Your Daily Dose Of Reality...Starts Now! Voice Of The Majority is a Progressive-Leftist blog covering National and Austin Texas/Travis County politics. WE MUST WORK TOGETHER AND TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK! This Blog Is Protected By The First Amendment........Well, at least for now it is.

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    Joshua Angell, also known as Josh Angell (born June 3, 1979), is an outspoken Liberal activist who has run a news blog since 2004, entitled "Voice Of The Majority" Angell, a frequent caller to radio shows such as Lynn Samuels, is often outspoken on what he calls "the lies of the Bush Crime Family". Known locally in Austin, Texas to appear at rallies and anti-war demonstrations, Angell is self described as "The most famous gay activist in Austin that everybody knows OF but nobody KNOWS".

    Monday, January 31, 2005

    Corpus Christi Radio Station The First To Bring Air America To Texas
    Contact Air America And Urge Them To Bring It To Austin!
    Saturday night at the Premier Party for the Progressive Forum radio show on KBSO 94.7 FM Texas Radio John Kelley, Host and Zee Zepeda, Producer announced that Progressive Media Group and Davila Broadcasting would be bringing Air America to Corpus Christi airwaves on Tuesday, February 8th, 2005 at 6:00 AM. Air America Radio will be aired on KCCT 1150 AM Radio Corpus Christi, the first station in Texas to carry it, joining 46 other stations around the U.S. Air America known as the progressive counterpoint to the Rush Limbaugh Show and his imitators features the Al Franken Show, the Randy Rhodes Show, Morning Sedition with Marc Maron and Mark Riley, the Majority Report with Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder, the Mike Malloy Show, The Revolution Starts Now with Steve Earle and others. The show will air 24 hours a day on KCCT 1150 AM Radio Corpus Christi. Progressive Forum produced by the Progressive Media Group is a local progressive interview and talk show currently on KBSO 94.7 FM Texas Radio at 9:00 AM Saturday Mornings. The Progressive Forum will be simulcast on both stations beginning February 12th.
    For More Information contactThe Progressive Media Group
    Zee Zepeda361--779-4693
    John Kelley361-790-3868 use 361 from a land line
    Davila Broadcasting
    Manuel Davila361-289-0999
    For More Information on Air America go to

    Sunday, January 30, 2005

    Some Questions The Bubba Redneck Righties Need To Answer!
    What if the policies of foreign intervention, entangling alliances,policing the world, nation building, and spreading our values through force are deeply flawed?
    What if it is true that Saddam Hussein never had weapons of mass destruction?
    What if it is true that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were never allies?
    What if it is true that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein did nothing to
    enhance our national security?
    What if our current policy in the Middle East leads to the overthrow of our client oil states in the region?
    What if the American people really knew that more than 20,000 American troops have suffered serious casualties or died in the Iraq war, and 9%of our forces already have been made incapable of returning to battle?
    What if it turns out there are many more guerrilla fighters in Iraq than our government admits? What if there really have been 100,000 civilian Iraqi casualties, as someclaim, and what is an acceptable price for "doing good?"
    What if Rumsfeld is replaced for the wrong reasons, and things become worse under a Defense Secretary who demands more troops and an expansion of the war?
    What if we discover that, when they do vote, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis support Islamic (Sharia) law over western secular law, and want our troops removed?
    What if those who correctly warned of the disaster awaiting us in Iraq are never asked for their opinion of what should be done now?
    What if the only solution for Iraq is to divide the country into three separate regions, recognizing the principle of self-determination while rejecting the artificial boundaries created in 1918 by non-Iraqis?
    What if it turns out radical Muslims don't hate us for our freedoms, but rather for our policies in the Middle East that directly affected Arabsand Muslims?
    What if the invasion and occupation of Iraq actually distracted from pursuing and capturing Osama bin Laden?
    What if we discover that democracy can't be spread with force of arms?
    What if democracy is deeply flawed, and instead we should be talking about liberty, property rights, free markets, the rule of law, localized government, weak centralized government, and self-determination promoted through persuasion, not force?
    What if Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda actually welcomed our invasion and occupation of Arab/Muslim Iraq as proof of their accusations against us, and it served as a magnificent recruiting tool for them?
    What if our policy greatly increased and prolonged our vulnerability to terrorists and guerilla attacks both at home and abroad?
    What if the Pentagon, as reported by its Defense Science Board, actually recognized the dangers of our policy before the invasion, and their warnings were ignored or denied?
    What if the argument that by fighting over there, we won't have to fight here, is wrong, and the opposite is true?
    What if we can never be safer by giving up some of our freedoms?
    What if the principle of pre-emptive war is adopted by Russia, China,Israel, India, Pakistan, and others, "justified" by current U.S. policy?
    What if pre-emptive war and pre-emptive guilt stem from the same flawed
    policy of authoritarianism, though we fail to recognize it?
    What if Pakistan is not a trustworthy ally, and turns on us when conditions deteriorate?
    What if plans are being laid to provoke Syria and/or Iran into actions that would be used to justify a military response and pre-emptive war against them?
    What if our policy of democratization of the Middle East fails, and ends up fueling a Russian-Chinese alliance that we regret - an alliance not achieved even at the height of the Cold War? What if the policy forbidding profiling at our borders and airports is deeply flawed?
    What if presuming the guilt of a suspected terrorist without a trial leads to the total undermining of constitutional protections for American citizens when arrested?
    What if we discover the army is too small to continue policies of pre-emption and nation-building? What if a military draft is the only way to mobilize enough troops? What if the "stop-loss" program is actually an egregious violation of trust and a breach of contract between the government and soldiers?
    Whatif it actually is a backdoor draft, leading to unbridled cynicism and rebellion against a voluntary army and generating support for a draft of both men and women?
    Will lying to troops lead to rebellion and anger toward the political leadership running the war? What if the Pentagon's legal task-force opinion that the President is not bound by international or federal law regarding torture stands unchallenged, and sets a precedent which ultimately harms Americans,while totally disregarding the moral, practical, and legal arguments against such a policy?
    What if the intelligence reform legislation - which gives us bigger, more expensive bureaucracy - doesn't bolster our security, and distracts us from the real problem of revamping our interventionist foreign policy?
    What if we suddenly discover we are the aggressors, and we are losing an unwinnable guerrilla war?
    What if we discover, too late, that we can't afford this war - and that our policies have led to a dollar collapse, rampant inflation, high interest rates, and a severe economic downturn?
    Why have Republicans taken such a liking to Bush and his cronies? Perhaps it is because they, not unlike the President... DO NOT THINK THINGS THROUGH!

    Friday, January 28, 2005

    Third Columnist Caught with Hand in the Bush Till
    By Eric Boehlert
    Michael McManus, conservative author of the syndicated column 'Ethics & Religion,' received $10,000 to promote a marriage initiative. One day after President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to stop hiring commentators to help promote administration initiatives, and one day after the second high-profile conservative pundit was found to be on the federal payroll, a third embarrassing hire has emerged. Salon has confirmed that Michael McManus, a marriage advocate whose syndicated column, 'Ethics & Religion,' appears in 50 newspapers, was hired as a subcontractor by the Department of Health and Human Services to foster a Bush-approved marriage initiative. McManus championed the plan in his columns without disclosing to readers he was being paid to help it succeed. Responding to the latest revelation, Dr. Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at HHS, announced Thursday that HHS would institute a new policy that forbids the agency from hiring any outside expert or consultant who has any working affiliation with the media. 'I needed to draw this bright line,' Horn tells Salon. 'The policy is being implemented and we're moving forward.' Horn's move came on the heels of Wednesday's report in the Washington Post that HHS had paid syndicated columnist and marriage advocate Maggie Gallagher $21,000 to write brochures and essays and to brief government employees on the president's marriage initiative. Gallagher later wrote in her column that she would have revealed the $21,000 payment to readers had she recalled receiving it. The Gallagher revelation came just three weeks after USA Today reported that the Education Department, through a contract with the Ketchum public relations firm, paid $240,000 to Armstrong Williams, a conservative African-American print, radio and television pundit, to help promote Bush's No Child Left Behind program to minority audiences. To date, the Bush administration has paid public relation firms $250 million to help push proposals, according to a report Thursday in USA Today. That's double what the Clinton administration spent on P.R. from 1997 to 2000. Shortly after Williams' contract came to light, the Democrats on the Committee on Government Reform wrote a letter to President Bush demanding that he 'immediately provide to us all past and ongoing efforts to engage in covert propaganda, whether through contracts with commentators, the distribution of video news releases, or other means.' As of Thursday, a staffer on the committee told Salon, there had been no response. Horn says McManus, who could not be reached for comment, was paid approximately $10,000 for his work as a subcontractor to the Lewin Group, a health care consultancy hired by HHS to implement the Community Healthy Marriage Initiative, which encourages communities to combat divorce through education and counseling. McManus provided training during two-day conferences in Chattanooga, Tenn., and also made presentations at HHS-sponsored conferences. His syndicated column has appeared in such papers as the Washington Times, the Dallas Morning News and the Charlotte Observer. Horn, who has known McManus for years, says he first learned about the payment on Thursday. In the wake of the Gallagher story, he asked his staff to review all outside contracts and determine if there were any other columnists being paid by HHS. They informed him about McManus. Horn says the review for similar contracts continues. Horn insists that HHS was not paying Gallagher and McManus to write about Bush administration initiatives but for their expertise as marriage advocates. 'We live in a complicated world and people wear many different hats,' he says. 'People who have expertise might also be writing columns. The line has become increasingly blurred between who's a member of the media and who is not. Thirty years ago if you were a columnist, then you were a full-time employee of a newspaper. Columnists today are different.' The problem springs from the failure of both Gallagher and McManus to disclose their government payments when writing about the Bush proposals. But one HHS critic says another dynamic has led to the controversy, and a blurring of ethical and journalistic lines: Horn and HHS are hiring advocates -- not scholars -- from the pro-marriage movement. 'They're ideological sympathizers who propagandize,' says Tim Casey, attorney for Legal Momentum, a women's rights organization. He describes McManus as being a member of the 'extreme religious right.' Horn denies the charge: 'It's not true that we have just been selectively working with conservatives.' According to news accounts, the administration seeks to spend $1.5 billion promoting marriage through marriage-enrichment courses, counseling and public-awareness campaigns. In 1996, McManus co-founded Marriage Savers, a conservative advocacy group, which, among other things, urges clergy not to conduct a marriage ceremony unless the couple has had lengthy counseling first. 'The church should not be a 'wedding factory,' but a training ground for strong marriages to go the distance -- for life,' McManus wrote. In his April 3, 2004, column, McManus wrote, 'The Healthy Marriage Initiative would provide funds to help those couples improve their skills of conflict resolution so they might actually marry -- and be equipped to build a healthy marriage. Those skills can be taught by mentor couples in churches for free. But for the non-religious, counselors would be paid.' A year earlier, McManus assured readers that funds provided for the Healthy Marriage Initiative 'could be used to teach skills to improve communication and resolve conflict that would make the relationship happier and lead to a healthy marriage.' He based that assessment on comments made by HHS's Horn, who, indirectly, served as McManus' boss -- although that relationship was never revealed to readers.

    Must Buy List For Democrats:
    The 9/11 Commission Report
    50 Ways to Love Your Country by MoveOn.orgAmerica—
    A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction by Jon Stewart
    American Dynasty by Kevin Phillips
    Against All Enemies by Richard A. Clarke
    The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast
    Bushisms by Jacob Weisberg
    Bushwhacked by Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose
    The Conscience of a Liberal by Senator Paul Wellstone
    Don’t Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff
    Dude, Where’s My Country? by Michael MooreT
    he Great Unraveling by Paul Krugman
    Imperial Hubris by “Anonymous” (a senior U.S. intelligence official)
    The Madness of King George by Michael K. Smith and Matt Wuerker
    Rules for Radicals by Saul D. Alinsky
    The Tea is in the Harbor by Scott Goldstein
    The Two Americas by Stanley B. Greenberg
    Unfit Commander by Glenn W. Smith
    What’s the Matter With Kansas? by Thomas Frank
    Bowling for Columbine
    Bush’s Brain
    Bush Family Fortunes
    Control Room
    Fahrenheit 9/11
    The Hunting of the President
    Uncovered: The whole truth about the Iraq War
    Audio CDs
    50 Ways to Love Your Country by

    Bush Defends Social Security Plans. In his news conference yesterday, President Bush "acknowledged the dicey politics of Social Security," says the AP (1/27, Meckler), "as he urged Congress to approve his plan to add personal accounts to the system. With the system in financial straits, he said, any political price is worth paying." Bush said, "I'm looking forward to taking the case to the American people." Reuters reports Bush plans to travel the country next month to "persuade lawmakers and the public that Social Security must be changed to guarantee benefits for future retirees." Bush again "declined to be specific about how he would propose to pay for the introduction of the new system," the New York Times reports, focusing on making the case for an overhaul. Meanwhile, House Democratic leaders are "kicking off a major offensive" by instructing Democratic Members to "hold forums, write letters and mount a message campaign in the coming weeks against Republican attempts to privatize the program," Roll Call reports. Chilean Pension Program Said To Fall "Far Short" Of Intentions. The New York Times examines the Chilean private account pension program that President Bush "has cited as a model for his plans to overhaul Social Security," noting that, a quarter-century on, "Chileans are finding that it is falling far short of what was originally advertised." Bush Tells Agencies To Stop Paying Outside Commentators. President Bush "explicitly forbade" his Cabinet from paying media commentators to promote Administration policies, the New York Times reports. The AP reports Bush said, "Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet." Following on revelations that columnist Armstrong Williams was paid to talk up Bush's education reforms, both CBS and NBC reported columnist Maggie Gallagher was paid by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote Bush's marriage policies. But the Times notes Gallagher "drew a distinction between her work and that of Mr. Williams, saying she had been hired for her expertise, not to spread the views of the administration." Meanwhile, Roll Call reports a Democratic Senate bill would "permanently codify standards" to prevent such use of "taxpayer funds for 'publicity or propaganda.'" Congressional Black Caucus Urges Bush To Help Close Racial Gap. At a White House meeting, about 40 members of the Congressional Black Caucus members presented President Bush "with proposals for closing the gap between white and black Americans in health care, employment and education and said they would judge his response by weighing the State of the Union address and federal budget," the New York Times reports. Bush Lays Out Health Care Reform Plan. Speaking at the National Institutes of Health, President Bush "laid out a plan yesterday for reducing the nation's spiraling health care costs, proposing tax credits to encourage expansion of health savings accounts and calling for allowing small businesses to pool together for health coverage across state lines," the Washington Post reports. The main element of the plan would be tax-free health savings accounts. Bush, House GOP Face Off Over Immigration Policy. The New York Times reports the "battle within" the Republican Party over immigration policy "was joined" as the President "vigorously promoted his proposal for a guest worker program and conservatives in Congress introduced an alternative proposal to tighten immigration restrictions." House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner reintroduced a bill that would block illegal immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses, and said his committee "would not consider other immigration proposals, implicitly including the president's, until his own measure passed." USA Today says Sensenbrenner's comments "offer a glimpse of the contentious fight that lies ahead for President Bush in persuading Congress to pass his controversial guest-worker proposal." Rice Sworn In As Secretary Of State After 85-13 Senate Confirmation. Condoleezza Rice was sworn in as the 67th US Secretary of State after an 85-13 confirmation vote in the Senate, with Sens. Daniel Akaka, Evan Bayh, Barbara Boxer, Robert Byrd, Mark Dayton, Richard Durbin, Tom Harkin, James Jeffords, Edward Kennedy, John Kerry, Frank Lautenberg, Carl Levin, and Jack Reed voting against Rice. Media accounts differed on their interpretations of her margin of confirmation. The Washington Post said Senate Democrats "registered discontent with Bush's Iraq war policies to a degree that surprised even some of their party's leaders," and that the 13 votes in opposition were the "most negative votes cast against a nominee for that post in 180 years." But, the Washington Times reports the Senate "overwhelmingly confirmed" Rice despite "biting charges from some Democrats." The New York Times notes that, "coming after 31 American troops died Wednesday in a helicopter crash in Iraq, the vote portended intense foreign policy battles in Congress in the months ahead." Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Gonzales On Party-Line Vote. The AP (1/26) reports the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 on party lines to send the nomination of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general to the full Senate, in a vote the New York Times reports was "much closer than expected." Newsweek Online writes that while the "White House would like to chalk it up to partisan politics," the "unexpectedly narrow" vote "was really the product of deep-seated frustration among moderate Democrats over the White House counsel's refusal to answer key questions about his role in shaping legal policies for combating terrorism." CNN's Inside Politics reported that the "party line vote on the committee level signals that next Wednesday or Thursday, we are headed for another bitter floor fight, bitter debate from both sides." But the Washington Times notes that while Democrats "unanimously voted against the nomination" in committee, they "said they had no plans to filibuster him on the Senate floor." Defense Undersecretary Feith To Leave This Summer. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith announced he would leave his position this summer, becoming the "highest-ranked Pentagon official to leave the administration," according to the AP . The Washington Post calls Feith a "principal architect of the Defense Department's postwar strategy in Iraq." The New York Times notes that while, in a statement, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "called Mr. Feith 'creative, well-organized, and energetic," he "had some fierce critics." Last year, Senate Armed Services Committee ranking Democrat Carl Levin said Feith had "repeatedly described the ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda as far more significant and extensive than United States intelligence agencies had." Senate Confirms Leavitt As HHS Secretary On Voice Vote. Reuters reports the Senate confirmed outgoing EPA chief and former Utah governor Michael Leavitt as Secretary of Health and Human Services on a voice vote. Leavitt's confirmation "was nearly delayed because of the long-standing dispute over drug importation legislation. Rather than blocking Leavitt, backers of the bill agreed to let the nomination go ahead in exchange for a promise of a hearing" on a drug import bill. The Los Angeles Times (1/27) notes that Leavitt faces "significant challenges" in repairing the reputation of the FDA, dealing with Medicaid cuts, and stemming prescription drug price increases, among other issues. Senate Committee Approves Energy Nominee Bodman. Reuters reports the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved Energy Secretary-designate Sam Bodman's nomination, sending it on to the full Senate. Spellings Criticizes PBS Children's Show Featuring Lesbian Couple. New Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is criticizing an unaired episode of the PBS children's series "Postcards from Buster" which features an "animated bunny breaking bread with a same-sex couple," USA Today reports. The episode takes place in Vermont. PBS pulled the episode in the wake of the criticism from Spellings, but Boston station WGBH, which created the show, "will air it anyway and can provide the show to other PBS stations." Spellings wants PBS to "'strongly consider' refunding the federal money used for the episode," but a PBS official says PBS "will not refund the money but will shoot another episode." The New York Times reports that Spellings "said many parents would not want children exposed to a lesbian life style." But "Jeanne Hopkins, a spokeswoman for the show's producer, WGBH-TV of Boston, added, 'We feel it's important that we not exclude kids because of what their family structure looks like.'" Cheney Praises Nazi Death Camp Survivors, Greets New Ukrainian Leader.. Vice President Cheney yesterday honored the survivors of the Nazi death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau and "greeted the world's newest democratic leader, Ukraine's Viktor Yushchenko, as an 'ally in freedom's cause,'" according to the Washington Post . The Vice President "did not compare the US war on terrorism to the campaign to defeat the Nazis during World War II, but a clear goal of his trip to Poland is to remind the world of the dangers of terrorism and tyranny as they exist today." The AP reports Cheney's remarks "echoed President Bush's inauguration day call to overcome tyranny and foster democratic reform across the world." The New York Times reports Cheney met "with the Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq who is facing increasing public pressure to bring Polish troops home." Three GOP Lawmakers Want Review Of IBM Deal With Chinese Company. The Wall Street Journal reports Republican Reps. Henry Hyde, Donald Manzullo, and Duncan Hunter asked Treasury Secretary John Snow "to extend government scrutiny of the proposed $1.25 billion sale of International Business Machines Corp.'s personal-computer division to a Chinese rival, citing potential national-security concerns." The Financial Times notes that the "opposition from Mr Hunter and Henry Hyde...could pose a serious threat to the deal." Democratic Strategist Shrum Starts "New Life" In Academia. The New York Times profiles longtime Democratic strategist Robert Shrum, who recently left politics to teach at New York University. Shrum "is dining on the ashes of defeat." For "much of his life he has thrived on the rush and excitement of politics," but now, Shrum "is starting a new life." Bush Administration Praise Boosts Sales Of Sharansky Book. The praise that President Bush and his advisers have been giving to Israeli politician Natan Sharansky's book "The Case for Democracy" has given it "an unexpected sales boost," the Wall Street Journal reports. Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident, writes that "every country can become a democracy, a key tenet of the president's inaugural address." The "presidential spotlight has translated into a surge in sales." NYTimes Reporter Accused Of Trashing Penthouse. The Washington Times reports New York Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee "has been slapped with a $60,000 lawsuit, filed in D.C. Superior Court yesterday by her former landlord." Lee is accused "of trashing the $2,900-a-month Washington penthouse the newspaper rented for her." White House Denies Reports Jenna Bush Engaged. After media reported that Jenna Bush wore a ring to inaugural events last week, the AP reports a spokesman for First Lady Laura Bush says the Bush twin "is still single." Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports in its "The Reliable source" column that the "the tall young man who has been spotted with Jenna Bush on his arm in recent weeks" is Henry Hager, "a 26-year-old Richmonder with a Virginia political pedigree." Political News Washington GOP Says It Found 737 Illegal Votes In Governor's Race. The AP reports Washington Republicans have "discovered and verified 737 illegal votes in Washington's ultra-close governor's election, state party leaders said Wednesday." Republicans "contend that mistakes such as the counting of at least 737 illegal ballots spoiled the election to the point that the real winner can never be known. They are pushing for a new election." DA's DeLay Probe Has Texas Legislators Concerned. The AP examines Austin, Texas District Attorney Ronnie Earle's probe into House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's fundraising. The two-year investigation has led to the indictment of three DeLay associates and eight corporations, and "also has stirred rampant speculation at the state Capitol over who among the legislators might be next." Dean Said To Be The Emerging Frontrunner In DNC Chair Race. The Washington Times reports Howard Dean "is emerging as the front-runner to head the Democratic National Committee," but he "has some DNC members saying he is too liberal to broaden the party's base." Former Rep. Martin Frost is said to be "running just behind" Dean, with Simon Rosenberg of the centrist New Democrat Network third. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "has stayed out of the DNC fight, but her husband is said to be working behind the scenes to keep Mr. Dean from being elected." Pelosi Backs Honda For DNC Vice Chairman. Roll Call reports House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi "waded into the race for Democratic National Committee vice chairman Wednesday, signing a letter backing Rep. Mike Honda (Calif.) for the post over another House Democrat," New York's Greg Meeks. Bush, Kerry Campaigns Have Nearly $23 Million Left Over. Roll Call reports the presidential campaigns of President Bush and Democratic John Kerry "still have nearly $23 million left over" in "little-used" General Election Legal and Accounting Compliance accounts. As of November 22, Bush had $15.6 million in his account, while Kerry had $7.2 million. Giuliani Raises Funds For PAC. The New York Daily News reports Rudy Giuliani is "holding a fund-raiser for his political action committee tonight" that is rumored to cost "$2,500 a head." The funds will go to "Giuliani's PAC, Solutions America" which will allow "him to stack up political chits for the future by giving money to other candidates. And keeping the PAC well-fueled allows Giuliani, who campaigned for President Bush's reelection, to stay competitive with other presidential hopefuls." District Attorney Rumored To Be In The Run Against Hillary. The New York Daily News reports that "high-profile" Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro "is considering challenging" Sen. Hillary Clinton. Pirro has "a dizzying fund-raising schedule and the enthusiastic backing of Gov. Pataki." Candidates Gear Up For Trio Of Possible Florida Open-Seat Races. Roll Call reports Florida's 9th, 11th, and 13th US House Districts, located in the Tampa area, may all see open seat races in 2006 "because their current occupants are looking toward either retirement or higher office." In the 9th CD, GOP Rep. Mike Bilirakis plans to retire, and his son, state Rep. Gus Bilirakis, is likely to seek the Republican nomination. Ex-State House Speaker Johnnie Byrd could also run, but Democrats see the district "as a golden pick-up opportunity." In the 11th, Democrat Rep. Jim Davis is "seriously considering a run for governor," and Democrats Kathy Casto, Bob Henriquez, and Les Miller are considering runs in the heavily Democratic district.. The 13th could become vacant if GOP Rep. Katherine Harris runs for Senate. Democrats Christine Jennings and Jan Schneider, and Republicans Vern Buchanan and Tramm Hudson, are potential candidates. Political Humor The Latest From Late Night Comedians. The late night comics last night joked about the Academy Awards, John Ashcroft's farewell, and the Federal deficit, among other subjects. Jay Leno: "Michael Moore announced his latest project -- a film looking at voter fraud at the Oscars." Jay Leno: "Yesterday, Attorney General John Ashcroft said his farewell to Washington. He said in retirement, he's going to do some of the things he never had a chance to do, like read the Constitution." Craig Ferguson: "Officials in Iraq are worried about the upcoming election. They think it would lead to a civil war. At this point, isn't a civil war an improvement?" Craig Ferguson: "According to the folks at the White House, the Federal budget deficit is now a whopping $427 billion. For a guy who quit drinking, President Bush surely knows how to run up a tab, didn't he?"

    Tuesday, January 25, 2005

    Florida Democrats' decision to unanimously back Howard Dean as the new chairman of the DNC (Democratic National Committee) shows two things: first, there are still some Democrats out there -- including in the supposedly hopeless South -- who have brains and guts and aren't afraid to think for themselves; and second, Dean now has a real shot at winning the DNC job and launching a much-needed makeover of the Democratic Party. Political and media elites in Washington are at once horrified and dismissive of Dean's quest. They insist that Democrats would be crazy to pick a raving liberal like Dean as their next party chairman. But as is so often the case, this inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom is based on dubious "facts" and assumptions about how ordinary Americans relate to politics. Dean is exactly the leader Democrats need to become relevant again.

    Glass Nearly Half Full: Analysis Shows 47% of U.S. Population Now Protected From Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation
    One in Four Americans Lives In a Jurisdiction Banning Discrimination Against Transgender Persons
    With Illinois acting last week to ban anti-gay discrimination, 47 % of the U.S. population – 138 million people – now lives in a jurisdiction that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, according to an analysis by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. Ten years ago, the figure was 34%.
    The analysis also found that more than one in four Americans - 27% – now lives in a jurisdiction that bans discrimination against transgender persons, up from 4% ten years ago, and 5% just five years ago. Illinois's law also bans discrimination based on gender identity and expression.
    "Thanks to the hard work of grassroots activists, the glass of basic fairness for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans is slowly filling up," said Sean Cahill, Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. "While we have a long way to go until all of us are protected from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations, the progress is undeniable and unstoppable."
    The Policy Institute analysis concluded that the actions of state legislatures and town councils reflected strong public support for laws protecting gay and transgender people from discrimination.
    As nondiscrimination protections have spread across the nation at the local and state level, a federal bill to ban anti-gay discrimination in employment has languished in Congress for nearly a decade.
    Some Facts:
    * With Illinois adopting a law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, nearly 138 million Americans now live in a state or local jurisdiction with such a law.
    * Another 79 million live in a place that bans discrimination against transgender people. Ten years ago, only 9.7 million Americans lived in a jurisdiction that banned such discrimination.
    * However, 156 million Americans, or 53% of the U.S. population, live in a state or jurisdiction where one can be fired, refused service in a restaurant, or denied housing or a loan simply because of his/her actual or perceived sexual orientation.
    * 215 million Americans, or 73% of the U.S. population, live in a jurisdiction where a person can be fired, refused service in a restaurant, or denied housing or a loan simply because of his/her actual or perceived gender identity or expression.
    * Fifteen states (including Illinois) ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. The first state to ban anti-gay discrimination was 1982 in Wisconsin.
    * Five states (including Illinois) ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression. The first state to ban anti-transgender discrimination was Minnesota in 1993.
    * Washington, DC and more than 200 towns, cities and counties also ban sexual orientation discrimination, and more than 70 local jurisdictions ban anti-transgender discrimination.
    Full text of the report is available at:

    Sunday, January 23, 2005

    Federal Panel Hears Texas Redistricting Concerns
    - RGRatcliffe - HouChron
    Federal panel hears redistricting concerns
    Some charge the population change is not reflected in gerrymandering
    Houston Chronicle
    DALLAS - The legal battle over congressional redistricting focused in federal court Friday on whether one-man, one-vote constitutional protections were violated in 2003 when the Legislature used 3-year-old census data to redraw district boundaries. Lawyers for Democrats and minority groups told a three-judge panel that major shifts in the state's population had occurred by the time the map was drawn, making it illegal.But State Solicitor General Ted Cruz argued that the U.S. Census is the only legal population count that can be used for redistricting.Cruz said because of births, deaths and people moving, the census is inaccurate the day it is completed.The federal panel heard arguments Friday on whether courts should consider claims that the Texas redistricting plan was an excessive Republican gerrymander.The panel is made up of two Republican appointees, U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Patrick Higginbotham and District Judge Lee Rosenthal of Houston, and a Democratic appointee, District Judge John Ward of Marshall. The panel did not immediately rule after Friday's hearing.The Republican-dominated Legislature in 2003 redrew the state's districts to eliminate the 17-15 majority Democrats held in the congressional delegation. Republicans now hold a 21-11 majority under the new plan.While the hearing was supposed to mostly be about partisan gerrymandering, the focus was on the one-man, one-vote rule. That U.S. Supreme Court doctrine says districts must have equal populations so that no one's vote carries more weight than another person's.Jose Garza with the League of United Latin American Citizens told the court that the current districts already violate that doctrine because of shifting populations.Garza said revised population estimates from the state demographer show congressional districts 15 and 19, both Republican, have too little population and districts 15 and 28, both Hispanic and Democratic, have too much population.Cruz said the redistricting plan was a partisan gerrymander, but it was one produced to replace a Democratic gerrymander drawn in 1991. He said there is no legal standard for declaring a partisan gerrymander unconstitutional.

    Friday, January 21, 2005



    Dear Pat,
    Earlier today, I voted in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee against the nomination of Dr. Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State. This vote is an expression of my determination that we hold the Bush administration accountable.
    Dr. Rice is a principal architect, implementer, and defender of a series of Administration policies that have not made our country as secure as we should be and have alienated much-needed allies in our common cause of winning the war against terrorism. Regrettably, I did not see in Dr. Rice's testimony before our committee any acknowledgment of the need to change course or of a new vision for America's role in the world.
    On Iraq, on North Korea, on Iran, to name just a few of the most critical challenges, it seems to be more of the same. I hope I am proven wrong. I hope the course will change. And I hope that the Administration will recognize the strength of a foreign policy that has bipartisan support.
    I am prepared to work with Dr. Rice and others in the Administration to try to reach agreement on policies that will truly strengthen our security and restore America's credibility on the world stage. And I am confident colleagues on both sides of the aisle are prepared to do so as well.
    But, we've got to remain firm in our insistence that those who create policies that don't work have the courage to admit their mistakes and the wisdom to change course. Our community has been expressing that determination in huge numbers.
    Over 700,000 people have called on President Bush to fire Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense.
    If you haven't signed the Rumsfeld petition, please do so immediately.
    And, please forward the petition right now to friends and colleagues, urging them to join in this effort.
    I know you share my strong convictions on the importance of holding the President and his Cabinet accountable. I pledge to you that I will not yield in this effort. Let's keep working together. America's future is at stake.
    John Kerry
    Excellent quote from blogger: America was founded on the notion of questioning leaders and holding leaders accountable for their actions. If that wasn't true, then everyone would have been perfectly happy to live under the governors appointed by King George.

    Story filed by NewsCenter16 Reporter Mark Peterson
    Indiana - A little more than a year ago a decision from the Massachusetts Supreme Court sent shockwaves across the nation. Justices there ruled that state's ban on gay marriages was unconstitutional.On Thursday, three justices on the Indiana Court of Appeals weighed in on the same subject and reached a very different conclusion.Indiana's law banning gay marriage was upheld and no constitutional problems were found.The three-judge Appeals Court Panel that reviewed the matter included former St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Carnes, and the decision was unanimous.Just last May, the world watched, as Massachusetts became the first State in the union to allow same sex marriages."Sometimes you hear the argument made, 'What's dangerous about the Massachusetts ruling?' It means that ruling is going to be applied to every other state. That's not likely," said Rick Garnell, Notre Dame Law School.That wasn't the case in Indiana where justices ruled with children in mind. They wrote that marriage was the way in which biological drives were directed into socially accepted activity, all so children will be provided with a stable environment.That provided a rational basis for the legislature to draw the line or discriminate in granting marriage rights to opposite sex couples who can re-produce and denying them to same sex couples who can't reproduce"For many years I've officiated at ceremonies of commitment for same sex couples," said Gordon Gibson, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhart.As a minister in Elkhart, Gibson has presided over dozens of such ceremonies. He hopes what the Unitarian Fellowship long ago deemed morally acceptable, would someday become legally acceptable in Indiana."I hope that our society, our civil society, will come to the point of similarly offering support to all couples gay and straight who are willing to commit to having a strong stable loving growing relationship," said Gibson.While last year brought an abrupt change to the status quo in Massachusetts, things in Indiana will remain the same.Of course some states are going the extra mile to protect their laws banning gay marriage.Last November, voters in 11 states, including Michigan, approved referendums to incorporate such bans, directly into their state constitutions, arguably, in direct response to what happened in Massachusetts.

    Thursday, January 20, 2005

    Clarence Page
    Bush's promises? Oh, never mind
    The president turned his cowboy swagger, his exaggeration of Iraq's threat and demonization of gay marriage into winning campaign assets
    Published January 2005
    WASHINGTON -- If Washington gave out honors in the way that Hollywood gives out Oscars, President Bush would deserve an Emily Litella Award for political U-turns.If you don't recall why Ms. Litella's name rings a bell, she was the grumpy old editorial-reply lady played by the late Gilda Radner in the early days of "Saturday Night Live."Ms. Litella would weekly launch into a tirade over some outrage that she inevitably had not heard quite right--like "canker research," "violins on television," "presidential erections," saving "Soviet jewelry," saving "endangered feces," "ending the deaf penalty," "busting schoolchildren," passing the "eagles rights amendment," and granting "steak-hood for Puerto Rico."Then, once her error was revealed to her, she would calm down, say "Oh-h-h, that's very different" and announce to the camera with a big smile, "Never mind."In a flurry of sit-down pre-inaugural interviews, the president essentially gave his own version of "never mind" to several hanging issues:He admitted to a group of newspaper reporters that his taunting "bring it on" and cowboy-style "dead or alive" call for Osama bin Laden's capture after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were gaffes and he promised to choose his words more carefully in the future. And all that cowboy bravado during the presidential campaign? Never mind.He acknowledged in an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters that his administration quietly, yet officially abandoned its search for Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction late last year, as reported in the Jan. 12 Washington Post. No weapons of mass destruction? Oh, that's different. Never mind.Instead, even without evidence that Saddam Hussein has had the weapons or the capabilities to make them since the 1991 war, Bush clung to his notion that the war "absolutely" was worth the cost in lives, dollars and America's international image. "Saddam was dangerous, and the world is safer without him in power," Bush said.But at what cost? Can you hate Hussein and still wonder what urgency compelled the United States to interrupt the international inspectors and rush to war against the tyrant? Is there any evidence that Hussein had anything to do with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks? Oh, never mind that too.But the president's most hazardous "never mind" may be the one that he sent out to the social conservatives who voted for him with the idea in their heads that he was going to keep them "safe" from people who want the right to marry people of the same sex.In an interview aboard Air Force One, Bush told Washington Post reporters that he would not lobby the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage, even though it is a top-priority issue for social conservatives and organized evangelical Christians.The president said there was no reason to press for the amendment as long as so many senators are convinced that the existing Defense of Marriage Act, which relieves states from recognizing same-sex unions that take place outside their borders, is sufficient, unless it is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate leaders say the amendment cannot win the 67 votes needed for passage as long as the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional. "Until that changes," Bush said, "nothing will happen in the Senate."Yes, whether you favor the right to same-sex marriage or not, the Defense of Marriage Act, which President Clinton signed in 1996, renders a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages quite redundant and an unnecessary intrusion on state's rights. That's precisely what the amendment's opponents have been arguing all along.President Bush held a similar position, until the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld gay marriages in that state. Under pressure from organized religious conservatives, Bush couldn't resist riding the backlash and turning the proposed constitutional amendment into a major campaign promise, whether it was necessary or not. Now? He's won. That's different. Never mind!Democrats grind their teeth in frustration at how smoothly Bush turned his cowboy swagger, his exaggeration of Hussein's threat and his demonization of gay marriage into winning campaign assets. They marvel at how casually he tosses assets overboard like worn-out socks when they become liabilities.Hey, he warned you in 2000, "Don't misunderestimate me."Emily Litella couldn't have said it more clearly.----------E-mail:



    Recent posts about internal disputes regarding Martin Frost, etc. lead me to suggest that we will not win with exclusionist views, regardless who is doing the excluding of whom for whatever reason. This is not the same thing as having no principles. Nor does it mean that we should not have vigorous debate. Only that we should not be in the business of running anyone out of the party who is interested in helping defeat Republicans. Let me explain a bit what I mean.I think it goes without saying that all of us contributed to the past campaign in large measure because of a certain amount of anger. That anger is a good thing, because it is justified and helps fuel our commitment. The question is whether it is more important to be angry for its own sake or to commit ourselves to change. Anger and self-righteousness are certainly easier. Change in a democracy is a long process that requires us frequently to make common cause with others who wish to help, even though we may not be in complete agreement. Now, let's be clear. If the Democratic Party as we know it today did not exist, we would be forced to create it. Fortunately, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. There are flaws in our party, as there are in every human organization. That is not a reason to jump ship. After all, if there were a third party, who would join it? Only truly pure liberals? What does that mean? I'm aware of several "liberal" parties that already exist and are available to join, but none of them has ever won a national election, nor come close. Why don't they unify? Mostly because each of them is too interested in their particular brand of philosophical purity to dilute it with others.I'd ask you to listen to Howard Dean, who said the following just last month (the full text is available at"Democrats have the right beliefs to win; we just execute a poor public relations plan. And, despite the enormous improvement in our ground game, the Republicans executed a more effective strategy. Republicans are far more successful because they work in a more unified, disciplined way with local supporters, especially with their base."What Gov. Dean is suggesting is that progressives need not sacrifice their ideals to work within the party. What we need to understand is that while we may each have ideas we believe in that will not soon become public policy, we can still work together to make sure that our common vision is implemented. At this point in time, it is not hard to see that nearly any Democrat is preferable to nearly any Republican for almost any office. Now is the time to be focused, as Bill Clinton used to say, like a laser beam, on improving our party's infrastructure, starting with a DNC chair who appreciates the importance of the mechanics and is willing to roll up his sleeves and get it done, as opposed to someone who wants to be the party's spiritual guide. Individual Democrats know, each in his or her own heart, why we are in this together. We don't need to enforce philosophical purity. We need to win.Regressive Republican policy positions may be national disasters, but we can learn much from their political strategies. They learned while they were in the seemingly permanent minority that they could have success by adopting an incrementalist campaign strategy, focusing only on the most unpopular aspects of Democratic positions (hence "partial-birth" abortions; the "death tax"; "frivolous law suits"; "special rights" for homosexuals). I'm not suggesting that we need to mislead America the way they do. I'm suggesting we need to realize that it is far better strategy to discuss some modest improvements than to insist on the whole enchilada and wind up with them in power, taking us back to an 1870 world view, but with nuclear weapons. Denial is a luxury we just can't afford.I'll discuss any subject with any of you. But I won't ever insist that you aren't a Democrat if you don't agree with me. I look forward to working with ALL of you for the betterment of our state, our nation and our planet.


    One of the true GIANTS of Houston Independent School District and City of Houston Politics, former City Councilwoman Eleanor Tinsley has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Mrs. Tinsley will shortly undergo a double mastectomy.Many of us have been personally acquainted with Mrs. Tinsley thru her work with HISD and her service on the Board of Trustees as part of the progressive reform Citizens for Good Schools slate from 1970-74 and also her service as Houston City Councilwoman At Large Position 2 from 1980 thru 1996. Eleanor was also the Democratic nominee for County Commissioner Pct 4 in 1990. Few people have so touched so many people and the quality of life as Eleanor Tinsley and she has always proudly announced herself as a loyal Democrat. One of her lasting legacies will always be the hundreds of parks that have been established throughout the city "SPARK Parks" through the cooperation of HISD and the City and whose program Eleanor has remained active and her daughter still heads.Well wishers can contact Eleanor at:HON. ELANOR TINSLEY15 East Greenway Plaza #19EHouston, Texas 77046

    Dear Joshua,
    Earlier today, I voted in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee against the nomination of Dr. Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State. This vote is an expression of my determination that we hold the Bush administration accountable.
    Dr. Rice is a principal architect, implementer, and defender of a series of Administration policies that have not made our country as secure as we should be and have alienated much-needed allies in our common cause of winning the war against terrorism. Regrettably, I did not see in Dr. Rice's testimony before our committee any acknowledgment of the need to change course or of a new vision for America's role in the world.
    On Iraq, on North Korea, on Iran, to name just a few of the most critical challenges, it seems to be more of the same. I hope I am proven wrong. I hope the course will change. And I hope that the Administration will recognize the strength of a foreign policy that has bipartisan support.
    I am prepared to work with Dr. Rice and others in the Administration to try to reach agreement on policies that will truly strengthen our security and restore America's credibility on the world stage. And I am confident colleagues on both sides of the aisle are prepared to do so as well.
    But, we've got to remain firm in our insistence that those who create policies that don't work have the courage to admit their mistakes and the wisdom to change course. Our community has been expressing that determination in huge numbers.
    Over 700,000 people have called on President Bush to fire Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense.
    If you haven't signed the Rumsfeld petition, please do so immediately.
    And, please forward the petition right now to friends and colleagues, urging them to join in this effort.
    I know you share my strong convictions on the importance of holding the President and his Cabinet accountable. I pledge to you that I will not yield in this effort. Let's keep working together. America's future is at stake.
    John Kerry

    I just heard an interview on NPR with Karl Rove, in which he talked about Social Security "Modernization" (not "reform".) They've come up with a great frame- how could anyone, in this day and time, not want "modernization"- the Dems better come up with a better frame NOW, or this turkey just might get popular from people who don't bother to look beyond the names. I'd be willing to bet that we hear "Social Security Modernization" from all the gop now.

    January 20, 2005
    "From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this Earth has rights, and dignity and matchless value because they bear the image of the maker of heaven and Earth." George W. Bush Inaugural Speech, January 20, 2005

    Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
    "President Bush focused much of his second inaugural address on spreading the 'the force of human freedom across the world.' He said that our nation has always 'proclaimed that every man and woman on this Earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value.'
    "Here at home, over the past four years this administration and its allies have attacked the rights and dignity of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. We have seen an intense and ugly rise in homophobia, the passage of constitutional amendments in 13 states seeking to prohibit lesbian and gay citizens from full and equal protection under the law, and an unprecedented rise in hate crimes against lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people. In his second term, we challenge the president to be true to his words and begin proclaiming -- instead of attacking -- the rights, dignity, and matchless value of gay Americans."

    Dr. Robin Meyers
    Mayflower Congregational Church (405) 842-88973901
    Nw 63rd StOklahoma City, OK 73116
    As some of you know, I am minister of Mayflower Congregational Church inOklahoma City, an Open and Affirming, Peace and Justice church in northwestOklahoma City, and professor of Rhetoric at Oklahoma City University.But you would most likely have encountered me on the pages of the OklahomaGazette, where I have been a columnist for six years, and hold the recordfor the most number of angry letters to the editor.Today, I join ranks of those who are angry, because I have watched as thefaith I love has been taken over by fundamentalists who claim to speak forJesus, but whose actions are anything but Christian.We've heard a lot lately about so-called "moral values" as having swung theelection to President Bush. Well, I'm a great believer in moral values, butwe need to have a discussion, all over this country, about exactly whatconstitutes a moral value -- I mean what are we talking about?Because we don't get to make them up as we go along, especially not if weare people of faith. We have an inherited tradition of what is right andwrong, and moral is as moral does.Let me give you just a few of the reasons why I take issue with those inpower who claim moral values are on their side:-- When you start a war on false pretenses, and then act as if yourdeceptions are justified because you are doing God's will, and that yourcritics are either unpatriotic or lacking in faith, there are some of us whohave given our lives to teaching and preaching the faith who believe thatthis is not only not moral, but immoral.-- When you live in a country that has established international rules forwaging a just war, build the United Nations on your own soil to enforcethem, and then arrogantly break the very rules you set down for the rest ofthe world, you are doing something immoral.-- When you claim that Jesus is the Lord of your life, and yet fail toacknowledge that your policies ignore his essential teaching, or turn themon their head (you know, Sermon on the Mount stuff like that we must neverreturn violence for violence and that those who live by the sword will dieby the sword), you are doing something immoral.-- When you act as if the lives of Iraqi civilians are not as important asthe lives of American soldiers, and refuse to even count them, you are doingsomething immoral.-- When you find a way to avoid combat in Vietnam, and then question thepatriotism of someone who volunteered to fight, and came home a hero, youare doing something immoral.-- When you ignore the fundamental teachings of the gospel, which says thatthe way the strong treat the weak is the ultimate ethical test, by givingtax breaks to the wealthiest among us so the strong will get stronger andthe weak will get weaker, you are doing something immoral.-- When you wink at the torture of prisoners, and deprive so-called "enemycombatants" of the rules of the Geneva convention, which your own countryhelped to establish and insists that other countries follow, you are doingsomething immoral.-- When you claim that the world can be divided up into the good guys andthe evil doers, slice up your own nation into those who are with you, orwith the terrorists -- and then launch a war which enriches your own friendsand seizes control of the oil to which we are addicted, instead of helpingus to kick the habit, you are doing something immoral.-- When you fail to veto a single spending bill, but ask us to pay for a warwith no exit strategy and no end in sight, creating an enormous deficit thathangs like a great millstone around the necks of our children, you are doingsomething immoral.-- When you cause most of the rest of the world to hate a country that wasonce the most loved country in the world, and act like it doesn't matterwhat others think of us, only what God thinks of you, you have donesomething immoral.-- When you use hatred of homosexuals as a wedge issue to turn out recordnumbers of evangelical voters, and use the Constitution as a tool ofdiscrimination, you are doing something immoral.-- When you favor the death penalty, and yet claim to be a follower ofJesus, who said an eye for an eye was the old way, not the way of thekingdom, you are doing something immoral.-- When you dismantle countless environmental laws designed to protect theearth which is God's gift to us all, so that the corporations that boughtyou and paid for your favors will make higher profits while our childrenbreathe dirty air and live in a toxic world, you have done somethingimmoral. The earth belongs to the Lord, not Halliburton.-- When you claim that our God is bigger than their God, and that ourkilling is righteous, while theirs is evil, we have begun to resemble theenemy we claim to be fighting, and that is immoral. We have met the enemy,and the enemy is us.-- When you tell people that you intend to run and govern as a"compassionate conservative," using the word which is the essence of allreligious faith-compassion, and then show no compassion for anyone whodisagrees with you, and no patience with those who cry to you for help, youare doing something immoral.-- When you talk about Jesus constantly, who was a healer of the sick, butdo nothing to make sure that anyone who is sick can go to see a doctor, evenif she doesn't have a penny in her pocket, you are doing something immoral.-- When you put judges on the bench who are racist, and will set women backa hundred years, and when you surround yourself with preachers who say gaysought to be killed, you are doing something immoral.I'm tired of people thinking that because I'm a Christian, I must be asupporter of President Bush, or that because I favor civil rights and gayrights I must not be a person of faith.I'm tired of people saying that I can't support the troops if I oppose thewar -- I heard that when I was your age, when the Vietnam war was raging. Weknew that the war was wrong, and you know that this war is wrong--the onlyquestion is how many people are going to die before these make-believeChristians are removed from power?This country is bankrupt. The war is morally bankrupt. The claim of thisadministration to be Christian is bankrupt. And the only people who can turnthings around are people like you--young people who are just beginning towake up to what is happening to them. It's your country to take back. It'syour faith to take back. It's your future to take back.Don't be afraid to speak out. Don't back down when your friends begin totell you that the cause is righteous and that the flag should be wrappedaround the cross, while the rest of us keep our mouths shut.Real Christians take chances for peace. So do real Jews, and real Muslims,and real Hindus, and real Buddhists--so do all the faith traditions of theworld at their heart believe one thing: life is precious. Every human beingis precious. Arrogance is the opposite of faith. Greed is the opposite ofcharity. And believing that one has never made a mistake is the mark of adeluded man, not a man of faith.And war -- war is the greatest failure of the human race -- and thus thegreatest failure of faith.There's an old rock and roll song, whose lyrics say it all: War, what is itgood for? absolutely nothing.And what is the dream of the prophets? That we should study war no more,that we should beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruninghooks. Who would Jesus bomb, indeed? How many wars does it take to know thattoo many people have died? What if they gave a war and nobody came?Maybe one day we will find out.Time to march again my friends. Time to commit acts of civil disobedience.Time to sing, and to pray, and refuse to participate in the madness. Mygeneration finally stopped a tragic war. You can too!


    RESUME George W. Bush The White House, USA
    EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE: LAW ENFORCEMENT: I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days. My Texas driving record has been "lost" and is not available.

    MILITARY: I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam.
    COLLEGE: I graduated from Yale University. I was a cheerleader.
    PAST WORK EXPERIENCE: I ran for U.S. Congress and lost. I began my career in the oil business in Midland, Texas in 1975. I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas. The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock. I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money. With the help of my father and our right-wing friends in the oil industry (including Enron CEO Ken Lay), I was elected Governor of Texas.
    ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS GOVERNOR: I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union. During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America.I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money.I set the record for the most executions by any Governor in American history. With the help of my brother, the Governor of Florida, and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President after losing by over 500,000 votes.
    ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS PRESIDENT: I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week. I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury. I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history. I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period. I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market. I am the first president in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record. I set the the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one year period. After taking-off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S.history. I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical Bunker Buster," a WMD. In my State Of The Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq, then blamed the lies on our British friends. I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. president. In my first year in office over 2-million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month. I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period. I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any president in U.S. history. I set the record for least amount of press conferences than any president since the advent of television. I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed. I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history. I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families -- in war time. I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people) shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind. I've broken more international treaties than any president in U.S. history. I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her. I am the first president in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, pre-emptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. citizens, and the world community. I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States government. I am the first president in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission. I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law. I refused to allow inspectors access to U.S. prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention. I am the first president in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election). I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations. My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. history. My political party used the Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision. I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution. More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate ripoffs in history. I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history. I am first president in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security. I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts. I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein to justice.After nothing started to make sense in Iraq I turned the tables around to the U.S. and brought up civil unions amongst homosexuals and tried to change the U.S. Constitution.
    RECORDS AND REFERENCES: All records of my tenure as Governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed, and unavailable for public view. All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review. Please consider my experience when voting in 2004

    Tuesday, January 18, 2005

    Dear Friends,
    please copy this and email to as many people as you can.
    The article can also be found on this website

    During war time, FDR had an inaugaration costing $6,000., and served chicken because it was cheap. In 2005, Tsunami victims struggle, Iraq is a mess, our economy sucks, healthcare costs are at all time highs... so what does BUSH do?
    have a $6,000 celebration? NO-
    NOW we stand at $29 million and counting.
    This excludes the $66 million lost for the holiday all federal workers in the Washington area will have.
    Here are the details:
    60 agencies with command centers with each at least 3 people (I guess): 60 * 3 * $600 = $108,000
    Overtime expenses 2000 Washington D.C. police officers: $8.800.000
    Overtime and other expenses for 1,000 police officers from other districts: $2.700.000
    3000 additional law enforcement officers needed on the 20th: 3000 * $500 = $1,500,000
    7200 US troops: 7200 * $400 = $2,880,000
    All kinds of emergency teams on standby (biohazard, radiation, hospitals, public works,...): $2,500,000
    Several hundred surveillance camera's. Let's say one man can monitor 20. Let's put the number of camera's at 400. That makes 20 mandays. And we should include the tapes (they start filming the day before, max 3 hour per tape, that's 8 tapes per camera = 3200 tapes at $2 = $6,400): 20 * $400 + $6,400 = $14,400
    24 dogs with man for three whole days (bombsniffing starts early): 24 * 3 * $800 = $57,600
    At least two helicopters with two people in it in the air constantly: 2 * $10,000 + 2 * 2 * $1,000 = $24,000
    Harbor patrols. 2 * $10,000 + 2 * 3 * $500 = $26,000
    Fighter planes 2 * $20,000 = $40,000
    Removing streetlights and welding manholes (and undoing it all): 20 workers * 2 * $200 = $8,000
    Setting up and removing 12 entry points for the public: 12 * $1,000 = $12,000
    Building viewing stands: $3,000,000
    Develop special license tags: $43,260
    Cleaning the streets after the festivities: $100,000
    Press conference by Homeland Security and "Showing around" by Homeland security (wild guess): $10,000
    Closing some metro stations for one day. Planning, instructing and informing people: $10,000
    January 16th dress rehearsal with 4000 servicemembers: 4,000 * $300 = $1,200,000
    Construction project to spruce up the West Front of the Capitol (where the ceremony will take place $2.800.000
    2 people preparing the event starting a year ago (see defenselink): 2 * 200 * $500 = $200,000
    Preparing and planning all this. Let's say 1 planner for every 100 people active and that each planner spends at least 10 days planning (conservative estimate). Planners are more expensive. Total people mentioned before 180+6000+7200+700+20+20+4+6+4 = 14134. That makes 140 planners: 140 * 10 * $600 = $840,000
    Let's say one manager for every 20 planners (=7) and one overall manager (very expensive). These should start earlier. Let's say 20 days each: 7 * 20 * $1,500 + 1 * 20 * $2,000 = $250,000
    Support staff (you can't do without them). One for the managers (20 days) and 5 for the planners (10 days): 1*20 * $300 + 5 * 10 * $300 = $21,000
    Public relations officer (20 days): 20 * $600 = $12,000
    Software special for this occasion. Wild (but very conservative) guess: $100,000
    Computers special for this occasion. Wild (but again very conservative) guess: $50,000
    Regular amount of money made available for the formal part of the inauguration (swearing in): $1,250,000
    That makes a grand total of: $29,056,260.
    --Joshua P. Angell: DEMOCRAT concerned for our Nation please visit my e-headquarters: VOICE OF THE AUSTIN MAJORITY @ Join The Movement... For A Socially Progressive USA "First They ignore you. Then They laugh at you. Then They fight you. Then, You win." ...Gandhi TAKE BACK AMERICA JOIN THE FIGHT! I am EMPOWERED by Howard Dean! As the Wall Street Journal points out, Bush's victory was "the narrowest win for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson in 1916."

    1world communication has decided to launch Boycott International in recognition of the power of individuals in situations where governments have chosen to, or are unable to, influence companies that exploit children and/or violate basic human rights of their workers.
    Global trade and lending organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund have made it harder for organizations in any one country, or even governments to protect the interests of their citizens from the greed of multinational corporations. The assets of some of the largest corporations exceed those of many nations. Only as a united global community can we stop them from destroying the environment, violating the most basic human rights of their workers, and exploiting children as a source of cheap labor.
    The pages of Boycott International (BI) will serve as a clearinghouse of information. Occasionally BI will call for a boycott of a company not yet subject to an actual one but, due to it’s gross violations of human rights, we believe should not be patronized.
    We have chosen Walmart as the target of our primary call for a boycott because of the company’s unfair labor practices around the world. Not only does this chain mistreat many employees that work for them, it also sells goods made by suppliers that grossly violate the rights of their workers around the world. Despite protests and a law suit they have refused to correct these problems.
    The following articles will give you some examples of how Walmart does business.

    The Walmart Stores, Inc also owns and operates Sam's Club, and according to the financial business summary provided by the U.S. Business Reporter "The Company markets lines of merchandise under store brands including but not limited to "Sam's American Choice", "One Source", "Great Value", "Ol' Roy" and "Equate". The Company also markets lines of merchandise under licensed brands; some of which include "Faded Glory", "Kathie Lee", "White Stag", "Puritan", "Better Homes & Gardens", "Popular Mechanics", "Catalina", "McKids", "Basic Equipment" and "House Beautiful"".
    CEO: David Glass
    Headquarters: 702 Southwest 8th Street
    Bentonville, AK 72716
    Telephone: 501-273-4000

    Table of Contents
    Walmart: Words Versus Reality
    Please Send A Letter to Walmart
    What If Walmart, J.C. Penney and other U.S. Companies Were Actually Lowering Standards in China?

    Wal-Mart's Shirts of Misery - Walmart In Bangladesh
    (The Following Information on Walmart was Obtained from the National Labor Committee Web-site)
    When you purchase a shirt in Walmart, do you ever imagine young women in Bangladesh forced to work from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., seven days a week, paid just 9 cents to 20 cents an hour, who are denied health care and maternity leave; screamed at to work faster; with monitored bathroom visits; and who will be fired for daring to complain or ask for their rights?
    At the Beximco factory in the Dhaka Export Processing Zone in Bangladesh, there are 1,000 workers, at least 80 percent of them young women, sewing shirts and pants for Walmart and other retailers. Beximco is a sweatshop, where human rights are systematically violated.

    Sweatshop conditions Beximco/Walmart
    Shame on Walmart
    Greed in the Global Economy
    U.S. Companies Import 732 million garments a year from Bangladesh
    What Can We Do?
    Support the National Garment Workers Federation of Bangladesh
    Letter to Walmart

    Sweatshop Conditions Beximco/Walmart
    Beximco Factory, Dhaka Export Processing Zone (EPZ), Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh

    Forced Overtime:
    The regular daily work shift starts at 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., seven days a week. Workers are at the factory 87 hours a week and paid for 80 hours (the hour lunch break is unpaid).
    Workers are paid less than 1/3 of the legal overtime rate.
    It is not uncommon to be forced to remain in the factory beyond 8:00 p.m., working a 24-hour shift right through the night. Days off are very rare
    In December 1998, twenty workers were illegally fired at Beximco and denied their legal severance pay for refusing to work an all-night shift on top of their daily 12 1/2 hours of work. Among those illegally fired were: Md. Shahjahan, Emdadul Hague, Khalilur Raham, and Samima Akter.
    Under Bangladesh's labor law the regular work week is set at 48 hours, with overtime limited to 12 hours a week, making 60 hours the maximum allowable work week. The Bangladesh labor code requires one full day off a week and overtime to be paid at double the standard hourly rate. Walmart and its contractor, Beximco, are systematically violating these laws.
    Starvation Wages:
    • 9 to 20 cents an hour
    • 40% to 70% below the legal wage
    • $4.28 to $9.52 a week
    Under EPZ regulations in Bangladesh, sewing operators are to be paid 3360 taka a month for a 48-hour work week. In U.S. dollars, this amounts to $69.28 a month, $15.99 a week, and 33 cents an hour.
    However, at the Beximco factory the women sewing Walmart garments are illegally paid just 2,000 TK per month, which means they are earning just $41.24 each month, $9.52 per week, and 20 cents an hour. These women are being cheated of over 40 percent of their legal wage.
    Helpers, who assist the sewers by supplying the production line among other tasks, are paid just 9 cents an hour, less than 75 percent of the legal norm.
    Overtime work, according to Bangladeshi law, must be paid at double the standard hourly wage of 33 cents an hour. The legal overtime rate, therefore, should be 66 cents an hour, but the Beximco workers earn just 20 cents.
    Walmart Workers in Bangladesh Earn:
    Sewing operators: 20 cents an hour/ $9.52 a week/ $69.28 a month/ $831.34 a year
    Helpers: 9 cents an hour/ $4.28 a week/ $18.56 a month/ $222.68 a year
    To Start of Section on Bangladesh
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    Shame on Walmart
    Walmart and its contractor Beximco do not pay the overtime premium. In fact, as we have seen, they do not even pay the legal hourly wage of 33 cents. They pay only 20 cents an hour and pay overtime at this same illegal 20-cent rate.
    These workers are locked in poverty, being cheated out of over $20 a week in legal wages by the largest retailer in the world. The workers are being illegally paid just $16 for a full 80-hour workweek. For the forced 80-hour week, they should be earning at least $36.96. Surely Walmart, with $7.6 billion in annual operating profits, could afford this wage!
    Some of the poorest people in the world are being illegally robbed of their wages, driving them deeper into misery. Even the 33-cent an hour wage does not come close to meeting basic subsistence needs.
    This is why in Bangladesh there is no difference in the malnutrition rate of children whether their parents are unemployed or are working in factories sewing garments for the largest U.S. companies. Even the legal minimum wage is set too low to allow the workers to climb out of misery.
    No maternity leave: At Beximco, legal maternity leave is denied and benefits are not paid.
    Denied health care: By law, a factory the size of Beximco should have a health clinic, with a doctor present. Beximco has nothing. There is an empty first aid box for show. The women workers and their children have absolutely no health coverage or protection.
    Access to bathrooms limited: The workers need a ticket and permission to use the bathrooms. Access is limited and bathroom breaks are timed.
    Maltreatment/cursing/yelling: There is constant pressure to meet the high daily production goal; the workers are yelled at and cursed at to work faster.
    Cheated of their tiny savings: In Bangladesh there is a government regulated savings system whereby a small deduction is made each pay period from the workers' wages and deposited in the Provident Fund, which the factory maintains. The workers can withdraw their savings from this fund when they leave the factory or are fired. It functions as a kind of severance pay, to act as a bridge or means of support while new work is sought. But most workers at Beximco, who have been forced to leave, report that they are cheated of their savings.
    No worker has seen Walmart's Code of Conduct: Walmart says it has a corporate code of conduct which guarantees the human and worker rights of anyone sewing Walmart garments around the world. Even by industry standards, Walmart's code of conduct is very limited and extremely weak. Yet the workers at Beximco have never even seen this weak code of conduct. Walmart's code is not posted and it has never been explained to the workers. There has been no attempt to implement the code.
    No right to organize: In Bangladesh's EPZs, unions and collective contracts are prohibited by law. The workers have no rights; the government authorities do nothing to implement labor law. The workers are fired for daring to protest forced 24-hour shifts. Denied their right to organize, the workers are isolated and vulnerable -- easily cheated of their legal wages and benefits.
    Falling Real Wages
    Devaluation and inflation have further eroded the real purchasing power of the Bangledeshi workers' wages.
    The local currency, the taka, has lost 19% of its value against the U.S. dollar since 1995. (In 1995, there were TK 40.90 to $1.00. By October 1998, the taka had fallen to TK 48.50 to $1.00.)
    There is a five to six percent inflation rate each year.
    To Start of Section on Bangladesh
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    Greed in the Global Economy
    Walmart and its contractor pay no taxes to sew their garments in the Dhaka EPZ. All that they leave behind is the illegal 20-cent an hour wages and some small rent and fees.
    In 1998, total government revenues in Bangladesh amounted to $3.872 billion (TK 187.8 billion), a sum far too low to even provide the most basic services to the over 125 million people in the country.
    On the other hand, Walmart's sales in 1998 amounted to $137.6 billion, which means that Walmart's annual sales are 36 times greater than the total revenues of the Bangladeshi government. Yet Walmart does not pay a single cent in taxes or tariffs! Nothing!
    Bangladesh, one of the poorest nations in the world, is being forced to subsidize Walmart.
    Due to an inadequate tax base and overall low government revenues, Bangladesh must rely upon foreign aid to meet more than one-half of its entire development budget.
    In the United States, Walmart also seeks multi-million-dollar state, county and city subsidies as a condition for locating its stores. But there is another indirect subsidy as well: one half of Walmart's 720,000 employees, or "associates" as the company calls them, qualify for federal assistance under the food stamp program. Wages at Walmart, now the largest private sector employer in the U.S., start as low as $5.75 an hour.
    To Start of Section on Bangladesh
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    U.S. Companies Import 732 million garments a year from Bangladesh
    There are 1.2 million garment workers in Bangladesh.
    In 1998, U.S. companies imported $1.63 billion worth of apparel made in Bangladesh. This was a 12 percent increase from 1997.
    In 1998, Bangladesh exported 732 million garments to the U.S., making Bangladesh the 5th largest exporter worldwide of apparel to the United States.
    Apparel exports to the U.S. increased another 8 percent in the first three months of 1999; Bangladesh now sends the U.S. 67 million garments per month.
    We, the American people, are in a unique position to effect change. American companies import, and we purchase, a tremendous amount of garments made in Bangladesh each year. We have the voice to demand that Walmart and other U.S. companies respect the human and worker rights of the people of Bangladesh.
    To Start of Section on Bangladesh
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    What Can We Do?
    We can have an impact.
    We do have a voice.
    Walmart sells more clothing in North America than any other company in the United States or Canada. We purchase this clothing. That gives us a voice and the power to demand that Walmart respect human and worker rights in Bangladesh.
    Write to or Call Walmart:
    Mr. David Glass, President & CEO
    702 SW 8th Street
    Bentonville, AR 72716
    phone: (501) 273-4000
    fax: (501) 273-4894
    Urge Walmart to:
    Respect all local labor laws in Bangladesh, including EPZ wage regulations;
    Not cut and run, rather stay and work with Beximco management to bring the plant into compliance with local and international human and worker rights standards;
    Immediately reinstate all illegally fired workers, with back pay;
    Guarantee payment, at the very least, of all legal wage rates, overtime premiums, and benefits, especially maternity benefits and the savings fund;
    End the seven day a week forced overtime; all overtime must be voluntary and paid at double the standard hourly rate; ensure that the workers have at least one full day off a week;
    End the maltreatment and abuse of the workers and stop the monitoring of bathroom visits; and
    Respect the workers right to organize -- the most fundamental of all internationally recognized labor rights.
    To Start of Section on Bangladesh
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    Support the National Garment Workers Federation of Bangladesh
    The National Garment Workers Federation is struggling to defend the rights and dignity of the mostly young women workers in Bangladesh sewing garments for export to the U.S. and Canada. Workers in one of the poorest countries in the world are trying to defend themselves against the largest, most powerful multinationals in the world, like Walmart. If you can, write a letter to Walmart demanding respect for human and worker rights in Bangladesh; that is the most critical solidarity.
    You can also help greatly by contributing to a Women's Empowerment Project so that the National Garment Workers Federation can continue to reach out to these most vulnerable workers who are stripped of their rights and locked in the EPZ sewing the clothing that we wear.
    Even a dollar will help. Please be involved.
    Yes! I want to contribute solidarity to the EPZ Women's Empowerment Project in Bangladesh.
    ___$5 ___$10 ___$25 ___$50 ___other
    The National Labor Committee is a Non-Profit 501-(c)-(3). All donations are tax deductible. Every cent raised will go directly to the union in Bangladesh.
    Please call us if you have any questions or ideas.
    We are all in this together.
    Walmart should stop hiding its production around the world.
    Walmart should trust the American people. If Walmart's policy is not to profit by exploiting illegal sweatshop conditions around the world then why should they be afraid of providing the American people with the names and addresses of the factories that make the Walmart goods we purchase? Surely that is not too much to ask. It's just a matter of transparency.
    National Labor Committee
    275 Seventh Avenue, 15th Floor , New York, NY 10001
    Tel: 212-242-3002 ~ Fax: 212-242-3821
    To Start of Section on Bangladesh
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    Letter to Walmart President
    June 17, 1999
    Mr. David Glass, President and CEO
    702 Southwest 8th Street
    Bentonville, AK 72716
    fax: 501-273-8980

    Dear Mr. Glass:
    I am very concerned by serious human and worker rights violations at a Walmart contractor's factory in Bangladesh. At the Beximco factory in Dhaka Export Processing Zone, young women sewing clothing for Walmart are paid just 20 cents an hour, while their helpers are paid just 9 cents an hour. These wages are far below the regulation wage set for the Export Processing Zones, which itself is already well below subsistence levels. The young workers are forced to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. The "regular" work week is at least 80 hours! Rest days are few and far between. Workers have been illegally fired for being unable to work a 24-hour shift! Women have been cheated of their proper maternity benefits. The tiny workers' savings in the Provident Fund have been misappropriated. Freedom of association -- the core International Labor Organization worker rights standard, is completely denied at Beximco. There are numerous other violations at the factory, including screaming at the workers and monitoring and limiting their access to the bathroom.
    I want to be very clear that we do not want Walmart to pull out of the Beximco factory, but rather to stay and work with your contractor to guarantee that respect for human and worker rights is established at the factory. If Walmart cuts and runs, the real message you leave behind in Bangladesh is that whenever young women workers dare to speak up to defend their rights and dignity, they will be fired and dumped in the street -- of course, without a safety net, and with no savings since their wages are so inadequate. This would be the most irresponsible action Walmart could take. I urge you to stay and work to improve conditions at Beximco.
    Will Walmart insist that at least the regulation wage of 33 cents an hour be paid, and that all overtime will be strictly voluntary and compensated at the legal double-time premium? Will Walmart insist on immediate reinstatement of the illegally fired workers, with back pay? Will Walmart guarantee that the freedom of association is protected in the factory; that the maltreatment of the workers be ended, and that maternity leave be properly paid?
    Finally, I ask Walmart again, to trust the American people, who have the right to know in which factory and under what conditions the Walmart products we purchase are made. Surely, if Walmart is proud of the conditions under which your products are made, then there is nothing to hide. Will Walmart publicly disclose to the American people the names and addresses of the factories around the world where Walmart's goods are made? This would be the right thing to do, and it would show the world that Walmart is not trying to hide sweatshop abuses.
    I am anxiously awaiting your response.

    Charles Kernaghan
    To Start of Section on Bangladesh
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    Walmart Sweatshops in Honduras
    (The Following Information on Walmart was Obtained from the National Labor Committee Web-site)
    "Going into these factories is like entering prison, where you leave your life outside. The factory owners do not let--and don't want--the young workers to think for themselves. They want them to be stupid. The workers need permission to use the bathroom, and they are told when they can and cannot go.
    "Young women enter these factories at 14, 15, 16 and 17 years old. They become a mechanism of production, working 9 hours a day plus two, three or four hours overtime, performing the exact same piece operation over and over, day after day. A woman in the pressing department is required to iron 1,200 shirts a day, standing on her feet, her hands and fingers swell up from the hot iron. These young workers rarely last more than six years in the maquila, when they leave exhausted. They leave without having learned any useful skills or developed intellectually. These young workers entered the maquila with a sixth grade education, with no understanding of the maquila, the companies whose clothing they sew or the forces shaping where they fit into the global economy. They soon feel impotent, seeing that the Ministry of Labor does nothing, or almost nothing, to help defend their rights.
    Once the women start working in the maquila they often fall into debt. The wages are very low and no one can survive on them."
    --A Jesuit Priest in Honduras
    Factory Conditions in Honduras Where Walmart Clothing is Sewn
    Table of Contents:
    Walmart Production in Honduras
    Evergreen Factory, Rio Blanco Industrial Park
    Ecotex factory, Choloma
    Seolim Baracoa Factory, Omoa, Department of Cortes
    Uniwear Embroiders Honduras SA, Rio Blanco Industrial Park
    Forty-three Cents an Hour...The Base Wage in Honduras
    Trying to Survive on 43¢ an Hour
    Climbing Out of Misery on 79¢ an Hour!
    Honduran Free Trade Zones are Booming
    Walmart Squeezes Tiny Honduras for Tax Subsidy

    Forced overtime: In some factories workers have to work up to 14-hour daily shifts. On occasion there are mandatory 24-hour shifts, working right through the night, seven-day work weeks. If a worker cannot stay for the overtime, they are suspended without pay or fired.
    Starvation wages: the 43-cent-an-hour base wage meets only 54 percent of the cost of survival. Workers sewing Walmart clothing cannot afford to purchase milk, juice, meat, fish, fruit, cereals, or vitamins for their children. Nor can they afford to buy new clothing. Christmas is just like every other day for these families. There is no money for a special meal or even the cheapest of toys to give as gifts to their children.
    The majority of the workers are young women: some as young as 14, 15 or 16 years old. The women sit on hard wooden benches, without back rests, in long production lines of 60 or more sewers, for 12 hours a day or more, in a hot, windowless, dusty factory. They enter at 7 a.m. and leave at 7 p.m. when it is already dark. They are not allowed to talk, and they need permission to use the bathroom, which is monitored and limited. Everyone works by piece rate, repeating the same sewing operation 1,200 to 1,500 times a day. Often loud music is blasted in the factory, as if it will make the women work faster.
    Humiliation: It is common for the supervisors to scream and yell at the workers to go faster, and even to throw the garments in the women's faces if they see so much as a loose thread.
    Denial of sick days and health care: Permission to be absent is almost never given, even if there is a sick child at home that requires care. Though money is deducted from the workers' wages, they are rarely allowed to use the Social Security health clinic during working hours. Many factories simply cheat the workers by illegally pocketing their Social Security deductions. It is also common to be shortchanged of the legal vacation period.
    There is absolutely no right to freedom of association: The right to organize is totally denied. Anyone even suspected of organizing a union is immediately, and illegally, fired. The workers do not even have the right to meet so they can learn their rights, let alone raise a grievance.
    No worker in these factories ever heard of the Walmart Code of Conduct: Once again, the so-called Walmart human rights screening of contractors, their Code of Conduct and its implementation, in reality is completely phony. Once again, it is a failure.
    If Walmart actually believed in human rights, and they were not trying to cover up serious abuses, they would provide the American people with the names and addresses of the factories they use in Honduras and other countries around the world.
    Walmart must be made to comply with all local labor and human rights laws in Honduras.
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    Walmart Production in Honduras
    Evergreen Factory, Rio Blanco Industrial Park:
    Korean-owned; 630 workers. Sews McKids Walmart's children's clothing. (Also sews Arizona for J.C. Penney.)
    Forced overtime: Fourteen-hour shifts Monday through Friday, and nine-hour shifts on Saturdays and Sundays. Working seven days a week, 88 hours a week.
    In one four-month period, between March and July, 1998, there were constant, mandatory seven-day work weeks.
    Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. , Saturday, Sunday: 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    All overtime work is obligatory. Failure to work is punished with several days' suspension without pay, or by firing. Sometimes the workers were forced to put in 35-hour shifts, working from 7:00 a.m. right through the night and until 4:00 p.m. the next day.
    Forty-three cents an hour: The base wage at the Evergreen factory is 46.80 lempiras a day, or $3.47, which comes to 43 cents an hour. (46.80 lempiras ÷ 13.5 lmp/$1 = $3.47; $3.47 ÷ 8 hours = 43 cents.) If a worker received the seventh day attendance bonus, the weekly wage would be $24.27.
    Fire exits are blocked. As Evergreen does not own a warehouse, clothing materials and boxes are stacked everywhere, obstructing factory aisles and fire exits. The fire extinguishers are empty, and there is no first aid kit.
    The factory is very hot, especially in the area of production lines #1 and #2.
    Given the lack of adequate ventilation in parts of the factory, the air is heavy with lint from the cut clothing. This is especially the case in and near the cutting section. No protective respiratory masks are distributed to the workers.
    The bathrooms are filthy, and the workers must ask permission to use them, which is limited. For all 630 workers there are only four bathrooms for the men and eight for the women. It is common for the water to be off two to three hours a day. The stench coming from the bathrooms is intolerable.
    The workers are cheated of their Social Security health care. In Honduras, to qualify for the national Social Security health care system, four percent of the workers' wage is deducted. The company must then contribute an amount of money equal to eight percent of the workers' wages. This covers the worker and her children for medical exams, medicines and hospitalization. At Evergreen, the management stole the workers' Social Security deductions and pocketed the money. Of course, they did not pay their eight percent fee to the government either. Well over 80 percent of the workers at Evergreen were cheated like this, so they had no health care protection, even though they paid for it. (The amount of money involved is seemingly very small, though it is a life or death matter for the workers and their children. On average, perhaps $4.30 per month was stolen from the workers, while the company shortchanged the Social Security system by failing to contribute its $8.60 per month share for each worker. Given that around 567 workers were cheated, this saved the company over $7,300 per month.)
    The Evergreen factory has not, and will not, allow a union to be formed. The workers know that anyone who even thinks of it will be immediately fired.
    To Start of Section on Honduras
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    Ecotex factory, Choloma:
    Korean-owned; 250 to 300 workers.
    The workers at Ecotex had sewn Walmart clothing, recognizing and pointing out the McKids, White Stag, In Design and Simply Basic labels. Current production is for J.C. Penney. (Walmart and other company labels pass in and out of these factories depending on the season, the style and the size of the run.)
    Ecotex workers told us that there were "many minors working in the factory."
    Forced overtime--11-hour shifts Monday through Friday, and either a 3 ½ or an 8 ½-hour shift on Saturday, which means the workers were at the factory 53 ½ to 57 ½ hours a week. All overtime was obligatory.
    Sewers earned 46 cents an hour, which is well below subsistence levels.
    The workers need permission to drink water. If they fail to get permission, they are punished.
    The bathrooms are kept locked, and opened only two hours per shift. The workers need permission to use the bathroom, which is marked down and limited to one use per shift. There is no toilet paper.
    The garments the workers are working on are sometimes grabbed by the supervisors and thrown in the workers' faces, while they are screamed at for any "mistake," such as a loose thread hanging out.
    No absences are permitted. If a pregnant woman loses a day, or part of it, to go to the health clinic, she is docked two days' wages.
    The Ecotex workers complained of back pain (from the hard wooden benches without backs) and of bronchial problems and allergies from constantly breathing in the dust from the fabric.
    Here too, 1/3 of the workers were not subscribed into the Social Security health care system, although their wages were deducted. Factories' cheating workers of their Social Security deductions is a widespread practice in Honduras.
    Workers reported being shortchanged on their legal vacation time and pay.
    There is no right to freedom of association at the Ecotex factory. On August 1, the workers staged a spontaneous work stoppage for two or three hours, as a last resort to protest continuing maltreatments. Ecotex management responded by deducting four days' wages from the workers' pay checks. Following the work stoppage, four or five workers were illegally fired. The company suspected they were organizing a union.
    No worker had heard of the Walmart Code of Conduct. Certainly no explanation was ever given to the workers regarding Walmart's "commitment to assuring respect for human and worker rights.
    To Start of Section on Honduras
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    Seolim Baracoa Factory, Omoa, Department of Cortes:
    Korean-owned (Owner and general manager is Robert Wang); 300 workers. Seolim is currently sewing pants and shirts for Walmart carrying the White Stag and Faded Glory labels.
    Forced overtime: 57-to-61-hour work weeks. Monday through Friday: 7:15 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. , Saturday: 7:15 a.m. to noon or 4:00 p.m.
    43-cent-an-hour wages.
    70 to 72 workers on a production line have a daily quota of 1,300 finished garments to complete.
    For years there have been serious and widespread human and worker rights violations at the Seolim factory, including the hiring of minors, forced overtime, union busting through illegal firings and physical and verbal maltreatment.
    Now, Robert Wang is trying to close the factory and flee Honduras without paying back wages or the severance he owes the workers. He is secretly selling off the sewing machines while cutting production from eight to three-and-a-half lines.
    For over six months, there have been constant delays in payment of the workers' weekly wages. Nor have they received their 13th month's pay, a legal bonus which Seolim was supposed to pay at the beginning of the year.
    In September, when in desperation, the workers went on strike to demand the wages owed them and to protest the ongoing maltreatment, Robert Wang tried to bring a terrorism charge against the young workers.
    No worker has heard of, or was even aware of, the so-called Walmart Code of Conduct, which is supposed to guarantee the rights of these workers.
    Walmart must intervene immediately to guarantee payment of all back wages owed the workers, and to end the ongoing human and worker rights violations. If the Seolim factory does close, Walmart must see to it that the workers receive their proper legal severance payments. The workers' lives depend on this, since there is no unemployment insurance in Honduras, and since the wages are so low--actually below subsistence levels--no worker has any savings. They are forced to live from day to day, from hand to mouth.
    Walmart must not be allowed to walk away and abandon these workers who have sewn Walmart's clothing.
    To Start of Section on Honduras
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    Uniwear Embroiders Honduras SA, Rio Blanco Industrial Park:
    Korean-owned. This is a small factory of 30 workers who do embroidery on McKids girls' blouses under subcontract for other factories in the park.
    Forced overtime--74-hour, seven-day work week. Monday through Friday: 7:15 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday: 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    If a worker cannot stay for the mandatory overtime for any reason--for example, because there is a young child uncared for at home, or because the worker needs to attend night school to finish grammar or high school or because the worker is sick--they are suspended without pay for three days. The second time this happens the suspension is for five days, the third time for eight days and the fourth time, the worker is fired.
    Every worker must embroider 400 garments per day.
    The bathrooms are filthy; the workers are constantly screamed at; and there were the same irregularities with the workers' Social Security deductions.
    There is no right to organize.
    The workers never heard of any such thing as the Walmart Code of Conduct. When questioned about it, they had no idea what we were talking about.
    To Start of Section on Honduras
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    Forty-three Cents an Hour...The Base Wage in Honduras
    * 43¢ an hour (5.85 lempiras)
    * $3.47 per day (46.80 lempiras)
    * $24.27 per week (326.60 lempiras, i.e. if the worker is paid the 7th day "attendance bonus.")
    * $105.16 per month (1,419.60 lempiras)
    * $1,261.87 per year (17,035.20 lempiras)
    (There are 13.5 lempiras to $1 U.S.)
    Note: Real wages continue to fall in Honduras, as inflation is expected to reach 16.3% for 1998, and 13.7% in 1999--further eating away at the purchasing power of the workers' wages.
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    Trying to Survive on 43¢ an Hour
    Can a worker sewing Walmart clothing in Honduras survive on the 43¢-an-hour wage? Just barely, with a lot of misery and scrambling to make ends meet.
    Consider a worker's daily expenses.--Remember, she earns only $3.47 a day:
    * Round trip bus to work costs... $ .37
    * A small breakfast costs... $ .89
    * A modest lunch of rice, tortillas, a scrap of chicken costs... $ 1.33
    subtotal: $ 2.59
    Just surviving and getting to and from work costs $2.59 a day, leaving only 80¢ out of your $3.47 daily pay. How can the worker and her family survive on only 80¢ a day?
    Rent, for the cheapest one-room hovel in a dangerous neighborhood costs 350 lempiras a month, or $26, which come to--- daily cost for rent $ .86
    If the worker pays the rent, there is nothing left over, in fact, she is in debt. What about food for the family, school costs, utilities, clothes, doctors bills, medicines?
    Food--for a family of five, the most basic subsistence diet, surviving without meat, fish, vitamins, milk, cereals, fruit, cheese, juice--costs $22.74 per week (307 lempiras). This diet consists mostly of beans, rice, tortillas, potatoes, pasta, eggs and coffee.
    If a worker were to purchase two pounds of meat it would cost $3.27, nearly an entire day's wages. A pound of cheese would cost 4 ½ hours work. Even to strictly ration out small portions of milk to three children for the week would cost five hours' wages. So the families must go without.
    For a family just to survive, they would need to allocate $3.25 a day for food, which is just 65 cents per person per day. But on the wages the workers earn sewing Walmart garments, not even this can be afforded.
    School: What if a family has a child in public school? When the school year opens in September, it costs 500 lempiras--a week and a half's wages--to purchase the required uniforms, shoes, notebooks and pencils and school books.
    School lunches for each child cost between $3.70 and $4.44 per week, or 74¢ to 88¢ each day.
    Day Care: The companies, by law, are supposed to provide day care for the workers' children. They do not. Safe but basic day care costs 200 lempiras a week--over four days' wages! Who can afford this?
    So, these families are trapped in misery. Despite the fact that they sew Walmart clothing up to 14 hours a day, no worker we spoke with could afford to purchase new clothing. Everything they buy for themselves and their families is used clothing--returned from the U.S.
    The women told us that Christmas is "just like every other day" for their families, since they "have no money for special foods or gifts." Even the smallest cardboard toys are out of reach.
    Many women fall into debt, forced to live on credit. Interest on a loan is 20% per week.
    Even the United States government has been forced to conclude:
    "The minimum wage [in Honduras] is considered insufficient to provide for a decent standard of living for a worker and family."
    -- U.S. Commerce Department report, February 17, 1998
    Several private physicians who treat women from the maquila confirm that the workers' children are malnourished, suffering low body weight and repeated illnesses, especially respiratory and gastro-intestinal infections. Also, since there is no sufficient, affordable day care and the mothers are at work so many hours, the children are growing up deprived, with no motivation to develop.
    These doctors also noted pronounced bronchial hyperactivity, asthma and bronchitis among the maquila workers, which they could only attribute to the cloth dust which permeates the factory air.
    To Start of Section on Honduras
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    Climbing Out of Misery on 79¢ an Hour!
    The factory workers in Honduras told us they could survive, very poorly, but at least climb out of misery, if they earned 79¢ an hour, or $6.35 per day. This would amount to $44.44 a week.
    Surely Walmart could afford this very, very easily. Walmart made $7.6 billion operating profit last year, and CEO David Glass pays himself $2,000 an hour--of course, not to mention the hundreds of millions in stock options he takes.
    Nor would Honduras lose its low wage "competitive advantage" that the multinationals hunger for, since 79¢-an-hour wages are still less than 1/10th of U.S. apparel wages.
    Walmart can and must pay the workers sewing their clothing a living wage--even if that is as low as 79 cents an hour in Honduras.
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    Honduran Free Trade Zones are Booming
    * Honduras is now the 4th largest exporter of apparel to the United States worldwide (following only China/Hong Kong, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.)
    * In 1997, apparel exports from Honduras to the U.S. were up 36 percent over 1996, reaching $1.7 billion.
    * In the first six months of 1998, apparel exports were up another 20 percent (20.14%).
    * There are over 100,000 maquila workers in Honduras, mostly young women sewing clothing in 151 factories for export to the U.S.
    * This year, Honduras will export 480 million garments to the United States, with a value of $2 billion.
    * A new law has turned the entire country of Honduras into one giant free trade zone, where assembly factories--domestic and foreign--can set up anywhere tax free.
    * The only thing that is not booming is respect for worker rights and a living wage.
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    Walmart Squeezes Tiny Honduras for Tax Subsidy
    Walmart clothing is produced in Honduras tax free. Walmart and its contractors use free trade zones, which are 100 percent tax free--no corporate taxes, no entry or exit tariffs, not even a sales tax can be collected. It is as if Walmart and the other multinationals force the Honduran government to subsidize their manufacturing operations there. If Walmart were not granted these tax breaks, they would move to another country.
    All this despite the fact that Walmart's annual sales of $118 billion are 98 times greater than the entire national budget of the country of Honduras, which is $1.2 billion. At the same time, Honduras continues to stagger under a $4.3 billion foreign debt.
    The only things Walmart leaves behind in Honduras are the below-subsistence 43-cent-an-hour wage and the factory rent--nothing else. This is easily demonstrated. There are very few backward linkages from these free trade zones to the local economy. In fact, 81 percent of the total value of the maquila export is composed of foreign inputs, and only 19 percent is value added in Honduras. In other words, Walmart and the other multinationals are simply chasing low wages and no labor rights regulations. This is no long range development strategy.
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    Walmart: Words Versus Reality
    (The Following Information on Walmart was Obtained from the National Labor Committee Web-site)
    July 1999
    Walmart says it has a Code of Conduct and monitoring program which guarantees respect for the human rights of any worker, anywhere in the world, who produces goods for sale in Walmart stores. But in Saipan the reality for the women sewing Walmart clothing is:
    10-to-12-hour shifts, seven days a week
    $3 an hour wages
    Young women fired and deported for becoming pregnant, refusing to work overtime without pay, or complaining about working or living conditions.

    Table of Contents
    Walmart Says
    Then why is Walmart being sued?
    Walmart in Saipan
    Here’s how the system operates
    Walmart’s Zero Tolerance for Human Rights Violators
    Walmart on Monitoring
    Walmart Says Its Factories Are Just Too Good To Disclose Their Whereabouts
    Gap, J. Crew, and The Limited all used the Mirage factory along with Walmart! What Secrecy? It is all a hoax!
    Working for The Limited and Nordstrom in Saipan
    Nor does Walmart support independent verification of factory conditions or payment of a living wage

    Walmart says:
    "Walmart is a success because its associates are considered partners and a strong level of teamwork has developed within the company. Walmart expects the spirit of its commitment to be reflected by its Vendor Partners with respect to their employees.”
    (Walmart Stores, Inc. “Standards for Vendor Partners”)
    “Walmart favors vendor partners who have a social and political commitment to basic principles of human rights.” (Ibid.)
    “Walmart encourages industry standards to be continually improving.”
    (Walmart’s “Standards for Vendor Partners,” June 1997)
    “Walmart is proud of the numerous inroads and improvements our factory certification programs have brought to factories all over the world.”
    (Walmart press release, March 18, 1998)
    “We are diligent about the enforcement of those codes and the consequences of violating them.”
    “A strong policy is the beginning. The key is our diligent enforcement of those policies.”
    (Walmart’s “Standards for Vendor Partners,” June, 1997)
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    Then why is Walmart being sued?
    The reality is that Walmart is now being sued in a class action suit being brought by the law firm Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes and Lerach LLP for either knowingly or recklessly and negligently disregarding the systematic violation of human and worker rights at its contractor’s factory in the U.S. Commonwealth of Saipan. Walmart is being sued for conspiring to hold workers in conditions of peonage and indentured servitude.
    Walmart and the other “Retailer Defendants who purchase and sell these garments (and, therefore, have the greatest control over the conduct of their contractors to correct such conduct as a precondition of doing business with them) are aware of or recklessly or negligently disregarding these conditions, even though many of these retailers either have offices in Saipan, visit the factories for quality control purposes and/or claim to have extensive monitoring programs in place, purportedly to prevent the very conditions that exist in garment industry of the CNMI (Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands). These Retailer Defendants profit from this system, participating in an unlawful enterprise with the garment factory owners, recruitment agencies and others to unlawfully evade laws prohibiting peonage, indentured servitude and violation of internationally recognized civil and human rights, and are therefore responsible to the class of workers sought to be represented for the violations of law described herein.”
    (United States District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division, 1999)
    Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes and Lerach, LLP
    355 South Grand Avenue, Suite 4170
    Los Angeles, CA 90071
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    Walmart in Saipan
    Between 1994 and 1998, Walmart imported 7.3 million pounds of clothing made in Saipan, with a retail value of at least $88 million.
    Saipan is part of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. Commonwealth in the South Pacific. This allowed Walmart and the other retailers to say their clothing was “Made in the USA.”
    Though Saipan is a U.S. Commonwealth and considered U.S. soil, it is not covered by U.S. minimum wage or immigration laws. This is how Walmart got away with paying $3-an-hour wages to contract workers brought in from China.
    From Saipan, Walmart and the other retailers could export their clothing duty-free to the U.S., with absolutely no quota restrictions. Walmart and the others saved over $200 million a year by avoiding U.S. duties and tariffs. Such a system also allowed China to get around its quota restrictions by simply shifting production to Saipan and entering the U.S. through the back door.
    Overall, about 85 percent of the $1 billion of clothing made in Saipan each year and sent to the U.S. was considered “sensitive apparel,” meaning that there were significant job loss and plant closings in the U.S. where this type of apparel was being made.
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    Walmart’s clothing is made in Saipan at a factory called Mirage.
    Here’s how the system operates:
    Walmart Says: Buy American Policy
    “Walmart has a strong commitment to buy as much merchandise made in the United States as feasible. Vendor Partners are encouraged to buy as many materials and components from the United States as possible. Further, Vendor Partners are encouraged to establish U.S. manufacturing operations.”
    (Walmart Stores Inc. “Standards for Vendors”)
    “Made Right Here, Walmart’s unprecedented commitment to purchase from American vendor-partners whenever pricing . . . is comparable to goods made offshore . . .” (“A Good Neighbor” 1998, Walmart web page. Emphasis added)
    But the Reality is:
    Fifteen thousand, mostly young women, were brought from China as contract workers to Saipan, where they were employed in sweatshops which are 70 percent foreign-owned, using foreign machinery, foreign textiles, and overseen by foreign managers, sewing clothing for export to the U.S.
    Of all Walmart’s private label apparel, only 17% is made in the U.S.! 83% is made offshore.
    The women sewing U.S. garments in Saipan could be fired and deported if:
    They fell in love;
    Got married;
    Became pregnant (terminate pregnancy or be deported);
    Participated in political or religious activities;
    Failed to meet their daily production quota;
    Refused to work overtime, including unpaid “volunteer” hours;
    Criticized working or living conditions;
    Participated in any activities which lessened their energy for work;
    Refused to lie to inspectors regarding safety conditions at work, the number of hours worked, the true number of women living in each barracks room;
    Asked for a higher wage;
    Tried to organize a union.
    Remember, these are conditions at factories on U.S. soil making garments for Walmart and the other major retailers.
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    Walmart’s Zero Tolerance for Human Rights Violators
    “Since 1992, Walmart has required its vendor-partners to comply with stringent standards in their relationships with contractors and subcontractors.” (Jay Allen, Walmart Vice President for Corporate Affairs, March 23, 1998 letter)
    “Walmart has zero-tolerance for forced...labor, as well as mental or physical disciplinary practices.” (Walmart “Standards for Vendor Partners,” June 1997)
    “We favor Vendor Partners who utilize less than sixty-hour work weeks, and will not use suppliers who, on a regularly scheduled basis, require employees to work in excess of a sixty-hour week.”
    “Walmart prefers work weeks limited to sixty hours per week with one day off per seven-day week.” (Walmart’s “Standards for Vendor Partners” June 1997)
    “Employees should be permitted reasonable days off and leave privileges.” (Ibid.)
    “Walmart favors Vendor Partners who have a social and political commitment to basic principles of human rights and who do not discriminate against their employees . . . on the basis of national origin, gender, religion . . . or political opinions.” (Ibid.)
    “Factories working on Walmart merchandise shall provide adequate medical facilities, fire exits and safety equipment, well lit work stations, clean restrooms, and adequate living quarters when necessary.” (Walmart Stores, Inc. “Standards for Vendor Partners”)
    “Walmart asks Vendors to provide safe, clean, and healthy working conditions for their employees.” (Walmart’s “Standards for Vendor Partners,” June 1997)
    While in Reality, Human Rights Were Completely Trampled
    This is how the conspiracy to strip the workers of their rights was organized in Saipan.
    Private employment agencies working with the Saipan contractors sent recruiters to China, where they told young women that they could get good, well-paying jobs in the U.S., working in clean and safe factories, all travel expenses paid. If they wanted to work, all they had to do was sign on the dotted line and everything would be taken care of for them.
    However, they would have to pay a small recruitment fee to the agency, ranging from $2,000 to $7,000. For that, they would get a one-year work contract in Saipan.
    Once in Saipan, they would be housed in dorms in the factory compound and fed. For this they would have to pay $200 a month, $100 for food and $100 for dorm expenses.
    The women were given just a one-year work contact and they had to stay with the contractor they were delivered to.
    They were paid just $3 an hour. Now, imagine if they worked a 45-hour week. This would mean they would earn $135 a week.
    The average recruitment fee the Chinese women had to pay was $5,000. In addition, they would have to pay $2,400 for food and dorm expenses for the year ($200/mo food & dorm x 12 months = $2,400). That means that the women have to pay off $7,400 in expenses to the company during their one-year contract. But if they work 45 hours a week for the entire year, they will only earn $7,020 - which is even less than their expenses.
    Two things are clear here. One, the women didn’t work 45-hour weeks. Two, they were being held under conditions of peonage, bound financially to the factory. As much as 90 percent of their wages went to pay off their expenses until their debt was cleared. These women were in the position of indentured servants.
    In fact, the Federal-CNMI Initiative on Labor stated that the “[Clinton] Administration continues to be concerned about the CNMI’s heavy and unhealthy dependence upon an indentured alien worker program and on trade loopholes to expand its economy.” (Fourth Annual Report, Class Action Law Suit, page 68)
    Forced, underpaid overtime
    Unreachable quotas
    84-hour work week
    24-hour shifts
    Factory temperature of 100 deg. F
    Passports and Visas confiscated
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    Walmart on Monitoring: The company runs a tight ship - or so they say
    “Walmart is giving greater emphasis than ever to making sure our associates, manufacturers and others understand our strict standards and the consequences of non-compliance.” (Jay Allen, “Walmart Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Letter, November 4, 1998)
    “The Company is proud of its factory inspection program and believes that much good has been accomplished through the program.”
    “Each year, Walmart’s exclusive buying agent inspects every factory that produces goods for which Walmart is the importer of record.” (Walmart’s Notice of Annual Meeting of Shareholders, June 6, 1997)
    “Vendor Partners shall designate . . . one or more of its officers to inspect each of its facilities which produces merchandise sold to Walmart. Such inspections shall be done on at least a quarterly basis to insure compliance with the standards...” (Walmart Stores, Inc., “Standards for Vendor Partners)
    Factory Life in Saipan: 10 to 12 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week
    The regular work week is 10 hours a day, seven days a week. However, on a regular basis the women would be paid for only 8 hours, being forced to work the extra hours for free. This was very common at Walmart’s contractors’ factory where the women were obligated to “volunteer” 12 to 14 hours a week to the company, unpaid. Across Saipan, workers are routinely and illegally underpaid overtime hours.
    One way the factories sought to avoid paying legal overtime premiums was to set the daily production quota so high that no worker could possibly reach her quota in the regular eight hours. Then the workers were forced to stay until they fulfilled their goal. Or if they made “mistakes,” they were forced to remain without pay until all the repairs were completed.
    Days off for rest were minimal. It was not uncommon to be forced to stay for 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, put-ting in an 84-hour workweek. At some of the factories, they kept the women working right through the night, putting in a 24-hour work day, when shipments had to get out.
    Temperatures in the factories could reach 100 degrees and little clean drinking water was available to the workers. It gets even worse - If you speak up to defend yourself you will be fired and deported.
    Along with the one-year work contract, most workers also had to sign a “shadow contract” with their employer. At any rate, everyone knew what the reality was.
    In some of the factories, management confiscated the passports and visas of the workers.
    Everyone knew that if they violated factory “rules” they could be fired and deported, and could face arrest when they arrived in China. They would also be facing huge debts, having to immediately pay off the recruitment fee and return airfare to China. They and their families would be ruined. They had no money. So they could be jailed, or forced to live indefinitely in debt.
    These Are No College Dorms&ldots;
    When they weren’t locked in the factory, typically 4 to 6 women would share one 10 by 25-foot, hot, often insect-infected room. The food would be poorly prepared and often inedible. In many of the barracks, water was turned on only 15 minutes a day for bathing. Even drinking water was not provided on a regular basis.
    The dorms were guarded and surrounded by barbed wire. Even when they weren’t working, the women’s movements were severely restricted. They were given specific curfews. In some barracks, guards demanded that the women account for their whereabouts before they could leave.
    Here is what the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) had to say about the barracks conditions endured by the workers in Saipan who were sewing garments for export to the U.S. According to the class action suit:
    “During the first half of 1997, OSHA sent four inspection teams to the CNMI and found over 500 violations in the labor barracks alone. Inspectors confirmed the claims of Class members that barracks were unhealthy, with overcrowding, unsanitary facilities, dirty and inoperable toilets, dirty kitchens and electrical hazards. Further, federal investigators noted evidence of Class members being abused or fired for complaining about these poor facilities. During the most recent inspections carried out in February 1998, the OSHA Regional Administrator noted in an interview with a local news agency that working conditions in Saipan were worsening. In fact, since 1993, there have been over one thousand regulatory violations identified by OSHA inspectors in the CNMI garment factories with which the Retailer Defendants do business.” (Class Action Suit, pg. 69)
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    Walmart Says Its Factories Are Just Too Good To Disclose Their Whereabouts
    According to Walmart spokeswoman Betsy Reithemeyer : “If we find a very good factory we want to keep it to ourselves.” “This is very competitive,” she said. (Providence Journal Bulletin, June 19, 1998)
    Jay Allen, Walmart’s Vice President of corporate affairs, also weighed in opposing public disclosure of the factory locations where Walmart goods are produced.
    “The media has not been so quick to report on Walmart’s aggressive program to help prevent child labor and human rights abuses by manufacturers who produce apparel and other merchandise sold in our stores.” Mr. Allen continued, “We are outraged when we discover a manufacturer has violated our strict standards and produced merchandise under sweatshop conditions.”
    Then why oppose transparency in the global economy? Why shouldn’t the American people be trusted? Why won’t Walmart take the simple step of disclosing the names and locations of the factories around the world that produce Walmart goods? This would be the most direct way to show that Walmart isn’t trying to hide sweatshop abuses from the American people.
    Here’s what Mr. Allen has to say: “Recently, there have been requests for retailers to reveal the locations of the factories their suppliers use. As with many aspects of the apparel business, the factories used to produce merchandise provide a competitive advantage to retail suppliers. The industry standard and practice is not to reveal the factories or their locations, just as businesses do not talk about all of their sources. Walmart and our vendors adhere to these industry standards and practices.” (Jay Allen, Walmart Vice-President, November 4th, 1998 Letter)
    No one would doubt that finding a factory making clothing carrying the “Made in the U.S.A.” label while paying the workers $2.15 below the U.S. minimum wage, forcing them to work 70 to 84 hours a week, cheating them of their overtime pay, and firing and deporting them if they fail to meet their excessively high daily production goal or dare criticize their working conditions, gives Walmart a “competitive advantage.”
    That is exactly why the American people have the right to know where, in which factory, under what human rights conditions, and at what wages the products we purchase are made. Full public disclosure of factory locations brings desperately needed transparency to the global economy, so companies can be held accountable to respect human rights and pay a living wage. Trust but verify. Once the locations of the factories are known, independent respected local religious, human rights, and labor rights organizations can verify compliance with human and worker rights.
    But independent verification is exactly what Walmart is afraid of. Why?
    Consider Walmart’s production in Saipan. Is this what they are trying to hide?
    In the Mirage factory in Saipan, young women from China sew Walmart clothing 70 hours a week for $3 an hour.
    Here’s how one of the woman plaintiffs in the class action suit describes conditions at Mirage (to prevent serious retaliation she is referred to as “Doe I”): Page 8 Class Action Lawsuit
    “Doe I fears that if her true identity is revealed, she will face actual physical violence, deportation to China, an acceleration of the debt she incurred for her recruitment fees, other retribution reflecting her ability to earn sufficient funds for subsistence, and similar threats of economic and physical retaliation to her family in China. During the time of her employment, Doe I was threatened by managers and supervisors of defendant Mirage Inc. with being deported if she complained about imposed involuntary time, as she and other workers were required to provide 12-14 voluntary hours per week for which they were not paid. Doe I was told by fellow workers that employees that become pregnant while in Saipan had to either terminate the pregnancy or would be deported. Doe I was told by her supervisor to work with an injured finger, as well as to remove safety guards after any inspectors left the garment factory to speed up production. Little water was provided to her in the factory, she received poor, often inedible food, and the factory only had two restrooms and six unkempt toilets for 250 women.”
    Trade Secret? Hardly, since every other retailer knows which factories the other companies are using. In fact, in any given factory, several retailers’ labels are being sewn side by side.
    There is another problem with Walmart’s claim that it must keep its “very good” factories secret for rear of competition. The problem is that the competition is also using the Mirage factory in Saipan and their labels are being sewn simultaneously alongside Walmart’s clothing.
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    Gap, J. Crew, and The Limited all used the Mirage factory along with Walmart! What Secrecy? It is all a hoax!
    Recently the National Labor Committee asked a buyer for major U.S. retailers about the secrecy of factory locations. Her response was: “What secrecy? Why do you need disclosure? Everyone already knows what factories the companies are using. It is no secret, nothing is being hidden.”
    In other words, everyone in the industry already knows what factories the companies are using. The only people who don’t know are the American people. And Walmart wants to keep it like that.
    When we pressed the buyer further, she explained that: “no company wants to give up its new styles. For example, if The Gap had a new tank top going into production, they would not want the details of the style being broadcast publicly before the garment was well into production and ready for shipping into the U.S.”
    But we don’t care about the style of the garment, and we have never asked for it. All we want to know is which factories Walmart is using around the world to produce the goods we purchase in their stores.
    There is no legal justification for keeping factory locations secret. Mere factory location does not constitute trade secret. Further, there are no exclusive contracts. As we have seen, the various labels of several different retailers are commonly produced side by side in any factory.
    What conclusions can there be, other than that Walmart opposes full public disclosure in order to continue to hide its sweatshop production around the world.
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    Working for The Limited in Saipan
    Limited garments are sewn at the American Pacific factory in Saipan. The Class Action plaintiff is here referred to as Doe VI, for fear that if her real identity is revealed she could face actual physical violence and deportation to China.
    Page 12 of the Class Action suit:
    “Upon arriving at defendant American Pacific’s facilities in China, Doe VI’s passport and visa were confiscated by defendant’s management and she was threatened with deportation if she did not meet her quotas or complained about working conditions. Doe VI reported witnessing workers being whipped with rags by American Pacific manager if they did not meet their quota and using obscenities such as the workers “needed to be treated like dogs” to get them to work. Doe VI’s living quarters were insect and rat-infested, and she shared 20 square meters of space with three other women. When Doe VI recently requested to leave the CNMI to return to China, one American Pacific manager began to beat her and pull her hair, cutting her hands in the process and leaving her arms severely bruised.”
    Working For Nordstrom In Saipan
    Nordstrom clothing is sewn at the Global Manufacturing Inc. plant in Saipan. The class action plaintiff is referred to as Doe V, for fear of retaliation should her identity be known.
    Page 11 of the class action suit:
    “Upon arriving at defendant Global Manufacturing facilities from China, Doe V’s passport and visa were confiscated by Global management and, during a new employee meeting, she was threatened with deportation if she did not meet her quotas, complained about working or living conditions, became pregnant, attended church services, or otherwise used energy that should be devoted to work. Doe V was denied medical care despite requesting to see a doctor. Doe V’s housing quarters were insect and rat-infested and surrounded by a fence, and she shared a 10 square meter space with one other woman. Doe V personally witnessed a warning by Global Manufacturing Inc. management that a worker who was pregnant would be sent home to China, and therefore unable to pay the debt incurred for the recruiting fee, if she did not terminate her pregnancy.”
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    Nor does Walmart support independent verification of factory conditions or payment of a living wage
    Walmart’s position is:
    “Walmart believes that it is extremely impractical for a retailer to monitor community wages on a global basis. It is also impractical for Walmart, or any other retailer, to monitor purchasing power on a global basis, especially when the company has no direct contractor relationship with the suppliers.”
    “The shareholder resolution also asks Walmart to take steps that are too broad. For example, the proponents want Walmart to force vendors to raise wages beyond legally required minimum wages and to pay outside corporations with little or no factory inspection experience to conduct inspections. The company believes that these portions of the proposal could be very costly, placing the company at a competitive advantage, while having little real impact.”
    (Shareholder resolution brought by the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Pension and Health Benefits/ Walmart’s Notice of Annual Meeting of Shareholders, June 6, 1997.)
    In other words, Walmart refuses to open its factories to respected religious and human rights organizations - who are not on Walmart’s payroll - to independently verify compliance with respect for human rights. This way Walmart can continue to hide its sweatshop production around the world, including1000 factories in China alone! For anyone who would actually care enough to look, it is clear that minimum wages around the developing world are often set well below subsistence levels, as poor nations are locked into a desperate competition to attract multinational investment and jobs. Take El Salvador, for example, where Walmart sources production. The minimum wage is just 60 cents an hour. No one can survive on that wage. To climb out of misery and into poverty, a worker would need to earn about $1.18 an hour. Would that be too much for Walmart to afford, given its $7.6 billion a year in operating profits?
    If Walmart did the right thing they could have a huge impact on the global economy. Walmart’s annual sales of 137.6 billion are larger than the GDP - the entire economic output - of 155 countries, and there are only 192! Imagine if Walmart acted responsibly!
    For more information on the Saipan Class Action Lawsuit, go to the Milberg, Weiss law firm’s website at: Search on “Walmart.”
    For more information about Walmart’s practices around the world or to request a copy of the Saipan Class Action suit, contact the National Labor Committee.
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    Please Send A Letter to Walmart
    (sample letter provided by the National Labor Committee)

    It is always best to individualize these letters and to put them on your organization's letterhead--but please do write. We need to swamp Walmart with solid letters so they feel the pressure of the decency of the American people.
    We know it is a pain, but it helps immensely for the National Labor Committee/People of Faith Network to receive a copy of your letter. This way we can spread the word.
    Model Letter:

    Mr. David Glass, President & CEO
    702 SW 8th Street
    Bentonville, AR 72716
    fax: (501) 273-4894

    Dear Mr. Glass:
    My family and I do not want to purchase products made by children or in sweatshops where teenaged girls are forced to work 12-hour shifts under armed guard, or by exploited workers paid just pennies an hour and whose families are forced to live in misery. It is wrong that their children are raised on coffee and sugar water because these families cannot afford to even purchase milk.
    I urge Walmart to be a true industry leader in taking a stand for human rights by releasing to the American people the names and addresses of the factories around the world that make the products sold in Walmart's stores. This would set a clear standard of accountability, demonstrating that Walmart has nothing to hide from the American people. It would show the world that Walmart does not, and will not, manufacture its goods in factories hidden behind locked metal gates, barbed wire and armed guards.
    For the American people to shop with a conscience, it is our right to know in which countries and factories, under what human rights conditions, and at what wages, the products we purchase are made.
    There is no reason that this could not be done immediately. It is common for Walmart, Kmart, May Co., J.C. Penney and other retailers' private label goods to be made side by side in the same factories. In fact, just a handful of the same manufacturers dominate production for all the retailers. Nor am I aware of any exclusive contracts that Walmart has with specific factories. It is also common sense--we are not speaking about advanced spy satellites, but rather women's undergarments, t-shirts, stuffed animals, sneakers and jeans. Surely Walmart can trust the American people with a list of these factories.
    I intend to share this information in my community with local religious, labor, student and other interested organizations, including the media. I am anxious to hear from you, so that together with Walmart we can begin to finally eradicate the scourge of child labor and sweatshop abuses. Thank you.
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    What If Walmart, J.C. Penney and other U.S. Companies Were Actually Lowering Standards in China?
    (The Following Information on Walmart was Obtained from the National Labor Committe Web-site)
    American companies actually lowering working and living conditions and human rights standards in a developing country as poor as China? It does not sound possible. Yet that is exactly what is happening, as American companies shift their production from larger publicly-owned factories in the north of China, to booming foreign privately-owned sweatshops in the south. Work is being removed from factories in northern provinces such as Tianjin, and relocated hundreds of miles south to Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces near the port of Shanghai, and to Guangdong province right above Hong Kong.
    In the north, in the publicly-owned factories, wages may average 50 cents an hour, while in the foreign, privately-owned factories in the south, wages are as low as 13 cents an hour. In the larger northern factories workers must receive health and social security benefits, worker compensation, pension insurance, child care, sick days and continuing education. In the new privately-owned factories in the south the workers receive little or no benefits. In the state-owned enterprises in the north, excessive overtime is prohibited, while in the south work shifts of 12 to 14 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week, are not uncommon. In the north the overtime rate is paid, in the south it is not. In the north part-time work is prohibited, as is subcontracting. It is the opposite in the privately-owned factories in the south, which are tied into a vast subcontracting network, and where the majority of workers are hired on a contingency basis. When there is work, you get paid, and when there is no work you do not get paid. In the south, the housing for migrant workers is poorer, as is the food, and there is less concern for health and safety protections. In the north the factories are regulated, in the southern provinces along the coast above Hong Kong they are unregulated. Depending on local incentives, taxes in the south are also lower.
    With little red tape or regulations in the way, foreign factory managers in the south often deny employees their legal work contracts, and nothing stands in the way of widespread arbitrary firings. As the majority of workers are young women from the countryside, with little formal education, often unaware of their legal rights, and who have never heard of U.S. Corporate Codes of Conduct, they are more easily intimated.
    Where do you think the U.S. companies are headed? They are going south. Walmart, for example, is now in the process of pulling its last production orders out of Tianjin in the north and relocating its work to the lower-wage, unregulated factories in the south. Sears is doing the same.
    The American companies will probably respond in the abstract, that this is how the free market operates, and that they have to seek out lower costs and greater flexibility to be able to meet their customers changing demands. What they will not explain, in the concrete, is how they are doing this in China through slashing wages and benefits, undermining social safety nets, subcontracting, excessive overtime and the systematic denial of fundamental worker and human rights.
    This means that today there are far more garments entering the U.S. which were manufactured in China under unregulated sweatshop conditions with sub-subsistence wages and excessive forced overtime.
    Top of Page
    Address & Links to Organizations
    Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras, 3120 W. Ashby, San Antonio, TX 78228 Phone: (210) 732-8957 ~ E-mail:
    Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), 19 W. 21st Street, #502 New York, NY 10010, Phone: (212) 229-1290 ~ E-mail: ~ URL:
    Committee for Labor Rights Phone: (541)344-5410 E-mail:
    50 Years Is Enough, 1247 E Street, SE, Washington, DC 20003 Phone: 202-IMF-BANK (202-463-2265) ~ Fax: 202-544-9359 ~
    Global Exchange, 2017 Mission Street, suite 303, San Francisco, CA 94110 Phone: (415)255-7296 ~ Fax: (415)255-7498 ~ E-mail: ~ URL:
    International Federation of Commercial, Clerical, Professional and Technical Employees Phone: +41 22 979-0311 ~ Fax: +41 22 796-5321 ~ E-mail: ~
    International Labor Rights Fund, 733 15th Street, NW Suite 920, Washington, DC 20005 Phone: (202)347-4100 ~ Fax: (202)347-4885 ~ E-mail: ~ URL:
    Labor Defense Network (part of the Latin America Emergency Response Network), Coordinator, Soren Ambrose, 1247 "E" Street SE, Washington, DC 20003 ~ Phone: (202) 544-9355 ~ E-mail:
    National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, 1607 W. Howard, Suite 218, Chicago, IL 60626, Phone: 773-381-2832, E-mail:, ~ URL:
    National Labor Committee, 275 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10001 Phone: (212) 242-3002, E-mail: ~ URL:
    PCUN: Northwest Union of Farmworkers and Treeplanters, 300 Young Street, Woodburn, OR 97071 Phone: 503-982-0243 ~ E-mail: ~ URL:
    Press for Change, Coordinator, Jeff Ballinger, P.O. Box 230, Bayonne, NJ 07002 Phone: 201-768-8120 / 202-638-1515
    Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers, Craftsmen Hall, 3909 Centre Street, #210, San Diego, CA 92103 Phone: 619-542-0826 ~ E-mail:
    UNITE (the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees), Staffperson, Ginny Coughlin, 232 W. 40th Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10018 Phone: (212) 819-0959 ~ Fax: (212) 819-0885 ~ E-mail: ~ URL:
    United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America, 2400 Oliver Building, 535 Smithfield Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 Phone: (412) 471-8919 ~ E-mail:
    United Farm Workers (UFW), P.O. Box 62, La Paz, Keene, CA 93531 Phone: 408-763-4820 E-mail: ~ URL:
    United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), 1413 K St. NW, 9th Floor, Washington, DC 20005 Phone: 202-NO-SWEAT (202-667-9328) ~ Fax: 202-393-5886 ~ E-mail: ~ URL:
    U.S./Guatemala Labor Education Project (U.S./GLEP), Executive Director, Stephen Coats, P.O. Box 268-290, Chicago, IL 60626 Phone: (312) 262-6502 ~ Fax: (312) 262-6602 ~ E-mail:
    Witness for Peace, 110 Maryland Ave. NE, Suite 304, Washington, DC 20002-5622 Phone: (202) 544-0781 ~ E-mail: ~ URL:
    Al Norman's home page author of Slamdunking Walmart (available by calling 877-dun-kwal) and publisher of the monthly Sprawl-Busters Alert.

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