20 Aug 2011

After the Riots, “Broken” Britain Grows Still More Fractured

  Cross-posted from Colorlines.com In the aftermath of the riots, politicians have promised to rebuild Britain’s “broken society.” But their eagerness to restore order threatens to tear apart an already fractured urban landscape. Speaking at a youth club in Witney, Oxfordshire, Prime Minister David Cameron played on public panic to

19 Aug 2011

Washington’s Anti-Regulatory Crusade, and Why Your Job Hasn’t Killed You Yet

Cross-posted from In These Times On the campaign trail, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry is spreading the gospel of Perrynomics—a magical job-creation formula based on minimal government regulation of industry, combined with tiny tax rates and tight controls on lawsuits. In a state that seems inclined to cannibalize its own

15 Aug 2011

Target Comes Under Fire Around the World

Cross-posted from In These Times The retail giant Target is under fire from all sides, for union-busting at home and labor violations overseas. The reports that have come out in the past several weeks highlight a continuum of cruelty in the global supply chain. Though WalMart has long served as

05 Aug 2011

Under New Guidelines, Cheap Birth Control Pays Off for Working Women

Cross-posted from In These Times. Washington’s Old Boys’ club still has its knickers in a wad over the deficit “compromise,” but women across the country can breathe a slight sigh of relief this week. The White House just issued health reform guidelines that will mandate insurance plans to provide birth

20 Jul 2011

Thousands of Migrant Kids Trapped Inside the World’s Border Politics

Cross-posted from Colorlines.com Yolanda had barely made it to the U.S. border after being beaten and raped by smugglers on the route up from El Salvador. When border agents discovered the 16 year old, she was sent to a hospital, stripped and shackled to a bed—just as a precaution, presumably,

13 Jul 2011

Embattled Colombian Unionists Rally Against ‘Free Trade’

Cross-posted from In these Times Gathering with fellow unionists in Washington, D.C., Jose Hugo Yanini speaks firmly about labor rights in Colombia. But a few weeks ago, the industrial janitor and shop steward feared that he soon might never utter another word. Yanini, who is campaigning with SEIU and other

08 Jul 2011

The Globe’s Not Only Getting Hotter. It’s More Unjust and Unstable, Too

Republished from Colorlines.com

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="307" caption="Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images"]climate-refugees[/caption]

Over the next few decades, tens of millions of people will be driven from their homes. Braving violence and poverty, they’ll roam desperately across continents and borders in search of work and shelter. Unlike other refugees, though, their plight won’t be blamed simply on the familiar horrors of war or persecution; they’ll blame the weather.

If you haven’t heard about the rising tide of environmental migrants, that’s because throngs of displaced black and brown people don’t evoke the same public sympathy as photos of polar bear cubs. The governments of rich industrialized nations will scramble to shut the gates on the desperate hordes with the same self-serving efficiency with which they’ve long ignored the social, ecological and economic consequences of their prosperity. But both efforts at blissful ignorance will fail, because climate change is forcing society to confront the mounting natural and man-made disasters on the horizon.

In 2010, according to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, “more than 90 percent of all disasters and 65 percent of associated economic damages were weather and climate related (i.e. high winds, flooding, heavy snowfall, heat waves, droughts, wildfires). In all, 874 weather and climate-related disasters resulted in 68,000 deaths and $99 billion in damages worldwide.”

Those numbers look worse on the ground. In rural Bangladesh, where some of South Asia’s major riverways converge, rising waters are threatening to swallow vulnerable coastal communities and leave millions without homes. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the sea level need only rise by a few feet to turn a cultivated area of 1,000 kilometers squared into sopping marsh. The frequency and intensity of floods continues to escalate exponentially, pushing young workers into the cities to earn a living and eroding rural communities and their cultures.

While some places soak, others bake.

08 Jul 2011

States’ Anti-Immigrant Bills Expand the Law-Free Zone

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="315" caption="A scene from an immigrant rights rally on May Day 2006. (Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr)"]immigrant rights rally[/caption]

In tough economic times, life can be hard for employers in America’s low-wage sectors. Especially when it comes to complying with labor law. Fortunately, the government ensures that there’s always at least one group of workers for whom standards pretty much never apply. They’re called, fittingly, “undocumented.”

This year, several states have rolled out legislation to make the undocumented even more illegal. Bills in Alabama, Georgia and Indiana, modeled roughly after Arizona’s controversial racial profiling law, reflect the boilerplate lock’em up talking points: enabling profiling by police, criminalizing the mere appearance of an unauthorized immigrant as well as those who provide aid to them, and tightening restrictions on hiring. Although lawsuits have halted the implementation of these policies in some states, key court decisions have left intact provisions that deepen the divide between those with and without papers, relegating the undocumented—who work American farms, build American homes, and raise American children—to a law-free zone.

A Georgia court recently blocked the “papers please” provision of the state’s anti-immigrant bill on the grounds that using I.D.-checks to root out immigration violations would lead to an “end-run – not around federal criminal law – but around federal statutes defining the role of state and local officers in immigration enforcement.” So the state overstepped its bounds by criminalizing a federal civil offense.

At the same time, the court left intact a provision that would expand the use of a draconian I.D. screening system known as E-Verify. This is the Social Security Number-based data gauntlet that Washington has been haltingly trying to impose on employers and state governments for years (Congressional Republicans are pushing a bill to mandate the system nationwide, but it is currently used on a “volunteer” basis).

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