Monday, August 17, 2015
The Fair Trade racket again
Luxury coffee sold from the home of Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn is produced by poverty-stricken Mexican farmers, some of whom have earned less than the country’s minimum wage, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Laura Alvarez, the politician’s third wife, runs a business selling organic beans, and boasts that those who make it are paid ‘a fair wage and enjoy good conditions of employment’.
But this newspaper has discovered that Café Mam is produced by farmers in Mexico’s poorest state, who earn just 93p for each 500g bag that Ms Alvarez sells for £10.
Our investigation found:
* One farmer took home the equivalent of just £260 in a year after paying his workers – a quarter of the regional minimum wage;
* A woman gets up at 4am each day to begin her back-breaking work, and wept when she was told how much her coffee is sold for by wealthy Westerners, including Mr Corbyn’s wife;
* Itinerant workers are being paid between 80 and 130 pesos – £3.15 to £5.10 – a day to pick coffee;
* Workers are living in tiny shacks with their families. They also had to take turns to sleep in their factory to stop thieves stealing the machinery and wrecking their livelihood.
One tearful farmer urged Mr Corbyn’s wife last night: ‘Please think about us farmers and how we are struggling when people are making so much money off our hard work.’
Miss Alvarez, 46, who was born in Mexico, is the third wife of Mr Corbyn, the 66-year-old MP for Islington North, the shock favourite to become the next leader of the Opposition after thousands of union members who share his hard-Left views signed up to vote.
Last night, a spokeswoman for Miss Alvarez said: ‘Miss Alvarez is shocked to learn of The Mail on Sunday’s revelations. She has supported Café Mam in good faith and with due diligence and has accepted their Fair Trade certification. She has wanted to help people in her home country who are in desperate need.’
For the past two years, Miss Alvarez has been the sole director of Mexica Products Ltd, whose registered address is the couple’s home in Finsbury Park, North London. It is estimated to be worth more than £600,000.
Working as a Café Mam distributor, Miss Alvarez sells 250g bags of coffee for £5 and 500g bags for £10. Her website says it is ‘true artisanal Mexican coffee’ made ‘with passion and dedication from the co-operatives and small family producers’.
A section headed ‘We care about you’ boasts that Café Mam, made by a co-operative of 669 farmers in the highlands of southern Mexico and Guatemala, is certified organic. It claims: ‘All the members of a family, together with workers who receive a fair wage and who enjoy good conditions of employment, help to produce the coffee.
‘The purpose of Café Mam is to provide a livelihood for indigenous peasants and farmers in Chiapas, traditionally one of the most socially divided areas in southern Mexico.’
Café Mam’s own site claims: ‘Farmers receive a fair price for their harvest. In turn, they are able to stay on their land, keep their children in school, build health clinics, and make improvements to their land and farming equipment.’
But this newspaper found a very different picture when it visited Chiapas last week. The Mail on Sunday spoke to farmer Roman Mejia, 45, who was paid just 15,000 pesos – £600 – for his coffee beans last year. After he paid his workers and his costs he was left with just £260, a fraction of Mexico’s regional minimum wage, which equates to £852, and below the poverty line that is set at £775. Mr Mejia’s wife, daughter, two sons and a grandson all live with him in a 24ft by 18ft rainforest home.
One explanation for some farmers low income may be their low yield. Recently Mejia’s farm in Siltepec was devastated, like many farmers’, by a fungus and he lost half of his produce.
On the ranch of Heriberto Ventura in El Tarral, he told how he had lost money on this year’s produce, for which he was paid £2,400, and has had to take out bank loans. He lives with his wife and son in a small home with a tin roof.
The 58-year-old said: ‘This year things were so bad we made a loss. I have to get loans from the bank. Sometimes they refuse, so I sell coffee beans to people on the side.’
Despite the claims made about the farmers’ living conditions by Café Mam’s website, many children have a 90-minute journey to school and if farmers or their families get ill, many of them face a three-hour trek to the nearest health centre.
Lucas Vellazquez Bartolon, 58, owns an 2.5-acre farm that supplies coffee to Café Mam. Last year he received £1,600. ‘Some years the money we get is so low but the price it is sold for in England never goes down. Sometimes we can’t afford food. But what can we do, we have no choice.’
Mother of six Idolina Sanchez Gonzalez, 53, fought back tears as she talked about her back-breaking work as a farm owner in the mountain village of La Victoria. She was paid £1,600 for her coffee last year, £800 of which went to her workers.
She said: ‘I get up at 4am and walk to the farm to start at 6am. I work until 4pm, sometimes later. We are only paid once, so it has to last all year and we have to work other jobs to pay our workers.’
Mam coffee – named after an ancient Mayan community – is grown high in the mountains at altitudes ranging from 3,900ft to 5,570ft above sea level. Once it is harvested the co-op leaders negotiate a deal with its client Royal Blue Organics, in Portland, Oregon.
The price agreed is based on the New York stock exchange, and is topped up to meet Fair Trade standards. Last year that was $176 per 60kg sack, equivalent to farmers earning just 93p for each 500g bag that Ms Alvarez sells for £10.
Farmer Daniel Morales Ortega, 56, said: ‘It’s not fair that this politician’s wife is buying our product and selling it for so much money. We are desperate people. It’s an abuse.’
Anti-Asian racism from blacks
My Instagram and Facebook feeds have been filled with unwitting apologists for racism against Korean-American small-business owners.
Heckuva job, Hollywood!
Here's how the poison is spreading. A savvy marketing team at Universal/Comcast Corp. developed a web toy that allows social media fans to customize the theatrical poster logo for the media giant's new biopic, "Straight Outta Compton." [Compton is a black-dominated area in L.A.] Hundreds of thousands of clueless users have uploaded photos of themselves and substituted "Compton" with the names of their hometowns.
Jennifer Lopez, Serena Williams, LeBron James and Ed Sheeran are among the celebrities who helped make the meme go viral. Youth vote-pandering GOP Florida Sen. Marco Rubio jumped on the cultural bandwagon, too, with two obsequious messages on Twitter featuring the hashtag "#straightouttacompton." It's a publicity coup for rappers-turned-multimedia moguls Dr. Dre (Andre Young) and Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson) as they pimp the movie — named after their breakthrough 1988 album — glorifying the rise of their band N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit Attitudes) and the hardcore gangsta rap genre.
"Straight Outta Compton's" cop-bashing, thug-promoting songs — most notably "F-k the Police" — vaulted Young and Jackson into the entertainment stratosphere. Young is a near-billionaire after becoming a producer, promoter and maker of overpriced headphones (the company was bought by Apple for $3 billion last year). Jackson embarked on a successful career as a solo rapper, mainstream actor and comedian.
Their hagiographic movie omits Young's history of assaults on women and completely whitewashes Jackson's incendiary attacks on Korean storeowners in South Central Los Angeles.
Shortly before the 1992 L.A. riots, Jackson had penned the hate-filled song "Black Korea" for his best-selling platinum solo album, Death Certificate. He seethed against law-abiding immigrant entrepreneurs in his 'hood and threated to burn their stores "right down to a crisp":
Every time I want to go get a f—king brew
I gotta go down to the store with the two
Oriental one-penny-counting mother—kers;
They make a nigger mad enough to cause a little ruckus.
Thinking every brother in the world's out to take,
So they watch every damn move that I make.
They hope I don't pull out a Gat, try to rob
Their funky little store, but, b-tch, I got a job.
So don't follow me up and down your market
Or your little chop suey ass will be a target
Of a nationwide boycott.
Juice with the people, that's what the boy got.
So pay respect to the black fist
Or we'll burn your store right down to a crisp.
And then we'll see ya...
'Cause you can't turn the ghetto into black Korea
The song was supposedly inspired by the shooting death of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins, who was black, by Korean storeowner Soon Ja Du. The two had fought over a bottle of orange juice. The shopkeeper's store had been robbed multiple times. Du was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, but had her sentence reduced to probation based on extenuating circumstances; her store — like dozens and dozens in Koreatown — was burned down to the ground during the 1992 riots.
Korean-American merchants were forced to arm themselves and defend their property after being abandoned by police. Many observers in both the Korean-American and black communities in L.A. cited "Black Korea" (not just the Rodney King verdict) as an inspirational spark for the conflagration that caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
Fast-forward to Baltimore and Ferguson, where rioters followed in these bigoted footsteps and targeted non-black-owned stores. Instead of condemning their actions, The New York Times celebrated the efforts of Crips, Bloods and Black Guerilla Family gangsters who "stood in front of black-owned stores to protect them from looting or vandalism. He said they had made sure no black children, or reporters, were hit by rioters."
Instead, they "pointed them toward Chinese- and Arab-owned stores."
See no Asian-bashing evil in the inner city. Hear no Asian-bashing evil in the inner city. Speak no Asian-bashing evil in the inner city. Ice Cube hasn't ever had to answer for his violence-stoking bigotry. And apparently neither will the media and Hollywood co-conspirators who perpetuate it.
Theatre accused of self-censorship after it cancelled play about radicalised Muslims which explored why youngsters are attracted to extremist groups
The National Youth Theatre (NYT) has been blasted for scrapping a play about young Muslims being radicalised.
Leading figures from the world of arts and entertainment have demanded the theatre reveals exactly why 'Homegrown' was cancelled.
The signatories of an open letter to NYT include the sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor, playwright Sir David Hare, and actor Simon Callow.
The play set out to explore the reasons why someone might be attracted towards extremist groups.
It was organised by English PEN, a free speech campaign group, which said the NYT failed to stand up for the show it commissioned, the Times reported.
Homegrown was cancelled two weeks before today's scheduled opening, when the theatre asked the play's creators whether they were giving a final version of the script to the police.
Its director Nadia Latif said one of the producers announced she had met with police on July 22 and they had demanded to see the script. She refused to send the script at first, but gave in when asked a week later. The show was cancelled a week after that.
She and writer Omar El-Khairy have said they do not think police ordered the show's cancellation but have accused the theatre of 'self-censorship' because they believe NYT 'feared controversy'.
A statement on the National Theatre website read: 'NYT regrets to announce that its production of Homegrown will not now take place... Tickets are no longer on sale. All ticket holders will be fully refunded.'
The theatre's artistic director claimed the production, which involved 112 young performers, did not meet the theatre's standards.
But Paul Roseby turned down the chance to meet Latif or El-Khairy to explain whether his decision was influenced by the police or the need to change venue.
The letter, which appeared in the Times today, described the cancellation as 'a troubling moment for British theatre and freedom of expression' that 'serves to shut down conversation on these important issues'.
They wrote: 'We fear that government policy in response to extremism may be creating a culture of caution in the arts, if it is deemed too risky to ask difficult questions or explore sensitive topics.
'We are deeply concerned by reports that the National Youth Theatre may have been put under external pressure to change the location and then cancel the production.'
Latif said the theatre failed to stand up for its production, adding: 'This is closest to self-censorship...The theatre got burnt by a hot topic.
'There are lots of ways that we are silenced — sometimes the most nefarious thing is when artists are silenced by other artists.'
3 Historical Developments That Explain Our Current Religious Liberty Battles
In recent political memory, religious liberty was a value that brought together conservatives, libertarians and progressives. As recently as 1993, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed by a nearly unanimous Congress and signed by a Democratic president. Today, the same value is a political liability. Bakers, photographers, and florists are being ruined, adoption agencies shuttered, schools threatened with loss of accreditation and nonprofit status. So what happened? Why is religious liberty now losing so much ground?
As I explain in my just-released book, “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom,” three historical developments explain our current predicament: a change in the scope of our government, a change in our sexual values and a change in our political leaders’ vision of religious liberty. An adequate response will need to address each of these changes.
First, government has changed. The progressive movement gave us the administrative state. Limited government and the rule of law were replaced by the nearly unlimited reach of technocrats in governmental agencies. As government assumes responsibility for more areas of life, the likelihood of its infringing on religious liberty increases. Why should government be telling bakers and florists which weddings to serve in the first place? Why should it tell charities and religious schools how to operate and which values to teach? Only a swollen sense of unaccountable government authority can explain these changes.
Second, sexual values have changed. At the time of the American Revolution, religion and liberty were so closely linked that Thomas Jefferson could affirm, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.” Meanwhile, his French contemporary Denis Diderot, expressing sentiments that would culminate in a very different revolution, declared that man “will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” In our own time, however, the sexual revolution has shattered the American synthesis of faith and freedom, setting religion at odds with “liberty”—or more accurately, license. Now bakers, florists, adoption agencies and schools that uphold what Americans have always believed about marriage find themselves at odds with the law.
Third, religious liberty has changed. Our Constitution protects the natural right to the free exercise of religion. But some liberals are trying to drastically narrow that right by redefining it as the mere “freedom of worship.” If they succeed, the robust religious freedom that made American civil society the envy of the world will be reduced to Sunday-morning piety confined within the four walls of a chapel. They have even gone so far as to rewrite the U.S. immigration exam to say that the First Amendment protects “freedom of worship” rather than the “free exercise of religion.” True religious liberty entails the freedom to live consistently with one’s beliefs seven days a week—in the chapel, in the marketplace, and in the public square.
These three changes represent a rejection of the American Founding. Progressive politics and a radical view of human sexuality are combining to coerce compliance at the expense of a bedrock human right. And of course much of this has been enabled by judicial activism, as in Obergefell.
So how do we fight against this onslaught? We start by fighting for courts to interpret and apply our laws fairly. Without a sound judiciary, no amount of public debate can ensure sound policy on issues like marriage and religious liberty, for the courts will always be able to refashion or discard what the people (through their representatives) have achieved. This is why the work of groups such as the Federalist Society, which opposes such judicial activism, is so important.
Outside the courtroom, our best strategy for fighting governmental overreach is to fight for more limited government. The less power government has, the less room there is for abuses of power. The alliance between social and economic conservatives is not just a marriage of convenience. They share important principles, and they face a common enemy—the expansion of government beyond its proper scope. This is why the work of an organization such as The Heritage Foundation, which opposes ever-expanding government, is so important.
Limited government and religious liberty are best served when human laws reflect the “laws of nature and of nature’s God,” as the Declaration of Independence puts it. All men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with a right to life. Mankind is created male and female, and marriage, by nature, is the union of man and woman. Only by redefining these concepts according to desire rather than nature is it possible to concoct a “right to choose” that extends even to the killing of an unborn child or an endlessly malleable concept of “marriage.”
Restoring a sound understanding of human nature and the laws of nature will be the work of the many organizations and groups—churches and synagogues, primary schools and universities, for example—that constitute civil society. Among these groups, public interest law firms such as the Alliance Defending Freedom have an important role. We need groups like this to push back on the sexual revolution and remind people of the law written on their hearts—a law that points the way to true, ordered liberty, not license, when it comes to human sexuality and the family.
Both the Bible’s moral principles and reason require us to conform our desires to transcendent moral truths grounded in our nature as human beings, rational animals. The followers of postmodernism seek to re-create nature in accord with their desires, while the followers of progressivism use the power of government to make everyone else conform to the desires of elites, who know best. These ideologies promote the satisfaction of desire even while trampling true natural rights and liberties like the free exercise of religion. And that’s where the work of groups like the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty proves so crucial. They insist against limiting religion to worship, and they defend its free exercise against encroachment in the name of untrammeled desire.
So the three steps that have undone core elements of the American Founding—progressive government and the administrative state, the sexual revolution’s elevation of desire and the whittling of religious free exercise down to the freedom to worship—all need to be countered. Political organizations, religious and civic organizations and legal organizations will have to play their roles in empowering the citizenry to reclaim their government and culture. I offer a roadmap for these groups to follow in Truth Overruled.
Without a return to the principles of the American Founding—ordered liberty based on faith and reason, natural rights and morality, limited government and civil society—Americans will continue to face serious and perplexing challenges. The dilemmas faced by bakers and florists and charities and schools are only the beginning.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.