As Wal-Mart Workers Plan Record Black Friday Protests, Study Says Retail Giant Can Afford Higher Pay
As Black Friday approaches, Wal-Mart workers and activists are planning another round of protests and strikes at the nation’s largest employer on the biggest shopping day of the year. The Black Friday protests come at a time of heightened scrutiny for the company. It made headlines last week when a photo surfaced online of a sign made by workers at one of its stores in Ohio. The sign was taped to a table and read: "Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner." Wal-Mart says the food drive shows the company tries to help its workers. But critics say it reveals the low wages Wal-Mart pays them. The National Labor Relations Board also ruled last week that Wal-Mart violated the rights of striking workers. We are joined by Catherine Ruetschlin, a policy analyst at Demos who co-authored the new report, "A Higher Wage is Possible: How Wal-Mart Can Invest in Its Workforce Without Costing Customers a Dime.” We also speak with Barbara Collins, a former Wal-Mart employee fired after last year’s Black Friday strike. Collins speaks to us from Bentonville, Arkansas, where Wal-Mart’s headquarters is located. She has been protesting there since Friday as part of a group of eight fired workers who are demanding their jobs back after the NLRB’s ruling that their firing was unfair.
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A new report details how corporations are increasingly spying on nonprofit groups they regard as potential threats. The corporate watchdog organization Essential Information found a diverse groups of nonprofits have been targeted with espionage, including environmental, antiwar, public interest, consumer safety, pesticide reform, gun control, social justice, animal rights and arms control groups. The corporations carrying out the spying include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Wal-Mart, Monsanto, Bank of America, Dow Chemical, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Chevron, Burger King, McDonald’s, Shell, BP, and others. According to the report, these corporations employ former CIA, National Security Agency and FBI agents to engage in private surveillance work, which is often illegal in nature but rarely — if ever — prosecuted. We’re joined by Gary Ruskin, author of the report, "Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofit Organizations," and director of the Center for Corporate Policy, a project of Essential Information.
Click here to watch part 2 of this interview.
Both candidates are claiming victory in Honduras’ disputed presidential election. The race has pitted Xiomara Castro, wife of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, against right-wing candidate Juan Orlando Hernández. According to election officials, with more than half of precincts reporting, Hernández has won 34 percent of the vote, while Castro has 29 percent. Castro’s husband, Manuel Zelaya, was ousted in a U.S.-backed coup in 2009. The campaign has been marred by violent attacks in a country with the highest homicide rate in the world. At least 18 members of Castro’s LIBRE party were murdered in the run-up to the election, more than all other parties combined. We go to Honduras to speak with Adrienne Pine, an assistant professor of anthropology of American University, and Edwin Espinal, a community organizer who has survived harassment and torture by police. "This election, I think, for most Hondurans, represents the possible overturning of the coup, finally," Pine says. "People, in Xiomara Castro, have seen a leader … It is impossible to overstate the amount of hope, excitement, and organization people have been engaged in leading up to these elections." We also hear from Zelaya and leading Honduran human rights activist Bertha Cáceres, who has been in hiding for two months.
Iran and six world powers have clinched a deal to temporarily limit and roll back the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for the easing of international sanctions. The United States and Iran described the agreement as a first step toward a comprehensive deal. The deal was announced after five days of negotiations in Geneva, but it followed months of previously undisclosed secret talks between American and Iranian officials. We speak to Reza Marashi, research director at the National Iranian American Council, just back from Geneva where he attended the Iran nuclear talks.
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As we wrap our week of coverage at the U.N. climate summit in Warsaw, Poland, we discuss Africa’s climate crisis with two guests from the continent: Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, former chair of the Africa Group at the U.N. climate negotiations, and Mithika Mwenda, secretary general of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance. Many say Africa is least likely to have the financial resources needed to withstand the impact of climate change. "Every year which is passing, Africa is being pushed closer, closer to the fire. Africa can certainly not wait," Mpanu-Mpanu says.
Activists from around the world have been meeting in a convergence center in downtown Warsaw, holding their own meetings to strategize about how to address climate change. Many of them also attended the U.N. climate summit, but walked out in frustration for the first time in 19 years on Thursday. Democracy Now!’s Amy Littlefield and Hany Massoud visited the activist center to file this report. "This has been a beautiful, valuable space," says Kenyan activist Ruth Nyambura. "If nothing comes out of this COP, what the youth constituency of the UNFCCC has done has really, really changed the game."
One of the core solutions to reducing climate change proposed in the Kyoto Protocol has resurfaced at the latest U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland — the creation of a carbon market. However, climate activists here say it is a "false solution" pushed by bankers and bureaucrats. We speak with South African activist and professor Patrick Bond, who says negotiators should instead emphasize cutting emissions and paying climate debt.
Just before we went to air today, Somali youth climate activist Marian Osman addressed the main plenary at the U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland. "There’s a Somali proverb that goes: 'A mere finger can't obscure the sun,’" Osman said. "You cannot hide the truth by deception. As any one of the thousands whom are in need in Somalia and the Philippines this week could tell you, no amount of political stalling can hide the fact that a climate crisis is here." Earlier this month, a deadly cyclone slammed the Puntland region of Somalia, wreaking havoc on an already vulnerable population.
Negotiations at the U.N. climate summit in Warsaw, Poland, have entered their final scheduled day, but deep divisions remain between rich and poor nations. Negotiators from nearly 200 countries have been meeting for the past two weeks trying to lay the foundation for a new global climate treaty to be agreed at talks scheduled in Paris in two years. On Thursday, more than 800 members of various environmental groups staged an unprecedented walk out of the talks. Questioned by Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman hours later, the U.S. special envoy for climate change and lead climate negotiator, Todd Stern, rejected calls for reparations to poor countries damaged by the carbon emissions of the world’s biggest polluters. We discuss the state of the talks with two guests: Martin Khor, executive director of the South Centre, and Nitin Sethi, senior assistant editor at The Hindu. Sethi was responsible for leaking U.S. briefing papers on the climate negotiations before the summit began, revealing how U.S. negotiators at the climate talks are opposing efforts to help developing countries adapt to climate change. According to the internal memo, the U.S. delegation is worried the talks in Warsaw will "focus increasingly on blame and liability" and that poor nations will be "seeking redress for climate damages from sea level rise, droughts, powerful storms and other adverse impacts."
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"Polluters Talk, We Walk": Civil Society Groups Abandon Warsaw Talks over Inaction on Global Warming
"We’re not abandoning the U.N., we’re just abandoning this COP, because it’s just gotten so bad," says Anjali Appadurai, a youth climate activist working with the environmental groups who backed a walkout of the talks today at the U.N. climate summit in Warsaw, Poland. Hundreds of people abandoned the negotiations, citing a lack of progress over the past 10 days. Among the organizations supporting the effort were Greenpeace, Oxfam, 350.org, the International Trade Union Confederation, ActionAid International, WWF International, Earth in Brackets and Friends of the Earth. "We’re going to bring back social movements as an essential part of this process so that COP 20 next year in Lima can be stronger because of the social movements lighting a fire underneath it," Appadurai says. In 2011, she addressed the U.N. climate summit in Durban, South Africa, on behalf of youth delegates.
A pair of climate scientists are calling for what some may view as a shocking solution to the global warming crisis: a rethinking of the economic order in the United States and other industrialized nations. Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows-Larkin of the influential Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in England say many of the solutions proposed by world leaders to prevent "runaway global warming" will not be enough to address the scale of the crisis. They have called for "radical and immediate de-growth strategies in the United States, EU and other wealthy nations." Anderson says that to avoid an increase in temperature of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the world would require a "revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony."
After more than two months in detention, five members of the Arctic 30 are now free on bail in Russia. The group of 28 activists and two journalists were detained following an attempt to board Russia’s first offshore oil rig. We discuss the case with Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, who says their fate remains uncertain as they continue to face charges of "hooliganism" that carry a maximum prison term of seven years.
As we began our show, hundreds of environmental activists walked out of the U.N. climate change summit in Warsaw, Poland, today over the absence of a binding agreement on curbing global warming. The move comes less than 36 hours after a group of 133 developing nations walked out of a key negotiating meeting amidst a conflict over how countries who have historically emitted the most greenhouse gases should be held financially responsible for some of the damage caused by extreme weather. "Our message to our political leaders is that nature does not negotiate," says Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo. "You can’t change the science — we have to change political will."
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Saleemul Huq, a Bangladeshi-born scientist with International Institute for Environment and Development, discusses what he calls the key issue at the Warsaw climate summit: With talks on emissions cuts delayed until 2015, poor nations are seeking funding for the "loss and damage" that global warming has already caused. An impasse over the issue prompted a walkout by 133 developing nations and China at the talks earlier today. "The only real decision to be made in Warsaw is whether we have a new mechanism on 'loss and damage' or not," Huq says. "We are now left with the inevitable consequence of failing to mitigate and failing to adapt [to climate change]."
A Russian court has granted bail to nine more people detained in a Greenpeace action against Russian oil drilling in the Arctic. They are among 28 activists and two journalists who have been jailed for two months. "With 30 of my colleagues facing as much as seven years in prison in Russia for a peaceful action to protest arctic oil drilling, and are being accused of hooligans, let’s be very clear: The real hooligans are those CEOs and other leaders of the fossil fuel industry who are not prepared to accept that they have to change," says Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International. The Arctic 30 face charges of "hooliganism" which could carry up to seven years in prison. With the latest rulings, 17 of the group have been granted bail so far.
As aid workers in the Philippines continue to dig mass graves amidst the search for possible survivors after Typhoon Haiyan, the executive director of the Philippines Climate Change Commission, Mary Ann Lucille Sering, gave a moving address today to her fellow climate change delegates at the U.N. climate summit in Warsaw, Poland. "Every time we attend this conference, I’m beginning to feel that we are negotiating on who is to live and who is to die," Sering says.