Author Archives: lv

Oppression and Exploitation News November 19 – 25

Damage to the U.S. economic and financial system 2020

Mnuchin to end key Fed emergency programs, limiting Biden Jeanna Smialek and Alan Rappeport New York Times November 19, 2020
The Treasury Department asked the Federal Reserve to return unused funds, downsizing the next secretary’s ability to restart the economic support.

A revealing report on the mid-March financial crisis Nick Beams World Socialist Web Site November 19, 2020 See the Financial Stability Board’s full report (60 page PDF file)

Harming people – Keeping people oppressed 2020

Trump’s attempts to overturn the election are unparalleled in U.S. history David E. Sanger New York Times November 19, 2020 (news analysis)
The president’s push to prevent states from certifying electors and get legislators to override voters’ choice eclipses even the bitter 1876 election as an audacious use of brute political force.

They championed Venezuela’s revolution. They are now its latest victims. Isayen Herrera, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Tibisay Romero and Sheyla Urdaneta New York Times November 19, 2020
In an effort to complete his consolidation of power, Nicolás Maduro is cracking down on the leftist activists who once supported him, but have begun to speak up against his administration’s corruption and cronyism.

Opposing oppression and injustice 2020

Uganda releases opposition leader after clashes kill at least 28 Abdi Latif Dahir New York Times November 20, 2020
Two days after police took him into custody, presidential contender Bobi Wine resurfaced on Friday in court where he was charged with flouting coronavirus rules and released.

‘Now, we fight face to face’: Thailand’s protests shatter taboos Hannah Beech and Ryn Jirenuwat New York Times November 18, 2020
Antigovernment demonstrations have grown bolder, even insulting the king, but reform remains elusive and fears of a crackdown persist.

Harm through the government 2020

Egypt arrests human rights leader, continuing crackdown on dissent Vivian Yee New York Times November 19, 2020
The head of a human rights group and two of its other staff members have joined thousands of opposition figures, protesters and activists already in prison.

U.S. to drop case against Mexican ex-official to allow inquiry in Mexico Michael S. Schmidt and Natalie Kitroeff New York Times November 17, 2020
The announcement by the Justice Department was an abrupt turnaround a month after the high-profile arrest of a former defense minister.

Slavery, forced labor 2020

Apple is lobbying against a bill aimed at stopping forced labor in China Reed Albergotti Washington Post November 20, 2020
Apple wants to water down key provisions of the bill, which would hold U.S. companies accountable for using Uighur forced labor, according to two congressional staffers….While U.S. law already prevents companies from importing goods that were made using forced labor, the law is seldom enforced, and it’s difficult to prove U.S. companies know about the use of forced labor.

Cruel Outcomes: How weak corporate governance and internal controls in the palm oil industry allow abuse of foreign and local workers

Cruel Outcomes Liberty Shared September 2020 See full report (40 page PDF file)

This document does not seek to revisit or summarize previous
research and conclusions about abuse suffered by migrant workers
entering Malaysia to work on palm oil plantations. There are
many excellent reports and materials available that examine the
abuse of workers and the failures of companies to improve their
plantation management practices, such as Amnesty International’s
Trapped: The Exploitation of Migrant Workers in Malaysia, (2010);
Business and Human Rights S.I (www.bandhr.com); Fair Labour
Association’s Mapping Study on Seasonal Agriculture Workers and
Worker Feedback and Grievance Mechanisms in the Agricultural
Sector, (2018); Suisse Solidar’s Exploited and Illegalized: The Lives
of Palm Oil Migrant Workers in Sabah, (2019), and Earthworm
Foundation’s Insights Into Recruitment Costs and Practices Amongst
Small-Medium Sized Companies In The Palm Oil Industry In
Peninsular Malaysia, (2019).

This document argues that, firstly, despite over a decade of
reporting and research on abusive recruitment practices and
abusive working conditions on plantations and despite the
representations and statements set out in the increasingly
prolific human rights and sustainability corporate disclosure,
it is time to accept that a substantial proportion of the millions
of individuals arriving to offer their labour to plantations,
of whatever size, do so in a state of vulnerability caused
by the manner of their recruitment. Whether due to debt
arrangements, poverty, illegal status or deception, the palm oil
industry, particularly those who lead the industry, should and
must seek to alleviate and resolve these vulnerabilities and not
exacerbate and capitalize on them by allowing vulnerability to
become a lever for coercive and abusive labor management
practices by plantations managers, supervisors and forepeople.
Second, it seems clear that the ongoing industry-wide failure to
prevent abusive and coercive practices on plantations is caused
by deep structural issues grounded in a long history of terrible
labor practices begun in the industrial rubber agricultural
sector during the British administration of Malaya and largely
continued since then to today.

Third, evidence of the comprehensive and far-reaching work
needed to build and implement a governance framework to
remedy and rectify this situation, in other words to create
businesses and a business-operating environment that actually
offers vulnerable workers support to reduce and resolve their
vulnerabilities, rather than exploit them, appears sorely lacking.

Fourth, the implementation of corporate sustainability and
ethical practices is a desired end state, one that will be dynamic
and active. However, there is no chance at all of achieving the
creation of an organization that is sensitive to the wider social
and environmental issues without that company having robust,
sufficient and well implemented corporate governance, risk
management and internal controls (together organizational
corporate governance and controls). From the examination of
annual reports and sustainability statements, and considering
what has been learned from workers themselves, it is clear
that design and implementation of corporate governance,
risk management and internal controls and the design and
implementation of a sustainability agenda remain two parallel
lines of management activity. Never meeting, the development
of sustainability practices and the development of organizational
corporate governance and controls are largely considered
separately. This is very convenient for many corporations and
boards of directors as the arrangements keep the objectives of
sustainable practices away from corporate governance, which
has regulatory and legal requirements, and therefore avoids
creating joint and several obligations and liability on the board of
directors and senior executives.

Finally, it is time that the vast cornucopia of public disclosure
created in the name of sustainable and ethical practices is linked
clearly and transparently to implemented underlying organizational
corporate governance, risk management and internal controls and
the underlying laws and regulations that require such organizational
corporate governance and controls. The formulation and publication
of these policies, as expensive as the process of creation is, must
lead to identifiable ongoing, consistent and monitored corporate
procedures and practices that are enforced by the business – it is
these that must be clearly disclosed on a regular basis.

Oppression and Exploitation News November 12 – 18

Harming people – Keeping people oppressed 2020

Farcical coverage of Julian Assange’s farcical hearing Joshua Cho Fair November 13, 2020

Barr hands prosecutors the authority to investigate voter fraud claims Katie Benner and Michael S. Schmidt New York Times November 9, 2020
The attorney general said that he had authorized “instances” of investigative steps but that inquiries should not be based on specious claims. Mr. Barr’s authorization prompted the Justice Department official who oversees investigations of voter fraud, Richard Pilger, to step down from the post within hours.

Conflict 2020

Sunken boats. Stolen gear. Fishermen are prey as China conquers a strategic sea  Shashank Bengaliand and Vo Kieu Bao Uyen Los Angeles Times November 12, 2020

Harm through the market 2020

Uber and Lyft Drivers in California will remain contractors Kate Conger New York Times November 4, 2020
The victory of Proposition 22, the most expensive initiative in the state’s history, could help gig companies remake labor laws throughout the country.

Control of land and natural resources 2020

Barbarians at the barn: private equity sinks its teeth into agriculture Grain September 29 2020

Oppression and Exploitation News November 5 – 11

Discrimination against women 2020

The rape of India’s Dalit women: It’s all about gender & class subordination Stella Paul Inter Press Service November 2, 2020

Harm through the government 2020

A regulatory rush by federal agencies to secure Trump’s legacy Eric Lipton New York Times November 3, 2020
With the president’s re-election in doubt, cabinet departments are scrambling to finish dozens of new rules affecting millions of Americans.

Trump’s historic assault on the civil service was four years in the making Lisa Rein, Josh Dawsey and Toluse Olorunnipa Washington Post October 23, 2020

Struggle for control – Staying in power 2020

Peru President is impeached by Congress Anatol Kurmanaev and Mitra Taj New York Times November 9, 2020

Two West African presidents are out of terms. They’re running again, anyway. Danielle Paquette Washington Post October 16, 2020

Democracy Report 2020: Autocratization surges, resistance grows

Cover of Democracy Report 2020. Credit: V-Dem

The V-Dem Institute, an independent research institute based at the Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has released its 2020 Democracy Report.

Main findings include:

  • Autocratization – the decline of democratic traits – accelerates in the world: for the first time since 2001, autocracies are in the majority: 92 countries – home to 54% of the global population. Almost 35% of the world’s population live in autocratizing nations – 2.6 billion people.
  • EU has its first non-democracy as a member: Hungary is now classed as an electoral authoritarian regime.
  • Major G20 nations and all regions of the world are part of the “third wave of autocratization.” Autocratization is affecting Brazil, India, the United States of America, and Turkey, which are major economies with sizeable populations, exercising substantial global military, economic, and political influence. Latin America is back to a level last recorded in the early 1990s while Eastern Europe and Central Asia are at post-Soviet Union lows. India is on the verge of losing its status as a democracy due to the severely shrinking of space for the media, civil society, and the opposition under Prime Minister Modi’s government.
  • Attacks on freedom of expression and the media intensify across the world, and the quality of elections begins to deteriorate. Attacks on freedom of expression and media freedom are now affecting 31 countries, compared to 19 two years ago. The Clean Elections Index fell significantly in 16 nations while improving in only twelve. Media censorship and the repression of civil society have intensified in a record 37 countries – eleven more than the 26 states currently affected by severe autocratization. Since these indicators are typically the first to move in a gradual process of autocratization, this development is an early warning signal for what might be yet to come.
  • Pro-democracy resistance grows from 27% in 2009 to 44% in 2019 amidst the autocratization surge. During 2019, citizens in 29 democracies mobilized against autocratization, such as in Bolivia, Poland, and Malawi. Citizens staged mass protests in 34 autocracies, among them Algeria, Hong Kong, and Sudan. 
  • New V-Dem indicators on Civic and Academic Space show that autocratization taints the whole society. Academic freedom has registered a conspicuous average decline of 13% in autocratizing countries over the last 10 years. The right to peaceful assembly and protest has declined by 14% on average in autocratizing countries. Toxic polarization, pro-autocracy mass protests, and political violence rise in many autocratizing countries, such as in Brazil and Poland.

Access the full report here