter has stopped. With that in mind, he halted large-scale punitive expeditions and prudently accepted that some level of violence and banditry in Moroland would be the reality of the day. Even so, Blisss enlightened tenure was neither a morality play nor a true strategic success. After all, like most current American generals addicted to (or resigned to) generational war, he concluded that a US military presence would be necessary indefinitely.
After his (relatively) peaceful tour, Bliss predicted that the power of government would, stripped of all misleading verbiage, amount to the naked fact that the United States would have to hold the larger part of the people by the throat while the smaller part governs it. That vision of forever war haunts America still.
Behind the veil of road-building, education, and infrastructure improvements, American military rule in Moroland ultimately rested on force and brutality. Occasionally, this inconvenient truth manifested itself all too obviously, as in the 1906 Bud Dajo massacre. Late in 1905, Major Hugh Scott, then the commander on Jolo and another future Army chief, received reports that up to 1,000 Moro familiesin a tax protest of sortshad decided to move into the crater of a massive dormant volcano, Bud Dajo, on the island of Jolo. He saw no reason to storm it, preferring to negotiate. As he wrote, It was plain that many good Americans would have to die before it could be taken and, after all, what would they be dying for? In order to collect a tax of less than a thousand dollars from savages! He figured that life on the mountaintop was harsh and most of the Moros would peacefully come down when their harvests ripened. By early 1906, just eight families remained.
Then Scott went home on leave and his pugnacious, ambitious second-in-command, Captain James Reeves, strongly backed by outgoing provincial commander Leonard Wood, decided to take the fight to the Jolo Moros. Though Scotts plan had worked, many American officers disagreed with him, seeing the slightest Moro provocation as a threat to American rule.
Reeves sent out alarmist reports about a bloodless attack on and burglary at a US rifle range. Wood, who had decided to extend his tour of duty in Moroland to oversee the battle to come, concluded that the Bud Dajo Moros would probably have to be exterminated. He then sent deceptive reports, ignored a recent directive from Secretary of War Taft forbidding large-scale military operations without his express approval, and issued secret orders for an impending attack.
As word reached the Moros through their excellent intelligence network, significant numbers of them promptly returned to the volcanos rim. By March 5, 1906, Woods large force of regulars had the mountain surrounded and he promptly ordered a three-pronged frontal assault. The Moros, many armed with only blades or rocks, put up a tough fight, but in the end, a massacre ensued. Wood eventually lined the rim of Bud Dajo with machine guns, artillery, and hundreds of riflemen, and proceeded to rain indiscriminate fire on the Moros, perhaps 1,000 of whom were killed. When the smoke cleared, all but six defenders were dead, a 99 percent casualty rate.
Wood, unfazed by the sight of Moro bodies, stacked five deep in some places, was pleased with his victory. His official report noted only that all the defenders were killed. Some of his troopers proudly posed for a photograph standing above the dead, including hundreds of women and children, as though they were big game trophies from a safari hunt. The infamous photo would fly around the world in an early 20th century version of going viral, as the anti-imperialist press went crazy and Wood faced a scandal. Even some of his fellow officers were horrified. Pershing wrote his wife: I would not want to have that on my conscience for the fame of Napoleon.
The massacre would eventually even embarrass a president. Before the scandal broke in the press, Theodore Roosevelt had sent Wood a congratulatory letter, praising the brilliant feat of arms wherein you and they so well upheld the honor of the American flag. Hed soon regret it.
Mark Twain, a leading literary spokesman for the anti-imperialists, even suggested that Old Glory be replaced by a pirate skull-and-crossbones flag. Privately, he wrote, We abolished them utterly, leaving not even a baby alive to cry for its dead mother. The photograph also galvanized African-American civil rights activists. W.E.B. Du Bois declared the crater image to be the most illuminating Ive ever seen and considered displaying it on his classroom wall to impress upon the students what wars and especially wars of conquest really mean.
The true tragedy of the Bud Dajo massacrea microcosm of the Moro Warwas that the battle was so unnecessary, as were the mindless assaults on empty, booby-trapped Afghan villages that my own troop undertook in Afghanistan in 2011-2012, or the random insertion of other American units into indefensible outposts in mountain valleys in that countrys far northeast, which resulted, infamously, in disaster when the Taliban nearly overran Combat Outpost Keating in 2009.
On Jolo Island, a century earlier, Hugh Scott had crafted a bloodless formula that might, one day, have ended the war (and American occupation) there. However, the careerism of a subordinate and the simplistic philosophy of his superior, General Wood, demonstrated the inherent limitations of enlightened officership to alter the course of such aimless, ill-advised wars.
The scandal dominated American newspapers for about a month until a sensational new story broke: a terrible earthquake and fire had destroyed San Francisco on April 18, 1906. In those months before the massacre was forgotten, some press reports were astute indeed. On March 15, 1906, for instance, an editorial in The Nationin words that might be applied verbatim to todays endless warsasked if there is any definite policy being pursued in regard to the Moros. There seems to be merely an aimless drifting along, with occasional bloody successes. But the fighting keeps up steadily and no one can discover that we are making any progress. This conclusion well summarized the futility and hopeless inertia of the war in the southern Philippines. Nonetheless, then (and now, as The Washington Post has demonstrated only recently), the generals and senior US officials did their best to repackage stalemate as a success.
As in Vietnam and later Afghanistan, the generals leading the Moro War perennially assured the public that progress was being made, that victory was imminent. All that was needed was yet more time. And in Moroland, as until recently in the never-ending Afghan War, politicians and citizens alike swallowed the optimistic yarns of those generals, in part because the conflicts took place so far beyond the public eye.
Once the larger insurgency in the main Philippine islands fizzled out, most Americans lost interest in a remote theater of war so many thousands of miles away. Returning Moro War veterans (like their war on terror counterparts) were mostly ignored. Many in the United States didnt even realize that combat continued in the Philippines.
One vet wrote of his reception at home that, instead of glad-hands, people stare at a khaki-clad man as though he had escaped from the zoo. The relatively low (American) casualties in the war contributed to public apathy. In the years 1909 and 1910, just eight regular Army soldiers were killed, analogous to the mere 32 troopers killed in 2016-2017 in Afghanistan. This was just enough danger to make a tour of duty in Moroland, as in Afghanistan today, terrifying, but not enough to garner serious national attention or widespread war opposition.
In the style recently revealed by Craig Whitlock of the Post when it came to Afghanistan, five future Army chiefs of staff treated their civilian masters and the populace to a combination of outright lies, obfuscations, and rosy depictions of progress. Adna Chaffee, Leonard Wood, Hugh Scott, Tasker Bliss, and John Pershinga virtual whos who in the Army pantheon of that erarepeatedly assured Americans that the war on the Moros was turning a corner, that victory was within the militarys grasp.
It was never so. A hundred and six years after the end of Americas Moro War, the Post has once again highlighted how successive commanders and US officials in our time have lied to the citizenry about an even longer wars progress. In that sense, generals David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal, Mark Milley, and so many others of this era share disturbing commonalities with generals Leonard Wood, Tasker Bliss, and company.
As early as October 1904, Wood wrote that the Moro questionis pretty well settled. Then, Datu Ali, a rebel leader, became the subject of a two-year manhuntnot unlike the ones that finally killed Al Qaedas Osama bin Laden and ISISs Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In June 1906, when Ali was finally caught and killed, Colliers magazine featured an article titled The End of Datu Ali: The Last Fight of the Moro War.
After Bud Dajo, Tasker Bliss toned down Woods military operations and oversaw a comparatively quiet tour in Moroland, but even he argued against any troop withdrawals, predicting something akin to generational war as necessary to fully pacify the province. In 1906, he wrote that the Moros, as a savage and Mohammedan people cannot be changed entirely in a few years and the American people must not expect resultssuch as other nations operating under similar conditions have taken a century or more to accomplish.
As Pershing lamented in 1913, the 14th year of the war, The Moros never seemed to learn from experience. And the violence only continued after his departure, even if American troops took an ever more advisory role, while the Filipino army fought the ongoing rebellion.
The Moros, of course, continue to combat Manila-based troops to this very day, a true generational struggle for the ages.
The last major American-led battle on Jolo in 1913 proved a farcical repeat of Bud Dajo. When several hundred intransigent Moros climbed into another crater atop Bud Bagsak, Pershing, whod criticized Woods earlier methods and was once again in command, tried to launch a more humane operation. He attempted to negotiate and organized a blockade that thinned the defenders ranks. Still, in the end, his troops would storm the mountains crest and kill some 200 to 300 men, women, and children, though generating little of the attention given to the earlier massacre because the vast majority of Pershings soldiers were Filipinos led by US officers. The same shift toward indigenous soldiers in Afghanistan has lowered both (American) casualties and the US profile in an equally failed war.
Though contemporary Army officers and later military historians claimed that the battle at Bud Bagsak broke the back of Moro resistance, that was hardly the case. What ultimately changed was not the violence itself, but who was doing the fighting. Filipinos now did almost all of the dying and US troops slowly faded from the field.
For example, when total casualties are taken into account, 1913 was actually the bloodiest year of the Moro conflict, just as 2018 was the bloodiest of the Afghan War. Late in 1913, Pershing summed up his own uncertainty about the provinces future in his final official report: It remains for us now to hold all that we have gained and to substitute for a government by force something more in keeping with the changed conditions. Just what form that will take has not been altogether determined. It still hasnt been determined, not in Moroland, not in Afghanistan, and nowhere, in truth, in Americas Greater Middle East conflicts of this century.
The Filipino government in Manila continues to wage war on rebellious Moros. To this day, two groupsthe Islamist Abu Sayyaf and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Frontcontinue to contest central government control there. After the 9/11 attacks, the US Army again intervened in Moroland, sending Special Forces teams to advise and assist Filipino military units. If few of the American Green Berets knew anything of their own countrys colonial history, the locals hadnt forgotten.
In 2003, as US forces landed at Jolos main port, they were greeted by a banner that read: We Will Not Let History Repeat Itself! Yankee Back Off. Jolos radio station played traditional ballads and one vocalist sang, We heard the Americans are coming and we are getting ready. We are sharpening our swords to slaughter them when they come.
More than a century after Americas ill-fated Moro campaign, its troops were back where they started, outsiders, once again resented by fiercely independent locals. One of the last survivors of the Moro War, Lt. (and later Air Corps general) Benny Foulois published his memoirs in 1968 at the height of the Vietnam insurgency. Perhaps with that conflict in mind, he reflected on the meaning of his own youthful war: We found that a few hundred natives living off their land and fighting for it could tie down thousands of American troopsand provoke a segment of our population to take the view that what happens in the Far East is none of our business.
How I wish that book had been assigned during my own tenure at West Point!
The rest is here:
Best Education Articles of 2019: Our 19 Most Popular Stories About Students and Schools This Year – The 74
Posted: at 9:17 pm
This is the latest roundup in our Best Of series, spotlighting top highlights from this years coverage as well as the most popular articles weve published each month. See more of the standouts from across 2019 right here. (You can get all the latest features, essays and videos delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for The 74 Newsletter)
From Minneapolis to Memphis to Puerto Rico, from sexual assault investigations to civics education breakthroughs to academic profiles, it was an eclectic year here at The 74, featuring a wide array of both breaking news coverage and big-picture profiles. And that doesnt even touch on our exclusive Brown v. Board microsite that looked to restore the unsung heroes to the story behind the landmark desegregation verdict.
As we always do in December, we thought wed take a beat before diving into yet another presidential election to put a final stamp on the year that was. Below, weve assembled the 19 most popular and most widely discussed articles from 2019 (you can also check out our top 18 articles from 2018).
Teaching Democracy: How One School Network Has Baked Civics & Activism Into Its DNA and Produced Graduates Who Are More Likely to Vote
Civics Education: American democracy is in trouble just ask a poll worker. We vote less often than other developed nations, our rates of volunteering have plummeted, and less than half of us could pass a citizenship test. Perhaps thats why political scientists cheered when a recent study found that alumni of Democracy Prep Public Schools vote at much higher rates than their peers. Students at the schools study social change and debate current events; even more strikingly, they complete an impressive array of civics-centered requirements to graduate from writing policy briefs to petitioning lawmakers. The networks founder, Seth Andrew, says Democracy Prep is doing work that should be replicated across the country. I think every school should have a civic purpose. Ours is just more explicit about it than most. This past spring, The 74 published a four-part series and a documentary on the school network, orchestrated by writer Kevin Mahnken and editor Andrew Brownstein. The effort launched with this profile of the network and its founder, taking a closer look at the role education plays in curbing our civic ignorance and polarized politics. (Read the full longread from reporter Kevin Mahnken)
Also, be sure to check out these other chapters in our Democracy Prep series:
How Democracy Prep Is Drawing Upon Civics to Challenge Its Students to Change the World Before They Graduate (Read more)
Democracy Preps Expansion Woes Raise Questions About Whether Civics Education Can Be Brought to Scale (Read more)
Can Civics Education Allow Schools to Rediscover Their Democratic Purpose and Help Rescue America From Decline? (Read more)
WATCH: Inside the Civics-Driven Democracy Prep, Students Are Embracing Their Assignments to Change the World (Watch the full video)
Courtesy of Nick Salehi and Heather Beliveaux
250,000 Kids. $277 Million in Fines. Its Been 3 Years Since Feds Ordered a Special Ed Reboot in Texas Why Are Students Still Being Denied?
Special Education: Sophia Salehi is blind, until recently unable to navigate the hallways at school, let alone her neighborhood. Her parents tried for 11 years to get her Houston-area schools to provide the special education services she was entitled to. But not even a series of court victories convinced officials to budge. She now goes to school in Massachusetts. Jaivyn Mauldin reads in the 99th percentile, but his severe dysgraphia means he cant write. His Austin-area schools said he was too smart for special education and assigned him handwriting drills as discipline. His family moved to Oregon to get him help. Angela Smith was a special education evaluator in Dallas who couldnt get her own son evaluated. When the U.S. Education Department confirmed a 2016 bombshell report by the Houston Chronicle, disability advocates and parents learned, to their shock, that Texas had secretly placed an illegal cap 12 years before on the number of children with disabilities who could get special education services in schools. An estimated 250,000 students were languishing, unable to get the help they were entitled to. Orders from Washington notwithstanding, today three years after the nations second-largest state pledged to reverse course advocates say precious little has changed. And if Texas can get away with defying federal law, whats to stop other states from following suit? (Read the full feature from national correspondent Beth Hawkins)
In the American judicial system, the two small words et al., meaning and others, erase the names, faces and histories of everyday individuals seeking remedies for wrongs done to them.
The Untold Stories of Brown v. Board at 65: Five Lawsuits Merged Together to Make Supreme Court History Meet the Unsung Heroes Who Risked Everything for Their Kids
Exclusive: Sixty-five years ago, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in Americas public schools was unconstitutional. This past May, we launched a new website and oral history commemorating the anniversary: The Untold Stories of Brown v. Board, a multimedia deep dive into the lesser-known students, parents and plaintiffs who joined forces six decades ago to wage the legal battle against separate but equal.
A brief overview of the project, which can now be found in full at The74Million.org/Brown65: In the American judicial system, the two small words et al., meaning and others, erase the names, faces and histories of everyday individuals seeking remedies for wrongs done to them. Used as a reference in class-action litigation in place of the names of each individual plaintiff, those four letters relegate men, women and children to what can be characterized as a legal wasteland, rendering them and their stories unknown. In the instance of Oliver Brown, et al. v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, those four letters diminished the stories of families who participated in five essential class-action lawsuits across the nation. Those five suits Oliver Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Briggs v. Elliott, Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, Belton (Bulah) v. Gebhart and Bolling v. Sharpe were later consolidated by the United States Supreme Court.
Although the name Oliver Brown is universally known, the names and stories of these other revolutionaries have remained largely unknown and untold, buried under the weight of four little letters. But now, for the first time, a wide swath of Brown v. Board plaintiffs and their relatives assembled by Cheryl Brown Henderson, founding president of the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research and daughter of Oliver Brown, is working on changing that by detailing their stories of oppression, their battle for justice and their triumph. She has assembled a new book, Recovering Untold Stories: An Enduring Legacy of the Brown v. Board of Education Decision, and we have been thrilled to be the digital launch partner in sharing their narrative. Read all the excerpts, watch the video testimonials, learn more about the legal history and download the book. Visit our special microsite: The74Million.org/Brown65.
Activists hold signs during a news conference on a Title IX lawsuit outside the Department of Education in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 25, 2018. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Exclusive: New Documents Show the Trump Administration Has Confronted Dozens of School Districts Across the Country for Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases
Investigation: On Sept. 23, 2015, a 5-year-old boy with disabilities in Detroit arrived home from school bruised and very likely sexually assaulted. The school bus driver, who told the boys mother about probable sexual misconduct by other students, didnt report it to the district. And though she informed school officials about the incident the following day, administrators didnt investigate, or speak with the boys family, for months. A federal probe that concluded last year determined that this case may be just one sign of larger problems with how Detroit Public Schools deals with sexual misconduct and the district is not alone.
While most of the debate around Title IX, which requires schools to address sexual violence, has focused on whether colleges provide due process for accused students, the Trump administration has quietly discovered that many K-12 school districts had no plan to deal with these cases a violation of federal law. In cities including Detroit, Kalamazoo and Washington, D.C., officials found that districts had little to no Title IX training and some had policies explicitly barring investigations of sexual assault reports from taking place. Through Freedom of Information Act requests, The 74 has exclusively obtained records that provide the first look at how the Trump administration has enforced Title IX in investigations of schools, revealing that at least 70 districts and colleges had to overhaul their policies to address problems uncovered by the government in the past two years. (Examine the original documents and read Tyler Kingkades full report here)
The Hawken School Class of 2019 (Facebook)
The Mastery Transcript Consortium Has Been Developing a Gradeless Transcript for College Admissions. This Fall It Gets Its First Test
Mastery-Based Learning: As more schools consider adopting innovative models like project-based or experiential learning, educators are realizing that the broad set of skills students are learning dont translate easily into letter grades or GPAs. That becomes a problem when it comes time to submit transcripts for college admissions. So D. Scott Looney, head of Clevelands private Hawken School, decided to launch a group to design a different kind of high school transcript. After two years of development, the Mastery Transcript Consortium now has 250 member schools, and a few of them will be submitting this new transcript to colleges for the first time in the 2019-20 academic year. The transcript is still being tested and discussed among member schools, but its drawn attention and headlines for its nontraditional approach of visually describing student learning. The group, which includes a large proportion of private schools, has also been at the center of debates around equity in college admissions. Does eliminating grades in favor of more holistic descriptors improve or exacerbate inequality? (Read the full feature from Kate Stringer)
Student Truong Nguyen at Houstons Csar E. Chvez High School, where he is part of the districts EMERGE program (Richard Whitmire)
How a Houston Experiment in College Counseling Is Succeeding in Sending Low-Income, First-Generation Students to the Countrys Top Universities
College Success: Not that long ago, many Houston Independent School District high schools lacked whats known as a school profile essential information to college admissions officers wanting to know a schools demographics, AP offerings and SAT/ACT scores. Thats the basic document colleges use to gauge a student in relation to other students. Many of our campuses refused to do it. They just didnt see a need, because for years they had never had a kid apply to a non-local option, said former fifth-grade teacher Rick Cruz. That mindset began to change after Cruz and some Houston ISD colleagues in 2010 formed EMERGE, a program meant to mirror what private college consultants do for the wealthy but tailored to the specific needs of Houston ISDs first-generation, low-income students. The goal was to match those students with colleges that offered full-ride scholarships to high-achieving, high-poverty students, make sure they run the necessary application gauntlet and then track them once they enroll. Thanks to district and philanthropic support, EMERGE is now in every Houston ISD high school and the results are strong: 95 percent of EMERGE students have either earned college degrees or are on track to, more than 80 percent have a 3.0 GPA or better, and 87 percent are expected to earn a bachelors in four years. (Read Richard Whitmires article)
Other Excerpts from The B.A. Breakthrough: Houstons college counseling experiment was just one in a series of special features tied to the new book we published in 2019 Richard Whitmires The B.A. Breakthrough: How Ending Diploma Disparities Can Change the Face of America. See notable excerpts and profiles, and download the complete book, at The74Million.org/Breakthrough.
Credit: Mark Keierleber
Individual Success Plans for Every Student? Harvards Education Redesign Lab Proposes 10 Guidelines for How Educators & Communities Can Unite to Support the Whole Child
Personalized Learning: When children go to the doctor, they receive an individualized plan to support their health. Why isnt this the case in education? A new report from Harvards Education Redesign Lab asks this question and seeks to upend the factory model style of education that provides all students with very similar academic career tracks. Instead, the report says, every student should have an individualized success plan that recommends key services to support his or her specific needs, whether its math tutoring, mental health counseling or speech therapy. This requires a big lift in organization and resources but this effort should not be limited to schools, the report says. Heres why the whole community needs to be involved in supporting the whole child and 10 guidelines for crafting success plans that support children from birth through college. (Read the full feature from Kate Stringer)
Tangipahoa Parish School System
One of the Nations Oldest Desegregation Cases Is on the Brink of Settling in New Orleans. After 54 Years in the Federal Courts, What Has It Accomplished?
Desegregation: In the years after Brown v. Board of Education, the United States entered a contract with its black citizens: Their children would no longer be consigned to separate, inferior schools, and if districts attempted to keep them out, they would have their day in court. Hundreds of cases were filed, petitioning judges to break down barriers between black and white students in school assignments, facilities, learning materials and budgets. One was triggered in 1965 in southeastern Louisianas little-known Tangipahoa Parish, where a local truck driver and father of 15 sued the local school board for providing black students with a substandard education. The children of Tangipahoa not only got their day in court since the day the case was filed, theyve received the equivalent of roughly 20,000 days. We may now be nearing the last, as both sides in Moore v. Tangipahoa Parish School Board have asked a federal judge to approve an extensive settlement in one of the longest-running desegregation cases in the country. Kevin Mahnken reports on the history of the case, and what awaits. (Read more about the history of the case, and what awaits, from Kevin Mahnken)
Researcher Gloria Ladson-Billings on Culturally Relevant Teaching, the Role of Teachers in Trumps America & Lessons From Her Two Decades in Education Research
74 Interview: Gloria Ladson-Billings remembers the first time she learned that an African American could graduate from Harvard University: She was in Ethel Benns fifth-grade class in Philadelphia. That realization and Benns excellent teaching set her on a path to find out what makes a great teacher. Since the 1990s, Ladson-Billings has been studying and writing about culturally relevant teaching and what it takes to successfully educate all students, especially the children of color so often left behind. At the core of her educational philosophy are three components of culturally responsive education: academic success, cultural competence and sociopolitical consciousness. Teachers must accept responsibility for bringing all three into their classrooms, she says. Ladson-Billings spoke to The 74 about how teachers can talk to students about current events, the difference between integration and desegregation, and the hallmarks of being a culturally relevant teacher. (Read the full interview from Laura Fay)
Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post via Getty Images
200 Students, Parents & Educators Spent Two Years Thinking About How to Support the Whole Child. Here Are 6 Things They Found
Social-Emotional Learning: It took two years of collaboration among 200 teachers, students, parents, scientists and policymakers, but a new report on bolstering social-emotional learning in Americas schools has been published. In From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope, these SEL experts, convened by the Aspen Institute, share six ways that teaching skills like collaborating with peers, managing emotions and feeling empathy can help children be better students and citizens of the world. Research has shown how teaching these skills can improve academics, graduation rates and earnings and the report provides a concrete path toward integrating social-emotional learning in schools. From improving teacher prep programs to lifting up student voice and choice, here are the big ideas coming out of the groups collaborative work. (Read the full story from Kate Stringer)
How One Minnesota School, Beloved by Refugee Families, Has Turned Itself Around While Keeping Hold of Its Teachers, Students and Culture
Profile: What do you do about a school thats adored by its families but failing academically? Do you start fresh and risk upending the community that made the school beloved in the first place? At Dugsi Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota, the answer was a resounding no. A haven for Somali immigrant families, the charter school was required by its authorizer to turn itself around or shut down and today, nearly two years into what school turnaround veteran Mary Stafford calls Extreme Makeover: The School Edition, her plan for keeping the elements Dugsis families valued while changing what wasnt working is showing signs of promise. (Read more about Beth Hawkinss memorable visit to the school)
Julia Keleher (left), then-education secretary in Puerto Rico, then-Gov. Ricardo Rossell (center) and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visit a storm-battered school in San Juan after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September 2017. (Puerto Rico Department of Education)
Complicated Crusader to Accused Federal Conspirator: Ex-Puerto Rico Education Secretary Julia Kelehers Surreal Journey
Puerto Rico: Days after Julia Keleher announced her resignation as Puerto Ricos education secretary, she stepped up to a microphone at a Yale University conference and spoke of her defiant and sometimes bitter crusade to change the islands entrenched culture of corruption. That effort, she said, created armies of people that literally would have been happy to take my head off. But even then, her work was being scrutinized by another set of observers with the power to turn that narrative on its head: the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In July, Keleher and five others were indicted in an alleged conspiracy to direct more than $15 million in federal funds to organizations with personal and political connections. All pleaded not guilty. But Kelehers indictment surfaces a deeper irony. Years before becoming education secretary, she worked on a U.S. Department of Education team tasked with fixing waste, fraud and mismanagement of federal funds in Puerto Ricos school system issues that had led to the conviction of an education secretary nearly two decades earlier. This alleged role reversal is one of many lingering riddles to have emerged since her arrest. Friends and colleagues describe Keleher as a tireless advocate known for 2 a.m. emails and sometimes little sympathy for those lacking her single-minded work ethic. But they also recall her as someone too smart to cut corners and too tough to get ensnared in someone elses scheme. In this special 74 investigation, we take an expansive look at Kelehers decades-long career as a hard-nosed change agent intent on ending corruption in Puerto Rico and an indictment that is calling that narrative into question. (Read Mark Keierlebers profile)
Dionna Camino in front of Nxt Level in San Antonio (Bekah McNeel)
4.5 Million Young People Nationwide Are Not Working or in School. How Cities Are Working to Get Them Back on Track & Avoid the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Opportunity Youth: For Dionna Camino, it was caring for her terminally ill father. For Shelby Morales, it was an unexpected pregnancy at age 14. For both, it was too much responsibility too soon that knocked them off the tightrope of getting through high school and college to land a good-paying job. Now, they are among the estimated 4.5 million so-called opportunity youth nationwide 16- to 24-year-olds who are neither in school nor working struggling to put their lives back together. Disengaged from both education and the labor force, these young people are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, too often finding themselves in the school-to-prison pipeline. Some are homeless or have young children. Maybe they dropped out of high school, have criminal records or are on probation. But some have high school diplomas and even some college coursework. For most opportunity youth, it isnt a defined set of missteps; rather, its a churning sea of relentless waves and undertows pushing them under and dragging them in all directions. They can look up and see the school-to-success high wire options and resources available to teens that will guide them toward becoming financially, emotionally, socially secure adults. They just dont know how to climb back on. Bekah McNeel reports on the steps cities around the country are taking to help. (Read the full story)
Students in an 11th-grade history class discuss the 1619 Project Oct. 24 at Manhattans Facing History School. (Taylor Swaak)
A Manhattan High School Reframes How Slavery Is Taught Using The New York Timess 1619 Project
Curriculum: Over years of classes, 11th-grader Jeremias Mata had viewed slavery with a certain simplicity and hopelessness that many black people had once been slaves and that was that. This year, learning about slavery has been different for students at Manhattans Facing History School, partly because teachers are incorporating The New York Timess 1619 Project a compilation of essays and poetry that re-examines slaverys legacy in the U.S. 400 years after the first enslaved people arrived here from West Africa. The project is helping schools nationwide reframe how slavery is taught in a way that captures its brutality, complexity and influence in shaping America, while also affirming the experience as integral to black Americans identity and their contributions to the country. This reframing is extremely important, especially with the student body that we teach here, says history teacher Eric Albino. New York City is a predominantly black and Hispanic district that struggles with inequity and segregation. Teaching curriculum that is relevant to the experiences and perspectives of students of color has been a major if not universally embraced policy push of New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, though the practice isnt mandated across the countrys largest school system. (Read more about Taylor Swaaks visit to see the 1619 Project in action)
Eating, Shopping and Project-Based Learning: A View From Memphiss Mall-Based Crosstown High
Profile: One semester into the inaugural year at Memphiss Crosstown High School, a project-based-learning charter school and recipient of a grant from the folks who run the XQ high school redesign contest, leaders are learning some important lessons. Not all projects catch students attention. Freshmen coming from years in a traditional school setting arent quite ready to totally guide their own learning. Its hard to teach and test math in nontraditional ways. And given access to the unique mall setting that houses the school, teens will be teens. This past February, we reported on the schools unique curriculum and setting, and its leaders goal of attracting a diverse student body. (Read Carolyn Phenicies full profile of the school)
Source: Guttmacher Institute
Just 24 States Mandate Sex Education for K-12 Students, and Only 9 Require Any Discussion of Consent. See How Your State Stacks Up
Sex Education: Students, advocates and lawmakers across the country are re-examining the role of sex education through the lens of the #MeToo movement. A new study shows that learning refusal skills can protect students from later sexual assaults, which researchers say indicates that improving sex ed should be the next step for the #MeToo movement a way to both protect students from being victimized and prevent them from perpetrating assaults. A historian who studies sex ed called the results hugely significant, and the researchers themselves said the study could change how adults think about teen sex and sex education. The study found that most students who had learned refusal skills had also received comprehensive sex education in school. As the #MeToo movement takes hold, some state lawmakers have taken steps to add consent and healthy relationships to their schools sex education classes and generally make the programs more comprehensive. Advocates applaud the changes, but some parent groups and critics have pushed back against lessons they say are not age-appropriate and policies that minimize local control. (Read the full story from Laura Fay)
Drs. Octavio (left) and Omar Viramontes (Octavio and Omar Viramontes/Facebook)
From Farmworkers to Physicians: Twin Mexican Immigrant Boys Grew Up to Become HS Valedictorians and Just Graduated From Medical School
Inspiring: It would have been a long-shot bet that twin brothers who spent their childhoods struggling with a rare speech impediment and toiling in the fields as immigrant farmworkers would one day become international academic stars. But Octavio and Omar Viramontes, who recently graduated one day apart from top medical schools, had a secret weapon: the perseverance of their parents, who brought the family from Mexico in search of a better life. From them, the twins learned the importance of hard work and gained a firm belief in the power of education. And now, having been high school valedictorians and racked up scholarships and academic honors, Dr. Octavio and Dr. Omar are preparing to give back to their community. (Read more about this inspiring story from Debra West)
Playing the whole game suggests that students learn best through real work that resembles what they will likely encounter outside of school.
After School, Students Are Playing the Whole Game in Activities From Drama to Sports to Debate. Backers of Project-Based Learning Ask: Why Cant All of Education Look Like This?
Deeper Learning: Since 2017, humanities students at High Tech High Chula Vista, a San Diego-area charter school, have been holding human lives in their hands: Each year, they assist attorneys at the California Innocence Project who are considering which pleas to review from prisoners who maintain theyre innocent. The idea for the project comes from an approach to education called playing the whole game, which suggests that students learn best through real work that resembles what they will likely encounter outside of school. Its the brainchild of Harvard Graduate School of Education professor emeritus David Perkins, who conceived it after thinking about the most meaningful experiences he had in high school: drama, music, science fairs and the like. These and other large-scale endeavors, he said, seemed more meaningful than the rest of the curriculum. But whether this approach helps students see the bigger picture or simply flounder by sharing their ignorance of complex topics remains an open question. (Read the full story from Greg Toppo)
Fourteen percent of college graduates are abandoning the academic track and enrolling at a community college or a for-profit technical school.
How Does a College Grad End Up at a For-Profit Technical School? Its All About the Job Market and the Value of a Bachelors Degree
Future of Work: With a bachelors degree in psychology, 22-year-old Rachel Van Dyks expected to easily land a good job. Instead, the 2017 graduate works 46 hours per week at a local ice cream parlor and a high-end steakhouse while earning an associates degree at a for-profit technical school. Shes not alone; while a majority of college graduates require additional education to qualify for a good-paying job, many dont find that out until after commencement exercises are over. The traditional path is to pursue a masters degree, but 14 percent of college graduates, like Van Dyks, are abandoning the academic track and enrolling at a community college or a for-profit technical school and getting an associates degree or industry certification, specifically to qualify for a job. (Read the full story from Laura McKenna)
Beth Hawkins tracked the groundbreaking integration efforts of the 78207, the zip code located on the west side of San Antonio, Texas.
2018 Flashback San Antonio, 78207: In Americas Most Segregated City, a Radical School Integration Experiment Designed Around Poverty, Trauma and Parental Choice Is Working
Integration: Over several months this past spring, national correspondent Beth Hawkins tracked the groundbreaking integration efforts of the 78207, the zip code located on the west side of San Antonio, Texas. It is the poorest neighborhood in Americas most economically segregated city: 91 percent of students in the San Antonio Independent School District are Latino, 6 percent are black, and 93 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. As Beth reports, into this divided landscape three years ago came a new schools chief, Pedro Martinez, with a mandate to break down the centuries-old economic isolation that has its heart in the 78207. In response, Martinez launched one of Americas most innovative and data-informed school integration experiments.
He started with a novel approach that yielded eye-popping information: Using family income data, he created a map showing the depth of poverty on each city block and in every school in the district a color-coded street guide comprising granular details unheard of in education. And then he started integrating schools, not by race but by income, factoring in a spectrum of additional elements, such as parents education levels and homelessness. To achieve the kind of integration he was looking for, he would first have to better understand the gradations of poverty in every one of his schools and what kinds of supports those student populations require, and then find a way to woo affluent families from other parts of the city to disrupt these concentrations of unmet need. Martinezs strategy: Open new schools of choice with sought-after curricular models, like Montessori and dual language, and set aside a share of seats for students from more prosperous neighboring school districts, who would then sit next to a mix of students from San Antonio ISD. Read Beths immersive profile of the San Antonio experiment.
Go Deeper: See all of The 74s top 2019 highlights right here. Get the latest features, essays, analyses and videos delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for The 74 Newsletter.
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Donald J. Trump has become only the third president to be impeached in U.S. history. | Alex Brandon / AP
President Donald J. Trumps legacy as a corrupt and lawless president is now permanently recorded for all of history. By a near party-line vote, he stands formally indicted of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, making him only the third president in the history of the United States to be impeached. Attention now shifts toward his January Senate trial, but the ultimate verdict on his criminal rule will come on Nov. 3, 2020.
Some of the most powerful moments in the debate came during remarks by veteran progressive members. Rep. Maxine Waters said the rules of the debate did not allow her to cite all the reasons this president should be impeached. Addressing Congress, she said, Based on all we know about Donald Trump, we could have predicted he would abuse his power. She quoted Maya Angelou, saying, When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
Rep. John Lewis recalled pivotal moments of the past while encouraging a yes vote on the resolution. When we came to Washington for the Freedom Ridesfor the March on Washingtonfor the signing of the Voting Rights Actwe were excited, hopeful, he said. But today, this day, we didnt ask for this. When you see something that is not right, you have a moral obligation to do something. He reminded Republicans, Our children will ask, what did you do? What did you say? We have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history.
Al Green, a representative from Texas and a long-time impeachment advocate, carried a large portrait of a crying immigrant girl being separated from her parents at the border as he solemnly asked the House, Shall any man be beyond justice?
Speaking about the need to protect the future, the voice of Arizona Rep. Ral Grijalva thundered through the House. No amount of lies, cover up, or cries of victimization can undo the crimes of the president, he stated. Trump leaves us no choice.
The presidents lackeys in the House, like Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins and Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes, played their role dutifully before the vote, parroting the lines given them by Trump. Widely confirmed facts about the extortion conspiracy directed by the White House were totally ignored or distorted by GOP speakers during their allotted time.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal refuted the Republicans rambling and tired talking points about insufficient evidence and hearsay, though, saying that the president himself is the smoking gun.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer pleaded with Republican members to find the courage to vote for democracy and the Constitution, but none did.
With the vote now concluded, Trump is formally accused of abusing his power for personal political gain when he held up $391 million in security aid to the right-wing government of Ukraine as part of an attempt to extort the country into announcing an investigation of the activities of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden there. This scheme to interfere with the 2020 U.S. election was exposed by the intelligence community whistleblower report concerning Trumps phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in late September and set off the current impeachment inquiry.
The second article charges that Trump obstructed the congressional probe by refusing to submit documents and blocking witnesses from testifying. Many diplomats and other government employees, however, defied Trump and cooperated with House subpoenas compelling them to share what they knew. From the former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch to Trumps own EU envoy Donald Sondland and many others in betweenall offered testimony during hearings that confirmed Trumps abuse of his office.
A victory for democracy
Of course, the press outlets of the GOPs right-wing media ecosystem like Fox News and Breitbart continue to hammer away their repetition of Trumps claim that impeachment is a partisan perversion, an attempt to get revenge for Hillary Clinton, or some personal vendetta against him. Its what should be expected from them. But even some left voices have said impeachment doesnt matter, that its a waste of time and energy.
The argument goes that the Senate wont remove him anyway and the articles drafted by the Democratic leadership dont even touch Trumps real economic and social crimes. Pelosi and Nadler have limited the articles of impeachment to national security matters, they say, neglecting Trumps use of office to enrich himself, theft of public money for his border wall, and imprisonment of immigrants.
Relying on impeachment to condemn Trumps violations of democratic norms, criminal as they may be, isnt worth it, or so its been said. In this mindset, impeachment amounts to nothing more than a defense of the old order.
There are very real shortcomings of the impeachment process, but this is a mistaken view. Certainly, no one could credibly accuse those leading the impeachment effort in Congress of being revolutionaries out to overturn our money-dominated political and economic system. But that does not mean that our constitutional democracy, imperfect as it may be, is not worth defending.
Long ago, Friedrich Engels pointed out the inadequacies of the U.S. Constitution, saying, It is significant of the specifically bourgeois character of these human right that the American Constitution, the first to recognize the rights of man, in the same breath confirmed the slavery of the colored races in America.
The Constitution was an advance over colonialism and monarchy, but with institutions like the Electoral College and the Senate, it was also a document crafted to protect the dominance of a particular section of the ruling class. It was a product of compromise, as Marxist historian Herbert Aptheker argued, between conflicting regional interests and two antagonistic socio-economic systems: Southern slavery and the Norths budding capitalism.
Despite being a half-way house between aristocratic and democratic principles, the Constitution staked out important notions that have been used to expand democracy. Among those: legitimate government depends on popular consent; oppressive government is to be undone, by revolutionary action if necessary; power is separated to prevent tyranny; the rule of law applies to all, including those in power; and government operates through written rulesrules which are only broken by oppressors and traitors.
The Bill of Rights, the Second American Revolution against slavery (also known as the Civil War), Reconstruction, amendments guaranteeing the right of women to vote, civil rights, and Black voting rights in the 1960s, and moreall these were victories built on that original flawed foundation. They were markers along the path of winning political equality and reaching eventually toward social and economic equality.
The great anti-slavery fighter Frederick Douglass said it best: Without struggle, there is no progress. Winning impeachment is the result of struggle by the peoples movements. Without the resistance to Trumps border wall, his caging of children, his tax cuts for the rich, his attacks on teachers and other workers, his racist encouragement of white nationalists, his personal and political attacks on womenwithout all of the coalitions and groups that fought these policies and more, there would have been no impeachment.
So rather than a waste of time or energy, impeachment marks a progressive advance won by the movements opposing Trump, right-wing racist extremism, and corporate rule. Make no mistake, impeachment is a peoples victory.
Convict and remove
Impeachment also marks the beginning of what will be a long effort by millions of people across the country to save democracy from this lawless president and his party in 2020. The immediate arena of struggle will be the U.S. Senate, where the trial will unfold in the first weeks of the new year. Regardless of what happens there, the fight against Trumpism will stretch all the way to November and beyond.
The Republican representatives of the ruling class in the Senate will almost certainly acquit the president, papering over their own factional divisions for the sake of electoral survival and advancing the agenda of the rich and powerful. GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already announced, Im not an impartial juror. But regardless of Trumps likely acquittal, there must still be coordinated campaigns to put pressure on the Senatepressure to compel the testimony of further witnesses who can confirm Trumps crimes and pressure, ultimately, for a vote to convict and remove the president.
But Trumps impeachment and trial are part of the bigger fight to reverse the drift toward right-wing extremism and the consolidation of corporate rule that predates him, but which has accelerated rapidly under his regime. Its a fight to stop attacks on workers and labor rights. To beat back the sexism, racism, anti-immigrant hysteria, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and other strategies employed to divide people and prevent united struggles for progress. To stop the attacks on democracy and fair elections. To reverse the wasting of our resources on the military machine. To stop wars and attacks on workers and people in other countries.
Its a fight to win health care for everyone. To save the world from climate change. To guarantee the right to vote for all without interference. To win a livable wage for all workers. To build an inclusive society that recognizes and values all parts of our multicultural, multiracial, multinational working class and people. And in the long term, to move toward a system where the peopleand not big moneydetermine our future.
The impeachment of Trump is a step along this road. It shows that progress is possible and that the ultra-right can be beaten, but its not the end of the road. There are still millions of people to be convinced and millions more to be organized into struggle.
So, onward to the trial of President Donald J. Trump. And after his political accomplices in the Senate let him off the hook, the whole democratic and working-class movement must be mobilized to render the ultimate verdict on Election Day 2020.
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Posted: at 9:17 pm
For Qatar, its showtime.
As the clock ticks down towards the 2022 World Cup, the tiny oil-rich state is preparing for a dress rehearsal as English Premier League club Liverpool and Brazilian team Flamengo arrive in Doha for FIFAs World Club Cup.
Shiny new air conditioned stadiums, a specially constructed fan park, a new state-of-the-art metro, and a charm offensive to woo those who still harbor reservations as to Qatars suitability to host the sports biggest competition in three years time, will all be on show.
No small detail has been let to chance. Inside the fan park, there will be music from the Cavern Beatles as well as the Lightning Seeds, the UK band whose anthem Footballs Coming Home has become part of English soccer folklore.
Beer, normally restricted to hotels, will also be on sale as fans gather in rather comfortable temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius during the daytime.
Amina Al Ali, the chairwoman of the countrys Liverpool supporters club, Qatar Reds, says visitors to the Gulf state can expect a warm welcome.
Qatar is a very welcoming country and they pride themselves on their hospitality, she added. Its very friendly, people will go out of their way to help there and there are lots of things to do.
For Qatar, this is a test run as it prepares to handle thousands of fans from across the globe. Its also an opportunity to show the world that it is ready and able to cope with the demands placed upon it.
It will hope the tournament is more impressive than its hosting of the recent World Athletics Championships which was criticized for failing to attract enough spectators.
READ: Force is with Flamengo in Copa Libertadores final
Its a great opportunity for us, Hassan Al Thawadi, the secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy the organization responsible for ensuring Qatar is ready for the World Cup, told The Athletic in a recent interview.
The clubs that are coming have great fanbases, really passionate, and theyll be a great test for us. It will be a chance to show who we are. People have a lot of misconceptions.
Weve hosted events where most of the fans have been local England-Brazil, Brazil-Argentina, Spain-Uruguay, PSG-Real Madrid but a lot of those fans lived here; expats and Qataris. This will be the first time with so many traveling fans and were looking forward to that.
According to a FIFA spokesperson, around 90,000 tickets were made available to the general public for the tournament with 80% of the total inventory having already been allocated.
Residents in Qatar account for 58% of the tickets allocated, followed by fans living in Brazil (10%) and in the UK (8%).
The tournament, which consists of the best teams from FIFAs six confederations, began on December 11 and will finish with the final at the Khalifa International Stadium 10 days later.
In some ways, this is acid test time for Qatar, Simon Chadwick, professor of sports enterprise at the University of Salford, told CNN.
Although the World Cup is still three years away and the country therefore still has time to put things right, the world will nevertheless still be watching and judging the country.
Perhaps the most visible issue will be whether stadiums are full. The World Athletics Championship brought into sharp focus the issue of fan engagement, hence many observers will be monitoring whether international fans have traveled to Doha and if local fans are attending games.
Alongside this, Qatars preparedness for hosting major events will be further tested, as will its competence for staging authentic, compelling sporting events.
READ: Liverpool to face Atletico Madrid in Champions League knockout stages
Al Ali, who has lived in Qatar for the past 24 years but still retains her Scouse accent, says that there are around 470 members of the Qatar Reds with more and more joining each week.
For a lot of our members, a trip to the UK or other places where Liverpool play is out of the question, Al Ali told CNN.
We also have a lot of people traveling in from countries close by, obviously its a lot easier for them to get over to Qatar than it is to get to other places.
We will have a lot of people for whom this is the first chance to see Liverpool play live.
READ: Liverpool beats Watford to extend unbeaten Premier League run
For Liverpool, the competition comes right in the middle of a ridiculously busy schedule.
Such is the clubs fixture congestion in December on Tuesday it will have to field a youthful second-string side in the English League Cup tie at Aston Villa, a game which is scheduled to kick off 24 hours before the first-team plays its semifinal game in Qatar against Mexican team Monterrey.
Liverpool will then play in the final or third-place playoff on Sunday before flying home to face an in-form Leicester City in the Premier League on December 26. Ten points clear of second-place Leicester, Liverpool is attempting to win its first top-flight title since 1990.
Football is always a challenge, Liverpools Sadio Mane told the competitions official website ahead of the trip to Qatar.
Its going to be an experience for us, which is going to serve the season. Playing against different cultures and different styles of football always helps in your career, but at the same time were going there to do everything possible to win every game. That wont be easy, we know that, but its always a challenge.
READ: Klopp signs new deal until 2024
Since being named as the host for the 2022 World Cup nine years ago, the Gulf state has rarely been out of the headlines over its human rights record, its prohibiting of homosexuality and allegations of corruption in the way the tournament was awarded which Qatar has consistently denied.
In addition, the 2022 tournament has been moved to the winter because of the high summer temperatures causing havoc with domestic playing schedules.
Inevitably, there will be hidden issues lurking just below the surface of the Club World Cup: issues pertaining to immigrant labor, how visiting fans are treated, the impact of the Gulf feud, and so forth, Chadwick added, referring to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates breaking off relations with Qatar in June 2017.
Qatar has the opportunity to enhance its reputation and convince the world that it is heading in the right direction in a multitude of ways. The question now is: can it?
Last month, the chief executive of Qatars 2022 World Cup organizing committee told CNN the country had been surprised by the severity of the criticism it has received since winning the right to host the World Cup.
I think we were expecting it, Nasser Al Khater told CNN last month as he reflected on the level of criticism directed at Qatar. I dont think we were expecting the severity of it.
We know for a fact that every major event has its fair share of criticism, he added. Is that based on reality? Is that based on perception? Is that based on selling headlines? We know that we recognize that.
Was Qatar treated unfairly? Yes, in my opinion, very much so. I believe that Qatar has been judged by the court of perception very early on.
Aware of the criticism surrounding Qatars record on human rights, Liverpool engaged with UK-based human rights organization Fair/Square before traveling to the Gulf state.
Fair/Square wrote two letters to the clubs chief executive Peter Moore in June and November where it documented its concerns over the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar.
READ: The 100 seconds that saved Liverpools Champions League hopes
On December 10, Moore responded in a letter addressed to the organizations two directors Nick McGeehan and James Lynch, setting out the due diligence the club had undertaken ahead of their visit to Qatar.
In the letter, which has been seen by CNN, Moores says the club has been in conversation with the 2022 World Cup organizing body known as the Supreme Committee over working conditions as well as asking for reassurances over investigations into the deaths of two men who had been working on construction sites of new stadiums.
He also responded to the case raised by Fair/Square in its November letter of Rupchandra Rumba, a 24-year-old Nepali national who died while working on the scaffholding at Education City stadium, the arena Liverpool had been scheduled to play at before change of venue was announced.
According to Moore, Rumba was employed by a sub-contractor that had not received clearance to work at the site by the Supreme Committee, adding the club understands swift action has been taken to address this.
READ: Football and food banks: How UK soccer fans are helping tackle societys gaping wound
In October, Qatar said it was conducting a review into the impact of heat stress together with the International Labor Organization and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.
Moore revealed that the club had been given further information about subsequent investigations and resultant compensation arrangements for Rumbas wife and child.
Moore also said there had been a discussion over the ongoing investigation into the death of British construction worker Zac Cox who fell from rigging inside the Education City Stadium in January 2017.
In his letter, Moore wrote: Like any responsible organization, we support your assertion that any and all unexplained deaths should be investigated thoroughly and that bereaved families should receive the justice they deserve.
Furthermore, we also believe that employees should be treated with fairness and respect, which is why we adhere to our own anti-slavery policy and why we are committed to paying the real Living Wage, among various measures of this kind.
These are the standards that we set for ourselves and by which we would hope to be judged given they fall within our own remits and responsibilities.
Nevertheless, we remain a sporting organization and it is important that we are not drawn into global issues on the basis of where our involvement in various competitions dictates that our fixtures take place.
So while we respect and understand the reasons why you have sought a public pronouncement from us, we hope you will respect and understand why we feel such a course of action would not be appropriate.
Having already stated that while we do not visit any country with the objective of bringing about change but any resultant positive changes would be welcomed, I would like to take the opportunity to reiterate that particular message.
Moore also said that the Supreme Committee had also reached out to Liverpool supporters groups to discuss any fears or objections they may have over Qatars hosting of the tournament.
On the field, Liverpool will be hoping to win the competition for the first time in its history. It has lost in each of its three previous finals having opted not play in the tournament in 1977 and 1978.
Flamengo, which it is expected to face in the final, inflicted a 3-0 defeat upon the English side in Tokyo 38 years ago. More recently, Liverpool was beaten 1-0 in the final by Argentine side Independiente in 2005.
We feel as though we are a world-class side, thats what we want to be and thats one of our aims to be world class, Liverpools Trent Alexander-Arnold told FIFA.com.
We are playing really good football at the minute and we want to keep that up and make sure that we keep our standards really high and keep playing the football that we are now.
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The secret slaves of Scotland: Experts warn rising epidemic of human trafficking now scars every village, town and city – The Sunday Post
Posted: October 24, 2019 at 11:41 am
Victims of human trafficking can now be found in every town and city in Scotland, experts say.
And as the number of victims increases each year, one charity working with trafficked people has predicted the total it will help this year will be double that of 2018. Cases include sexual exploitation and domestic slavery linked to major cities.
But victims are also forced to work in sectors from the beauty industry and car washes in town centres to agriculture and fisheries in our remotest communities.
Jim Laird, an anti-trafficking expert and contributor to the Scottish Parliaments cross-party group on the issue, said: Human trafficking is now everywhere in Scotland.
I have seen cases in Skye, Inverclyde, Lanarkshire, Tayside and the Borders to name just a few. We need to raise awareness and have people spot the signs and have police follow through on information.
Mr Laird, human trafficking lead at Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership, said: We know there are multiple cases of Eastern European crime gangs operating in Glasgow and particularly in Govanhill.
Police are aware and their anti-trafficking unit have been obtaining intelligence on it for some time. Quite often you find Eastern European gangs work in tandem with Asian crime gangs in Scotland. Eastern European gangs provide the people and Asian gangs provide transport and the accommodation in which people are placed.
This has been going on for several years now. However, for any cases prosecuted, the punishment clearly hasnt been sufficient enough to prevent people from operating. This is a real concern. We need to see longer sentences and the legislation applied more appropriately.
There are legislative powers available now but they are not being widely used, nor are powers to recover money from the perpetrators.
He added: Some sentences delivered by the courts have been far too short in my opinion where people are out of prison in a couple of years after having enslaved and exploited people to the tune of thousands of pounds.
There is also still a low prosecution rate in Scotland despite the numbers of people being identified as victims.
I have been doing this type of work for a long time now and I see the impact on victims and on their lives. People say we have some of the best legislation in the world in Scotland. But that doesnt mean a lot unless it is being properly implemented.
We need to ensure that we get the traffickers and they get stiff sentences and it sends out a message to people.
Intelligence revealed by anti-trafficking workers in 2017 pinpointed victims in at least 27 locations from Aberdeen and Annan to Dundee, Kirkcaldy and the Orkney Islands.
Research from Romania found a chilling progression, with young women being exploited for prostitution, then later for domestic labour, and eventually in old age for begging.
Last year, there were 228 referrals for help for victims in Scotland, a figure up 130% since 2013, for the full range of sexual and labour exploitation and domestic servitude.
Rabiya Ravat, deputy director of operations at Migrant Help, one of two groups to which victims can be officially referred for help in Scotland, said: Trafficking and exploitation exists absolutely in every town and city in Scotland.One of the biggest groups we come across are those working in car washes. People need to think about whats happening if they are going for a full car wash and valet which takes an hour and costs 3. Basic maths indicates this does not meet minimum wage requirements.
We get a lot of individuals, particularly Vietnamese, exploited for cannabis cultivation and we also see cases where women are trafficked for domestic servitude or sexual exploitation. These can be linked to sham marriages and attempts to manipulate immigration.
It can be young women in their teens or early 20s who are very vulnerable and are then subjected to quite horrific circumstances and exploitation.
Law enforcement can only do so much and they ultimately respond to crimes being identified.
I would urge the public to open their eyes and ears and report any suspicions of trafficking or modern slavery.
We have seen almost double the number of referrals month on month in Scotland compared to the same periods last year. This is across all nationalities and all types of exploitation so we know that there is a massive increase.
We need greater awareness in the public consciousness that this is happening and is not far removed from them. Its often hidden in plain sight and happens in every town and city.
In Scotland we are talking about several hundred referrals for our services supporting men, women and families affected.
She added: We have good legislation and government supported programmes and when people are identified they can be supported.
Bronagh Andrew, operations manager at Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA), the other charity to which cases, specifically sex trafficking victims, are referred for help, said: Trafficking is an issue of growing concern in Scotland. It is a crime perpetrated by brutal and ruthless criminals who seek to make money from the exploitation and misery of others.
The sad truth is people are being trafficked from all over the world to meet the demands of the sex industry. Those who buy sex must also share responsibility as they fuel the demand that the traffickers feed off.
The suffering of the women who are bought and sold for sex will be barely even a consideration for the traffickers and their customers, if at all.
Raising awareness of this appalling industry is vital to disrupt the criminals and assist the authorities in tackling this problem.
Jenny Marra, Labour MSP for North East Scotland, who campaigned for legislation to be introduced to tackle the issue, said: Its quite apparent that human trafficking is happening in communities across the length and breadth of the country.
Its four years since the legislation was passed which introduced clearer and stronger penalties for these types of offences.
Police and authorities, and indeed all of us, must vigilant to the fact that these heinous crimes are happening. It is a crime of extreme abuse and the people responsible must be brought to justice.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: The Scottish Government is committed to tackling the incidence and impact of human trafficking both by providing stronger powers to pursue perpetrators and strengthening the support available for victims of this nefarious crime.
There is no place for human trafficking in our communities and through Scotlands Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy we are working to eliminate this crime.
Information can be passed to the Modern Slavery helpline on 08000 121 700 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
Anti-trafficking workers report concerns over nail bars, takeaways and car washes using people brought in from Eastern Europe in past couple of years.
Abul Kamal Azad found himself forced to work in a remote Highland hotel after borrowing money to come to Britain.
Azad, now 33, who has a wife and son back in Dhaka, found himself the only employee at the Stewart Hotel, in Appin, near Fort William, below, cleaning, cooking, and gardening for up to 22 hours a day, seven days a week.
He said: I was the only worker for 37 bedrooms, I did everything. I woke every morning at 5am. Two coaches of tourists would arrive day after day.
His sponsor, Shamsul Arefin, 50, paid him just 100 a month, took his passport, and threatened to report him as an illegal worker if he complained. Eventually Azad and three new Bangladeshi workers alerted the authorities, and the hotel was raided by the UK Border Agency. In 2015, Arefin was found guilty of human trafficking and jailed for three years.
Eastern Europeans brought in by Russian gangsters to gather shellfish around two years ago.
Romanian Remus Groza, who forced his countrymen to live in squalor and paid them just 30 a month for agriculture work, was found guilty of people trafficking last year.
Yen Huang, 62, a brothel madam linked to a shadowy Chinese people smuggling ring, who trafficked women into Scotland for sex, was last year jailed for 27 months.
Edinburgh and Glasgow
Ten Romanian women rescued in 2018 from addresses in the two cities where they were working as prostitutes.
Trafficked Vietnamese people forced during to work in a cannabis cultivation operation around two years ago.