Friday Quick Hits From Around the Globe

North America / Caribbean

A factory in the Dominican Republic is paying a living wage to garment workers making American collegiate apparel.  What a great opportunity for Americans to help support economic justice and worker safety simply by choosing a label when we shop for clothes.

South America

The massive protests in Brazil highlight what might be the only positive attribute of global sporting events for the world’s poor: more media attention.  While the world focuses on Brazil as it deals with its citizens’ demands for better government services, an end to corruption, and indigenous rights, the World Cup and the Olympics loom in the background.  Such events are often touted as opportunities for economic development that might lift the poor out of poverty, but the reality is not so rosy.  In his fantastic book Planet of Slums, author Mike Davis details how major international events like the Olympics often lead to “beautification” efforts that include razing slums and pushing the poor farther out into the periphery of the city, away from the cameras and festivities.  For now, the events pose an opportunity for protesters to garner attention that might not otherwise be so intense.  But that opportunity is closing and once the games begin, it’s likely to be too late.

Middle East

Obama’s decision to arm the rebels was accurately described by New York Times Columnist David Brooks as being enough to make us responsible while not enough to actually make a difference.  Advocates of intervention point out how blatantly hideous the Assad regime is and of course they are right.  But as one Syrian commentator put it this past week, the only thing worse than a brutal dictatorship might be a civil war.  Here’s another excellent take on why arming the rebels is, to put it mildly, a horrible idea.

Africa

Sadly, our final bit of news is fairly tragic.  Edward Chindori-Chininga, a member of the Zimbabwe parliament who had done an incredibly brave job of exposing the manner in which members of President Robert Mugabe’s inner circle were profiting from diamond mining in the country in corrupt and illegal ways, died in a car crash in his home district.  The timing of his death is more than a little suspicious, to say the least.

Here in America, we don’t kill our brave whistle-blowers, we just send them to federal prison to serve sentences longer than those served by some violent criminals.  To paraphrase Gandhi, western civilization: it would be a good idea.Image

(The late Edward Chindori-Chininga)

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