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June 10, 2014

Your supermarket shrimp are probably fished by slaves

Don't eat shrimp, unless you like supporting slavery. Slave Labor in the Thai Fisheries - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
A six-month investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco. The investigation found that the world’s largest prawn farmer, the Thailand-based Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, buys fishmeal, which it feeds to its farmed prawns, from some suppliers that own, operate or buy from fishing boats manned with slaves. Men who have managed to escape from boats supplying CP Foods and other companies like it told the Guardian of horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings. Some were at sea for years; some were regularly offered methamphetamines to keep them going. Some had seen fellow slaves murdered in front of them. Fifteen migrant workers from Burma and Cambodia also told how they had been enslaved. They said they had paid brokers to help them find work in Thailand in factories or on building sites. But they had been sold instead to boat captains, sometimes for as little as �250. “I thought I was going to die,” said Vuthy, a former monk from Cambodia who was sold from captain to captain. “They kept me chained up, they didn’t care about me or give me any food … They sold us like animals, but we are not animals – we are human beings.” Another trafficking victim said he had seen as many as 20 fellow slaves killed in front of him, one of whom was tied, limb by limb, to the bows of four boats and pulled apart at sea.

May 25, 2014

The innocent men in American jails who are forced to work for $0.13 an hour

They haven't been convicted of any crimes, yet they are held behind bars and forced to work for thirteen CENTS an hour. Immigrant Detention Facilities Are Using Their Own Detainees As Cheap Labor | ThinkProgress
At least 60,000 immigrants worked in the detention centers last year — more than worked for any other single employer in the country — and the program extends across 55 of the United States’ roughly 250 detention facilities. The pay rate works out to 13 cents an hour, far below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, and is made possible by a 1950 law that set compensation rules for detention facilities. The law was once challenged in a lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act, but in 1990 an appellate court ruled that “alien detainees are not government ‘employees.” Inmates convicted of crimes often participate in prison work programs and thus forego their rights to wage protections, but the immigrants in these cases are actually civil detainees. According to the program, immigrants cannot work more than 40 hours a week or 8 hours per day. They’re often not paid in cash but in credits towards food, toiletries, phone calls, and other items, and the credits can be exchanged for cash when they leave the facilities. Detainees told the Times that the facility commissaries at which the credits can be used often sell these items at inflated prices, meaning money is made off the immigrants twice: once when they are paid low wages, again when they are charged higher prices. Officials with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that local governments operate 21 of the programs, and private companies run the rest, saving the government and the companies $40 million or more a year. Some immigrants being held at county facilities work for free, or are paid with sodas or candy bars.

May 22, 2014

The Case for Reparations

This is likely the most important article that will be published this year. The Case for Reparations - The Atlantic
The state’s regime partnered robbery of the franchise with robbery of the purse. Many of Mississippi’s black farmers lived in debt peonage, under the sway of cotton kings who were at once their landlords, their employers, and their primary merchants. Tools and necessities were advanced against the return on the crop, which was determined by the employer. When farmers were deemed to be in debt—and they often were—the negative balance was then carried over to the next season. A man or woman who protested this arrangement did so at the risk of grave injury or death. Refusing to work meant arrest under vagrancy laws and forced labor under the state’s penal system.