IPS Blog

Waiting for Wendy’s

Don’t eat at Wendy’s this week.

Across the country, people are picketing restaurants, calling corporate offices, and signing petitions against the fast food chain through August 11.

What’s this Week of Action against Wendy’s about? For years, the company has bucked industry trends and refused to cooperate with the Coalition of Immokalee Fair Food Program.

Grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have signed up already too.

StockMonkey.com/Flickr

StockMonkey.com/Flickr

Wendy’s complaint about the Fair Food Program is the proposed wage hike for farm workers — a whopping one cent per pound increase — that participating buyers would pay.

By refusing the pay bump, Wendy’s rejects a code of conduct that would dramatically improve labor conditions for Florida farmworkers. This code would prevent the neo-slavery conditions — forced labor without breaks, and without pay, in the hot sun — that dominate farms in the Sunshine State. The company’s management is also rejecting the complaint registry system, where workers could call out supervisors for breaking that code.

Perhaps most importantly, by snubbing the Fair Food Program, Wendy’s says no to the worker-to-worker education program. This program, which Wendy’s apparently believes to be non-essential, would inform workers of their right to water on the job, to a lunch break in the shade, and to report the all too frequent cases of sexual assault at their workplace.

The Fair Food Program is absolutely necessary to prevent the abuse of farm workers in Florida, a real danger highlighted by the discovery earlier this summer of 275 men, women, and teenagers held as forced laborers in horrifying conditions at a tomato processing factory in Mexico.

The United States government formally abolished slavery in 1865. Wendy’s should do its part to really end this terrible practice in our country.

Kathleen Robin Joyce is a student at Georgetown University and an OtherWords intern at the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords.org

This Week in OtherWords: July 31, 2013

This week in OtherWords, Bob Lord explains why cutting IRS spending is counter-productive and Jill Richardson weighs in on the government’s latest efforts to do something about food safety. Sam Pizzigati is still taking some time off.

Do you want to make sure you don’t miss the latest from OtherWords? Then subscribe to our free weekly newsletter. Do you value our sharp analysis and bold ideas? Please consider making a donation today to keep this valuable service running.

  1. Exploited by Your Tax Dollars / Martha Burk
    The federal government supports more U.S. low wage jobs than McDonald’s and Walmart put together.
  2. The Real IRS Scandal / Bob Lord
    By choking enforcement efforts, IRS budget cuts make the deficit even bigger.
  3. An Opportunity to Work with Iran / Laicie Heeley
    Under President Rouhani, tensions over Iran’s nuclear program could subside.
  4. The Bully Party / Donald Kaul
    This sure isn’t the representative democracy the Founders were after.
  5. Beefing Up Food Safety / Jill Richardson
    The government’s new effort to strengthen its weak inspection system for imported food isn’t going to cover everything we eat from foreign countries.
  6. Steve Cohen, Meet Al Capone / Jim Hightower
    More than 80 years after the big-time mobster got busted for tax evasion, the feds may bar a cocky hedge fund manager from trading for his “failure to supervise.”
  7. Just Follow the Oil / Emily Schwartz Greco and William A. Collins
    Washington’s fuss over Iran has more to do with its natural gas and oil reserves than anything else.
  8. Iran Takes Note of a Non-Proliferation Breakthrough / Khalil Bendib cartoonEmily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords.org

    Iran Takes Note of a Non-Proliferation Breakthrough, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

    Iran Takes Note of a Non-Proliferation Breakthrough, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Reproductive Rights Get Gutted Again

Despite the reproductive rights uprising inspired by Wendy Davis’ heroic filibuster, lame-duck Texas Governor Rick Perry has continued his anti-choice rampage. By signing a contentious measure into law, Perry has made it much more difficult for Texan women — particularly poor and rural women whose ability to travel is limited — to access safe and legal abortions.

Not only does the law ban abortions four weeks earlier than the standard set by Roe v. Wade, it also imposes arbitrary and expensive regulations on clinics, putting all but five of the state’s 42 abortion providers in danger of closing permanently.

Five. In the entire state of Texas, which is roughly the size of Florida, New York, Idaho, South Carolina, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island combined. Home to roughly 13 million women,Texas may soon have only five clinics at which those women can get an abortion.

The new Texas law is bound to ruin — or end — the lives of women whose only crime was being born in Texas.

But conservative Texan state lawmakers aren’t satisfied with the damage they’ve already done. That new law looks like a memo from Planned Parenthood compared with what is effectively a total abortion ban Representative Phil King (R-TX) recently introduced in the Texas House.

This new proposition would ban all abortions, except in the case of immediate medical emergency, after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. That can happen as early as six weeks after fertilization.

Most women don’t even realize they’re pregnant that soon. Doctors often use the detection of a heartbeat to determine the very existence of a pregnancy. King’s House Bill 59 can’t be allowed to become law in Texas. The risk to women, and to their families, is too great.

mirsasha/Flickr

mirsasha/Flickr

The six-week ban has reared its ugly head before — a federal judge thankfully shut the whole thing down before it could go into effect in North Dakota. Judge Daniel Hovland denounced the ban as “an invalid and unconstitutional law,” based on the precedent set by Roe v. Wade. The law is against the anti-choice lobby on this ban. Hopefully, the same will hold true in the Lone Star State.

State Representative Harold Dutton, Jr. proposes an intriguing potential dam against the rising tide of anti-choice legislation. Dutton, a Democrat, introduced the Abortion Law Moratorium Bill, also known as House Bill 45, which presents so-called pro-lifers with a challenge: The state would have its draconian abortion restrictions, but only after it bans the death penalty.

If all life should be protected, the reasoning goes, the state has no business executing prisoners. If Texas is so “pro-life,” then why does it lead the nation in state-sponsored executions, with over 500 of them since 1976? More than half of those 500+ took place under the trigger-happy Perry.

Dutton’s bill isn’t going anywhere — he’s introduced it before with no luck. But the message he’s sending anti-choice legislators brings into sharp relief the cognitive dissonance of the phrase “pro-life,” which can be deadly for some women. And he’s laying bare the hypocrisy of being anti-choice and pro-death penalty.

Kathleen Robin Joyce is a student at Georgetown University and an OtherWords intern at the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords.org

This Week in OtherWords: July 24, 2013

This week in OtherWords, Donald Kaul weighs in on Detroit’s bankruptcy, Jim Hightower explains how McDonald’s wound up drawing attention to its own McWages, and William A. Collins and I question the selective use of the term “terrorist.” There’s much more, even though Sam Pizzigati is taking some time off. Just click on the headlines below to read our commentaries.

Do you want to make sure you don’t miss the latest from OtherWords? Then subscribe to our free weekly newsletter. Do you value our sharp analysis and bold ideas? Please consider making a donation today to keep this valuable service running.

  1. Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation / Colleen Teubner
    We’re the most educated young adults in American history, yet many of us can’t find work.
  2. Actually, It Is About You / Peter Hart
    When the media covers immigration, it leaves immigrants out of the conversation.
  3. Building an Underclass of Workers / Jason Salzman
    Journalists should report on the consequences of immigration reform without citizenship.
  4. Swerving to the Right / Michael B. Keegan
    The Supreme Court systematically favors corporate interests over workers, consumers, and voters.
  5. When Personalized Becomes Predatory / Dana Floberg
    Advertisers set their strategies according to damaging stereotypes.
  6. Depending on the Kindness of Strangers / Donald Kaul
    The only sure result of Detroit’s bankruptcy is that armies of lawyers will make bales of money.
  7. Size Matters / Jill Richardson
    Even food manufacturers often don’t know if nanoparticles are in the food they sell and no one knows if they’re safe to eat.
  8. McFinancial Planning / Jim Hightower
    When McDonald’s attempted to help its underpaid workers stick to a budget, the fast food giant exposed how much the burger chain’s wages fall short of what’s needed to survive in America.
  9. Muslims Aren’t Cornering the Terrorism Market / Emily Schwartz Greco and William A. Collins
    What do you call the people responsible for the disasters in Texas and Bangladesh?
  10. Merger Equality at the Supreme Court / Khalil BendibEmily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords.org

    Merger Equality at the Supreme Court, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

    Merger Equality at the Supreme Court, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Winning the Fight Against Coal Financing

Child in India Tries to Get Water from Flyash-Polluted RiverWhen President Obama made his climate speech at Georgetown University in which he urged an end to almost all public financing of coal, Jim Vallette, former research director of the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network at IPS, dropped me an e-mail and we reflected on how many years it had taken us to get to this point.

The first visit I made to a World Bank-financed coal mine in India in 1996 is still etched in my mind. Traveling for miles by train, bus and then taxi to get to the site, I saw first-hand what our “poverty alleviation” funds were doing. It was a moonscape, black, grey, with nauseating smoke billowing out of perpetual fires, deep underground. A child covered in flyash, was standing next to a black river, desperately trying to get a drink of clean water.

I later learned the wells had all run dry; the coal plant had used it all for its cooling towers. And the river was black with flyash, dumped by the World Bank-financed Talcher coal burner directly into the Nandira River. The only way this child could get a drink of water was to try to dig a hole in the sandy riverbed and hope that would filter out the pollutants.

I came back to Washington in 1996, and Jim and I got fired up to fight the public financing of coal, much of it being done in the name of poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

When we released a series of reports examining public financing of fossil fuels, starting with the World Bank, then on to the EBRD, then, in 1999 on OPIC and Ex-Im, we didn’t know when these banks we had set our sites on would finally be forced out of coal. But we knew it had to come.

That day came on June 25, when we finally heard the following words uttered by President Obama:

“Today, I’m calling for an end of public financing for new coal plants overseas unless they deploy carbon-capture technologies, or there’s no other viable way for the poorest countries to generate electricity. And I urge other countries to join this effort.”

Were these words to be believed? On July 16, the World Bank approved a new energy strategy which would effectively phase out the Bank’s institutional support for coal. The paper “affirms that the World Bank Group will ‘only in rare circumstances’ provide financial support for new greenfield coal power generation projects, such as ‘meeting basic energy needs in countries with no feasible alternatives.’”

Then, on July 18, we got the following news: The US Export-Import Bank had rejected a coal plant in Vietnam. It was the first rejection of a coal burner since Obama’s climate speech of several weeks ago.

This day came too late for that child and others in that community in India, who were forced to drink poisoned water. And I’m not pleased with the caveats Obama placed on his pledge. Nor am I pleased with the possibility that the World Bank, Ex-Im Bank and others may simply switch from coal to gas, especially if that gas is derived from “fracking,” which can be worse for our already unstable climate than coal.

But hopefully, this is the dawn of a new day, when public financing of coal mines and power plants around the world is no longer acceptable. It’s not enough, of course, but after 16 years of persistent pressure from IPS and other groups, our government seems to finally be listening.

This Week in OtherWords: July 17, 2013

This week in OtherWords, Marc Morial, Donald Kaul, and Terrance Heath weigh in on the acquittal of George Zimmerman — the man who killed Trayvon Martin — while Sam Pizzigati and Jill Richardson discuss why Americans live shorter lives than people in other rich countries.

Do you rely on our commentaries and cartoons to make sense of today’s mind-boggling news? Please make a donation on our website or mail a check payable to OtherWords to this address: Institute for Policy Studies; 1112 16th Street NW, Suite 600; Washington, DC 20036. Any amount you can spare will make a big difference.

And if you haven’t already subscribed to our weekly newsletter, please do.

  1. Black Man 101 / Terrance Heath
    Why must we now teach our sons to defer to all potential bigots who come their way?
  2. A Verdict that Condemns the State of Civil Rights in America / Marc Morial
    I want to assure Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, as well as millions of their supporters, that this isn’t over.
  3. Rays of Hope in Egypt / Ahmad Shokr
    The army and the restive millions had different grievances when Morsi was ousted on June 30.
  4. Putting Government Waste on Auto-Pilot / Ryan Alexander
    House Republicans snipped SNAP out of the Farm Bill and rubber-stamped farm subsidies in a stealth operation.
  5. There Ought to Be a Better Law / Donald Kaul
    The Trayvon Martin verdict shows that with “Stand Your Ground” laws, it’s your word against theirs and they’re dead.
  6. What’s Driving America’s Flagging Vital Signs? / Sam Pizzigati
    Inequality is behind the nation’s dismal life expectancy rates.
  7. Eat Well, Walk More, Live Longer / Jill Richardson
    Americans die younger than citizens of most other rich countries.
  8. Exceptionally Mediocre on a Global Scale / Jim Hightower
    America became great through deliberate and determined public investments in the common good, not hocus-pocus exceptionalism.
  9. The Roaring Twenties Are Back / William A. Collins
    The U.S. economy is reverting to the bad old days.
  10. Zimmerman’s Smoking Gun / Khalil Bendib cartoon

Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords.org

Zimmermans Smoking Gun, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Zimmermans Smoking Gun, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

A New and Improved Foreign Policy In Focus

The new Foreign Policy in Focus site

The new Foreign Policy in Focus site

This past week, as many of you have probably noticed, FPIF rolled out a brand-new redesigned website. We’re still in the process of transitioning a few things, but it’s my great pleasure to show you what we’ve done so far.

Foremost of all, we’ve modernized our front page to put FPIF content front and center. We’ve got a stylish new slideshow display to feature more timely articles, but we’ve also left more space to keep newer commentaries up front so they don’t disappear after a few days. And while preserving front-page space for our regular columnists, we’ve also carved out a new section for blog posts, which represent about half of FPIF’s output. The goal is to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Just as importantly, we’ve streamlined our archiving of older pieces, making it easier to browse commentaries and blog posts by subject, region, tags, and author. And if you don’t see what you’re looking for right away, we have a brand new Google-based site search that outperforms our previous search function by a long shot.

I’m also excited to announce that FPIF is now fully compatible with mobile devices, which means our content should be readable and accessible no matter what your screen size.

Our new site design also comes with built-in features designed to enhance social media sharing and search engine results for FPIF articles, which I hope will bring our progressive perspective on global issues to more people than ever.

FPIF has always been at the forefront of foreign policy analysis in the 21st century, connecting writers and activists working to make the United States a more responsible global partner. I’m happy to say we finally have a website that looks the part.

The Search for Snowden and Obscene Assaults on Sovereignty

This piece originally posted in Black Star News.

Bolivian President Evo MoralesApparently the phrase “blood is thicker than water” also compares to the Imperial ties that bind NATO, where the history of European colonial collusion runs thicker than internationalist ethics and treaties.

The recent brushing aside of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and US that endangered the life of Bolivian president Evo Morales, should be an epiphany or at least a reminder to the people of Africa, Asia and Latin America. It demonstrates that only a radical and transcontinental transformation can abolish the vestiges of European colonialism and white supremacy.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is the international treaty that forms the legal basis for diplomatic immunity. But on July 2nd the fore mentioned NATO countries most likely led by the US breached the Convention by colluding to disallow a Bolivian presidential flight into their respective airspace.

This was allegedly based on unfounded suspicion that the flight was transporting US National Security Agency whistleblower, Edward Snowden. President Morales and accompanying Bolivian officials were returning to Bolivia after attending a Forum of Gas Exporting Countries in Russia. Low on fuel due to rerouting caused by denial of passage through the airspace of the European culprit countries, the Bolivian presidential flight had to make an emergency landing in Vienna, Austria.

This is another one of countless and arrogantly racist double standards that the US and its NATO allies have demonstrated since the dawn of colonialism and neo-colonialism. The Convention on Diplomatic Relations is supposed to be the framework governing relations between independent countries. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their functions without fear of coercion or harassment by hosts countries, including free and safe passage via land, sea or air.

Read the full article in Black Star News.

Anti-American Budget Cuts

Families across the country recently celebrated the Fourth of July like they always do: with annual beach trips, barbecues, baseball games, and fireworks. But one of my favorite local traditions was canceled, courtesy of Congress.

Every year on the Fourth, without fail, my family and I would take a trip to Sagamore Hill. Affectionately nicknamed the “Summer White House,” Sagamore Hill was President Teddy Roosevelt’s home on Long Island. Today, it’s a National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service.

Josh Rothman/Flickr

Josh Rothman/Flickr

For me, Sagamore Hill was a magical place that came to life on the Fourth of July. Rough Riders rode their horses. TR look-a-likes strolled across the grounds. Nature trails demanded to be explored. And the great mansion begged visitors to see its curious antiquities.

Not this year. Due to the sequester, this national treasure was forced to reduce its annual budget by $76,000. Independence Day was canceled in 2013.

You know things are bad when the Summer White House can’t afford to stay open on the Fourth of July.

But Sagamore Hill’s event wasn’t the only one canceled. All across the country, communities went without their July Fourth fireworks, traditions, and festivals. Bands were silent. Skies were empty.

Yes, the sequester has had worse effects: School budgets, environmental initiatives, and health services across the nation have been cut. People are losing their jobs. Some children have lost their Head Start slots. Some seniors aren’t getting the meals-on-wheels they used to.

But the cancelation of smaller programs also demands outrage. They may be taken for granted, but they’re the kind of services that build communities.

Colleen Teubner is a student at the George Washington University and an OtherWords intern at the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords.org

This Week in OtherWords: July 10, 2013

This week in OtherWords, we’re highlighting the debate over the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policy, with op-eds by Peter Weiss and James C. Lewis and a cartoon by Khalil Bendib.

If you haven’t already subscribed to our weekly newsletter, please do.

  1. Obama Sharpens His Nuclear Posture / Peter Weiss
    A new Pentagon document indicates that contingent plans for the use of nuclear weapons are being made, with the self-evidently impossible task of minimizing collateral damage.
  2. It Can’t Happen Here / Tiffany Williams
    Au pairs may get an experience they didn’t bargain for when they head for a stint in the United States.
  3. One Step at a Time / Chris Schillig
    The middle ground the Boy Scouts found on gay rights is one that rankles as much as it pleases.
  4. Smaller Arsenals Beat Bigger Ones / James C. Lewis
    Obama is trying to enhance U.S. national security by reducing the threat of nuclear weapons.
  5. Taking Embarrassing to a New Level / Donald Kaul
    Every administration hits rough waters.
  6. Predistribute the Wealth / Sam Pizzigati
    The market has stopped working for working people.
  7. A Deadly Power Surge / Jill Richardson
    Fracking might be profitable, but whether it’s good for anything else is doubtful.
  8. North Carolina Rips More Holes in Its Safety Net / Jim Hightower
    If ignorance is bliss, Governor McCrory must be ecstatic.
  9. Syrian Dead End / Emily Schwartz Greco and William A. Collins
    How can the United States afford to keep proving that it’s bad at bringing peace to conflict-ridden Middle Eastern countries?
  10. Washington Goes AWOL / Khalil Bendib cartoonEmily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords.org

    Washington Goes AWOL, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

    Washington Goes AWOL, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Page 8 of 235« First...678910...203040...Last »