Sunday 27 October 2013

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman's Life in Slavery

Harriet Ross was born into slavery in 1819 or 1820, in Dorchester County, Maryland. Given the names of her two parents, both held in slavery, she was of purely African ancestry. She was raised under harsh conditions, and subjected to whippings even as a small child. At the age of 12 she was seriously injured by a blow to the head, inflicted by a white overseer for refusing to assist in tying up a man who had attempted escape.

At the age of 25, she married John Tubman, a free African American. Five years later, fearing she would be sold South, she made her escape.

Her Escape to Freedom in Canada

Tubman was given a piece of paper by a white neighbor with two names, and told how to find the first house on her path to freedom. At the first house she was put into a wagon, covered with a sack, and driven to her next destination.

Following the route to Pennsylvania, she initially settled in Philadelphia, where she met William Still, the Philadelphia Stationmaster on the Underground Railroad. With the assistance of Still, and other members of the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society, she learned about the workings of the UGRR.

In 1851 she began relocating members of her family to St. Catharines, (Ontario) Canada West. North Street in St. Catharines remained her base of operations until 1857. While there she worked at various activities to save to finance her activities as a Conductor on the UGRR, and attended the Salem Chapel BME Church on Geneva Street.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Solidarity Forever. For the Union Makes Us Strong.

"Solidarity Forever", written by Ralph Chaplin in 1915, is perhaps the most famous union anthem. It is sung to the tune of "John Brown's Body". Although it was written as a song for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), other union movements have adopted the song as their own. The song has been performed in recent years by musicians such as the late Utah Phillips, and was redone by Emcee Lynx and The Nightwatchman. It is still commonly sung at union meetings and rallies.

(Lyrics in English and Spanish)

Solidarity Forever. Solidarity Forever. Solidarity Forever
For the union makes us strong

When the union’s inspiration
through the workers blood shall run
There can be no power greater
anywhere beneath the sun
For what force on earth is weaker
than the feeble strength of one
But the union makes us strong

It is we who ploughed the prairies;
built the cities where they trade;
Dug the mines and built the workshops;
endless miles of railroad laid.
Now we stand outcast and starving,
’midst the wonders we have made;
But the Union makes us strong.

Saturday 12 October 2013

FIFA in Conspiracy with Qatari Authorities over Salvery: 2022 Qatar World Cup is Built on a Graveyard

Qatar’s construction frenzy ahead of the 2022 World Cup is on course to cost the lives of at least 4,000 migrant workers before a ball is kicked, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has claimed.

However, this dramatic situation, which received great press coverage last week due to an investigation published by The Guardian newspaper, is not new. In May and June 2011, a Human Rights Watch research team travelled to Qatar to conduct in-depth interviews with migrant construction workers. They interviewed local residents who help migrant workers in distress, representatives from four embassies of countries that send significant numbers of migrant construction workers to Qatar, local employers, local recruitment agents, and Qatari government officials. Through their research, they found that in Qatar workers are forced to work in slavery conditions, which led to their deaths in many cases. See Abridged HRW's Report Despite their reports, letters and requests for governments, companies and the FIFA to take steps to protect workers from abuse and exploitation, nothing has been done in these two years, and the situation is getting worse rather than better.

The key factors which trap migrant workers in Qatar in exploitative jobs are:

Friday 11 October 2013

Lampedusa Deaths Are No 'Accident'

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Last week’s catastrophe is the latest in a series of incidents that have left 19,142 people dead over the last 24 years – this includes only reported and documented deaths. Many others, having died and disappeared at sea, will never be part of these statistics.

October 3rd, 2013 will go down as one of the deadliest days at the European external borders in decades. 363 people are now thought to have died in one single, tragic incident early that Thursday morning. And while the continuous, everyday deaths of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean are met by silence, the magnitude of this ‘blood bath’ spurred the Italian and international media to report on it widely.

It was around 3.30am on Thursday morning when a boat with 518 people, most of them from Somalia and Eritrea, got into distress about 550 meters off the Lampedusa coastline. The motor had broken down, and water started flowing into the ship. Survivors say that their mobile phones had been taken away from them for the journey to avoid detection, so they used their ship’s horn and signaled SOS also optically.

Three fishing boats passed in their vicinity and did not help, nor did they notify the coast guards.

At around 6.20am, somebody on the boat lit a blanket to attract attention. The fire spread and panic broke out. When people moved to one side of the ship, it capsized and sank. Alerted by screams of people in the water, a boat of local fishermen came to their help and rescued 47 people. The fishermen assert that they informed the coastguard by 6.40am, and that it then took 45 minutes for them to arrive at the scene – despite its vicinity to the harbour. This delay is not the only accusation made against the coastguards. According to local newspapers, legal charges have been filed against them for failure to assist people in danger. Two boats of the Guardia di Finanza nearby did not join the rescue effort. In addition, some of the fishermen report having been hindered in rescuing more people. While the coastguard denies these accusations, it would not have been the first time that help to migrant boats in distress came too late.