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The Reykjavik Police Have An Instagram Full Of Puppies, Kittens And Ice Cream

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Most police departments have a strenuous relationship with the people that they are charged to protect, but it doesn’t seem like that’s the case in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, judging by the good-looking officers and good times on their Instagram.

Obviously, their Instagram probably isn’t the best way to honestly gauge the Icelandic police force’s relationship with regular citizens, but they’ve still got one record to be proud of – their first-ever shooting death occurred in 2013, when they shot an armed man who had opened fire on two officers.

More info: Instagram | Facebook | logreglan.is (h/t: InsideLight)

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stevereally
2915 days ago
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jhamill
2924 days ago
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How much does it cost to move to Iceland?
California
RedSonja
2928 days ago
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BRB, moving to Iceland.
theprawn
2928 days ago
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Just charming.
llucax
2928 days ago
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Yeah, this sounds about right, seems to summarize very well Iceland as a whole.
Berlin
ChrisDL
2929 days ago
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this is what social media was meant for (imho) (or atleast one of the things)
New York
Cafeine
2929 days ago
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Iceland. <3
Paris / France
pdp68
2929 days ago
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This makes me want to move to Iceland
Belgium
bluebec
2929 days ago
Me too, and join their police force <3
kleer001
2930 days ago
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This makes me think people aren't meant to live in high densities. It's too stressful not to know everyone around you all the time.

For Cinephiles, Netflix Is Less and Less an Option

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A few months ago I encountered a dilemma I thought had been permanently solved in the age of everything/anywhere media: I really needed to see a particular movie, and I couldn’t find it for rent. I was slotted to write an essay on Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, the seminal black independent film by Melvin Van Peebles, but it was unavailable on Netflix’s DVD service, my longtime resource for such fare.

This was weird, because I had rented it once before from Netflix, in 2009.

What had happened to it?

I tried Amazon streaming and iTunes, but no dice. I would have run down to my local video store, but I don’t have a local video store. I struck out at the San Francisco Public Library as well, leaving me with two choices: I was either going to have to buy the DVD, eating into my fee, or try to download it illegally.

Luckily, I found a last-minute solution when my wife borrowed Sweetback from a library in Marin. But the entire process took about a week, leaving me with less time to write about the film.

The episode was disconcerting. I had started using Netflix around the millennium because it seemed like a great idea with no downside (the eventual disappearance of video stores notwithstanding). I was paying a fortune in late fees at my local disc-o-mat, and Netflix’s so-called “long tail” strategy of amassing a vast array of niche content in addition to popular titles appealed to me, as did having the ability to get what looked to be every single movie ever released on DVD delivered straight to my door. And rarely did Netflix disappoint when there was something I wanted to watch, no matter how esoteric.

Which is why I have remained one of the doddering, AARP-eligible movie fans who have never moved to Netflix’s streaming service, despite the company’s best efforts to push me in that direction. True, I sometimes feel like my grandmother, who often mistook cell phones for electric razors, but I have my reasons, the main one being the considerable dearth of content on the streaming side. Here’s a for-instance, and as random benchmarks go it’s not bad: IndieWire reported last year that only six of the movies on Spike Lee’s list of 86 essential films were available on Netflix streaming. (Lee later revised the list, and Netflix currently streams eight of those 94 films.)

The meager selection is so notorious that The Onion targeted it this year. From the humor website in January:

“In a swift and unexpected departure from their present business model, officials from Netflix revealed Wednesday that the company is currently considering adding a good movie to their online streaming service…..“We feel the addition of a popular, above-average, well-made film would provide a nice counterbalance to our existing library of poorly received sequels, totally unknown indie dramas from four or five years ago that you’ve never heard of, and horrendous direct-to-DVD horror features.”

Now Go the DVDs…

And now it seems, while still nowhere as haphazard as the streaming selection, the company’s once reliably complete DVD selection is becoming less so all the time. After my Sweet Sweetback dilemma, I began to note that some DVDs that used to sit patiently awaiting their turn in my queue had dropped down to the “saved” section, where the time of their availability is listed as “unknown.” I think it is safe to say, you can translate that as “never.” Earlier this year, I mentioned this incredibly shrinking DVD phenomenon to John Taylor, the buyer at San Francisco’s Le Video, and he told me Netflix’s DVD collection was now absent a growing number of significant titles, including a passel of Woody Allen films.

Woody Allen? I checked, finding all unavailable as DVDs or Blu-rays: Bananas, Mighty Aphrodite, Everyone Says I Love You, Deconstructing Harry, Sweet and Lowdown, Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex *But Were Afraid to Ask, and September. And just a few months later, additionally AWOL from Allen’s oeuvre: Love and Death, Celebrity, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Small Time Crooks, Bullets Over Broadway, and Take the Money and Run. (Via streaming, you can watch only Annie Hall, Scoop, and Manhattan.)

While Netflix’s legacy DVD service still fares relatively well on the Spike Lee test, 11 films from his original list, or 13 percent, are listed as unavailable or “Very long wait.” Watching the mailbox for a “very long wait,” experience shows, is like waiting for The Great Pumpkin. Such staples of home consumption as La Strada, Raising Arizona and The Road Warrior are included in the missing.

Cinephiles in a Bind

Mark Taylor is KQED’s senior interactive producer for arts and culture and teaches media theory and criticism at USF and the Art Institutes of California. He’s on Netflix’s five DVDs-at-at-a-time plan, which costs $27.99 a month ($33.99 including Blu-ray) and has long used Netflix to preview films he’s considering teaching in class. But he says he can no longer rely on the service for research the way he once did.

“My experience is that you end up with a bunch of things that have a very long wait and then they never come,” he said. “Things that were once available aren’t anymore.” Nine of the films at the top of his DVD queue are very long waits, he said, “sitting there forever.”

Netflix didn’t want to talk to me about their movie catalogue, leaving me to rely on the speculation of a couple of video store folks that the company’s DVD selection is shrinking most likely because it is not replacing damaged disks.

“Things go out of print and become much harder to find,” said David Hawkins, co-owner of Lost Weekend Video in San Francisco. He said that when something is no longer available through the usual outlets, breaks or is stolen, any store has to make a decision about whether to invest in purchasing a copy at prices that can be exorbitant because of its scarcity. (Which still wouldn’t explain why Netflix doesn’t have DVDs like Bullets Over Broadway, Celebrity or Sweet and Low Down, readily available to purchase on Amazon.)

In any event, for those who still rely on Netflix’s DVD service, the conventional wisdom is it would be wise to prepare to be cast adrift entirely. Netflix says it now makes more than twice the profits from streaming than from DVDs. Last quarter, its DVD business lost another 391,000 subscribers, leaving the total number of physical-media dead-enders, still excited by the sight of a fresh red envelope in the mailbox, at 6.3 million in the U.S. That’s compared to about 35 million streamers. Last year, Netflix started closing its distribution centers around the country and recently it stopped shipping on Saturdays. The Guardian reports that Netflix has spent no money on marketing its DVD business this year. Summing it all up, Businessweek wrote last October: “The writing is on the wall … At some point, there’s an end of the line for Netflix’s DVD business. We just don’t quite know yet when that point will come.”

Where Have All The Good Films Gone?

If and when the inevitable does happen, and Netflix sells off its vast supply of DVDs for drink coasters, what will cinephiles like Mark Taylor and I do? Wait for streaming to become as robust as the DVD service once was?

Unlikely. The death of Netflix DVDs could very well spell the end of the golden days of one-stop shopping. Check out this 2013 Netflix PR video communicating that the company should no longer be looked upon as a massive movie library. What it really is, it says, is the “Internet’s largest television network.”

With every title we add, we remain focused on our goal of being an expert programmer (vocal emphasis in the video) offering a mix that delights our members rather than trying to be a broad distributor. We’re selective about what titles we add to Netflix …. we can’t license everything and also maintain our low prices. So we look for those titles that deliver the biggest viewership relative to the licensing costs. This also means that we’ll forego or choose not to renew some titles that aren’t watched enough relative to their costs.

What Netflix is talking about here is not just the absence of exotic fare like Sweet Sweetback, it affects a lot of newer films, too. And that is not going to change anytime soon, writes Farhad Manjoo in his New York Times piece from March called “Why Streaming Sites So Fail to Satisfy.”

“(W)e aren’t anywhere close to getting a service that allows customers to pay a single monthly fee for access to a wide range of top-notch movies and TV shows,” he writes. “For those of us with even slightly selective preferences, we’ll have to pick between different rental and subscription services offering different catalogs of programs, none very extensive, at vastly different price points.”

The reason? Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle put it this way in January:

Old-fashioned video rental stores, and Netflix’s DVD-by-mail service, are governed by something called “first-sale doctrine”: Once I sell you a physical copy of a movie or song, you can do whatever you like with the physical object, except copy it or show it publicly… But streaming is governed by a different set of rules for digital content. You can’t stream a movie to someone unless the rights holders have agreed to let you do so. … Essentially, Netflix cannot afford to buy the rights to all the movies you want to watch.

“The renting of videos was not a permissions-based business model,” says Ted Hope, a film producer and former head of the San Francisco Film Society who is now the CEO of Fandor, a subscription streaming site that focuses on independent and art films. “Any store could buy and rent videos. So it was ideal for access; you could find anything, and every city had one of these great video stores that specialized in breadth of content. The irony is we now get to hear about everything better than we ever did, but accessing it is a real challenge, because the licensing model hasn’t evolved at the same pace of technology. Consumers are at this moment where there’s a gulf between what’s affordable for a platform and what licensers expect to get.”

Back to the Video Store?

Megan McArdle wrote in that same article that Netflix’s movie library “is no longer actually a good substitute for a good movie rental place.”

You can’t get most of the esoteric stuff online whereas a place like San Francisco’s Le Video, run by certified film nuts, is packed with obscure titles you’ve never even heard of. Ah, Le Video. Mark Taylor still makes the trek across the city from his Potrero Hill home when he can’t procure a film more easily. “Le Video has everything,” he says, exaggerating only slightly. The store, renting videos, DVDs, and Blu-rays since 1980, is home to some 80-90,000 titles, still available even in its less roomy incarnation.

So, considering the jejune grab bag of films available via streaming, and assuming streaming may one day be the only game in town, you wonder: Could there be an opportunity for video stores to become relevant again?

Michael Fox is a local film critic who used to regularly frequent Gramophone Video on Polk Street to review films for the CinemaLit film series he runs at the Mechanics’ Institute in San Francisco. “If I wanted to check out The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, for instance, I went to Gramophone,” he said.

So where does he find those films now that the store is closed?

“I’m just not seeing those movies,” he said. “I try and research, do more reading online to get a sense of the picture, or talk to people whose opinions I trust, which is not ideal.”

The few remaining local video stores in San Francisco are barely getting by. Still, they are not devoid of patrons. At Lost Weekend Video on Valencia Street recently, maybe 10 customers entered the store over the course of an hour. I asked one, Cass Cantine of San Francisco, why he still got his movies there. “Local video stores like this have exactly what I want to see when I want to see it,” he said.

What about Netflix?

“Netflix doesn’t carry what I want.”

recent analysis of the video rental industry by business forecasting firm IBIS World held out some hope for brick-and-disc stores, provided they can adapt. While the report said the industry is in “the declining stage of its life cycle,” it conceded that “some niche, specialized stores will be able to maintain a profit.” For example, the report said, stores might offer a deep collection of genre or locally relevant films.

Gwen Sanderson, co-owner of Video Wave in Noe Valley, says for those who want to simply rent a film as opposed to purchasing, many titles are still only available through video stores. She mentions The Seven Percent Solution, a Sherlock Holmes movie starring Alan Arkin as Sigmund Freud, unavailable on Netflix or iTunes and purchasable on Amazon for about $18 (and not carried by the San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, or Berkeley public libraries — still resources for many).

“There are hundreds like this,” Sanderson said. “If we close, people will have to buy them to watch them. The reality is we’re going to leave a lot of options behind that are available to us in our current collection.”

I asked her if she thought video stores could retool themselves as repositories of harder-to-find titles. “I don’t know if we can address that in time to save our business,” she said. But renting rarer films for a higher fee might be one option, she suggested.

Still, if you really want to see a particular film…

… I have found you probably will be able to find it online — somehow, some way — though your ability to overcome technical obstacles, overlook inferior image quality, and tolerate dipping into the louche world of illegal downloading will dictate the quality of the experience. Technology reporter Alex Hearn of the UK’s Guardian stuck up for physical media recently when he wrote, “When it comes to discs, a flaky broadband connection or buggy BT Homehub can’t derail the experience — something that can’t be said for streaming. There’s little worse than settling down for an evening movie and watching it buffer for five minutes, before playing 30 seconds then buffering again.”

Still, it’s a mark of just how much stuff is out there that I was able to find several films online that interviewees in this piece mentioned were unavailable. And with tools like Google’s Chromecast I could even stream them to my TV.

Looked terrible. But you get used to it.

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stevereally
2915 days ago
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2926 days ago
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csdunklee
2925 days ago
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I thought I was being paranoid when I bought DVDs of movies I knew I'd want to watch again, worrying that they would disappear down the Memory Hole. Turns out, I was just prescient.

Happily, the library I work at has a great DVD section, but I know we can't buy everything. :(
Stopped at Willoughby
graydon
2925 days ago
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This phenomenon is multiplied many times over when you're outside the US; each country gets licensing deals separately. It's absurd. I had substantially better selection from a VHS rental shop in Toronto two decades ago.
stefanetal
2925 days ago
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Yes. Also, you can't get 98% of the foreign movies you'd want...and I'm not talking abotu obscure stuff. Netflix also puts non-optional subtitles on (most?all?) foreign movies, a greats annoyance, basically enough to put me off.
Northern Virginia
csdunklee
2925 days ago
Library pimp here - check your local library. Mine has a ton of Criterion (especially foreign), and you might luck out, too.
stefanetal
2925 days ago
Sadly, our local Fairfax County library is pretty slim pickings, not sure if it is budget cuts or just the way things are. Basically, just depressing. Back up in Massachussets, where we spend part of the summer, the library system in much much better. Still, may give it a look, I did pretty much give up on the public library system here.
csdunklee
2925 days ago
I'm sorry to hear it. :( Fingers crossed you can find something good.
stefanetal
2925 days ago
Did a library catalog search...nothing there in the DVDs. Three Criterion DVDs for a 1+ million person county.
pfctdayelise
2926 days ago
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Not that we even have Netflix in Australia, but wow.
Melbourne, Australia
acdha
2926 days ago
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Quad has it right – the cartels have played so many pricing / availability games to avoid a company getting too much control.

In my fantasy world where public policies are designed to benefit everyone, there would be a requirement that any copyrighted work be continuously available for purchase to maintain protected status and the terms would be standardized. So many great films are only available on eBay and it's hard to see any benefit from allowing that to continue for half a century or longer.
Washington, DC
wmorrell
2925 days ago
What about one-of-a-kind type items? Say, a sculpture, or painting. Wouldn't that require artists to continually make replicas or prints available for purchase, or else risk forfeiting any rights to anyone that comes along and starts selling knock-offs?
chrishiestand
2925 days ago
I was hit by this again yesterday while getting "Short Cuts" on Netflix only to see there is no delivery ETA.
acdha
2925 days ago
@wmorrell: good point – I was referring to digital items where perfect fidelity is the default but if you just limited it to, say, items manufactured in greater than hundreds of units you could cover all of the mass-market stuff while still allowing one-offs for collectors. The other aspect which I think would be worth exploring would be something like an intellectual property tax so you could either offer something for sale (mass-market works) or pay an gradually-increasing assessment to maintain your legal monopoly. That'd, say, allow Disney to keep Song of the South locked up but discourage all of the record labels from sitting on vast dark archives of obscure works they've likely even forgotten they own.
wmorrell
2925 days ago
The tax is an interesting idea. Say allow ten years of gratis monopoly rights, followed by increasing combination of flat-fee and revenue percentage out to current life+75. No chance of ever passing in the US, without some major upheaval. Still promotes creation, while disincentivizing sitting on works just because you can.
herrmann
2920 days ago
The tax on intellectual property is a fantastic idea. It should be even higher for digital goods kept away from the market. Actually I had already thought of this idea some time ago. If other types of property are taxed, why not IP? If everyone gets to pay a tax to keep their monopoly on the use of a patch of land, there's absolutely no reason the big media companies should be allowed to get away with evading taxation on their monopolies on content.
jepler
2926 days ago
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sic transit gloria mundi
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
blakeyrat
2926 days ago
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Strangely, I found Blockbuster Online (when it existed) had much better selection than Netflix's DVD delivery ever dead. Even more weird when you consider Blockbuster was notorious for having almost no selection in-store.
2926 days ago
Copyright strikes again.
rlauzon
2926 days ago
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And this is why I won't use streaming services.

Dear NSA, Privacy is a Fundamental Right, Not Reasonable Suspicion

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Learning about Linux is not a crime—but don’t tell the NSA that. A story published in German on Tagesschau, and followed up by an article in English on DasErste.de today, has revealed that the NSA is scrutinizing people who visit websites such as the Tor Project’s home page and even Linux Journal. This is disturbing in a number of ways, but the bottom line is this: the procedures outlined in the articles show the NSA is adding "fingerprints"—like a scarlet letter for the information age—to activities that go hand in hand with First Amendment protected activities and freedom of expression across the globe.

What we know

The articles, based on an in-depth investigation, reveal XKeyscore source code that demonstrates how the system works. Xkeyscore is a tool which the NSA uses to sift through the vast amounts of data it obtains. This source code would be used somewhere in the NSA’s process of collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data to target certain activities. According to the Guardian, XKeyscore’s deep packet inspection software is run on collection sites all around the world, ingesting one or two billion records a day.

The code contains definitions that are used to determine whether to place a "fingerprint" on an online communication, to mark it for later. For example, the NSA marks online searches for information about certain tools for better communications security, or comsec, such as Tails. TAILs.

As the code explained, "This fingerprint identifies users searching for the TAILs (The Amnesic Incognito Live System) software program, viewing documents relating to TAILs, or viewing websites that detail TAILs." Tails TAILs is a live operating system that you can start on almost any computer from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card. It allows a user to leave no trace on the computer they are using, which is especially useful for people communicating on computers that they don’t trust, such as the terminals in Internet cafes.

The NSA also defines Tor directory servers (by IP number) and looks for connections to the Tor Project website. This is hardly surprising, considering the documentation of the NSA’s distaste for Tor. It is, however, deeply disappointing. Using privacy and anonymity software, like Tor and Tails, TAILS, is essential to freedom of expression.  

Most shocking is the code that fingerprints users who visit Linux Journal, the website of a monthly magazine for enthusiasts of the open-source operating system.  The comments in the NSA’s code suggest that the NSA thinks Linux Journal is an "extremist forum," where people advocate for Tails. TAILs. The only religious wars in the Linux Journal are between the devoted users of vi and emacs.

Learning about security is not suspicious

The idea that it is suspicious to install, or even simply want to learn more about, tools that might help to protect your privacy and security underlies these definitions—and it’s a problem. Everyone needs privacy and security, online and off. It isn’t suspicious to buy curtains for your home or lock your front door. So merely reading about curtains certainly shouldn’t qualify you for extra scrutiny.

Even the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court recognizes this, as the FISA prohibits targeting people or conducting investigations based solely on activities protected by the First Amendment. Regardless of whether the NSA is relying on FISA to authorize this activity or conducting the spying overseas, it is deeply problematic. The U.S. Constitution still protects people outside U.S. borders, and, as a U.S. appeals court recently recognized, even non-citizens are not bereft of its protections.

Moreover, privacy is a human right, which the U.S. has recognized by signing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  The fingerprinting program revealed today is fundamentally inconsistent with this right.

Tor is used to circumvent Internet censorship

The code focuses a lot on the Tor Project and its anonymity software. Tor is an essential tool for circumventing Internet censorship, which is used extensively by the governments of countries such as China and Iran to control the flow of information and maintain their hold on power.  In fact, Tor was developed with the help of the U.S. US Navy, and currently gets funding from several sources within the U.S. US government, including the State Department.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made support for anti-censorship tools a key element of her Internet policy at the State Department, declaring: "The freedom to connect is like the freedom of assembly in cyberspace."

You can still use Tor and TAILs

One question that is sure to come up is whether this means people desiring anonymity should stop using Tor or Tails. TAILs. Here’s the bottom line: If you’re using Tor or Tails, TAILs, there is a possibility that you will be subject to greater NSA scrutiny. But we believe that the benefits outweigh the burdens.

In fact, the more people use Tor, the safer you are. That’s why we’re continuing to run the Tor Challenge. The ubiquitous use of privacy and security tools is our best hope for protecting the people who really need those tools—people for whom the consequences of being caught speaking out against their government can be imprisonment or death. The more ordinary people use Tor and Tails, TAILs, the harder it is for the NSA to make the case that reading about or using these tools is de facto suspicious.

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3006 days ago
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NSA versus puzzles

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This is well-said, from Will Potter on Mashable: "[NSA Deputy Director Richard] Ledgett said he didn't know what NSA surveillance was important, because it's all pieces of a bigger puzzle. The reality is that the NSA isn't working with a mosaic or a puzzle. What the NSA is really advocating is the collection of millions of pieces from different, undefined puzzles in the hopes that sometime, someday, the government will be working on a puzzle and one of those pieces will fit."
    






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3113 days ago
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The Cambodian Crackdown

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The Cambodian government has pretty much completed its violent crackdown against the apparel industry workers protesting the terrible conditions of their lives as they toil away in unsafe factories for low wages making the clothes you buy and might be wearing as you read this.

GRASSROOTS protestors, folk songs and labor rights activists converged at Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh last week as garment workers campaigned to raise their minimum wage from $80 a month to $160. After the Ministry of Labor approved a wage increase to $95 a month, trade unions and workers took to the streets, demanding $160. According to rights activists, the approved $95 wage is simply not enough to live on. So the campaign continued, galvanized by the support of Cambodia’s opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which had joined the protest in support.

Yet the peaceful protest ended in riots as the military closed in, shot and killed five garment factory workers and injured over 30 others on January 3. A ban on gatherings of groups larger than 10 has been put in place. Twenty-three protesters and labor leaders were missing for a week after their arrest.

“Garment workers and sex workers are blamed as causing public disorder and social insecurity when they organize and protest for better working conditions,” Kun Sothary, of the Messenger Band, told Asian Correspondent. The Messenger Band is an all-woman group made up of six former garment workers which collects the oral histories of garment workers, farmers and sex workers.

“We are all the same victims of a free trade system and development that is not ethical. We learned of the common problems of garment workers, sex workers and farmers through our field visits… poverty, exploitation and human right violation,” Kun explained.

Once again, this is why these arguments made by developed world consumers, including many liberals, that Cambodians need to take care of Cambodia if they want to improve their lot is a morally bankrupt argument. When they do try to change the working conditions of their country, they die. Meanwhile, you keep on buying inexpensive Cambodian (or Bangladeshi or Vietnamese or Sri Lankan) made clothing. The system exists to provide you cheap clothing. Just because apparel corporations have outsourced production overseas does not make you a morally neutral agent in the process.


    






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stevereally
3152 days ago
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Weather extremes harm all sides

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While we’re freezing out here in the midwest, and expecting lots of snow, ChasCPeterson is concerned about what’s going on out west.

It’s going to be a grim year out here in the Mojave Desert. The perennials are already crispy and can only get crispier. We’re already past the winter-rain window that would bring annuals. That means no food for tortoises, so no protein, no growth, low juvenile survivorship, decreased reproduction, and if it doesn’t rain this summer, adult mortality too. Nothing for jackrabbits and K-rats to eat means fewer jackrabbits and K-rats, which means in turn that coyotes will switch to digging up tortoises to eat. Crispy perennials and no annuals mean no insects, and therefore no lizards. No lizards or K-rats is bad for snakes. No lizards or snakes is bad for roadrunners and raptors. No bugs is bad for bats and birds; no seeds bad for other birds.

Drought is bad for west-coast humans, but it means death for the ecosystems that belong here.

There’s nothing bad that can’t be made worse! Governor Jerry Brown has suspended the California Environmental Quality Act to make more water available for California’s agriculture and people, which means that not only are those ecosystems strained by the weather, but the humans have just declared open season on what few resources they have left.

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3172 days ago
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