Category Archives: World

2SER Radio Interview about the Catalyst CSR Dashboard and Corporate Reporting

Annamarie Reyes from 2SER’s Radio Atticus talks to Martijn Boersma, Researcher at Catalyst Australia and the University of Technology Sydney, about the Catalyst CSR Dashboard and the poor corporate reporting on labour standards and supply chains.

Mind the Gap: Company Disclosure Discrepancies not Sustainable

The recent decision by two Australian retailers to sign an accord protecting suppliers in Bangladesh has highlighted discrepancies in company disclosure of sustainability issues and the need for clearer reporting guidance.

Kmart and Target became the first Australian companies to sign the Global Union Federations’ building and safety accord, following the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh. According to Oxfam Australia, Big W and Cotton On are also making moves to sign the accord; however, a lack of information on which companies have suppliers in Bangladesh means a potential lack of other Australian signatories.

Recent research by Catalyst Australia, a collaborative policy network, shows that this lack of supply-chain information is not an isolated incident and that significant gaps exist in sustainability reporting by Australian companies. Continue reading Mind the Gap: Company Disclosure Discrepancies not Sustainable

How Rotten is Apple’s Core? Tax Avoidance and Human Rights Abuses

The Apple brand is not only one of the most famous in the world, it is also the one with the highest value. Although Apple shares have plummeted during the last months, the latest brand value rankings show that the brand remains the best in the world. In addition to this, in the third quarter of 2012 Apple had a market capitalisation of US$ 625 billion, by far the largest in the world, on top of which it had and it had a US $117 billion cash hoard. You would think that a company this size would pay a fair amount of tax, but Apple thinks differently.

Continue reading How Rotten is Apple’s Core? Tax Avoidance and Human Rights Abuses

Catastroika: A Must Watch Documentary About Privatisation of State Assets

In exchange for providing Greece with a multibillion bailout package, the European Union demanded the implementation of a massive program of privatisation, which means that Greek state assets like ports and airports are going to be sold. The purpose of this privatisation plan is to reduce Greece’s level of debt, i.e. pay back the Troika (EU, ECB and IMF). The creators of Debtocracy, a documentary addressing the beginnings of the current global economic crisis, the non-viability of the Euro and its contribution to economic situation in Greece, compellingly analyse the dramatic shifting of state assets to private hands in their latest documentary called Catastroika. Catastroika is a crowdfunded documentary that has placed privatisation in developed countries in a historical perspective, and provides a warning against the negative impacts of privatisation of state assets.

Online Privacy: Terms and Conditions in Five Bullet Points Please

“Time is running out to clear your browsing history before Google’s new privacy policies come into force!” Countless blogs and websites rang the warning bell on Google’s latest evil ploy to gather every single piece of information on individuals using their services. The URL to Google’s web history was eagerly re-tweeted and visited, in what seemed to be a true online civil action against the violation of privacy. But to what extend is the latest online privacy outrage justifiable?

Although the Google web history madness seemed to constitute a moment of communal outrage, I am quite certain that only a relatively small number of the stupendous amount of individuals that use the Google search engine on a daily basis are aware of this matter at all. I am also fairly certain that a substantial amount of the people that re-tweeted and spread the news about Google web history did so simply because of the appeal of the header “Clear your Google Web History before the big privacy change!” Continue reading Online Privacy: Terms and Conditions in Five Bullet Points Please

The Horror and Embarrassment: Dutch Attempts at Speaking English

There aren’t many things that make me laugh and be embarrassed at the same time. Something that does this to me however is hearing Dutch people speak English. The Dutch, although usually complimented because of their excellent knowledge of the English language, have a tendency to speak English with the most horrible accent imaginable. Surely not all of us do, but 9 out of 10 times when I encounter a Dutchman abroad having a conversation in English, I am an unwanted witness to something that sounds extraordinarily ridiculous. Unfortunately it’s not only the accent. Although a Dutch person’s vocabulary usually isn’t too bad, English sentences are usually constructed by translating them straight from Dutch. This doesn’t only apply to grammar, but also to the words used, which are literally translated without keeping the context in mind. Continue reading The Horror and Embarrassment: Dutch Attempts at Speaking English

Conspiracy Theories: Why The Revolution Will (Not?) Be Tweeted

A new catalyst of civil uprising many believe has been identified in the form of social media. Examples range from the election protests in #Iran, the ousting of #Mubarak, the #ArabSpring as a whole, #WikiLeaks with its #Cablegate and the latest showcase, the #Occupy events in the United States. The matter whether social media like Twitter and Facebook actually contribute to these forms of civil disobedience or are just a form of ‘clicktivism’ has been discussed to a great extend. More recently, the debate has turned against Twitter with claims that the social network had a hand in some hashtags not becoming a trending topic.

It goes without saying that this is the kind of stuff for conspiracy theorists: the government is aware of the power of social media and is quietly instructing Twitter to suppress certain hashtags from making it to the trending topics list. Then again, the way in which 700 protesters were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge shows an unrelenting crackdown on civil disobedience by the American government. In addition, the track record of governments around the world, including the United States government, shows plenty of violation of digital privacy and intrusive online behaviour. So, you wouldn’t really put it past them either. Continue reading Conspiracy Theories: Why The Revolution Will (Not?) Be Tweeted

Jihadist Daydreaming: Flying a Remote-Controlled Aircraft into the Pentagon

The New York Times displayed the kind of headline that sadly enough does not stand out any more in 2011: “Man Is Held in a Plan to Bomb Washington”. What does stand out are the means by which this was going to happen, which lead to suspect that this individual has been locked up in a shed together with the Jihadist brother of MacGyver and the A-Team (where A stands for Allah).

The 26-year-old Mr Ferdaus, an American citizen from a town west of Boston, has been charged with plotting to attack the Pentagon and the Capitol using remote-controlled aircrafts filled with explosives. But not only that, according to the FBI the man was to use the “aerial assault” to “eliminate key locations”, at which point attackers would herd survivors into a tight corner and “open up on them” and “keep firing”. The shopping list of the generation-Y religious fundamentalist: three remote-controlled planes, C4 explosives, a couple of Kalashnikovs and, why not, some grenades. Luckily the would-be terrorist only managed to obtain one remote-controlled plane, C4 explosives, and small arms before he was apprehended by the FBI. Continue reading Jihadist Daydreaming: Flying a Remote-Controlled Aircraft into the Pentagon

The Pint-sized Preacher, GI Joe, Jihad Joe and Hamas Mickey Mouse

Today I stumbled upon a controversial YouTube video of the 4-year-old Kanon Tipton from Mississippi that has been dubbed the ‘world’s youngest preacher’. Is this a dramatic sign that childhood is changing rapidly in recent times, or does a closer look learn that there is more than meets the eye?

Children have always and will always mimic adults around them. This is the main way through which they learn. From this perspective, it is not difficult to comprehend the case of preaching 4-year-old, which doesn’t make it less of a sad history however. If anything, this ‘pint-sized preacher’ is a sign of the times, not because of the fact that he is mimicking, but because of the fact what it is he is mimicking. As part of their learning curve, children aged 4 are only just considered capable to play with LEGO that contains slightly smaller pieces than a 3-year old is allowed to play with, so where does preaching in front of a congregation fit in? One YouTube user commented: “I’ve always said a preacher’s job could be done by a 4-year-old”. And indeed, either this display says something about the job of a preacher, or it says something about those being preached to. Either way, it is quite a telling story. Continue reading The Pint-sized Preacher, GI Joe, Jihad Joe and Hamas Mickey Mouse