Monthly Archives: January 2012

Human Rights and Environmental Violations: the Case of Apple, Inc.

An audit released by Apple on Frida (Jan. 14, 2012) (pdf) y reveals widespread violations of worker rights and environmental practices by manufacturing partners for the company’s wildly popular iPhone, iPad and other gadgets around the world.  Apple found that 62 percent of the 229 facilities it inspected were not in compliance with the company’s maximum 60-hour work policy; 13 percent did not have adequate protections for juvenile workers; and 32 percent had problems with the management of hazardous waste.

One supplier was caught dumping wastewater at a nearby farm. Another had a total lack of safety measures, creating “unsafe working conditions,” the report found. Five facilities employed underage workers.  In conjunction with the list of violations, Apple on Friday also released a list of its global suppliers for the first time in an effort to provide more transparency about where the materials for its products are sourced and how the products are put together. The list of 156 companies includes such household names as Intel, Samsung and Sony as well as smaller suppliers in China, Malaysia and Singapore.

The company in the past had refused to divulge its full supplier list even as it became standard practice for multinational corporations to do so after the public outcry in the 1990s over labor problems at Nike factories in developing countries. Apple’s change of heart follows a highly publicized string of factory worker suicides in 2010 and deadly explosions in two Chinese factories in 2011….

Mike Daisey, a critic who has drawn attention to labor problems at Apple factories, said the report was “heartening” but does not go nearly far enough.  “They list the violations and there’s a list of suppliers,” he said, “but the report doesn’t match the supplier to the violation.” Refusing to name specific companies, he said, is the same as tacitly endorsing the practices. “You still can’t use this to hold anyone accountable.”

Hayley Tsukayama. Apple report reveals labor, environmental violations, Washington Post, Jan. 13, 2012

Underground Nuclear Waste Disposal Facing Problems in South Korea

The Gyeongju nuclear disposal facility in South Korea, which is designed to store 100,000 drums ofmedium nuclear waste in underground caves, was originally planned for completion in June 2010, but had its construction period extended by 30 months in 2009 because of weak bedrock, and has now (Friday, June 13, 2012) been drawn out for another 18 months again because of weak bedrock. A further problem was that, while digging work had been expected to release 300t of groundwater each day, the increasingly wide excavated area was discharging 2,500t of groundwater daily.

Gyeongju Nuclear Safety Alliance issued a statement on the same day (June 13, 2012), saying, “This extension of the disposal facility construction period, following that of 2009, makes it impossible to believe the promise of ‘safe disposal facility construction’ made by the government and the KRMC. The government and the KRMC must immediately cease construction of the facility, which is wasting taxpayers’ money and cannot be guaranteed safe, and apologize to the citizens of Gyeongju and to the Korean public.”

More concerns around nuclear safety in Gyeongju, Hankyoreh, Jan. 14, 2012

More on the Gyeongju site:  In November 2005, after votes in four provincial cities, Kyongju /Gyeonju on the east coast 370 km SE from Seoul was designated as the site. Almost 90% of its voters approved, compared with 67 to 84% in the other contender locations.  It is close to Wolsong. In June 2006 the government announced that the Gyeongju LILW repository would have a number of silos and caverns some 80m below the surface, initially with capacity for 100,000 drums and costing US$ 730 million. Construction started in April 2008. http://world-nuclear.org/info/inf81.html

 

Amazon Rainforest versus the Bureaucracy: who’s to win?

An international fund to protect the Amazon forest launched by Brazil in 2008 has gotten bogged down in red tape and donors are frustrated their $466 million contributions are hardly put to use, a Norwegian official said.  The fund was designed to slow deforestation by stimulating sustainable economic alternatives to cattle ranching and farming, which have destroyed parts of the forests.  So far Brazil has only used $39 million on 23 sustainable growth projects, with another $53 million under contract.

A government official from Norway, the fund’s largest donor, told Reuters in Brasilia that his country is unhappy with Brazil’s slow pace in identifying new projects, which has raised questions about the use of the funds in Brazil, where they are managed by the state-owned National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES).  The source, who asked not to be named, said the funds contracted by the BNDES dropped by half between 2010 and 2011.  This has discouraged other potential donors from committing funds, the source said.

Conservationists say the BNDES has stymied projects with paperwork and endless meetings. Erika Nakazono, who runs a project for a social map of the communities living in the Amazon, said it took 19 months to get approval and somresearchers quit because of the delay. “The bureaucracy is very difficult. At one point I wondered whether all the effort was worth it,” Nakazono said.

The BNDES official heading the bank’s deforestation control department, Mauro Pires, admitted that the fund is not working as well as donors hoped.  “People wanted things done faster and to cover a wider range (of projects),” Pires told Reuters. He said the fund was a pioneering venture and procedures were still being worked out.  “We are working to create projects that go the heart of the deforestation problem,” he said.

By Jeferson Ribeiro, Brazil’s Amazon Fund bogs down, donors frustrated,Reuters, Jan.13, 2012

Fighting Anti-Satellite Weapons, United States

The 16th Space Control Squadron is Air Force Space Command’s first defensive counterspace unit and employs the Rapid Attack, Identification, Detection, and Reporting System (RAIDS), that has the capability to detect an anti-satellite (ASAT)-

Indigenous Peoples as Human Zoo, the human safaris

“Dance,” the policeman instructed. The girls in front of him, naked from the waist up, obeyed. A tourist’s camera panned round to another young woman, also naked and awkwardly holding a bag of grain in front of her. “Dance for me,” the policeman commanded.  The young woman giggled, looked shy and hopped from foot to foot. The camera swung back to the others who clapped, swayed and jumped.

This kind of video is the trophy tourists dream of when they set off into the jungles of the Andaman Islands “on safari”. The beauty of the forest functions merely as a backdrop. The goal of the trip is to seek out the Jarawa, a reclusive tribe only recently contacted, which is taking the first tentative steps towards a relationship with the outside world.  The Jarawa tribe is 403-strong. Its members are trusting, innocent and hugely vulnerable to exploitation, living in a jungle reserve on South Andaman. The islands are a spectacular magnet for tourists, set in the Bay of Bengal and belonging to India.

The role of the police is to protect tribespeople from unwelcome and intrusive outsiders. But on this occasion the officer had accepted a-

One More Reason to Occupy Nigeria: the severe environmental damage

The Nigerian cell of the Anonymous collective has continued its ongoing campaign against government corruption issuing a statement listing its demands.  Sent to the International Business Times on Tuesday via email the statement has since been re-posted on Pastebin – indicating that it is likely authentic.  In it the collective promised to continue mounting its ongoing series of cyber assaults against the Nigerian government should its demands for “justice” and an end to violence against protesters not be met. Specifically Anonymous Nigeria’s demands were six-fold:

“WE DEMAND THAT YOU CUT THE COST OF GOVERNMENT BY 60%

“WE DEMAND THAT YOU ELIMINATE WASTE IN GOVERNMENT

“WE DEMAND THAT YOU TACKLE CORRUPTION AND POLITICAL PATRONAGE

“WE DEMAND THAT YOU REDUCE THE PUMP PRICE OF FUEL TO N65

“WE DEMAND THAT YOU FIND OUT AND PROSECUTE MEMBERS OF THE FUEL CABAL,” read Anonymous’ statement. Later adding the final demand:

“WE DEMAND AN IMMEDIATE END TO THE KILLING OF INNOCENT PROTESTERS”

The statement follows the collective’s unified and ongoing support of all Occupy movements. Though the root cause of the Occupy movement is difficult to discern, the earliest call-to-arms stemmed from a blog post in Adbusters magazine.  Inspired by the Arab Spring and Spain’s Democracia real YA platform, Adbusters called for all like-minded individuals unhappy with the current global political and economic system to march on Wall Street and mount an ongoing sit-in-protest.

The post quickly captured the imagination of several groups, leading to the #occupywallstreet hash-tag trending on Twitter. The movement gained significant mainstream attention outside of Adbusters’ native U.S. base when the Anonymous collective took notice and publicly voiced its support.  Reiterating Adbusters’ post, Anonymous issued the above video on its AnonOps website citing a series of undisclosed actions perpetrated by “corrupt” governments and corporations as its motivation for the sit-in.  Since Adbusters’ and Anonymous’ call-to-arms the Occupy movement has spread to cities across the world, seeing citizens pitch tents in public squares and mount sit-in-protests against the world’s current political and economic systems. In all the campaigns Anonymous has openly voiced its support for the movement, publicising its live video feeds and reporting any incidents of police violence against protesters.

The Nigerian cell of Anonymous has followed this pattern, publicly voicing its support and reporting any incidents of violence against Occupy protesters. The group has already taken credit for identifying the deaths of in-excess of 10 participants in the Occupy Nigeria protest. Ending its statement Anonymous Nigeria promised it would continue its “peaceful” protest – many Anons list identify themselves as pacifists and are hostile to any and all acts of physical violence

Alastair Stevenson, Occupy Nigeria: Anonymous Demand End to Government Corruption, Jan. 11, 2012