Saturday, November 26, 2005

drink up

The World Bank says the next world war will be fought over water. Doesn't seem like a good time to give up the people's rights over this public good.

Corporate Accountability Initiative has a great campaign on water and Coke, which is stealing and contaminating water in India. is a good place to go for good information and action ideas too.

Drink up while you can.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

walmart not practicing loving-kindness

What Do Wal-Mart's Low Prices Mean for Women Globally?

Find out how Wal-Mart's philosphy of "profits before people" impact millions of working women around the world.

Friday, November 18, 2005

fair trade or buy nothing at all

If you've been hearing the holiday shopping buzz and are vainly trying to resist, at least you can go to the Rural Coalition's SuperMarket Coop to order your Fair Trade hams, wreathes and nativity sets. Using the SuperMarket Coop supports small-scale family farmers, ag coops, and artisan groups.

But do remember Buy Nothing Day - Nov. 25 (and Nov. 26 overseas), the day(s) after Thanksgiving. Here are some sites with information on that growing event.

Buy Nothing Day has indeed gone global. Here is the International Site -

And the UK site:

And even Buy Nothing Day Japan (with Zenta Claus) - Their NOTHING recipes and Insecure Store are neat.

This last one is from AdBusters, which puts out a "culture jamming" magazine that some of you may have seen. Quite provocative.
You can download clip art, stickers, posters, etc.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


There is a story about a little boy who had never spoken. His parents took him to a variety of specialists, but nothing helped; the boy remained completely silent for thirteen years. Then suddenly one morning, sitting at breakfast with his parents, he said, "The cocoa's cold." "What?!" cried his astonished mother. "I said the cocoa's cold," the boy replied. His parents were themselves speechless for a moment. Then the father asked, "Why, after all these years of silence, do you now suddenly say, 'The cocoa's cold'"? "Because," the boy said, "everything was all right until now."

This was the beginning of a talk I did in Seattle about poverty in a nation (our nation) of plenty. It was for the National Students Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness Conference.
Here is a PDF of the whole talk. I would be interested in your reactions or advice on how to improve on it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

no logo - whose codes of conduct?

Naomi Klein in No Logo raises serious concerns about Corporate Codes of Conduct. (p. 432)

Who gets to place the controls over human rights abuses in global production operations? People and democratically elected representatives or the global corporations themselves? Privatized corporate codes give us the corporations' answer to this question. (p. 434)

It is Orwellian: turning the enforcement of basic human rights into a multinational industry, as the private codes would do. Global labor and environmental standards should be regulated by laws and governments - not by a consortium of TNCs and their accountants, all following the advice of their PR firms.

The bottom line is that corporate codes of conduct - whether drafted by individual companies or by groups of them, whether independently monitored mechanisms or useless pieces of paper - are not democratically controlled laws.

Not even the toughest self-imposed code can put the multinationals in the position of submitting to collective outside authority. On the contrary, it gives them unprecedented power of another sort: the power to draft their own privatized legal systems, to investigate and police themselves, as quasi nation-states. (p. 437)

..."despite ineffectiveness of governments and the rhetoric of corporate triumphalism, there are still some mechanisms left with which to regulate multinationals. As we have seen, there are trade agreements and local selective purchasing laws, as well as ethical investment drives - but conditions can also be attached to government loans and insurance offered to foreign investors, as well as to involvement in government trade missions." We must force multinationals to accept such restrictions... (p. 437)

When we start looking to corporations to draft our collective labor and human rights codes for us, we have already lost the most basic principle of citizenship: that people should govern themselves.

By attempting to enclose our shared culture in sanitized and controlled brand cocoons, these corporations have themselves created the surge of opposition described in this book. By thirstily absorbing social critiques and political movements as sources of brand "meaning," they have radicalized that opposition still further. By abandoning their traditional role as direct secure employers to pursue their branding dreams, they have lost the loyalty that once protected them from citizen rage. (p. 441)

Monday, November 07, 2005

a wise bomb

treasure and heart

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

If Jesus is right about that, the heart of our nation is located along the security perimeter between the United States and Mexico.

Our treasure and our heart is in thousands of new prisons being erected.

Our heart is in the coal mines and oil fields.

Our heart is in the missiles, tanks and fighter planes we produce.

Our heart is in the Hummer cruising the streets of Baghdad and the streets of my town, U.S.A.

Our hearts are in our palm pilots, our cell phones, our clothes and our houses.

Where is your treasure? Your heart?

Friday, November 04, 2005

word to yo' mama

Word To Yo' Mama
The radio sunk to new lows this morning on my drive to Batesville... I actually heard a station play "Ice Ice Baby." I got quite amused, actually, and busted a couple of moves there in the car. And you've gotta love Vanilla Ice's "word to yo' mama."

Believe it or not, this is from the official blog of the National Network of Presbyterian College Women of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Their Fearless Leader, Kelsey Rice, just returned from a international women's conference in Thailand, and you can find her reflections and daily posts up at Network Notes.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

wal-marting (not metta)

Wal-Mart faces the largest class-action suit in history with 1.6 million women accusing Wal-Mart of discrimination, labor law violations, shipping jobs overseas, suppressing wages, and links to a powerful Chinese businessman allegedly involved in the weapons-trading arm of the People’s Liberation Army.

But the corporate crimes we hear about are less worrisome than the damage Wal-Mart’s business model has on the fabric of our communities.

To get those low-price deals on Tupperware, frozen pizzas and fertilizers, how do our communities pay?

Myth #1: Wal-Mart brings jobs. In fact, a new study reveals that five years after the entry of a Wal-Mart store into a county, total employment in the county remains unchanged. (Basker 2005) This means that all of the “new” jobs touted by the chain merely displace existing jobs. Net gain, 0.

Read the full article

And get everything you need for this month's High Expectations Week, including a Faith Resource Guide from the Wal-Mart Watch website

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

wrong about the right

I believe that the recent analysis Wrong about the Right by Jean Hardisty and Deepak Bhargava from the Center of Community Change is an invaluable contribution to progressives in the United States. The critique is lucid. Their strategy of focusing on younger organizers and supporting broad spectrum but notably locally targetted community organizing work on housing, health, economic justice, etc. is where we need to devote more resources and energy. But they say it much better.

Download the PDF article from

You can also download the Interfaith Worker Justice's Voice @ Work Toolkit at for Dec. 10 - International Human Rights Day

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


A king went hunting one day and, in the heat of the chase, became separated from the hunting party. In a forest clearing, the king was relieved to discover a small garden, where, he hoped, he might find refreshment, for he had become terribly thirsty.

The gardener did not acknowledge the king as the king, for he wore no royal clothing, but only that which hunters wear. The king asked for drink, and the gardener went forthwith to the orchard, picked some pomegranates, and squeezed a cupful of juice for him.

The king quickly emptied the cup and, still dry-mouthed, requested that an additional cup be brought to him. The gardener complied and returned to the orchard.

While the gardener was gone, the king ruminated, "This seems to be quite a rich place. Just think, it took only a few minutes to produce a large cup of pomegranate juice, and the gardener will soon be back with another. I ought to impose a very heavy tax indeed on such a property. "

But the gardener did not return quickly; he delayed for more than an hour. The puzzled and perturbed king asked himself, "How is it the gardener could get the first cup full in just a few minutes and in over an hour be unable to squeeze out for me the second one?"

The king waited. When the gardener eventually brought the next cup of juice, not quite as full as the first, the king demanded an explanation for the delay.

The gardener, unrecognized by the king but in truth a Sufi master, answered, "You, O King, maintained a good intention when you made your original request for refreshment. However, when I went to procure the second cup, your good-heartedness altered. I know of no other explanation for the sudden diminishing of the pomegranates’ juiciness."

- Traditional Sufi Tale