Sunday, September 30, 2012


The punishment must fit the crime
The punishment must accommodate the criminal

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Good philosophers, like eagles,
Fly alone
And not in flocks.
I believe in freedom of religion - 
As long as the practices of that religion
Do no harm or injury to anyone -
Human or animal.
I believe in capital punishment -
For premeditated murder,
And for physical or sexual abuse -
Especially of children.
I believe castration
Is the right punishment for rape -
Especially the rape of children.
That rapist will not rape again.
I believe -
That each case must be judged
So as to consider ALL the facts,
Not just "admissible evidence."
I believe that trials and evidence
Must be open to the public,
Without delay,
Not someday,
When damage cannot be reversed.
I believe there are cases of
"Justifiable homicide",
And care must be given in judging.
Criminals must not be excused
For their crimes under the guise of
"Temporary insanity", or age.
I believe we must hold
Police, lawyers, judges and politicians
Accountable to the People
For their actions,
And their deliberate or negligent failure
To act justly.
Anyone can make mistakes,
But I am not speaking here
Of mistakes:
I am speaking of evil, greed, malice,
Complicity, corruption and irresponsibility.
Those who hold lives in their hands
Must not be allowed to use their power
To harm the innocent,
Using excuses
Like "national security," for example.
I believe that torture
May be justified -
When there is clear evidence that
Lives are in real danger.
But I also believe that anyone who
Abuses the innocent,
Using laws
For personal or corporate gain,
Should suffer severe consequences.
I mean "severe", not just monetary.
I am devoted to Justice for everyone,
Human and animal,
And for the Earth,
Our only home.
The punishment must fit the crime !


It is not so much out of any love for Jewish people that the Republicans support Israel. It is because of the belief of many Evangelical Christians that Jesus will not return to Earth (The Second Coming) until all the Jews of the world go home to the Holy Land.
How do I know this?

During the 1990's in particular, I spent a great deal of time studying the bible and attending bible studies and seminars and prayer sessions at different churches with Anglicans, Catholics, Pentecostals and Evangelicals.
On one such occasion, the subject of the seminar was the return of the Jews to Israel.
I was pressed about why I insisted on staying in Canada when the return of Christ was dependent on all the Jews going "home".
I told my Evangelical friends that my family had lived in Canada for almost a hundred years. Canada was our home and I wasn't going anywhere.
I was accused of delaying the return of Christ.
I must note here that I let my "friends" know that I had no intention of moving to Israel, and I walked out, never to return to their fold.
Now, if that was an isolated incident, check out the New Testament (see one excerpt below) from whence my Evangelical friends gather ideas about sending all the Jews of the world "home" to Israel.
No, it is not out of any love for Jewish people that the Republicans support Israel. It is because they think the Jews of the world should get out of Canada, the United States, England, France, Australia and any other country where they have lived for hundreds of years.
Thus, the Republicans would never support a Jewish person for the presidency of the United States. According to these Christians, we are not supposed to be here.

In Luke 21, the restoration of Israel and their capital city are linked to a last generation that will expire immediately prior to the Second Coming of Christ: "Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke 21:24).

At the end of the times of Gentiles, Israel and Jerusalem will be restored as a prelude to a world-wide period of tribulation which will culminate in the Second Coming of Christ: "

And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the starts; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.

Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near. And He spoke to them a parable: Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near.

So you, likewise, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things are fulfilled" (Luke 21:25:32).


Tuesday, September 25, 2012


September 25, 2012
I have seen several posts lately which bring up this nonsensical argument that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen. This article explains exactly why that ridiculous argument should be laid to rest...that is, even if the President was not born in Hawaii (which he was), his mother was an American citizen and under U.S. law it would not matter where he was born, he would be a "natural born U.S. citizen" for that reason alone. Please try to remember that if you don't have the FACTS check them out through independent sources before believing the sublimely ridiculous posts on Facebook or anywhere else.
Phyllis Carter   


The object of the Republicans is to destroy President Obama's reputation. They have no other way of riling up the bigots who might support them. It takes attention away from who the Republicans actually are and what they intend to do if they win.
You see, the only people who would actually gain by a Republican regime are the filthy rich. Since there are not that many filthy rich voters, to get enough votes, they have to win over the naive, the bigots and the fools, and to do that, they have to use every dirty trick they can think of.
Lincoln would have a fit. And Jesus? Those Republicans go to church(es) and pretend to love Jesus - Don't tell them that Jesus was a Jew - and not a rich Jew.

Jesus could not run for president under a Republican banner.

Monday, September 24, 2012


For Immediate Release - September 24th 2012 - Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Child Assaulted for Speaking English in Public

OQLA Calls for Federal Government Protection for Minority Language Rights after Recent Incidents

We have recently witnessed an escalation in language-based discrimination that has steadily resurfaced, prior to and after the election of the Parti Québécois (PQ) earlier this month, directed towards Montrealers speaking English.

We have seen videos of several incidents of verbal harassment,even in front of McGill University. Now we see something new. On the evening of Sept 22nd, around 9pm, Mr. G., aged 17, was walking around the block with his cousins in St-Leonard, Montreal. When he and his four cousins turned the corner, they came face to face with a young adult male holding a mobile phone who stated to them 'what are you looking at, you're not allowed to speak English here' (qu'est que tu regardes, t'as pas le droit de parler en anglais icite) forcing himself onto them.
Mr. G. ignored the statement, pushed the man away so they could continue walking, then the man proceeded to assault G. with two punches to his face – all this for simply speaking with his cousins in English. Although they were in a group, the male proceeded to reach into his pocket for something; so the group fled the scene to avoid a confrontation.

Mr. G. was brought home and his mother immediately called the ambulance and filed a report with the police (Reference number: 42-120923-017, Constable on Patrol: Flores). The perpetrator has neither been caught nor arrested, but a full description was given to the officer from Station 42 of the Montreal Police.

Photos below are of the victim's eye after the incident:

Five days prior to this incident, Mr. G.'s mother - a member of the advocacy group Quebec Office of the English Language - met with prominent political figures on behalf of the Office, received a threat. The mysterious caller said, "Stop what you are doing or else."

The Criminal Code of Canada states that hate crime occurs through acts that intimidate, harm or terrify not only a person, but an entire group of people to which the victim belongs. The hate crime provisions of the Code are meant to protect victims who are targeted for who they are, and simply because they are members of a particular ethnic, linguistic, religious, or cultural group.

"Any abuses toward any individual based on ethnic, linguistic, religious, or cultural group are in violation of the U.N. Human Rights Article 19 concerning freedom of expression and article 27, the denial of minority rights." Stated Hugo Shebbeare spokesman of the Quebec office of the English language

Shebbeare continued, "We, as Canadian citizens, having been the victims of decades of marginalization and nullification on the question of language, now call upon the Federal Government to bring to bear the full measure of its powers, through the Federal Department of Justice, to protect the Civil and Charter Rights of one and half million non-francophone Canadian citizens residing in Quebec. "

Hugo Shebbeare

Spokesperson - Porte parole

Quebec Office of the English Language
Office québécois de la langue anglaise

-- 30 --

The OQLA is a non-profit organization made up of volunteers who are concerned about methodical undoing of minority language rights in Quebec. Our primary objectives are to preserve and promote the English language within the province, to ensure that the English language does not become extinct in Quebec, and to make sure that companies provide bilingual signage in accordance with the language laws of Quebec. As mentioned in a previous Press Release, our organization strongly opposes violence.

For questions and interviews regarding the assault please contact Antoinette Mercurio

Sunday, September 23, 2012



Clinton on Qaddafi: "We came, we saw, he died"

By Corbett B. Daly

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sits down for six consecutive television interviews in Kabul, Afghanistan October 20, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared a laugh with a television news reporter moments after hearing deposed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi had been killed.

"We came, we saw, he died," she joked when told of news reports of Qaddafi's death by an aide in between formal interviews.

Clinton was in Tripoli earlier this week for talks with leaders of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC).

The reporter asked if Qaddafi's death had anything to do with her surprise visit to show support for the Libyan people.

"No," she replied, before rolling her eyes and saying "I'm sure it did" with a chuckle.

That was stupid !  Impulsive.  Irresponsible.

Don't let Hillary Clinton near the Atomic Bomb button.



September 22, 2012
JEFFREY BROWN: The bloodshed in Pakistan today marked a new spike in anti-American violence.
Gunfire and arson raged in city after city. And the death toll of at least 19 was the worst single-day count since an anti-Islamic video surfaced.
MOHAMMAD ARSHAD, Pakistan (through translator):
We want to show the world that Muslims are one and united on this issue.
We are all ready to die for the Prophet Mohammed.
We have left our family to join the protest and will remain here until the protest is over.
JEFFREY BROWN: But things quickly turned violent, as crowds burned cars, theaters and a bank, and some opened fire on police. At least a dozen people were killed, including three officers.
There were more deaths in Peshawar, to the northwest, where rioters set fires, and police fired back with tear gas and live rounds. And in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, police battled hundreds of protesters to keep them away from the U.S. Embassy.
Protests were largely peaceful in Indonesia, Egypt, Iraq, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, but no less anti-American, with crowds burning flags and effigies of President Obama.
In Washington, U.S. officials kept a close eye on events, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with the Pakistani foreign minister.
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: I want to thank the government of Pakistan for their efforts to protect our embassy in Islamabad and consulates in Lahore, Peshawar, and Karachi.
And I want to be clear. As I have said on numerous occasions, the violence we have seen cannot be tolerated. Of course, there is provocation, and we have certainly made clear that we do not in any way support provocation.
JEFFREY BROWN: That provocation took the form of an online trailer for a film made by a California man mocking the Prophet Mohammed.
New fuel was added this week when a French satirical magazine published crude cartoons of Mohammed.
Hoping to ease the tensions, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad began airing an ad on Pakistani television yesterday with clips of Secretary Clinton and President Obama.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.
JEFFREY BROWN: Pakistan's relations with the U.S. had already been tense over American drone attacks in Pakistani territory and the SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.
After her Washington meeting today, the Pakistani foreign minister avoided directly criticizing the riots in her country. But she did voice gratitude for the U.S. response to the video.
HINA RABBANI KHAR, Pakistani foreign minister: Your condemnation has given a strong message that the United States government not only condemns it, but has absolutely no support to such blasphemous videos or content anywhere. I think that is an important message. And that message should go a long way in ending the violence on many streets in the world.
JEFFREY BROWN: But, in Iran, at a military parade, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the U.S. and others of promoting strife under the guise of protecting civil liberties.
PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, Iran (through translator): They are seeking to trigger ethnic and religious conflicts. They chant fake slogans of freedom, and claim commitment to freedom of thought and freedom of speech.
JEFFREY BROWN: And back in Pakistan, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf called for the world to outlaw blasphemy.
PRIME MINISTER RAJA PERVEZ ASHRAF, Pakistan: We are demanding that the United Nations and other international organizations seek a law that bans such hate speech aimed at fomenting hatred and sowing the seeds of discord through such falsehood.
JEFFREY BROWN: In the meantime, Pakistan shut down YouTube access after the website refused to remove the anti-Islamic video. And in France, authorities banned all protests for the day in a bid to prevent violence.
And in another development today, some 30,000 Libyans marched in Benghazi in a demonstration against Islamic extremists. The crowds mourned the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens last week and demanded that a large militant group, Ansar al-Sharia, disband. They also called for Libya's interim government to improve security.
This man says, "We are all ready to die for the prophet Mohammed."
There are an estimated one billion plus Muslim people in the world. If this man is right, that would mean more than a billion graves.
And an infidel would have to bury the last Muslim.

2.2 Billion: World's Muslim Population Doubles

REUTERS/ Mohamed Azakir
REUTERS/ Mohamed Azakir
Sunni Muslim supporters of Lebanon's former prime minister Saad al-Hariri wave flags during what they call "a day of anger" in Tripoli, northern Lebanon January 25, 2011
By 2030 the global population is set to reach over 8 billion and 26.4% of that population will be Muslim.
A report by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life titled "The Future of the Global Muslim Population" projects that the number of Muslims in the world is set to double from 1.1 billion in 1990 to 2.2 billion in 2030.
While these are impressive numbers, it actually indicates that the worldwide growth of Islam is "growing but slowing" as it will drop from a growth rate of 1.7% between 2010 and 2020 to 1.4% between 2020 and 2030.
Pew project that Pakistan is set to overtake Indonesia as the country with the world's largest number of Muslim's as it's Muslim majority population pushes to over 256 million. The number in the U.S. will double to over 6.2 million while Afghanistan's Muslim population is set to rise by almost 74% as the number rises from 29 million to 50 million, making it the country with the ninth largest Muslim population in the world.
Better living conditions combined with increased life-expectancy in Muslim majority countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa, net migration and global population growth are given as the main factors driving the growth. Despite the projection, Muslims will remain a relatively small minority in the Americas and European countries and the Christian majority in these countries is expected to be just as impressive.
While Islam has experienced rapid growth in worshipers of all denominations, it is likely that it will not overtake Christianity as the most dominant world religion as the number of Christians is expected to also reach 2.2 billion by 2030. Between them, these two major world religions will make up over half of the Global population at almost 33 per cent by 2030.
(More on Colorful Religious Festivals.)
"There has been a lot of speculation about the growth of the Muslim population around the world, and many of those who speculate don't have good data," said Brian Grim, a senior researcher at the Pew Forum. "Instead of a runaway train, it's trending with the general global population."
"This will provide a garbage filter for hysterical claims people make about the size and growth of the Muslim population," Philip Jenkins, a religious history scholar in Christianity and Islam told the Washington Post.
Certainly with the world population set to reach 8.3 billion by 2030 the explosive growth of world religions is just as impressive. (Via CNN.)


Hazing is demeaning
Hazing is violence
Hazing is sadistic
Hazing is masochistic
Hazing is humiliating
Hazing is dangerous
Hazing is abuse.
 There is nothing decent about hazing
There is nothing dignified about hazing
There is nothing noble about hazing
There is nothing elegant about hazing
There is nothing enriching about hazing
There is nothing edifying about hazing.
Hazing should be a felony
But who cares ?

Saturday, September 22, 2012


PQ blasted for closing nuclear reactor

Interim Liberal leader Jean-Marc Fournier says the Parti Québécois's failure to hold a dialogue on the future of the Gentilly-2 nuclear reactor evinces the governing party's dogmatism.
Interim Liberal leader Jean-Marc Fournier says the Parti Québécois's failure to hold a dialogue on the future of the Gentilly-2 nuclear reactor evinces the governing party's dogmatism. (Clement Allard/Canadian Press)

Hydro-Québec employees were expecting the Gentilly-2 reactor to be closed because it was a plank of the PQ's recent election platform, said their union's vice-president, Ginette Paul. But they didn't think it would happen so fast.

The Parti Québécois announced on Sept. 11 that it would shut down the nuclear plant, located in the Mauricie region across the St. Lawrence River from Trois-Rivières. That was a week after it unseated the Liberals in the provincial election, and still eight days before party leader Pauline Marois and her cabinet were sworn in as ministers.

Hydro-Québec runs the Gentilly-2 nuclear power plant near Trois-Rivières.Hydro-Québec runs the Gentilly-2 nuclear power plant near Trois-Rivières. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

"During the election campaign, Ms. Marois promised a consultation with the unions and the region's economic entities before making a decision," said Paul, of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Interim opposition leader Jean-Marc Fournier said the move to scrub the reactor without first having some kind of dialogue with local authorities shows the PQ's dogmatism.

"You have to be able to meet people and enter into dialogue with them. It's not just 'my way or the highway' in Quebec. There's people in Trois-Rivières, in the Mauricie, who expect respect from the government

François Legault, leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec party, concurred, saying Marois has shown a tendency to make decisions without first examining things in depth.

Risk of cost overruns

The former Liberal provincial government decided in 2008 to rebuild Gentilly-2 at a projected cost of about $2 billion, but stopped work after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.

The reactor has been in commercial operation since 1983, and its operating licence runs out at the end of the year. Refurbishing it would extend that by up to 30 years.

But the costs could be much steeper. Only two other Candu-6 nuclear reactors have ever been refurbished. The first, New Brunswick's Point Lepreau generating station, was supposed to take 18 months but suffered three years of delays and more than $1 billion in cost overruns, and still isn't back online.

Still, Michel Bibeault, the union's Quebec director and a former Hydro-Québec employee, said that financial considerations aside, it would be safer to keep the plant running than to shutter it.

"Every day our members take care of security for 15,000 spent uranium fuel rods," Bibeault said. "What's going to happen if we close the reactor? Are you going to put three or four Pinkerton agents and a chain-link fence?"

The union says Quebec doesn't have the technology to safely shut down Gentilly-2. It would first have to develop expertise and spend time planning how to decommission the reactor.

But Yves-François Blanchet, Quebec's minister for the Mauricie, said the government has made up its mind and the region needs to look to the future and work toward economic diversification.

The vast majority of Quebec's electricity, nearly 95 per cent, comes from hydro power. Gentilly-2 has an output of 635 megawatts — about 1.5 per cent of Quebec's total capacity — and generates around three per cent of the province's electricity.

Posted: Sep 22, 2012


Thursday, September 20, 2012


by John Sifton  

Americans love shrimp, there's no doubt about it. Per capita consumption in the United States stands at about four pounds a year, the country's most consumed seafood. The popularity stems from multiple qualities: its durability when frozen, ease of cooking, and culinary versatility, articulated famously by Bubba in the movie Forrest Gump: "pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp."

Shrimp is also very easy to farm. Although there was a time when most shrimp consumed in the United States was caught by shrimpers working the coast of Louisiana, today most of it comes from aquaculture farms in Asia. According to the USDA, the leading country of origin is now Thailand, and the United States is Thailand's largest export market.

But the American appetite for shrimp now poses challenges for U.S. companies that import it.

In April, a strike broke out at a seafood processing factory in Thailand's southern province of Songkhla, where thousands of Burmese and Cambodian workers, living in small barracks and working in a nearby factory, process shrimp for export by a Bangkok-based company called Phatthana Seafood Co., Ltd. The proximate cause of the strike appears to have been the company eliminating a daily 20 baht food allowance (about 65 cents) after the Thai government raised the legal minimum wage by over two dollars, to $8.48 a day.

But labor organizers on the ground say that problems at the factory ran far deeper. Among other complaints, some workers said they were provided inadequate toilet facilities and given insufficient bathroom breaks, obliging them at times to relieve themselves in corners of the factory. Far worse, labor organizers say, many of the migrant workers at the Songkhla facility found themselves in conditions amounting to debt bondage. Workers told organizers that many of them paid recruiters excessive placement and transport fees to get the jobs. Managers at the plant took portions of their wages to pay these debts, workers said, as well as various "fees" to the company for accommodation, utilities, and other necessities. Several workers said that before the strike they were promised 26 days of work per month, but often were only given 10 to 14 days of work, going unpaid when the factory was idle.

Some workers were receiving so little pay after deductions that they couldn't afford sufficient food. Before the strike, they were reportedly catching minnows and snails for meals. Despite the legal requirement that workers be enrolled in Thailand's social security system to receive health care, the company failed to sign the workers up, meaning workers had to pay out of pocket for any medical treatment for injuries or sickness.

Workers who wanted to leave found it difficult, organizers say, because their official documents, including work permits, health cards, ID cards, and passports, were reportedly confiscated and held by factory management to prevent workers from running away. New workers were told they would only get their documents back after their debts were paid off—a key criterion used in legal cases to prove human trafficking.

The conflict at the Songkhla facility escalated after management locked the workers out on April 9. Thai police fired gunshots in the air to disperse protesting workers. A few weeks later the workers reached a partial agreement with the company for modest pay increases, and received their passports back. The company agreed to provide additional toilets and pay part of the accommodation costs and debts to recruiters, but not utilities or health care. Some of the workers with smaller debts left. But the pre-existing debt conditions continued for most workers. Many today are still effectively in bondage. The company still deducts fees for lodging and other necessities, and when workers receive their pay stubs, written in Thai, they can't even read explanations of the deductions. And the company has not guaranteed that remaining workers will be enrolled in the official health care system. One company involved in the recruitment of the Cambodian workers—or trafficking, to be more exact—reportedly agreed last May to forgive debts if workers want to return to Cambodia, but in a Catch-22, the workers have to pay an additional fee to do so, and would not be able to try to get jobs with other employers in Thailand.

Local labor organizers are skeptical that even the minor changes made are durable. "I am suspicious that they are making these changes right now only because they are being watched," one labor researcher told us recently (He asked that his name and organization be withheld). "They want to keep their business running and of course protect their name." The concern is that the company will revert to old practices when new workers arrive. As the organizer said: "I am concerned that future workers will be subject to the same debt bondage and passport-taking schemes as before. As attention shifts from the factory, we will see if these changes are permanent, or if the factory only meant these responses to be temporary."

The U.S. labor organization Change to Win has been raising awareness of abuses associated with factories like Phatthana, not just for the sake of workers there but also because one of the U.S. companies supplied by Phatthana is a continuing nemesis for the American labor movement: Walmart.

The scandal in Thailand raises new questions about Walmart's problematic record on labor rights, illustrated in the past by the company being sued in the United States for gender discrimination—a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court—and in more specific and recent cases involving suppliers and contractors. In late June, for instance, right here in the United States, Walmart suspended a seafood supplier in Louisiana over allegations of mistreatment of immigrant workers, similar to those found in Thailand. Just last week, workers at a Walmart contactor warehouse company in California went on strike protesting what they said were dangerous working conditions and retaliation. The situation at Phatthana also raises questions similar to those that have come up in Walmart's recent bribery scandal in Mexico, reported in late April by The New York Times—questions about whether Walmart lives up to its commitments for ethical practices in its foreign operations.

Human Rights Watch wrote to Walmart on April 16 to ask about the Phatthana situation and what steps Walmart had taken to investigate the alleged labor abuses there. We also asked if Walmart had taken steps to ensure that similar abuses are not occurring in other Walmart supplier factories in Thailand. We pointed out that Phatthana's actions appeared to violate provisions in Walmart's "Standards for Suppliers," rules the company demands of all suppliers, including provisions related to compliance with labor laws, guarantees that labor is voluntary, compensation and hours, and freedom of association.

Walmart responded in a letter on April 19, saying: "As soon as we received reports of potential violation of our ethical sourcing policy at Phatthana Seafood, we launched an investigation. We take reports like this very seriously, and we will take appropriate actions based on our findings." The response continued: "Walmart does not tolerate human trafficking. During the factory audits conducted under our ethical sourcing program, personal documentation is checked to ensure work is voluntary, wages are accurately paid and workers are of legal working age." The letter went on to outline Walmart's auditing procedures for suppliers and described the company's procedures, which it said complied with relevant U.S. law. The letter contained generic language extolling Walmart's commitments to ethical sourcing and its auditing of suppliers. But Walmart's response did not address why its auditing appears to have failed in the Phatthana case and how its standards were violated so egregiously. Organizers working in Songkhla say that there were inspection visits by outside auditors at the Phatthana plant, but that inspectors did not take notice of abuses, or did not care.

A few weeks after replying to us, a Walmart "International Corporate Affairs Manager" named Megan Murphy sent local journalists in Cambodia an email on May 10 claiming that Walmart "has never sourced products from Phatthana Seafood." Another Walmart manager, Erica Jones, sent an identical email to a different journalist on May 15.

After the initial April 19 response from Walmart, and taking note of the May responses to journalists, Human Rights Watch wrote back to Walmart again in late May, repeating its earlier questions and adding a few additional queries. Then, quite oddly, Walmart on June 21 sent to Human Rights Watch the same flat message of denial sent to Cambodian journalists, claiming that Walmart had "never" sourced from Phatthana, an argument on its own terms incongruous with the company's initial claim that it was launching an investigation of the "potential violation of our ethical sourcing policy at Phatthana Seafood." Indeed, a Walmart official told one of my colleagues in Bangkok in May that the company was traveling to Phatthana facilities to conduct auditing—why would the company audit a facility that is not a supplier?

There really is no doubt about the Walmart connection. Retail packaging for shrimp sold at Walmart-owned stores, including Sam's Club, show certification codes matching Phatthana; U.S. Customs data compiled by Change to Win show that Walmart is one of Phatthana's largest customers. Individual bills of lading show scores of individual shipments from Phatthana for "Walmart" and "Sam's Club," encompassing tens of thousands of pounds of shrimp over several years. The company also supplies dozens of other U.S.-based companies, providing frozen shrimp for supermarkets and other retailers from Texas to Connecticut. Discussing the company's "Member's Mark" brand of shrimp, the Sam's Club website says that "the farms and production facilities producing shrimp for Member's Mark employ more than 25,000 people in Thailand and India. These are coveted careers providing good wages, career incentives, education opportunities and medical care." (The workers in Songkla would presumably disagree.)

It is possible that Walmart knows that Phatthana is a supplier but won't admit it until it completes an investigation. But it remains to be seen whether investigations will produce any results. One key issue is whether some of the audits were scheduled—an issue that labor groups have raised with Walmart before. As any good investigator knows—whether their subject is human rights, sanitation, or nuclear proliferation—there is no better way to undermine the integrity of a verification program than to notify the operator that you are coming. In the case of factory inspections, it is all too easy for managers to "clean up" the site, intimidate workers not to talk, provide model workers to be interviewed, and conceal whatever underlying problems exist. A Sam's Club website notes that buyers visit "the ponds and packaging facilities in Thailand and India twice each year to conduct a firsthand inspection. As seafood buyer Dan Kallesen says, 'We are always looking at quality, sanitation, and production standards, and we want to make sure that we solidify our partnership with the folks actually handling the shrimp. It is important to let our partners in Asia know that we are committed to their business doing well, and it's great to have the opportunity to say 'thank you' in person.'" It is comic—or, actually, tragic—to imagine a Sam's Club buyer visiting the Songkhla facility, saying "thank you" to a cadre of indentured laborers who are unable to speak openly about their labor woes.

Lack of integrity is a perennial problem with auditing programs, and a key reason why auditing alone is not an adequate solution to labor problems. Only systematic reform of labor laws and government protections can enable enduring protection of workers' rights.

Walmart and other American companies that import from Thailand have a lot to think about. In June, additional reports surfaced of human trafficking onto Thai fishing boats—some of which are believed to supply fish to the processing companies who supply the U.S. market. And another strike broke out in Songkhla in May at a pineapple processing plant—called Vita Foods—which also sends exports to Walmart and other companies in the United States—a strike that has continued through the year. The trigger was compensation cuts, but the underlying issues are the same as with the Phatthana facility: trafficking and debt bondage. Since both strikes involve suppliers to a major U.S. corporation, the U.S. State Department has been increasingly involved. Staff at the embassy began following both situations, and labor and rights personnel at the State Department in Washington are apprised as well.

Back at the Phatthana plant, after the partial agreement with Burmese workers was reached in early May, Phatthana sent a May 11 response to Human Rights Watch, endeavoring, in their words, "to cover your question by giving you factual information and explaining how the story becomes overly complicated from the miscommunication and misunderstanding due to limited translators of the factory" and aiming to "ensure you that there was no use of excessive force by the Company and our workers are willing to continue their employment with the Company and are satisfactory with the compensation benefits after all misunderstanding is rectified."

Contending that Phatthana follows relevant international standards and Thai laws, the letter asserts that the dispute was the result of a "the misunderstanding of the minimum wage implementation," suggesting—quite deceptively—that the recent arrangement with some workers had been company policy all along. The letter did not meaningfully address the underlying claims about debt bondage and trafficking nor the core claim of workers that they were misled to think Phatthana would pay them at higher rates, provide more work, and pay their lodging and other expenses. Nor does the letter offer any explanation as to how several thousand workers—recruited and placed at various times over the last two years—could "misunderstand" their contract terms or the issue of the confiscated passports. Several Cambodian workers have stated the Phatthana employee with whom they communicated about passports was ethnic Khmer and spoke the same language they did.

The letter instead states that Phatthana has "no relationship" with the recruitment company "other than [its] supplying workers to the Company" (a point undercut by a later description of Phatthana working with the recruitment company to settle the labor dispute).

As for allegations of passports held hostage, the letter states that workers provide their documents "voluntarily" so that the company can process them with authorities every 90 days. This is not convincing since passports could easily be collected from the laborers for processing. It is well known in the industry that possession of passports is a sensitive legal issue; any company committed to "following international standards" would avoid the practice. Labor organizers on the ground reported that the company repeatedly resisted requests by workers to return the passports and only did so after the strike broke out. Problems like these are rife through the industry.

Many consumers and labor rights activists, confronted by all of this, might be tempted to embrace an absolutist stance. Don't eat Thai shrimp or fish! Boycott Walmart! Boycotts sometimes work, but they can also cause more harm to the workers who would supposedly be helped. The goal should be to improve labor conditions and to avoid actions that are likely to eliminate seafood-processing jobs in Asia.

A better approach is to pressure Walmart and other companies to use their purchasing power to demand better labor conditions. Walmart is the largest purchaser of shrimp in the U.S. market, and the U.S. market is the largest in the world. Walmart also buys many other processed products from Thailand, such as processed pineapple products. If it were to ensure that its suppliers abide by basic human rights standards, the impact could be profound for workers in Thailand and elsewhere.

There are good reasons for Walmart to take this approach. As a U.S.-based company, it is subject to U.S. import restrictions, including laws concerning trafficking and forced labor, and it has publicly embraced the doctrine of corporate social responsibility (CSR). From a business perspective, solving labor problems on the ground is preferable to foregoing suppliers because of import restrictions or CSR problems.

Public institutional investors like the New York State Pension Fund and California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) are significant shareholders in Walmart, and exercise their shareholder votes to press for good corporate governance, transparency, and fairness. In the fallout to the Mexico bribery scandal, the New York pension fund announced that it would vote against several members of Walmart's board of directors at its next shareholder meeting. CalSTRS soon thereafter brought a shareholder suit against Walmart.

A company like Walmart can play an outsize role in setting standards in labor markets overseas. Walmart already has systems in place to do so. It can vigorously enforce its "Standards for Suppliers." It can follow the "Best Aquaculture Practices," to which it has signed up, created by an industry group called the Global Aquaculture Alliance to address environmental and social responsibility. If these standards were effectively enforced, situations like the strike at the Phatthana facility could be avoided.

But the Phatthana strike isn't just about Walmart and corporate responsibility. The events also cast light on the shortcomings of Thailand's underlying labor rights conditions, and what the U.S. government is doing to address labor rights violations abroad. How the United States deals with workers' rights across Asia—not only in Thailand but Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and even the economic behemoth China—tells us a lot about the commitment of the Obama administration to labor rights generally.

As was widely reported, the Obama administration in 2012 has been undertaking a diplomatic realignment away from the Middle East, the so-called "Asia Pivot," forging closer diplomatic and military cooperation with countries across the Pacific. The administration is also negotiating a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Pacific border countries from Peru to Vietnam; Thailand and Cambodia are among nations that might be brought into the talks in coming months (China has remained conspicuously uninvited to the TPP party).

The U.S. has an opportunity with the TPP to press many less-labor-friendly nations in Asia to sign treaty language obliging them to make improvements in the way their companies treat workers, including highly vulnerable migrant workers. In the past two decades, there have been major improvements in factories in places like Indonesia, Cambodia, and China. Much of this has come as the result of pressure from Western governments and multinational companies, often as the result of bad publicity.

But appalling treatment of workers remains rife across Asia. While stark examples such as Phatthana may push Walmart to do the right thing in the shrimp industry, the Obama administration also needs to lean more on companies and governments to change underlying labor practices. There is no reason why labor ministries can't be given more powers to enforce safety standards, no reason why governments can't push their police to prosecute labor traffickers duping laborers with impossible promises.

The U.S. government can also pressure the home countries of migrant workers, such as Cambodia, to enforce its own laws. Documents provided by Phatthana show that during the Phatthana strike, officials from the Cambodian embassy in Thailand were helping facilitate talks between the workers, Phatthana, and the recruitment company that sent workers to Thailand. In other words, instead of upholding Cambodia's Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation by reporting the serious trafficking allegations made by workers, and helping investigate the implicated companies, Cambodian officials were working with company officials who had violated the law to conclude a labor deal—and one that did little to address underlying violations. State Department officials in Cambodia and Thailand are supposed to be working with Cambodian and Thai officials to help enforce relevant labor laws.

Recommending greater U.S. involvement in fighting trafficking and labor rights abuses is not simply an appeal to altruism or a call for a more moral U.S. foreign policy. In the end, the U.S. government doesn't have a choice in Asia. U.S. laws prohibit imports tainted by trafficking or forced labor. At the same time, Americans' insatiable appetite for Asia's cheaply produced goods and services—for products like Asian shrimp—dictate that U.S. trade policy needs to incorporate labor rights in Asia, with all its problems, into the economic and ethical equations of the day. The situation demands that both Walmart and the United States use their stature, and buying power, to better the lives of the workers who produce the products we consume.

John Sifton is Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

Related Materials:


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Police investigators leave the offices of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in Montreal, Tuesday, September 18, 2012. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)
Police investigators leave the offices of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in Montreal, Tuesday, September 18, 2012. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

A spokesman for the unit said around 10 investigators from the department's Hammer Squad were looking for signs of illegal activity.

The McGill University Health Centre offices in Montreal, where members of Quebec's anti-corruption squad conducted a raid at the premises. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Squad members interviewed witnesses during the operation. There was no word of any immediate arrests.

Richard Fahey, the hospital's public affairs director, said investigators came to the offices at 8 a.m. requesting information related to the awarding of the contract for a new super hospital being built in a public private partnership.

"The MUHC is fully collaborating with the investigators and we do not have any further comment at this stage," he told reporters as he read a brief statement.

Quebec introduced Operation Hammer in late 2009 amid a flurry of corruption allegations that shocked the province.

The squad has been involved in a number of arrests since its inception.


Keystone cops, corrupt courts,
And ridiculous politicians make
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
A paradise for thieves
And criminals of every persuasion.
In Montreal, the police may do to you
What they did to me.
The police I hoped would rescue me - 
Helped the thief instead !


Daughter of Montreal member of Quebec's legislature, Amir Khadr, released on bail on numerous charges

The father of this woman is a Muslim/leftist who regularly boycotts a shoe store in his own riding because they sell Israeli shoes. 
QUEBEC - June 7, 2010 - Pauline Marois, Parti Quebecois leader dares to say,
"It is not acceptable to send this message, that it is possible to have free choice."
Pauline Marois says this without hesitation or shame. The people who are paying her salary don't have the right to free choice! In Canada in the 21st Century! I can just see all the intelligent, wealthy, young and healthy people - English and French - heading for the airport and the highway west. Where have we seen this before?
While citizens struggle to find feed their families, Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper builds wooden gazebos and reflecting pools to amuse political visitors for a few days.
The Harper government to spend 28-million dollars to commemorate the
200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
While people are dying while waiting for medical tests and treatments, cement blocks are falling off buildings in Montreal, streets and bridges are falling apart, libraries are being closed and people are lining up for food hand-outs, Canada's Stephen Harper is about to treat his peers to another big show. For the G-8-G-20, Harper built wooden gazebos and reflecting pools. Now he has a bigger show in mind.
And when the Montreal Police helped criminals to rob a 60 year old cancer patient in her home,
Marlene Jennings, Member of Parliament of Canada and former Quebec Police Ethics Commissioner stated at two public meetings in Montreal in 2008 -
"Mrs. Carter's rights were violated three times."
But everyone says,
"These crimes are not my jurisdiction."
Come One, Come All,
To Montreal !
A Paradise for criminals !
Detailed reports are open to the world at -

It is all about Justice

Now with more than 59,000 readers around the world
And still no justice in Montreal, Quebec,Canada

Sunday, September 16, 2012



She is beautiful,

She is talented
And she is the thief who destroyed my family.
Here Dawn McSweeney reveals her dark side.
I Wish I Had Known I was Beautiful Sooner
Dawn McSweeney

Mostly hidden is

the realization that closing the door on the house I've built

can be an intricate process

especially given my need to



go back and do it again


to ensure that yes,

there really is a monster under that bed.


The knowledge that once you can tear yourself away

from the checking

and the monster

you will be free.


The Liberation cleansing ritual

photo by Will Gurley

that I invented just now in a bathroom mirror,

under 2 out of 3 working lights

that involves in part

using my own fresh tears as warpaint

and praying to myself.


The scars I have given myself over the years

are mostly hidden by laughter,

some necessitate long skirts and anecdotes of ninja attacks

but I assure you,

the truth is not dinner convo

only rare and selective coffee talk

and then still with mostly averted eyes.


I mostly hide the fact that

if I wake up for any reason between the hours of 4 and 8 a.m.

there is a good chance I will be struck by the jolting nauseating panic

of being equally frightened of dying and living

and the certainty that both

will kill me.


And that I wish someone would comfort me back to sleep *


because it's exhausting.


Mostly hidden is the moment you know

your path is changing,

and even if you feel the electricity in the air

the moment of the shift still strikes

like out of season lightening,

and you're filled with white bright knowing

and the smell of your best laid plans



Cosmic aptitude tests find Dawn ideally suited to be a gypsy poet, or your imaginary friend. She's developed a few more marketable skills, thanks to Mother Necessity. Her current (unmarketable) obsessions include lemons, Sharpies and various shades of green. She is a contributor to, thrilled to bits when people read (and preferably enjoy) her words. See what falls out in 140 characters or less @McMoxy.

Editor: Thaddeus Haas

* Perhaps confession might allow her to sleep.


Saturday, September 15, 2012


French, English militia groups butt heads in Quebec

A member of the Quebec Patriotic Militia sets up a shipment of military clothing in their store on Ste-Catherine Street East in Montreal

MONTREAL - French and English extremist groups have been entrenched in Quebec for years but a terrorism expert warns that things could soon turn violent.

Stephane Leman-Langlois, a researcher who specializes in homegrown terrorism, says such radical groups should be taken very seriously.

"There's definitely something brewing there," he warns, adding that the Sept. 4. Parti Quebecois election win could inflame linguistic tensions.

"If you look at the last 30 years of terrorism in Canada, whenever the sovereignist cause or language policies come back into the political arena, extremist groups on both sides endorse for acts of violence."

Police say it's possible that PQ leader and premier-elect Pauline Marois was the intended target of a deadly shooting during her victory speech earlier this month at a Montreal nightclub.

The man who shot and killed a lighting technician shouted "the English are waking up" as he was led away by police.

Richard Henry Bain faces 16 charges including first-degree murder after an arsenal of weapons and explosives was found in an SUV and at his home north of Montreal.

So far there's no indication Bain was a member of an organized extremist group but such groups have made threats against separatists in the past.

Last year a website called the Park Avenue Gazette called for an anti-Bill 101 protest and posted the phrase "hang Marois."

English-rights activist Hugo Shebbeare of the Office of the English Language subsequently received a death threat from the Milice patriotique quebecois (Quebec Patriotic Militia).

The MPQ is headquartered at an army surplus store in east-end Montreal. It has more than 2,000 members across Quebec according to its founder, Serge Provost. Members pay $100 for a uniform and three weapons.

Provost, who has given himself the rank of major, tells QMI Agency that the group's goals are clear.

"Allowing Quebec separatists to be able to train and mount a defense structure for the province of Quebec," he said. "If a gang comes to attack us ... at least we're organized and we know where we're going."

In April, Provost was charged with advising a group of people to commit a crime. He had previously pleaded guilty in 2003 to conspiracy, mischief and possession of an explosive substance.

Provincial police have said they're watching the extremists but the terrorism researcher remains skeptical.

"We're taking this too lightly," said Leman-Langlois. "Our governments have decided that the No. 1 threat is Muslim groups."