Slavery and the Apparel Industry: The good and the bad has come out with a report that ranks companies in the apparel industry in terms of slavery and child labour. The report has graded companies based on “the extent to which a company has traced its suppliers and established systems throughout its supply chain that can enable it to prevent and address modern slavery”. This is a composite score, based on company policies that address issues of slavery in the supply chain, traceability and transparency, monitoring and training, and support for workers’ rights. While there is a ton of detail on the report on their website (, here are some of the findings. Of the following companies that scored a D or an F, many the ones you expect to see on the list:

  • Abercrombie and Fitch (current target of a labour rights violation campaign related to child labour in cotton production)
  • Aeropostale
  • Aramark
  • Armor Holdings
  • Blauer
  • Bob Barker’s
  • Carter’s (current target of a labour rights violation campaign related to child labour in cotton production)
  • Express
  • Forever 21
  • Fruit of the Loom
  • Garan
  • Lacoste
  • Propper
  • Quiksilver
  • Robinson Textiles
  • Rocky
  • Sketchers
  • Spiewak
  • Walmart (current target of a labour rights violation campaign, as always)

Companies that scored an A or a B also include the ones I would expect, like the Fair Trade lines, and also many others that surprised me:

  • Adidas
  • Alta Gracia
  • American Eagle
  • Eileen Fisher
  • Esteem
  • Gap (YET, current target of a labour rights violation campaign related to factory safety)
  • Gildan
  • Good & Fair
  • H&M
  • HAE Now
  • Hanesbrands
  • Indtex
  • Levi’s
  • Maggie’s Organics
  • New Balance
  • Patagonia
  • praNa
  • PUMA
  • Solidarity (Fair Trade line)
  • Timberland
  • Tompkins (Fair Trade line)

So here’s our shopping list: No Walmart, no Abercrombie and Fitch, yes Adidas and Gap.


Poverty, International Aid and Immigration

re-blogged from Open Borders


Post by Michael Carey (occasional blogger for the site, joined May 2013). See:

One of the main justifications for supporting open borders is that it has the potential to alleviate poverty.  But opening borders is not the first thing that comes to mind when people think of poverty reduction measures.  Most people tend to think of international aid programs. Trouble is, international aid isn’t that effective.

For a quick primer, see this report published by the Center for Global Development. The main points include the following:

  • International aid has four main objectives: stimulation of economic growth, strengthening local institutions, immediate humanitarian relief, and economic stabilization after a shock.
  • The evidence accumulated from numerous studies is that there is basically no correlation between international aid and economic growth even though many countries receive over 10% of their gross national income in aid annually.
  • Donors are faced with a significant Principal-Agent problem, which results in a lot of aid ending up in the hands of corrupt officials and useless bureaucrats, or being wasted in some other way.
  • There is some evidence that aid is (slightly) more effective when given to countries with better governance and policies in place, but this does not always correlate with who needs aid the most.

Basically, international aid doesn’t work that well in the long run. Interestingly, this does not mean that we are losing the war on poverty. In fact, according to this article in the economist, the world met the millennium challenge goal of cutting poverty in half between 1990 and 2015 five years early.  So how did it happen?

In a word, China. We are all familiar with the story of China by now. After China adopted meaningful economic reforms in the 1970′s, their economy exploded and millions of people got jobs in new industries making goods that are exported across the world.  What we don’t always take into account is that this massive economic growth depends on a massive level of economic migration.  Chinese cities have over 250 million migrant workers.  Some estimates claim that another 250 million will move to the city by 2025.  China’s migrant population will soon be greater than the entire population of the US.

China has hundreds of millions of internal migrants despite the fact that the government does not allow its citizens to freely move around the country.  Chinese migrant workers live under conditions similar to illegal immigrants in this country.  Millions of migrant worker children are not even allowed to attend school even though China’s leaders know that their urban industries depend on migrant labor.  Migration has been vital to China’s economic growth, but there is massive bureaucratic resistance to granting these migrants basic rights because of the strain it would put on local welfare and education systems.  Sound familiar?  Still, hundreds of millions of rural Chinese have decided it is better for them to live on the margins of an industrialized economy than to risk starvation in a backward agricultural area.

Despite government attempts to prevent it, migration has been a fundamental part of how the world was cut poverty in half.  The explanation is pretty simple. Prior to industrialization, pretty much everyone lives in poverty.  Individuals in agricultural societies don’t produce very much, and they are fairly evenly distributed across the land. Individuals who specialize in a modern economy are very productive but they need to live in close proximity to other people. Thus industrialization goes hand in hand with massive rural-urban migration.

China isn’t the only country that has been transformed by internal migration. 30 percent of India’s population are migrants, as that countries citizens search for better conditionsIn Brazil, the urban population went from 36% to 81% of the total in the second half on the 20th century.  And of course, the United States has experienced several periods of migration that shaped our nation’s history.

When we talk about poverty reduction, migration should be the first word that comes to mind.  Of course, the movements discussed here have been internal.  Internal migration is a bigger factor than international immigration in global poverty reduction because it is easier for people to move around within their own countries (despite restrictions, as in China).  A few countries have both the massive rural populations and dynamic urban production centers that make economy changing rural-urban migration possible.  But many areas of the world are being choked off either because their rural population has nowhere to go or their aging economy lacks an influx of new workers.

The benefit of open borders is that it allows the process of industrialization and poverty reduction to proceed without artificial barriers.  The China miracle could become a comprehensive global solution to poverty.

Genetically modified failures



Don’t believe what you hear from vested interests, rent-a-quote ‘scientists’ and’ bought’ politicians. After nearly 20 years of promises that genetically modified food would revolutionise our world, feed the hungry, boost the yields and therefore the incomes of farmers, and even cure disease, genetically modified crops have never lived up to those promises.

These are the genetically modified failures that big biotech refuses to be accountable for, doesn’t want you to know about and the reasons why we continue to say ‘NO!’ to GMOs.

Failure to deliver
Despite the hype, genetic modification consistently fails to live up to industry claims. Only two GM traits have ever made it to market – herbicide resistance and BT toxin expression. Other promises of genetic modification have failed to materialise.

The much vaunted GM ‘golden rice’ – hailed for a decade as a cure for vitamin A deficiency and night blindness still hasn’t…

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Scientists Discover Bt Toxins Found In Monsanto Crops Damage Red Blood Cells


Studies are showing that Bt toxins found in Monsanto crops are harmful to mammalian blood by damaging red blood cells and more. RBC’s are responsible for delivering oxygen to the body tissues through blood flow.

Bacillus thuringensis (Bt) is a bacterium commonly used as a biological pesticide. It is a microorganism that produces toxic chemicals. It occurs naturally in the environment, and is usually isolated from soil, insects and plant surfaces. Prior to this study, Bt was thought to be toxic only to insects,  but recent studies are proving otherwise.

Dr. Mezzomo and his team of Scientists from the Department of Genetics and Morphology and the Institute of Biological Sciences, at University of Brasilia recently published a study that involved Bacillus thuringensis (Bt toxin) and its effects on mammalian blood. According to the study, the “Cry” toxins that are found in Monsanto’s GMO crops like corn and soy, are much…

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Favorite Charities

Peter Singer’s top 10 recommended charities (from

  1. Against Malaria Foundation. Of those 6.9 million children who die every year of poverty-related illness, 1 million succumb to malaria. AMF provides insecticide-treated bed nets, which only cost $5 apiece.
  2. Schistosomiasis Control Initiative. Protecting a child from worm-based disease for a full year costs around 50 cents. This organization works with governments to make sure it happens.
  3. The Humane League. Invests time, money and energy to reduce animal cruelty and save the lives of animals, focusing on farmed animals.
  4. GiveDirectly. This nonprofit transfers money to poor individuals in Kenya, letting them spend it for food and other basic needs, or on high-return investments.
  5. Oxfam International. This mega aid organization works in a wide range of areas, including disaster relief, education, sanitation and women’s rights.
  6. Proven Impact Fund. Dedicated to data and results, this fund from Innovations for Poverty Action supports interventions with strong evidence of success.
  7. The Fistula Foundation. Fistula is a ghastly injury during childbirth, and it afflicts women living in the poorest areas of the world. This organization provides needed surgery.
  8. The Hunger Project. Encouraging men and women to end their own hunger, this organization assists poor villages for five years, relying on the local workforce to build skills and take over before they leave.
  9. Vegan Outreach. A nonprofit that seeks to expose and end cruelty to animals.
  10. Population Services International. A global health organization that focuses on family planning, a simple service that can improve the health of women and their children.

A few of my favorite charities:

  1. Kiva. An online microfinance organization that directly connects lenders to micro-entrepreneurs around the world.
  2. One Billion Rising. A movement connected to many organizations around the world that aims to end violence against women and girls.
  3. Care. An old non-profit that takes a million different approaches to end poverty.
  4. Growing Power. An urban farm in the inner city of Milwaukee that uses innovative and intensive vertical farming methods to provide fresh, sustainable foods.
  5. Women for Women International. An organization that supports women survivors of war.
  6. Skoll Foundation. A funder of everything new, innovative and socially-oriented.

…Anyone else know of organizations that do amazing work? I’d like to get to 100…so far Peter and I are at 16.

Why we oppose votes for men.

The Blog of Knitted Fog


From the book Are Women People? by Alice Duer Miller, 1915.

Why We Oppose Votes for Men

1. BECAUSE man’s place is the armory.

2. Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.

3. Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up to them.

4. Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms and drums.

5. Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them peculiarly unfit for the task of government.

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