Posts Tagged ‘Russell Brand’

Russell Brand sweatshirts from sweatshops?

June 12, 2015

Many garment-producing countries have minimum wages that are less than half of the value of a wage that is enough to allow a family to live with dignity. — Anna McMullen, Labour Behind the Label

A hatchet job in the Daily Mail, shock horror, Russell Brand exploiting Bangladeshi workers in their sweatshops to expand his evil clothing empire.

Shoddy reporting. Nothing more than a hatchet job on Russell Brand. Weasel words like grade-A hypocrite.

Russell Brand made a mistake. In good faith he placed a contract with assurances on production. When these assurances proved to be false, he admitted he got it wrong, pulled the contract.

Could the reporter not have gone to Russell Brand and said, did you know the conditions of production? But no, run to Daily Mail, Do Not Pass Go, collect thirty pieces of silver on the way.

Surely the focus should be on the company,  not Russell Brand? For who else are they delivering non-ethical clothes?

The company, Belgium-based  Stanley & Stella, admitted to the Daily Mail it had problems with illegal overtime in the Bangladesh factories.

According to the Daily Mail its clients include Next, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Stanley & Stella claim its workers are paid more and forced to do less overtime than in rival factories

The most important thing that makes our business a sustainable business, it is that we commit to have continuous improvements pushing forward all kind of barriers.

The company claims it is working to reduce illegal levels of overtime at the factory and had ended contracts with other factories which refused to stop pushing workers into 90-hour weeks.

Even the Daily Mail is forced to admit that industry regulator, Fair Wear Foundation, says the factory is one of the best employers in the country and pays more than other less scrupulous operators.

Thus even from accounts in the Daily Mail, the company Russell Brand placed his contract with is better than the industry average, not only better ‘one of the best employers in the country and pays more than other less scrupulous operators’. Not good, not ideal, but not quite as bad as the Daily Mail would have its readers to believe.

If the Daily Mail is now so keen to highlight the plight of workers in Third World sweatshops, will we be reading a few more stories, the first of a series, this time highlighting the big name fashion brands? Will the Daily Mail be refusing adverts from these brands until they clean up their act?

Stanley & Stella claim high ethical standards, that they are on the ground monitoring factories. How do they then explain workers paid less than a living wage, forced to do illegal overtime? How do they justify the huge disparity between low production costs and high retail price?

The Mail has discovered that those who make sweatshirts for Brand’s website work for up to 11 hours a day.

The starting monthly wage is 6,200 Bangladeshi taka (TK) a month, or around £52. This works out at around £1.98 a day, excluding overtime.

The minimum legal wage for Bangladesh is TK5,300 (£44.21) per month. That is far short of the TK25,687 – around £214 – which campaigners say is the minimum living wage.

Russell Brand placed his contract in good faith.

A big difference to the fashion industry whose buyers know exactly what is going on. They play factory against factory, country against country, to force down prices. They could just as easily use their buying power to force up labour and environmental standards, but they do not.

But real issues are raised. Workers are being exploited in sweatshops, not only by Primark, also brands selling expensive clothes, with massive mark-ups, fools and their money easily parted for a label.

Factory gate price around a dollar, retail in the shops around $70. A huge mark up. The wages to the workers could easily be doubled, and it would make not a jot of difference to the retail price.

Gap, WalMart, Hugo Boss, a very long list.

What you pay for is the label.

If the Daily Mail was interested in the fate of workers in sweatshops, they would be exposing Gap and other big names.

Big names play one factory against another, one country against another, to force down prices. They know what goes on in the factories, but prefer to turn a blind eye.

Questions need to be answered by Russell Brand on the massive mark up, where the clothes are being made, the wages of the workers, the hours worked, the working conditions.

Also, what social enterprises are being supported? We know Trew Era Cafe has been supported with money from Revolution.

Transparency is important for credibility. Set higher standards, force others to follow.

Slow fashion. Unbleached natural organic cotton, kinder on the environment, softer on the skin, looks good too. If dyes are to be used, then natural dyes.

Cotton is a very dirty crop. It uses vast amounts of water, huge amounts of chemicals. More water, more chemicals in the processing of the cotton. The clothes are usually made in Third World sweatshops.

Industrial cotton is one of the most environmentally damaging crops that Man grows. Organic cotton is much pleasanter to wear. Organic cotton is biodegradable and can easily be recycled.

Industrial cotton requires an enormous amount of pesticide to keep it viable. Each pound of product requires a third of a pound of pesticides, which adds up to 25 percent of all pesticides used in the US for 13 million acres of cotton. Many cotton pesticides are EPA toxicity class I, like the viciously effective insecticides Methomyl and Methyl Parathion. A study by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation revealed that pesticide usage per acre increased during the 1991 to 1995 period by 4.21 pounds to 14.15 pounds per acre. The reality in the Third World, where pesticide regulation is more relaxed, is much worse.

Commercial white cotton is by far the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world and a major global crop. Fifty-five countries rely upon cotton for a significant percent of GDP. Cotton processing also takes another toxic toll, as the use of chlorine bleaching agents, formaldehydes and phenols is quite dangerous to all life. Fabric dyes utilizing arsenic, lead, cadmium, cobalt, zinc, and chromium are also very problematic. All processing stages produce large amounts of toxic wastewater. Azo dyes are cheap and common, about 2,000 exist. Many are water based and possess highly carcinogenic material absorbed by the skin and accumulated in the body. Inhalation, aquatic exposure or simple skin contact can be harmful. The EU has banned import and usage of the more toxic versions containing arylamines, though these products are used elsewhere. Other acid dyes produce waste streams with pH values above 11 and with possible carcinogen content.

Organic cotton is good for the planet, good for ourselves.

Natural cotton does not have to be any colour so long as it is off-white. Cotton grows in varying hues from purple to brown. Cross-breeding programmes have selected cotton of red, blue, green. This eliminates the need for dyes.

Slow fashion would set a standard. Clothes that look good, clothes that last. Style not fashion. Fashion is consumer addiction.

If people ask questions where their clothes come from, we would see an improvement.

Labour Behind the Label are the people to talk to about sweatshops. Maybe a Trews on the topic.

Labour Behind the Label are part of a European network on sweatshops.

Maybe a different approach is needed.

A few years ago, Paulo Coelho did a deal, whereby Mango sold limited edition t-shirts. The proceeds went to support kids in a favela in Rio through the Paulo Coelho Institute. Paulo and his wife Christina support these kids. One way is selling limited edition art and jewellery through Etsy.

The Way of the Bow has been produced as a collaborative effort. People can download for free. If they wish, they can make a donation to support the kids in the favela.

We used to have dark Satanic mills producing fabrics, they dominated the landscape. Now few are left. In their heyday they destroyed the India cotton industry, now it is the other way around. But, take into account shipping, employment conditions, it is now viable to produce quality clothes in these mills. Maybe one can be contracted to produce, or maybe the model Paulo Coelho used with Mango.

The East End of London used to be home to many sweatshops. Do any still exist?

Talking to my own contacts. T-shirts/sweatshirts retailing at a tenner, a fiver from supplier. A 100% mark-up. Supplier sources direct from sweatshops in Bangladesh. How much would it cost to source if specified unbleached organic cotton, living wage, no illegal overtime?

Advantage of production in the dark Satanic mills is better control. Can we trust what we are told in Bangladesh with the level of corruption?

Look to Barcelona, interlocking coops. When something is needed, a new coop is established. Crowd fund one of the East End sweatshops as a coop. Community owned, better pay and working conditions, producing clothes for other social enterprises.

The design of the sweatshirts poor. Remove what is on the back, retain small logo on the front. This would also reduce costs.

The Sun and Cameron Twin Evil

May 6, 2015

The dark, incestuous relationship between David Cameron, the Conservative Party and Evil Murdoch Empire.

Liar Nick Clegg told students there would be no student tuition fees. In bed with the Tories, backing them on every bad policy and helping to force through Parliament, they backed the tripling of student fees, leaving students with massive debts on graduation.

If you are thinking of voting LibDem, remember they are the party of no principles, they will get into bed with any party that makes Nick Clegg deputy Prime Minister.

LibDems would get into bed with ISIS and claim they had made be-headings more humane.

If the LibDems get wiped out, we will all cheer.

The Sun is the rag that propagates hate. Hate towards anyone who gets in the way of the Evil Murdoch Empire.

Kick the Tories out, kick Murdock out.

How do we do this?

In Scotland vote SNP.

In Wales vote Plaid Cymru.

In Brighton vote Caroline Lucas, Green Party.

In Newham vote Tasmin Osmond, Green Party.

In Aldershot and Farnborough vote Carl Hewett, Green Party.

In Farnnham and Godalming vote  Dr Louise Irvine, National Health Action Party.

David Cameron? You’re Avin’ A Laugh!

May 5, 2015

Last week David Cameron called Russell Brand a joke.

More fool David Cameron to pick a fight with Russell Brand, as we know who is going to have the last laugh.

A measure of the desperation of Davdid Cameron are the attacks on SNP.

Russell Brand endorses Labour?

May 4, 2015

Last week we had the first part of a conversation between Russell Brand and Ed Miliband, where Ed Miliband managed to have a meaningful conversation, rather than spout meaningless sound bites.

Today the second half.

What I heard Ed Miliband say is that if we speak, he will listen. So on that basis, I think we’ve got no choice but to take decisive action to end the danger of the Conservative party.

David Cameron might think I’m a joke but I don’t think there’s anything funny about what the Conservative party have been doing to this country and we have to stop them.

If you’re Scottish, you don’t need an English person telling you what to do. You know what you’re going to be doing. If you’re in Brighton I think it’d be a travesty if we lost the voice of Caroline Lucas in Westminster.

But anywhere else you’ve got to vote Labour, you’ve got to get the Conservative party out of government in this country so that we can begin community-led activism, so that we can be heard continually on housing, on poverty, inequality, on working.

David Cameron says he wants five more years to finish the job.

Austerity, Shock Doctrine, neo-liberal agenda, slash and burn of public services, library closures, cuts to welfare, tax dodging, TTIP, GMOs, fracking, privatisation of NHS, and mass transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

A vote for LibDems is a vote down the drain. A party completely lacking in principle, who will get into bed with anyone. Libems backed every bad Tory policy and helped the Tories push it through.

During the election the LibDems, were the Coalition Party. We will back anyone, if we get back into government.

LibDems would get into bed with ISIS, then claim they had made be-headings more humane.

Labour aka ToryLite, is only marginally better than the Tories.

Many supporters of Russell Brand will baulk at the thought of voting Labour. But it is a case of hold your nose.

In Scotland vote SNP.

It is crass stupidity of Ed Miliband to rule out any deal with SNP. To do so is to jump to the tune of Murdoch.

And any deal with LibDems would be a betrayal of those who may be inclined to vote Labour.

In Wales, vote Plaid Cymru.

In Brighton, vote Caroline Lucas.

In Newham, vote Tasmin Osmond.

If Green Party stand a chance of getting elected, then vote Green Party.

Green Party stand a good chance of kicking out Gerald Howath in Aldershot.

Green Party stand a good chance of taking Tory council seats in Farnborough.

In Farnham vote for Dr Louise Irvine who has an excellent chance of unseating Jeremy Hunt.

But if elected, we expect Ed Miliband to work with civic society, to stop social cleansing in London, to break up the banks, to end austerity, to listen, to give support to social enterprises, open co-ops, collaborative commons, to push power down to grass roots.

An about turn by Russell Brand?

To knock on the head a falsehood that gets endlessly repeated. Russell Brand has not said do not vote, he has questioned casting a vote to prop up a corrupt and failed political system. That is what politicians want you to do, cast your vote, then post-election day, do nothing, do not participate, let them continue ruining our lives.

What Russell Brand has proposed, is that we have a Revolution and overthrow the present corrupt political system, but if you have a chance to vote in a candidate of the calibre of Caroline Lucas who actually acts for the people then yes get out and vote.

The best we can hope for is a minority Labour government, in a loose alliance with Plaid Cymru, SNP and the Green Party. And under no circumstances in coalition with the LibDems.

Democracy does not end Polling Day, we continue the direct action, demand participation.

Milibrand: The Interview

April 29, 2015

Front page of the Daily Mail and The Sun this morning, smears of Russell Brand and Ed Miliband, inside more pages.

The cause of this muckraking from the gutter, was an interview Russell Brand of Ed Miliband for The Trews.

One could have been forgiven for thinking, the interview had been broadcast, had you not known better.

It had not, all that had been released was the trailer.

Such is the gutter technique of these two hate rags.

Why the hate?

Russell Brand has repeatedly exposed the tactics, the tax dodging of Murdoch with The Sun and Lord Rothermere with the Daily Mail.

Facts? Who needs facts when you can make it up, and the gullible brain-dead readers can be relied upon to regurgitate as facts.

I experienced this today, when having a drink with a friend. A moron on a neighbouring table got all excited about fracking (a wonderful idea), did not like SNP, who he claimed was in favour of fracking (they are not), that they were taking over in England (it was pointed out they were only standing in Scotland), but his coup de grâce, was to tell us that at this very moment, Alex Salmond was writing the Labour Party manifesto. When asked did he have an original thought of his own in his head, rather than regurgitate from mainstream media (no doubt The Sun), and that he ought to get out and about about a bit more, he kindly informed me he had travelled the world killing people and offered to kick my head in. A real charmer.

Why vote? Yes, the Suffragettes fought for votes for women, blood was shed, but why vote, if that vote is wasted, if Big Business is pulling the strings politicians whores for hire, prostituting to the highest bidder?

A spirited defence by Ed Milband, good examples given, NHS, workers rights (most of which the Tories have destroyed).

Ed Miliband also makes the point, would not have happened, could not have happened, without a push from the people.

People power matters.

Break up the banks, split casino banking from retail banking. Put a few bankers in prison.

Set up local, community owned and controlled power grids. Renewables feed into the local grid, get a fair guaranteed price, consumers pay a fair price, surplus from the local grid is fed to other local grids, any profit is either fed back into the local grid or goes to support local, social enterprises, open co-ops, collaborative commons. The Big Six would then become an irrelevance

Break up the media ownership. Limit what any one person or corporation can control.

If Ed Miliband genuinely wants to see people working with politicians, then let us see a genuine commitment to participatory democracy. Let us also see support for open coops, social enterprises, collaborative commons, all networking together.

If Ed Milband wants to see these things happen, then he has to be prepared to work with Plaid Cymru, SNP and the Green Party in a loose alliance. He also has to be prepared to end austerity.

Ed Miliband came accross quite well, a genuine conversation, not the usual  meaningless sound bites.  To his credit, he was willing to appear. This is probably the best interview Ed Milband has ever done.

Should You Be Paid As Much As Your Boss?

April 23, 2015

We help our community businesses, because they deserve the same great customer service and low prices that big corporate businesses get. And we’ve grown our company by earning the trust of each and every one of our valued customers. — Dan Price, Gravity Payments

I look at the reaction to a Seattle based CEO who decided to raise his employees minimum wage to $70,000 and bring his million dollar salary down to the same amount. — Russell Brand

Capitalism is Genghis Khan as a political system. — Russell Brand

In The Emperor’s New Clothes Russell Brand highlights the growing inequality between what those at the top earn, to those at the bottom.

Is a ratio of three hundred time top to bottom fair  or acceptable?

If we look at wealth this inequality is even worse.

The Wal-Mart family have as much wealth as 42% of Americans. Their workers are on such low salaries that they have to receive state subsidies.

If you want to reduce government social payments, increase the minimum wage.

Dan Price  chief exective of his own company Gravity Payments on $1 million a year, decided to do something about the minimum wage of his employees. He decided to drop his wage and bring his employees up to his own level. All are now on $70,000 a year.

Such an act of generosity, deserves praise. But not it seems on the Murdoch owned and controlled Fox News, a TV channel as vile as The Sun. Far from being praised Dan Price was attacked for being some sort of psychopath, for being an attention seeking,  publicity seeker,  for trying to buy the love of his workers.

In indigenous societies, there is no hoarding of wealth, on the contrary, those most valued are those who give and share

The Emperor’s New Clothes Premier

April 21, 2015

Tonight, The Emperor’s New Clothes had its  Premier at the Hackney Picture House followed by a live question and answer session with Russell Brand.

The film was shown at selected cinemas nationwide, with a satellite link for the live question and answer session.

Cineworld Aldershot was one of the cinemas nationwide. A pity they could not even be bothered to stick up a poster.

The preamble was screenshots of basic facts, then into the film.

The Emperor’s New Clothes starts with the Lord Mayor of London, and the reading of the fairy tale The Emperor’s New Clothes, until a boy in the crowd shouts out he ain’t wearing anything.

This sums up the Lord Mayor of London. Who does he represent?

Then Grays, a very depressing town in Essex. This is not to single out Grays, it is where Russell Brand grew up. It is a metaphor for many similar run down towns, it could have been Aldershot, boarded-up shops, fast food takeaways, pound shops, gambling joints.

The bankers caused the crash. Why are none in prison? Contrast that with the London riots, fast track, prison.

Russell Brand tried to find out.

Remarkably shy lot bankers. Shifty too. They do not wish to talk.

People on benefits, low wages, struggling.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s pay such low wages, these wages have to be subsidised by the tax payer.

If we wish to cut social payments, pay higher wages.

A cleaner, up at five o’clock, travel to work, work from six in the morning until eight at night. Another cleaner, works the night shift in  bank, then an early morning shift in a pub.

Outsourced council workers given a 17.5% pay cut. Now expected to take the same pay cut again.

If we supported local businesses, the money we spend, gets recycled in our local economy. If we spend in chain stores, that money gets drained out of the local economy. If we buy from Amazon, no taxes are paid, the money we spend gets sucked out to a tax haven.

Football clubs owned by wealthy owners, operated and controlled from tax havens, the fans ripped off.

It does not have to be.

In Germany, major football clubs are owned and controlled by fans not by dodgy tax dodgers from offshore tax havens.

VAT in 1979 was 8%, now it is 20%.

We are all in it together.

Tax cuts for the rich, tax hikes for the poor.

Apple rakes in $1 billion a week. The Chinese workers who make their devices paid a pittance, fall asleep whilst working, commit suicide. Apple Inc, has to borrow money to pay its dividend, as it profits are off-shored to a tax haven.

Is it fair that some people, rich people, have a special tax status, non-domiciled, to avoid paying tax?

Is it fair that disabled people are to have their Independent Living Fund abolished, that the care support they receive is being cut?

In the 1960s, the rich were paying over 90% tax. According to Harold MacMillan, we had never had it so good.

Thatcher brought in the neo-liberal idea from the Chicago School. Not set in stone, we can change.

Austerity has not cut the deficit. But is has been used as an excuse for Shock Doctrine, slash and burn of publish services, cuts to welfare payments.

How about a  tax on bankers?

The ratio between what the top and bottom earn has grown. It used to be about ten times. Now it is over 300 times.

If we look at wealth, the disparity is even greater.

85 of the richest people in the world, who would fit in two buses, own as much as the poorests half of the world population. And most have not earned it.

Lord Rothermere who owns and controls the Daily Mail through off-shore tax havens, inherited his wealth.

As did the Wal-Mart family. Their workers are paid so low, they have to rely on state handouts.

What did the wife of the late Steve Jobs do to earn her wealth?

Why do we tolerate it? Why do we not act?

Much of The Emperor’s New Clothes will have been familiar to those who have read Revolution or who watch The Trews.

Note: Waterstone’s are selling Revolution at £10 (half price). Even better bargain at Amazon at £4. Buy three, avoid the postage, give extra copies away to your friends.

The Emperor’s New Clothes is a very powerful and well researched documentary.

If it does not make you angry, then it should do.

If sufficient people watched, it would swing the election.

If you want a showing near you, then demand one.

In the question and answer session, Russell Brand started by praising Caroline Lucas and Tom Watson, both former Members of Parliament.

New Era Estate fought their landlords and won. Now they are helping tenants facing eviction on other estates.

There has of late, been a move to get people to vote. Even silly little surveys for people to complete to help them decide how to vote.

To what end?

Done my civic duty, then what? What happens on 8 May? We have to forget Parliament, that is old politics, we have to start acting ourselves, organising our own affairs.

The Emperor’s New Clothes is far more lucid, informative, than any of the political debates in the run up to the General Election.

Oxfam estimate that in a few year’s time, the top 1% will own more than the rest of the world.

We have to as Russell Brand said in his summing up, work together, collaborate, cooperate, share, create social enterprises, open co-ops, open commons, networks.

Russell Brand was voted by readers of Prospect as the fourth most influential thinker in the world, a poll put him second after David Cameron as the most influential political person in UK. The Emperor’s New Clothes illustrates why.

Russell Brand pays Lord Rothermere a visit

April 18, 2015
Daily Fail

Daily Fail

We have heard a lot lately of an elite group of people known as non-doms, that is not domiciled in the UK, and so avoid tax. For anyone else, to avoid tax, you would have to live outside the UK, and you are limited to the amount of time you can live in the UK, in other words, you are a tax exile.

But, this group have a status conferred by Mad King George a couple of hundred years ago.

It was introduced at the time income tax was introduced to pay for foreign wars, and you guessed it, it was introduced in order that the rich and powerful could avoid tax. In this case for wealthy landowners who owned estates in the colonies.

You can inherit the status, you may have it because yoo claim you do not live here, because you have a burial plot overseas.

It is clearly unfair that a privileged group of people should avoid tax. And that this status should be abolished.

One such person is Lord Rothermere, who inherited the status from his father, also called Lord Rothermere (the title is heredity).

Lord Rothermere just happens to be the owner of the Daily Mail. Which no doubt explains that it is a little more than a coincident the front page headlines attacking the mere hint that non-dom status be abolished and the smears on Russell Brand.

The Trews newsagent awning

April 3, 2015

Thanks to crowdfunding on StartJoin initiated by Tracy Herbert and supported by Russell Brand and Max Keiser, a Sun awning was ripped down and replaced by one for The Trews at a newsagent in Hoxton (Hackney).

The project rolls on to do the same with other newsagents across the country.

Carry out direct action, turn The Sun upside down, back to front, then pile other newspapers on top.

I do not know if it has been done, but a hoarding  outside advertising the latest Trews, with a smart code to snap with a smart phone to link direct into the latest Trews, would be a great idea.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

March 29, 2015

Every crisis is an opportunity to change the system. — Russell Brand

The Emperor’s New Clothes. a film by Russell Brand and Michael Winterbottom, will be screened on 21 April 2015.

Austerity is a myth, it is being used as an excuse for Shock Doctrine, to destroy the existing fabric of society, to punish the poor, to enrich the rich, to dismantle the welfare state, close public libraries.

Leaked the last few days, how the Tories intend to hit the poor even harder.

David Cameron tells us by 2020, we may get to see a consultant at weekends (don’t be ill at weekends until then). And yet he has had five years to bring this in, but oh no, was too busy selling off the NHS to Tory Party donors and tax dodgers. In the last week, £780 million of the NHS sold off. Strange how Dodgy Dave made no mention in his speech about protecting the NHS.

Crooked bankers, HSBC, money laundering for Mexican drug cartels, laundering for tax dodgers, but not a single banker in prison.

Former head of HMRC, charged with collecting tax, winded and dined by tax dodgers, let Vodafone off £7 billion tax over a sumptuous dinner, now advises HSBC on tax dodging.

Former head of HSBC, given a seat in the House of Lords by David Cameron,  made a government minster.

The financial crash, caused by greedy bankers, should have been used as an opportunity to change the system, to create a fairer system.

In Greece, they have had a revolution, it may happen in Spain too.

In UK, the choice between Tweedledee and Tweedledum, between Tories and ToryLite, is being portrayed by the media as choice. It is not choice, it is more of the same, corrupt politicians out to line their own pockets and vying for the opportunity to act for Big Business.