Critical Awareness

  • MJD 59,151
    It’s been a busy week or so in space. NASA found water on the Moon (at concentrations lower than in the Sahara desert, but perhaps enough to extract and turn into hydrogen for fuel?). The OSIRIS-REx mission took a bounce-by biopsy of the asteroid Bennu, which makes me think mining might be closer than we … Read More
  • MJD 59,145
    The terms public and private seem to form a balanced opposition, but they don’t really. In modern usage, private is a bounded and circumscribed domain, while public is an open-ended space defined via negation as non-private. It was supposedly the opposite in ancient Greece, at least by Hannah Arendt’s account. In her version of events, … Read More
  • New report shows reforms have failed to curb domestic slavery in Qatar
    Recent labor reforms have not changed the harrowing reality of domestic work in Qatar, a new report from Amnesty International has revealed. The report, titled “Why do you want to rest?”, draws on interviews with 105 women who had been employed as live-in domestic workers in Qatar. The women’s testimony confirms that widespread labor rights … Read More
  • Survivors of modern slavery in the U.K. endangered by immigration policies
    Freedom United marked U.K. Anti-Slavery Day by calling for a commitment to ensure that victims of trafficking do not face punitive immigration control measures if they come forward for support, joining 50 other advocates, researchers and experts. Writing in Thomson Reuters Foundation this week, Maya Esslemont, director of After Exploitation, has highlighted how the U.K. … Read More
  • North Korean detention system involves forced labor among other horrific abuses
     A new report from Human Rights Watch has revealed that North Korea’s pretrial detention and investigation system has uncovered grave human rights abuses, including forced labor. The report is based on interviews with eight exiled former government officials and 22 former detainees, all of whom were held in detention since Kim Jong Un came to … Read More
  • Majority of foreign-born child victims of trafficking in the U.K. face threat of deportation
    Data released last weekend on the U.K.’s Anti-Slavery Day has revealed that of almost 4700 confirmed foreign victims of trafficking identified over the last four years, only 28 children were granted leave to remain. Leave to remain is an immigration status that allows people a temporary right to stay in the U.K. if they have … Read More
  • MJD 59,143
    I’ve been thinking about creative pivots. Discontinuous reorientations in your pattern of creative production, possibly accompanied by a change in the audience for your creative work (lose one kind of reader, gain a new kind of reader). I don’t think I’ve ever really executed a true creative pivot. The kind that’s an abrupt, lossy, high-entropy … Read More
  • World’s chocolate supply relies on more than 1 million child laborers
    Who harvests the cocoa that makes its way into the global supply chains of the world’s largest chocolate companies? Nearly 1.6 million child laborers in Ivory Coast and Ghana, according to a major report sponsored by the US Department of Labor. The report, produced by NORC at the University of Chicago, exposes the failure of … Read More
  • Focus on U.K.’s “pitiful” support for survivors ahead of Anti-Slavery Day
    In an opinion piece for Thomson Reuters Foundation, immigration lawyer Ayesha Mohsin made a new plea for the U.K. to increase its support to victims of modern slavery, which she described as “pitiful.” The piece from Mohsin, who works with the charity Kalayaan, comes days before the U.K. marks Anti-Slavery Day, recognized every year since … Read More
  • Asylum seekers in the U.K. only receive legal support days before deportation
    New research has highlighted how asylum seekers arriving in the U.K. on makeshift boats are not receiving legal advice until days before they are due to be deported. Immigration rights group Movement for Justice reports that people are being denied legal advice at an early stage of their detainment in immigration facilities in the U.K., … Read More
  • Reports of modern slavery in construction spike during lockdown in U.K.
    The charity behind Britain’s national modern slavery helpline has revealed that the country’s construction industry generated more suspected modern slavery cases than any other industry during lockdown. According to Unseen UK, 57 cases with 209 potential victims in construction were reported to their helpline, which is open 24/7. Courteney Forbes, a business account manager at … Read More
  • Forced prison labor in California continues as coronavirus spreads
    While the Californian prison system has taken measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, such as halting rehab programs, religious services, and educational classes, authorities have been keen to keep one operation continuing: prison factories. A report from the Los Angeles Times this week has highlighted how California kept prison factories open while coronavirus spread … Read More
  • Clockmaking: 2
    Well, I finished building my ROKR kit clock, and it works. Fully wound-up it runs for about 5-6 hours before friction defeats it. It makes a pleasantly organic tick-tock sound that I’m now addicted to. Makes me feel a bit like a GOD who created LIFE out of lifeless bits of matter! 😎😇. It strikes … Read More
  • Payzee Mahmod continues fight to end child marriage in U.K. and warns of pandemic risk
    Payzee Mahmod, the survivor-advocate leading Freedom United’s campaign to end child marriage in the United Kingdom, spoke with The Guardian this week about the movement to end child marriage in the country—as well as the added risk the ongoing pandemic has brought. Pauline Latham MP this week presented the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) … Read More
  • Less than half of U.K. bank specialists know how to recognize human trafficking
    With their ability to monitor financial transactions, banks and other financial institutions are one of the most important players in the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery. But a new report has found that less than half of U.K. bank specialists are confident they can spot human trafficking, casting doubt on their effectiveness in … Read More
  • Survivors of trafficking say QAnon conspiracy theories are exploitative and infuriating
    A report from INSIDER this week has highlighted the detrimental effect that QAnon conspiracy theories on sex trafficking have on the work and lives of real-life survivors of trafficking. Baseless conspiracy theories pushed by Qanon, an organization that is considered a domestic terrorist threat by the FBI and whose accounts have been banned by Facebook, … Read More
  • Protect victims of modern slavery as free movement ends, U.K. government urged
    Writing in The House this week, Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith and Lord McColl, a Conservative peer in the House of Lords, called on the U.K. government to ensure E.U. national victims of modern slavery in the U.K. are protected when the U.K. leaves the European Union. Mr. Duncan Smith and Lord McColl are calling … Read More
  • MJD 59,128
    Covid is the first global downgrade in the average human quality of life since World War 2. Some of the individual downgrades are adaptive for climate change as well, and will likely get locked in for a longer term. Lowered global human mobility at all scales, from local driving to international flying, feels like the … Read More
  • Freedom United and allies bring Fashion Week protests to Europe
    Following our demonstration at New York Fashion Week, Freedom United and our allies continued to protest the fashion industry’s links to forced Uyghur labor as Fashion Week shifted to London and Milan. In London, Freedom United worked with our partner organization World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and the Uyghur Solidary Campaign to stage a protest outside … Read More
  • U.S. adds fish caught on Taiwanese fishing vessels to forced labor blacklist
    On September 30th, the U.S. Department of Labor, for the first time, included fish caught on Taiwanese fishing vessels in its List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. This comes after Greenpeace led a coalition of 24 organisations, including Freedom United calling on the U.S. to change its policy, considering the extent … Read More
  • Organ trafficking shows no sign of abating
    In an opinion piece for Thomson Reuters Foundation, Seán Columb provides insight into the system of organ trafficking and illegal transplants taking place around the world. Existing legislation prohibits the sale or purchase of an organ in every country, excluding Iran. But an estimated 10,000 illegal transplants are carried out yearly and the United Nations … Read More
  • U.K. still importing medical gloves from firm accused of forced labor
    An investigation by The Guardian published this week has revealed that the U.K. government is continuing to source personal protective equipment (PPE) for National Health Service (NHS) hospitals from a Malaysian manufacturer that has repeatedly been accused of forced labor. This comes in the same week that the government announced “tough new measures” to tackle … Read More
  • Notes: The Marshall Plan by Benn Steil
    I read this next book, The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War, by Benn Steil, in an attempt to take the idea of a “Marshall Plan for post-Covid recovery” seriously. I’m glad I did because I apparently had an entirely misguided understanding of what the plan was, the context in which it was undertaken, … Read More
  • Identifying Fake News in the Time of the Presidential Election
    In the last three years, there’s been a rampant increase in reports of the use of digital marketing tools like social media to spread false information, commonly referred to as “fake news.” From the supposed deaths of many celebrities (like the Cher story below) to election tampering, it seems that this trend is – unfortunately … Read More