The Nine Circles of Hell! for Friday: Abusing Workers, Women and the World Nine Circles of Hell!

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Bangladesh garment factory collapse death toll passes 1,000.
The Associated Press reports, “The death toll from a garment factory building that collapsed more than two weeks ago outside the Bangladeshi capital soared past 1,000 on Friday, while the list of the dead from a fresh fire at a sweater manufacturer showed the entanglement of the industry and top Bangladeshi officials.
“Officials said 1,034 bodies have been recovered from the rubble of the fallen factory building as of Friday morning. There was no sign of where the toll might finally settle as more bodies were being found, but it is already the world’s deadliest garment industry disaster and one of the worst industrial accidents.
“The disaster has raised alarm about the often deadly working conditions in Bangladesh’s $20 billion garment industry, which provides clothing for major retailers around the globe.
“Unlike the collapse at the Rana Plaza building, which was blamed on shoddy construction and disregard for safety regulations, the fire at the Tung Hai Sweater factory appeared to have conformed to building codes. A top fire official said the deaths in Wednesday night’s fire — including a senior police officer, a Bangladeshi politician and a top clothing industry official — were caused by panic and bad luck.”
The AP continues, “The dead included the factory’s managing director, Mahbubur Rahman, who was also on the board of directors of the powerful Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. Along with him was senior police official Z.A. Morshed and Sohel Mostafa Swapan, head of a local branch of the ruling party’s youth league.
“Independent TV, a local station, reported that Rahman had plans to contest next year’s parliamentary elections as a candidate for the ruling party and had been meeting friends to discuss his future when the fire broke out.”
The AP also has Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus writing that the tragedy was a “symbol of our failure as a nation.
“The crack in Rana Plaza that caused the collapse of the building has only shown us that if we don’t face up to the cracks in our state systems, we as a nation will get lost in the debris of the collapse.”
The News International has an update on yesterday’s fire telling us, “Death toll from LDA Plaza fire rose to 14 as three more bodies were recovered from the building on Friday, Geo News reported.”
The New York Times does have some good news, however.
“In a startling development, a woman trapped for 17 days beneath the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building was discovered alive on Friday and then rushed to a nearby military hospital after rescuers pulled her free.
“The woman, whose name is Reshma, had apparently been in the basement of the collapsed building, though her location is not yet definitively known. Rescuers, speaking on live national television from the wreckage site, said they were clearing debris on Friday afternoon when they saw a pipe moving. It turned out to be Reshma, shaking the pipe from below, trying to gain attention.”
The Times adds,”The stunning discovery of a survivor transformed what had been an especially gloomy day in the recovery effort, as the death toll pushed past 1,000 victims. Five clothing factories operated inside the Rana Plaza building and more than 3,000 people were believed to be working when the structure collapsed on the morning of April 24. It is now considered the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry.”
Sure, but what does this have to do with the far more important Cleveland abduction or Boston Marathon bombing?

Desperate Syrian refugees sell daughters for marriage.
BBC News writes, “Before the war began, Kazal was in love with her neighbour in Homs. ‘He was 20 years old and I dreamed of marrying him one day,’ she says. ‘I never thought I would marry someone I didn’t love, but my family and I have been through some hard times since coming to Amman.’
“Kazal says she is 18 but looks much younger. She has just got divorced from a 50-year-old man from Saudi Arabia who paid her family about US $3,100 (UK £2,000) to marry her. The marriage lasted one week.”
Kazal says, “I lived with my husband in Amman, but we weren’t happily married. He treated me like a servant, and didn’t respect me as a wife. He was very strict with me. I’m happy that we’re divorced…
“I agreed to it so I could help my family. When I got engaged I cried a lot. I won’t get married for money again. In the future I hope to marry a Syrian boy who’s my own age.”
BBC adds, “Andrew Harper, the Representative of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Jordan, is concerned that some of the 500,000 Syrian refugees in the country are increasingly turning to such desperate measures.”
Harper says, “We don’t have enough resources to give aid to all those who need it. The vast majority of refugees are women and children. Many of them are not used to going out to work, so survival sex becomes an option…
“I can’t think of anything more disgusting than people targeting refugee women… You can call it rape, you can call it prostitution, you can call it what you want but it’s preying on the weakest.
“The government and people of Jordan are doing what they can but people are poor and we have to get more resources into the community so families aren’t forced into something that deep down I believe they don’t want to do.”
BBC continues, “Um Mazed is a 28-year-old Syrian refugee from Homs who has started earning money by arranging marriages between Syrian girls and Arab men.
“In a grubby room covered with mould, she fields phone calls from prospective brides and grooms.”
Um Mazed says, “The men are usually between 50 and 80, and they ask for girls who have white skin and blue or green eyes. They want them very young, no older than 16.”
BBC explains, “She says she has presented more than a hundred Syrian girls to these men, who pay her a fee of US $70 for an introduction, and about US $310 if it results in a marriage.”
BBC ends with an Um Mazed quote: “If these marriages end in divorce after a short time, that’s not my issue, I’m just the matchmaker. As far as I’m concerned it’s not prostitution because there’s a contract between the groom and bride.
“How are we supposed to live when the NGOs give us so little help? How are we supposed to pay our rent? We’re not getting enough help to live decently, that’s why I’m doing this – so my family and I can survive.”
If only the UN had the resources to fight poverty, they could stop these child marriages.
But you know the UN would simply use those resources to continue their dastardly plan of a one-world government, right?

Bombs have rocked Benghazi.
Reuters observes, “A bomb exploded outside a police station in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi in the early hours of Friday, damaging the building and shattering the windows of a school opposite but causing no injuries, a police official said.
“Around the same time, about 4 a.m., a second police station was hit by a smaller explosive device that may have been a grenade, a witness said. No injuries were reported there either.
“Police stations have been struck with explosives at least four times in the past month in Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya.”
Wanna bet this is completely ignored on the nightly news in favor of political hearings on the Benghazi consulate attack?
I didn’t think so.
After all, the two major political parties determine the news in the US. All they have to do is disagree about something and it’s news.

Nigerian cops’ wives protest husbands being killed in ambush.
According to Daily Trust, “Dozens of widows of slain policemen, in company of other relatives and neighbours, yesterday stormed Akwanga-Lafia Federal Highway in Akwanga and held traffic for hours in protest against the killing of their husbands during a planned raid on a shrine in Alakyo at the outskirts of Lafia, capital of Nasarawa State.
“The policemen and operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) as well as men and officers of the Nigeria Civil Defence Corps were ambushed and killed last Tuesday by members of Ombatse, an Eggon traditional religion in Nasarawa State.”
Daily Trust adds, “The incident lasted till 5pm when the Acting Area Commander of Akwanga, Paulinus Attah, drove there and appealed to them to leave the road.
“State police commissioner Abayomi Akeremale confirmed that 30 security men were killed, although unconfirmed sources put the death toll to about 90.”
Police spokesman for the state DSP Michael Ada said, “They are protesting the killing of their husbands.
“The CP directed the area commander in Akwanga to go there and to appeal to them to open up the road for traffic to flow. So they have opened the road.”
Daily Trust says, “‘We want our husbands, we want our husbands,’ was the most popular slogan from the lips of the women, who cried on, as they stationed themselves in the middle of the road, stopping traffic flow.
“The women did not move any objects into the road to block traffic, but their heavy presence on the road stopped the traffic completely, stretching a hold-up of vehicles at both sides of the road, for kilometers.”
Did Daily Trust just call them fat?

Africa’s tax evaders, mining deals, money transfers are “taking food off the table for the poor.”
BBC News informs us, “Tax avoidance, secret mining deals and financial transfers are depriving Africa of the benefits of its resources boom, ex-UN chief Kofi Annan has said.
“Firms that shift profits to lower tax jurisdictions cost Africa $38bn (£25bn) a year, says a report produced by a panel he heads.”
Annan says, “Africa loses twice as much money through these loopholes as it gets from donors.”
BBC continues, “African countries needed to improve governance and the world’s richest nations should help introduce global rules on transparency and taxation, Mr Annan said.
“The report gave the Democratic Republic of Congo as an example, where between 2010 and 2012 five under-priced mining concessions were sold in ‘highly opaque and secretive deals.’
“This cost the country, which the charity Save the Children said earlier this week was the world’s worst place to be a mother, $1.3bn in revenues.
“This figure was equivalent to double DR Congo’s health and education budgets combined, the report said.”
BBC adds,”The report added that many mineral-rich countries needed ‘urgently to review the design of their tax regimes,’ which were designed to attract foreign investment when commodity prices were low.
“It quotes a review in Zambia which found that between 2005 and 2009, 500,000 copper mine workers were paying a higher rate of tax than major multinational mining firms.
“Africa loses more through what it calls ‘illicit outflows’ than it gets in aid and foreign direct investment, it explains.”
Annan says, “We are not getting the revenues we deserve often because of either corrupt practices, transfer pricing, tax evasion and all sorts of activities that deprive us of our due.
“Transparency is a powerful tool.”
Annan also says, “This Africa cannot do alone. The tax evasion, avoidance, secret bank accounts are problems for the world… so we all need to work together particularly the G8, as they meet next month, to work to ensure we have a multilateral solution to this crisis.
“[For richer nations] if a company avoids tax or transfers the money to offshore account what they lose is revenues.
“Here on our continent, it affects the life of women and children – in effect in some situations it is like taking food off the table for the poor.”
Who knew rich countries were taking unfair and immoral advantage of poor nations?

Ultra-Orthodox Jews arrested as ‘Women of the Wall’ are attacked for praying.
The New York Times finds, “Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews flooded the Western Wall early Friday morning, creating a tense standoff with a pluralistic group of women that has for years prayed at the holy site once a month wearing garments traditionally used by men.
“Heeding calls from their rabbis, hundreds of teenage girls crammed into the women’s section in front of the wall before 6:30 a.m., forcing the group known as Women of the Wall to conduct their service farther back, in the plaza, as black-hatted Orthodox men whistled, catcalled, and threw water, candy, a rock and other items at them. But after months in which several women were detained by the police for using the traditional garments, officers on Friday protected them, after a court ruling saying they should be allowed to pray as they wish.
“Instead, three ultra-Orthodox men were arrested and two were detained for questioning for attempting to attack the women, according to a police spokesman, as hundreds of uniformed officers locked hands in cordons to keep the religious throngs away from the pluralistic group of perhaps 100.”
Lesley Sachs, director of Women of the Wall, said, “All this commotion because of a group of women who want to pray to God. We hope that the government won’t succumb to any kinds of threats or bullying and they will let us continue praying. This is part of the social battle. They need to get used to us.”
The Times continues, “The confrontation came as Israel’s government is at work on developing new regulations governing prayer at the site, a remnant of the retaining wall surrounding the ancient Temple Mount and a place revered by Jews around the world. It is part of a broader battle over identity and religion in the public sphere in Israel, where holy sites and rites like marriage, divorce and conversion have for decades been controlled by the ultra-Orthodox minority, known here as Haredim.
“Earlier this week, Israel’s attorney general advised government ministers that they should immediately ban gender segregation on buses, in cemeteries, at health clinics and on the radio. At the same time, the new government coalition that took office this spring has vowed to end widespread draft exemptions for yeshiva students, to overhaul the curriculum of ultrareligious schools, to curtail the subsidies their large families rely on and bring far more Orthodox men into the work force and tax base.”
That’s weird. A country with a state religion is incredibly sexist? Who’d a thunk it?

Half of Chinese men have ‘physically or sexually abused their wives or girlfriends.’
China Daily reveals, “An international survey on domestic violence that interviewed more than 2,000 Chinese found that half of male respondents confessed they have physically or sexually abused their wives or girlfriends.
“James Lang, program coordinator of Partners for Prevention, a regional joint program by four United Nations agencies including the UN Population Fund, said ‘some preliminary findings are shocking.’
“The survey showed that one in two men reported using physical or sexual violence against an intimate partner, one in four reported having raped a woman and one in 25 admitted to having participated in gang rape.”
China Daily continues, “The findings are part of a multi-country comparison study that has interviewed more than 10,000 men and 2,000 women between the ages of 18 and 49 from six Asia-Pacific countries – Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka.
“When asked about why the six countries were selected, Lang said the comparison studies try to reflect geographic and cultural diversity, but the willingness of regional governments for data collection work on the sensitive topic is another reason.”
Hopefully, they’ll do similar studies of other nations. I am sure we will all be ‘shocked’ by the outcome.

Ex-Guatemalan dictator awaits judge’s ruling on genocide charges.
The Guardian tells us, “The former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt has made a last-gasp effort to assert his innocence as judges prepared to rule on the charges of genocide and crimes against humanity that he faces.
“Breaking the silence he has maintained until now in the historic case, the 86-year-old used his closing statement on Thursday to deny claims that he was responsible for the deaths of at least 1,771 Mayan Ixils.
“Prosecutors have alleged that, as head of state and the military for 17 months from 1982, Ríos Montt was complicit in the rape, torture and murder of indigenous civilians carried out by his troops during a counter-insurgency campaign in the heartlands of the leftist guerrilla movement.
“In an hour-long rebuttal, the elderly defendant blamed his field commanders, who he said acted autonomously.”
Montt told the court, “I never authorised, I never signed, I never proposed, I never ordered an attack against any race, against any ethnic group. I never did it, and of everything that has been said here, there has never been any evidence of my participation.”
The Guardian adds, “An estimated 200,000 people died during the 36-year conflict, while 45,000 others “disappeared”. The targeting of the Mayan population – in an attempt to undermine support for the insurgents – was one of the grimmest episodes of the battle for control of the country that finally ended in 1996 with a peace accord.
“The prosecutor Orlando López wrapped up the case against Ríos Montt by summarising the testimonies of almost 100 witnesses: 94 had lost a family member, 83 had suffered arson attacks, 16 were sexually assaulted and seven were tortured. He said forensic experts had examined mass graves that showed many victims, including children, were killed in assassination-style shootings.
“Having presented detailed plans of the chain of command and testimony from former officers, López said Ríos Montt must have had full knowledge of the army operations. He demanded 75 years in prison for the former dictator and his co-defendant, the former intelligence chief José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez.”
Guardian concludes, “A verdict and sentence are expected shortly.”
Does anyone know an online gambling site where I can bet on Montt being found guilty?
Seriously, it’s a lock.

Earth’s carbon dioxide levels hit new high.
The Guardian says, “For the first time in human history, the concentration of climate-warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has passed the milestone level of 400 parts per million (ppm). The last time so much greenhouse gas was in the air was several million years ago, when the Arctic was ice-free, savannah spread across the Sahara desert and sea level was up to 40 metres higher than today.
“These conditions are expected to return in time, with devastating consequences for civilisation, unless emissions of CO2 from the burning of coal, gas and oil are rapidly curtailed. But despite increasingly severe warnings from scientists and a major economic recession, global emissions have continued to soar unchecked.”
Prof Ralph Keeling, who oversees the measurements on a Hawaiian volcano, which were begun by his father in 1958, said, “It is symbolic, a point to pause and think about where we have been and where we are going. It’s like turning 50: it’s a wake up to what has been building up in front of us all along.”
Prof Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which serves as science adviser to the world’s governments, said, “The passing of this milestone is a significant reminder of the rapid rate at which – and the extent to which – we have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. At the beginning of industrialisation the concentration of CO2 was just 280ppm. We must hope that the world crossing this milestone will bring about awareness of the scientific reality of climate change and how human society should deal with the challenge.”
Edward Davey, the UK’s energy and climate change secretary, said, “This isn’t just a symbolic milestone, it’s yet another piece of clear scientific evidence of the effect human activity is having on our planet. I’ve made clear I will not let up on efforts to secure the legally binding deal the world needs by 2015 to avoid the worst effects of climate change.”
Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, said, “We are creating a prehistoric climate in which human societies will face huge and potentially catastrophic risks. Only by urgently reducing global emissions will we be able to avoid the full consequences of turning back the climate clock by 3 million years.”
Tim Lueker, a carbon cycle scientist at Scripps, said, “The 400ppm threshold is a sobering milestone and should serve as a wake up call for all of us to support clean energy technology and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, before it’s too late for our children and grandchildren.”
Prof Bob Watson, former IPCC chair and UK government chief scientific adviser, said, “Passing 400ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is indeed a landmark and the rate of increase is faster than ever and shows no sign of abating due to a lack of political commitment to address the urgent issue of climate change – the world is now most likely committed to an increase in surface temperature of 3C-5C compared to pre-industrial times.”
Luckily, e can dismiss all these quotes as science, remember, is only a theory.

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