America’s Overlooked Child Laborers
November 20, 2020
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“Morality is not the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but of how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness” – Immanuel Kant
America’s Overlooked Child Laborers
(Ligbeek via Getty Images)
For tens of thousands of disadvantaged youths in Central America, the US still represented “that shining city on a hill,” a place where they could seek asylum, hopefully live in freedom, get an education and have a more secure future. If they made it to America and were able to remain, without being caught and deported, they likely had to work to pay debts to smugglers and sponsors, contribute to rent and bills, buy groceries and sneakers, or to send money home to the parents and siblings they left behind. To many young immigrant teens, that meant attending school during the day and working dangerous night shifts in places like suburban factories, warehouses, and food processing facilities.
ProPublica interviewed teens and young adults who agreed to speak anonymously to protect their jobs, their employers, and their immigration cases. Some began working when they were just 13 or 14, packing the candy found by the supermarket register, cutting the slabs of raw meat that end up in home freezers, and baking, in industrial ovens, the pastries eaten with one’s morning coffee.
Around Urbana-Champaign, the home of the University of Illinois, school district officials say children and adolescents lay shingles, wash dishes and paint off-campus university apartments. In New Bedford, Massachusetts, adult workers in the fish-packing industry have complained of losing their jobs to 14-year-olds. In Ohio, teenagers work in dangerous chicken plants. In nearly all situations, federal and state child labor laws would explicitly prohibit their employment.
Adult factory workers at some facilities say they routinely encounter children on their shifts. The teens use fake IDs to get jobs through temporary staffing agencies that recruit immigrants, without questioning their papers. Working overnight allows the youngsters to attend school during the day, but it’s a brutal trade-off. They nod off in class; many ultimately drop out. Some get hurt, their bodies bearing scars from cuts and other job-related injuries. Teachers confirm they’ve had students who’ve gotten hurt at work, but were too afraid of getting in trouble to seek help.
Unlike in cases of suspected child abuse, state labor officials said they were unaware of any mandatory reporting for child labor violations. The government agencies charged with enforcing child labor laws don’t look for violations, and labor advocates say investigating child labor practices is made difficult because nobody wants to talk. The companies benefit from the silence. It’s an open secret no one wants exposed, least of all the teens doing the work.
Pompeo Takes It To The Bank
(Anek Skarzynski via Getty Images)
- For four years Israel has enjoyed a very sympathetic Trump administration, which did an about-face in US policy toward encroaching Israeli settlements in disputed Palestinian territory across the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The administration declared the settlements to be legal and endorsed their eventual annexation by Israel.
- Now Israeli settlers are facing a new reality and preparing for a fight ahead of a new US president who is likely to revive the traditional criticisms of their enterprise. “It’s a constant dance,” said the head of a settlement support group, describing the pre-Trump routine of building houses in the occupied territories, waiting for the inevitable condemnations from the US and other nations, and then pausing until tensions abate.
- But it’s not January 20th yet, and in an official show of support, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Israel last Thursday to highlight changes Trump had made and to add to them. Pompeo said the State Department would now regard the anti-occupation campaign known as boycott, divestment, and sanctions, or BDS, as anti-Semitic, and would deny government funding to groups that participate in it. He also issued new State Department guidelines that settlement-made goods exported to the US be marked “Product of Israel.” The European Union has imposed the opposite requirement, mandating that settlement goods be marked as coming from the occupied territories. (WaPo)
Real Hunger, No Games
- UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock says the $100 million in emergency funds his organization has pledged for seven countries deemed at risk of famine is not enough, and without immediate action, the world could see “huge numbers of children dying on TV screens.” The climate crisis, COVID-19, conflict, and economic decline have created an “acute and grave crisis” in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen, where millions of people are facing emergency levels of food insecurity, i.e. starvation.
- Ethiopia, where drought is exacerbating a growing conflict, is slated to receive $20 million of the money. “This is absolutely not enough money to deal with the situation at hand, Lowcock warned, “but what we’re trying to do is send a signal to the world that if we’re not careful, in a year from now we will ask ourselves why we didn’t prevent a bunch of famines across the globe.”
- Meeting the humanitarian crisis this year would take $20 billion, and all that was available in July was $3 billion. “We absolutely hope that the major humanitarian financiers — the US, Germany, the European Commission, and the UK — will step up. The problem is growing faster than the money is growing, and that’s why we have this extreme situation now,” he said. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Biden Must Craft a Foreign Policy for a World the U.S. Doesn’t Rule (Politico)
- Australia finds evidence of war crimes by elite troops in Afghanistan (Axios)
- Beijing-backed cyberwar: Massive, China-state-funded hack hits companies around the world, report says (Ars Technica)
- Hong Kong: ‘Eyes will be plucked out,’ China warns West (BBC)
- How Xi Jinping Blew It (Atlantic, $)
- In the teeth of an authoritarian regime: Into the Weird, Opulent World of Turkmenistan’s Dentist-DJ Dictator (Vice)
- Kenyan police arrest hospital officials in connection with child trafficking ring (ABC)
- The Abortion Protests in Poland Are Starting to Feel Like a Revolution (New Yorker, $). A shift in the polls, er Poles.
- At 100, last Nuremberg prosecutor still yearns for justice (Reuters)
- EU hit by new crisis, this time over money and values (AP)
- Maduro’s far-left supporters get left behind: They Championed Venezuela’s Revolution. They Are Now Its Latest Victims. (NYT, $)
- During this season of quarantine, we’re all spending a little more time inside on the couch than we’d like to admit. As the world slows down around us, it’s easy for health and wellness to fall by the wayside. But newfound free time can be a blessing in disguise, giving us the chance to make lasting lifestyle changes. That’s where Noom comes in.
- Harness the power of artificial intelligence, mobile tech, and psychology to find a weight-loss solution tailored to you and your brain. Noom isn’t like other diet plans that tell what you can and cannot do, rather they offer empathetic, personalized wellness training from experts dedicated to helping you become your best self.
- We know that weight loss is hard – both to start and to maintain – but by helping people train their brain, Noom helps ensure the hard work is worth it.
A Money Pit In The Peach State
- So much depends on the outcome of Georgia’s two senate runoff elections next January 5. If Democrats win, incoming president Joe Biden has a good chance of being able to confirm his cabinet picks, appoint judges, and advance his policies. If Republicans win, giving them a 52-48 majority, Speaker Mitch McConnell can bring it all to a halt, as he did in the last six years of the Obama administration.
- So it’s not surprising that enormous sums of money have been pouring into the state, and more than $135 million in TV ads have been booked. The two GOP incumbents, Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, announced they had received $32 million in the first six days after the election. Loeffler, who is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, spent $23 million of her own money in the general election, and has already booked $40 million of TV time for the runoff.
- Democratic challengers, Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, have also raised huge amounts of money. Potential 2024 Republican candidates, Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, and Vice President Mike Pence, have made visits to the state. President-elect Joe Biden plans to visit closer to the runoff. 2020 Peach State voters went for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton won in 1992. (NYT)
Workers From Big Brands Need A Helping Hand
- In a new study undertaken by the Government Accountability Office, the data from agencies in 11 states that administer Medicaid and the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, shows that recipients include a large number of employees of some of the biggest and most profitable companies in the US.
- Heading up the list with the most number of employees on federal assistance are Walmart and McDonalds. Delaware Senator Bernie Sanders requested the study to answer questions about the relationship between employers and federal assistance programs. Other companies with large numbers of workers on federal benefits include Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Amazon, Burger King, and FedEx.
- A spokeswoman for Walmart, noting that the company was one of the largest employers in the country, said in a statement: “If not for the employment access Walmart and other companies provide, many more people would be dependent on government assistance.” Touché. (WaPo)
Additional USA News
- We see 2020 fears of election hacking as Y2K 2.0: Foreign Hacking In 2020 Election Averted; Domestic Disinformation Still A Threat (NPR)
- Facebook removed 265,000 pieces of content on voter interference (Axios)
- The elephant in the room: ‘Integrity still matters’: the unlikely Republican standing up to Trump’s voter fraud lies (Guardian)
- The Cabinet Appointments That Really Matter In The Incoming Biden Administration (FiveThirtyEight)
- The US social safety net has been ripped to shreds — and women are paying the price (CNN)
- Why Charges Against Protesters Are Being Dismissed by the Thousands (NYT, $)
- ‘State-sanctioned segregation’: California’s school closure debate boils over (Politico)
- Shoppers are panic-buying toilet paper. This time, there should be enough to go around. (WaPo, $)
- Quitting family gatherings cold turkey: CDC warns America: Do not travel for Thanksgiving (NBC)
A New New Perspective
- Two determined entrepreneurs with their heads in the clouds have rolled out another version of their balloon space travel idea. The original endeavor started almost seven years ago when Jane Poynter, CEO of World View, was marketing the idea of taking tourists some 18.5 miles above earth in a balloon for a “very gentle flight that will last for hours aloft.”
- It was also going to be affordable — only $75,000. Those journeys never got off the ground, but the same entrepreneurs were back again on Thursday to announce their new company, Space Perspective. They still insist their vision of space tourism is better than that of companies like Virgin Galactic and ZCOR Aerospace, who offered suborbital rocket rides back in the day for a mere $250,000 and $95,000, respectively.
- Poynter points out that those rockets were essentially big roller-coaster rides, with the exciting portion at the top of the arc lasting just a few minutes. To date, seven ultra-wealthy people have spent tens of millions of dollars each to visit the International Space Station. But companies hoping to open up outer space to more people have yet to lift a single paying passenger.
- Regardless, the founders of Space Perspective insist their business model is sound, and that more people will prefer to see the sights of space while on an hours-long leisurely cruise, as opposed to a giant roller-coaster ride where the excitement is over in minutes. (NYT)
- When AI Sees a Man, It Thinks ‘Official.’ A Woman? ‘Smile’ (Wired)
- How Cyberpunk Predicted 2020 (Atlantic, $)
- Hidden figures: Gladys West: the hidden figure who helped invent GPS (Guardian)
- Twitter’s Fleets Are a Mess Nobody Asked For (Vice)
- Scientists are using a mind-reading cap to detect an invisible condition (Inverse). Just like the Daily Pnut, these mind readers are cutting through the noise.
- Space Is Dark, But Scientists Have Found Unexplained Light. (NPR)
- Well I’ll be dammed: Dam removal project, genetic discovery could be good news for key salmon species (NatGeo)
- Why Is ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Getting Released on HBO Max? (Ringer)
- How We Unmasked the Hollywood Con Queen Suspect (Vanity Fair)
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