Texas Liberal

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New Phone App Will Help Americans See The Amount Of Forced Labor In What We Buy

A new phone app will help Americans see how much forced labor was involved to make the things we use each day.

From CNN-

“Was your smartphone made in a sweatshop? Were those diapers made by slaves? Were children in another country forced to put that stitching in your designer jeans?  Consumers will be able to find out after the debut Thursday of a new app and website that measure the forced labor in everyday products.  Created by the U.S. State Department and a watchdog group, the free app and website will make consumers aware of their “slavery imprint.” “This is a new way to create awareness about the issue of modern slavery and empower consumers,” said Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.”

Here is the website of State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

While at the website, I signed up for e-mail updates.

Government has a role in informing consumers about the things they purchase. In this way, consumers can make decisions with as much information as possible.

I’m certain I buy things that are made with forced labor. I imagine we all do.

The good news is that we can address this problem and change how goods are made.

Government has a role in protecting the workers who make the products we buy in the United States. In a connected world, we cannot  just wash our hands of the consequences of our decisions.

As mentioned above, Luis CdeBaca runs the State Department Trafficking office.

The Trafficking office reports to the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs. Her name is Maria Otero. 

The U.S. Department of Labor has produced a report about which nations in the world use child labor and what types of products are produced by child labor. 

A Republican state senator in Missouri proposed earlier this year that Missouri role back child labor laws.

While this proposal did not pass, Republicans are going after many of the protections that American workers have in our nation.

It is good that our federal government is involved in important work of addressing forced labor and human trafficking. Such work helps consumers at home, and helps working people all over the globe.

It is work that shows the United States living up to the promise of freedom for all.

September 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Texas Considering Confederate License Plates To Honor Treason And Slavery—TPA Round-Up

At the end of this post is the weekly round-up of the Texas Progressive Alliance. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. TPA members are citizen-bloggers who are working hard for a better Texas.

Every Texan has the ability has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes, and even run for public office. The work of freedom is up to each of us.

With the round-up this week is news that the State of Texas is seriously considering a license plate honoring the Confederate army and the brutal and treasonous causes the Confederate army fought for in the Civil War.

Above you see an image of the license plate.

Some will claim that honoring the traitors who fought against American armies so that black men and women might remain slaves is a matter of culture or regional identity.

(Below–Southern culture and regional identity from the years before the Civil War.)

I’m certain that when borderline disloyal politicians like Texas Governor Rick Perry drip the hateful words of secession and nullification that all they have in mind is the protection of a noble heritage.

None of it has anything do to with a black President or increasing numbers of minorities in the U.S. or the desire of big corporations to be free of federal safety and environmental regulation.

Where was all this Tea Party talk when George W. Bush was running up the debt  and raising the debt ceiling 19 times?

The State of Texas can offer these license plates to Texas motorists. Politicians in Texas and elsewhere can talk about secession and nullification of federal laws. I welcome all free speech in our great federal union.

For those of us who think that the outcome of the Civil War should stand, we need to remain aware that the enemy defeated in 1865 never goes away in this country.

The round-up—-

We have our first poll of Texas for next year’s presidential contest and Off the Kuff says that so far 2012 still looks like 2008.

Last week WCNews at Eye On Williamson posted on the Texas Republicans’ latest health care scheme: House GOP follows Oklahoma and Georgia into misguided health care compact.

Bay Area Houston has a theory about Rick Perry’s veto of the texting-while-driving ban. Continue reading

June 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Facts About Juneteenth—The Freedom Of All People Is Connected

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is the celebration to mark the end of slavery in the United States.

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger, landing at Galveston, Texas, made the announcement that the Civil War was over and that slaves were free.

(Above–Ashton Villa. It was from the balcony of this house that the Emancipation Proclamation was read in the event now known as Juneteenth. Photo by Nick Saum  www.nicksaumphotography.com)

Juneteenth for 2011 will be observed on Sunday, June 19.

It is important that we all be aware of Juneteenth. The freedom of all people is connected. If any group of Americans does not have all their rights, than we are all denied our rights.

Here is information on Juneteenth from the very useful Handbook of Texas Online.

From the Handbook—

“On June 19 (“Juneteenth”), 1865, Union general Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, thus belatedly bringing about the freeing of 250,000 slaves in Texas. The tidings of freedom reached slaves gradually as individual plantation owners read the proclamation to their bondsmen over the months following the end of the war. The news elicited an array of personal celebrations, some of which have been described in The Slave Narratives of Texas (1974). The first broader celebrations of Juneteenth were used as political rallies and to teach freed African-Americans about their voting rights. Within a short time, however, Juneteenth was marked by festivities throughout the state, some of which were organized by official Juneteenth committees.”

Though the Emancipation Proclamation took effect in 1863, it took time for word to get around that slavery was over. People went around for two years not knowing they were free.

After Juneteenth came the failure of Reconstruction and over 100 years of Jim Crow. Many people had their lives wasted in these years due to the racist beliefs of political leaders and of many everyday citizens.

Here is a history of Reconstruction.

Here is a history of Jim Crow.

Here is a collection of links that form a history of slavery in the United States.

These folks think Juneteenth should be a holiday.

Here is a list on Juneteenth events in Houston for 2011.

( I’ve also written the best Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List on the web. Please click here to see the list.)

Below is a picture of a man who was a slave and who was whipped many times.

File:Cicatrices de flagellation sur un esclave.jpg

The man in the picture above had no choice about his fate in life.

Even today we remain not in full control of our fates. Circumstance and chance play a role in life.

Sometimes our freedom is restricted by our self-imposed limits of imagination. Other times our freedom is challenged by the greed of the wealthy and powerful.

In any case, we must always press ahead towards freedom and emancipation. There is always progress to be made and great victories to be won.

June 4, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Next Year May We Be Free

The following refers to the matzoh that was eaten in my home tonight at our Passover Seder, and is taken from the Haggadah that is read each year at Passover—

This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry-let them come and eat. All who are needy-let them come and celebrate the Passover with us. Now we are here; next year may we be in the Land of Israel. Now we are slaves; next year may we be free.

You can take this as literal or metaphoric. In any case, there is always the hope of being freed from bondage and affliction, and there is always the hope that we can move towards the place in life that we see as best and most just.

Here are facts about Passover, the Haggadah, and the Passover Seder. Passover marks the freedom of the Jews from slavery in Egypt.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

December 29 Marks Another Year Of Texas Statehood In Our Federal Union

Today is the 165th anniversary of Texas Statehood.  Texas became a state on December 29, 1845.

(Above–Texas State Capitol. As you see, the U.S. Flag flies above the Texas State Flag. Photo by Daniel Mayer.)

Here are some basic facts about Texas from the excellent Texas Almanac.

While our Governor, Rick Perry, has engaged in seditious talk about Texas leaving our federal union, Texas is one of the 50 states of the United States of America.

In aggressively promoting a so-called states rights agenda, the Governor shows a historical fondness for the Southern lost cause of slavery and for the Apartheid like brutality of Jim Crow.

Loyal Texans see no conflict between seeing what is best about the many contributions Texas has made to our nation, and, at the same time, being part of our great nation.

(The San Jacinto Battlefield Monument and the USS Texas battleship in LaPorte, Texas.  LaPorte is just outside of Houston. Texas independence was won in 1836 at San Jacinto. The monument and the battleship are well worth a visit. Photo by Louis Vest.)

There are many fine resources to learn about Texas.

Lone Star Nation–The Epic Story of the Battle for Texas Independence by H.W. Brands will tell you all you need to know about how Texans won independence from Mexico.

Texas: A Modern History by David McComb is short and readable history of Texas history all the way up to the current century.

The Texas Almanac is simply one of the best reference books I own on any topic. The Almanac is published by the Texas State Historical Society.

The Handbook of Texas Online is very comprehensive on many aspects of Texas both past and present. The Handbook is also published by the TSHS.

I’m certain there are many additional quality resources about our state.

Congratulations to all Texans for being lucky enough to live in a state that is justifiably famous all around the world, and that is also a proud part of our union.

(Below—The President of the United States of America.)

December 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Donation To Democratic National Committee—Consider What You Can Do As Election Nears

Above you see Franklin Roosevelt Action Figure, Andrew Jackson Action Figure, and George W. Bush Action Figure . They are standing with a $50 money order that they bought at the supermarket, and are going to send to the Democratic National Committee.

F.D.R.A.F. says that Health Care Reform is as close to a New Deal program that we going to see in our corporate owned nation. He reminds that HCR, among many helpful things, ends lifetime limits on policies, stops the practice of kicking people off insurance because they sick and offers free immunizations to kids. (Read about Health Care Reform on your own.)

Andrew Jackson A.F. says that in his day, slavery was expanded and Indian removal was aggressively pursued all in the name of expanded democracy and liberty. He says he would have done something about it all, but for the fact that he was in favor of all the bad things taking place.  Old Hickory says that in our day, the so-called Tea Party and the Republican Party use talk of expanded democracy and liberty to empower the rich even further and to make sure that millions won’t have access to health insurance. (A good to book to learn about the “evolution” of democracy in the first half of the 19th century is The Rise of American Democracy–Jefferson to Lincoln by Sean Wilentz. )

George W. Bush A.F. says that many of our problems are indeed his fault.

The donation does not change my view that the Democratic Party sometimes ignores the poor and urban voters who are often it’s most reliable supporters.

Nor does it mean that I’m any less frustrated with President Obama‘s failure to communicate effectively for progressive values.

But we are where we are, and we must move ahead past the upcoming election.

The Republican Party has from the moment President Obama took office said no to everything he has proposed. They never had any intention of saying anything other than saying no.

They have said no regardless of the severity of the recession, regardless of the millions without health insurance and regardless of the reality of climate change.

They don’t appear to care about the severity of these problems.

I suggest that you please consider what you can do to help Democratic candidates in the weeks ahead.

After the election is done, there will be plenty of time to discuss what comes next.

September 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Facts About Juneteenth—Juneteenth 2010

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is the celebration to mark the end of slavery in the United States.

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger, landing at Galveston, Texas, made the announcement that the Civil War was over and that slaves were free.

Juneteenth for 2010 will be observed on Saturday, June 19.

Here is information on Juneteenth from the very useful Handbook of Texas Online.

From the Handbook—

“On June 19 (“Juneteenth”), 1865, Union general Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, thus belatedly bringing about the freeing of 250,000 slaves in Texas. The tidings of freedom reached slaves gradually as individual plantation owners read the proclamation to their bondsmen over the months following the end of the war. The news elicited an array of personal celebrations, some of which have been described in The Slave Narratives of Texas (1974). The first broader celebrations of Juneteenth were used as political rallies and to teach freed African-Americans about their voting rights. Within a short time, however, Juneteenth was marked by festivities throughout the state, some of which were organized by official Juneteenth committees.”

Though the Emancipation Proclamation took effect in 1863, it took time for word to get around that slavery was over. People went around for two years not knowing they were free.

The knowledge you need for your freedom is out there. You just may not be aware.

It’s up to you to gain the knowledge you require about your history. I mean this for people of all colors because history is a shared thing. The fate of all people is connected.

The knowledge you need is on-line, in books, and at the library. The knowledge you need is all around you if you take the time and make the effort to learn.

You are intelligent and you are able to gain the knowledge you need.

After Juneteenth came the failure of Reconstruction and over 100 years of Jim Crow. many people had their lives wasted in these years.

Here is a history of Reconstruction.

Here is a history of Jim Crow.

Here is a collection of links that form a history of slavery in the United States.

These folks think Juneteenth should be a holiday.

Here is a list of Juneteenth events here in Houston.

Here is additional information about the Juneteenth event at Houston’s Hermann Park to be held on Saturday June 19 at 7 PM.

( I’ve also written the best Martin Luther King Reading & Reference list on the web. Please click here to see the list.)

Below is a picture of a man who was a slave and who was whipped many times by his overseer.

File:Cicatrices de flagellation sur un esclave.jpg

The man in the picture above had no choice about his fate in life.

And even today we are not in full control of our fates. Circumstance and chance play a role in life.

Yet you always have the option to learn about your freedom and to conduct yourself as a free person.

Sometimes our freedom  is restricted by our self-imposed limits of imagination. Other times our freedom is challenged by the greed of the wealthy.

In any case, we must always press ahead towards freedom and emancipation.

June 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Juneteenth?—It Is Up To You To Learn About Your Freedom

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is the celebration to mark the end of slavery in the United States.

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger, landing at Galveston, Texas, made the announcement that the Civil War was over and that slaves were free.

Please click here for a list of Juneteenth celebrations and observances in the United States.

Here is information on Juneteenth from the very useful Handbook of Texas Online.

From the Handbook—

“On June 19 (“Juneteenth”), 1865, Union general Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, thus belatedly bringing about the freeing of 250,000 slaves in Texas. The tidings of freedom reached slaves gradually as individual plantation owners read the proclamation to their bondsmen over the months following the end of the war. The news elicited an array of personal celebrations, some of which have been described in The Slave Narratives of Texas (1974). The first broader celebrations of Juneteenth were used as political rallies and to teach freed African Americanabout their voting rights. Within a short time, however, Juneteenth was marked by festivities throughout the state, some of which were organized by official Juneteenth committees.”

Though the Emancipation Proclamation took effect in 1863, it took time for word to get around that slavery was over. People went around for two years not knowing they were free.

The knowledge you need for your freedom is out there. You just may not be aware.

It’s up to you to gain the knowledge you require about your history. I mean this for people of all colors because history is a shared thing. The fate of all people is connected.

The knowledge you need is on-line, in books, and at the library. You don’t need money if you are willing to learn.

You are intelligent and you are able to gain the knowledge you need.

Of course— just because someone says that you are free, does not mean that you really are free.

After Juneteenth was the failure of Reconstruction and over 100 years of Jim Crow.

Here is a history of Reconstruction.

Here is a history of Jim Crow.

Here is a collection of links that form a history of slavery in the United States.

( I’ve also written what I think is the best Martin Luther King Reading & Reference list on the web. Please click here to see the list.)

Below is a picture of a man who was a slave and who was whipped many times by his overseer.

File:Cicatrices de flagellation sur un esclave.jpg

The man in the picture above had no choice about his fate in life.

And even today we are not in full control of our fates. Circumstance and chance play a role in life.

Yet you have the option to learn about your freedom and to conduct yourself as a free person.

I ask all people to make use of this option.

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sin To The Height Thy Fate Is Hell—Colonial Barbados

Colonial Barbados was said by some to be a kind of hell.

(Above—The Barbadoes Mulatto Gorl. A 1764 engraving by an Agostino Brunias. The Barbados Museum and Historical Society is a great place to learn about the history of Barbados.)  

Here is a poem about the place written in 1710—

And for one honest man ten thousand knavesBarbadoes Isle inhabited by slaves

Religion to thee’s a Romantick storey

Barbarity and ill-got wealth thy glory

All Sodom’s Sins are centered in thy heart

Death is thy look —Death in every part

Oh! Glorious isle in Vilany Excell

Sin to the height–thy fate is Hell.

In 1650 30,000 British colonists lived in Barbados. This was a large population for a colony of the time.

The attraction of Barbados that it was relatively easy to cultivate and that the natives had already been exterminated.

Here is information about native peoples of the Caribbean.

In the 1620′s through the 1640′s Barbados was populated in the main by indentured servants from England, Scotland and Ireland who hoped to work their way to freedom.  Most plantations on the island were small. The main crop was tobacco. However, the quality of the tobacco grown on Barbados was not first-rate.

As the economy of Barbados stagnated and hopes were not met, Barbadian planters , in response to a plot of rebellion by indentured servants, executed 18 of the men.

It was in the 1640′s that planters on the island moved to the labor intensive crop of sugar. Sugar grew well on Barbados.

Here is an article about the brutal process of making sugar in the 17th century.

From Alan Taylor’s American Colonies: The Settling Of North America

The sugar boom revolutionized the economy, landscape, demography and social structure of Barbados….Despite its small scale, by 1660 Barbados had 53,000 inhabitants–a density of 250 persons per square mile, which rose to 400 by the end of the century….The planters also filled the island with cane plants, obliterating the native forest. In 1676 the island’s governor observed, “There is not a foot of land in Barbados that is not employed to the very seaside.”…Much wildlife..vanished.

Growing sugar was terrible work—

The sugar planters needed a large and captive body of laborers…During planting season, the master expected every laborer daily to dig at least 60 large holes by hand with a hoe. Each hole contained one cane plant and required the shifting of 12 cubic feet of earth…free people did not volunteer for such…work. The sugar book demanded more workers at a time when the supply of indentured English-men was declining….at the same time, the intense exploitation of labor associated with sugar gave Barbados a more frightful reputation…Desperate for servants, the planters accepted growing numbers of ..criminals and political prisoners…Because white men could more easily escape…planters saw an advantage in employing only permanent slaves of a distinctive color.

By 1660, Barbados had become the first English colony with a black and enslaved majority…The growing slave population depended on increased slave imports, for the Barbadian slaves died faster than they could reproduce….The slaves succumbed to a deadly combination of tropical diseases, a brutal work regimen and the inadequate diet, housing and clothing provided by their masters. Rather than improve these conditions, the Barbadian planters found it more profitable t0 import more slaves.

However, rarely in life as it often seems, the oppressors suffered as as well for their misdeeds

…the Barbados planters paid some heavy psychological and physiological prices for their wealth and power. An especially ethnocentric people, the English found it …distasteful to dwell among Africans deemed so utterly different in complexion, speech and culture. With good cause, the planters also suffered..nightmares of slaves rising up to kill in the night. Adopting a siege mentality, the planters walled themselves within fortified houses that kept their blacks out. After 1680, the most successful grandees sought to escape from the profitable but troubling world they had made…

Most planters though, died before they could get away. During the 1640′s they had increased their exposure to deadly diseases by importing slaves bearing new pathogens from Africa…yellow fevermalaria...leprosy … elephantiasis.

The most thoughtful planters expressed dismay at what they had created….

Here are some facts about present-day Barbados from the BBC

Barbados is one of the more populous and prosperous Caribbean islands. Political, economic and social stability have given it one of the highest standards of living in the developing world.

It is a centre for financial services and has offshore reserves of oil and natural gas.

In recent years a construction boom has taken hold, with new hotels and housing complexes springing up. The trend accelerated as the island prepared to host some of the key Cricket World Cup matches in 2007.

However, a shortage of jobs has prompted many Barbadians – more often known as Bajans – to find work abroad. The money that they send home is an important source of income.

Most Barbadians are the descendants of African slaves who were brought to the island from the 17th century to work the sugar cane plantations.

Limestone caverns, coral reefs and a warm climate tempered by trade winds are among the island’s natural assets. Barbados is relatively flat, with highlands in the interior.

Here is some history of Barbados from the BBC. 

Here is the blog Barbados Free Press.

Here is a link to Nation News of Barbados.

The picture below is of a man riding a bike in Barbados.

December 14, 2007 Posted by | Art, Books, Colonial America, History, Poetry | , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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