[“Some American officials are calling a trip to the mall an act of patriotism as the United States tries to rebound and rebuild.” went a common news refrain after 9/11/2001. Today, “patriotic” consumers are enlisted into the hyperbolic fray between Microsoft’s X-Box One and the latest Playstation, a war on which one reporter commented: “by taking part in the rivalry, you’re doing little more than fighting on behalf of a massive corporation without benefitting at all yourself.” Black Friday sales at Walmart and Target were successfully dominated by Microsoft’s X-Box One. A satirical (Daily Currant) account of a frenzied example of “Round One”, at Walmart in Chicago, is given below, and many who have heard this story believe it, because it rings true. Unfortunately, there are many similarly frenzied but factual accounts of intense consumer fights over meaningless junk acquisition. — Frontlines ed.]
November 30, 2013, The Daily Currant
A woman was arrested today for stabbing to death three shoppers at a Chicago-area Wal-Mart in order to secure the store’s last X-Box One.
Mary Robbins, a married mother of two, reportedly wrestled her competitors to the ground before fatally wounding them with a sharpened Phillips head screwdriver.
The victim’s names have not yet been released, but are said to include a sociology student at Northwestern University, a chemistry teacher at at local high school and a young pregnant woman buying a system for her brother. Continue reading →
[Bangladeshi police officials stand guard outside burnt garment factory in the Savar neighborhood in Dhaka (AP Photo/ khurshed Rinku)]
At a meeting in April 2011, more than a dozen retailers including Wal-Mart, Gap, Target and JC Penney met in Dhaka to discuss safety at their supplier Bangladeshi garment factories. Bloomberg Newsrevealed minutes from this meeting Wednesday, which show that Wal-Mart nixed a plan that would require retailers to pay their suppliers enough to cover safety improvements.
Last month, a fire in a factory used by Wal-Mart killed 112 workers. There were no fire exits. Despite the fact that more than 700 Bangladeshi garment workers have died since 2005, Wal-Mart and Gap refused last year to pay higher costs for safety. Bloomberg cited comments from a document produced by Wal-mart’s director of ethical sourcing and a Gap official for the Dhaka meeting. It stated:
“Specifically to the issue of any corrections on electrical and fire safety, we are talking about 4,500 factories, and in most cases very extensive and costly modifications would need to be undertaken to some factories. It is not financially feasible for the brands to make such investments.”
Scott Nova, the executive director of the Workers Rights Consortium, commented on Bloomberg’s revelations to Josh Eidelson for the Nation. “No company that is unwilling to pay [factories] enough to make it possible for them to operate safely can claim to be interested in any way in the rights or safety of workers,” said Nova. He described Wal-Mart’s position in the Dhaka discussions as “1) We know these factories are unsafe. 2) We know it will cost substantial sums to make them safe. 3) We are not going to pay for this. 4) We are going to keep using the factories anyway.” Continue reading →