More Below-the-Radar Terrorism: Union-Busting Edition

by matttbastard

In past years Colombia has been labeled one of the most dangerous nations for labour unions. According to Amnesty International, between January 1991 and December 2006 Colombia’s National Trade Union School documented 2,245 killings, 3,400 threats and 138 forced disappearances of trade unionists. Although the overall number of murders in Colombia associated with trade unions is down (from a peak of 209 in 2001), a new AI report shows that the threat to collective organization in the Central American nation is still very apparent.

Unsurprisingly, the responsibility for the ongoing terror campaign lies mostly with government-backed paramilitaries and security forces operating at the behest of the usual corporate interests; the Invisible Hand sometimes gets an itchy trigger finger, dontcha know.

More from CUPE and the AFL-CIO.

Quote of the Day: 4th of July Edition

by matttbastard

Scratch the surface of the current immigration debate and beneath the posturing lies a dirty secret. Anti-immigrant sentiment is older than America itself. Born before the nation, this abiding fear of the “huddled masses” emerged in the early republic and gathered steam into the 19th and 20th centuries, when nativist political parties, exclusionary laws and the Ku Klux Klan swept the land.

As we celebrate another Fourth of July, this picture of American intolerance clashes sharply with tidy schoolbook images of the great melting pot. Why has the land of “all men are created equal” forged countless ghettoes and intricate networks of social exclusion? Why the signs reading “No Irish Need Apply”?* And why has each new generation of immigrants had to face down a rich glossary of now unmentionable epithets? Disdain for what is foreign is, sad to say, as American as apple pie, slavery and lynching.

– Kenneth C. Davis, The Founding Immigrants

Via Jill @ Feministe.

*Historian Richard Jensen contends that ‘No Irish Need Apply’ is a myth; the phrase apparently originated from a song that was popular during the mid-1800s. Jensen claims Irish immigrants faced little-to-no job discrimination in the US.

“It’s the Rodney Dangerfield of security programs.”

by matttbastard

This is certainly comforting news:

At least 76 radioactive devices — several of which could be used in a terrorist attack — have gone missing in Canada over the last five years, newly compiled figures show.

They’re stolen from cars, disappear from construction sites, fall off trucks and generally go astray at an alarming pace.

[…]

Some of the incidents would be laughable if the potential implications weren’t so serious:

  • A smash-and-grab crew in Red Deer, Alta., played hot potato with a radioactive device after stealing a trailer containing the dangerous item.
  • A Quebec inspection firm has lost six nuclear gauges to thieves in the last three years.
  • A radioactive tool was turned in by an honest citizen after it fell out of a truck making a right-hand turn in Peterborough, Ont.

[…]

Many of the items were recovered. Others simply weren’t potent enough to pose serious hazards. But radiation safety experts say several devices that went missing, even if temporarily, could have posed a genuine security risk in the wrong hands.

How much of a risk?

The blast from wrapping radioactive material with a conventional explosive would likely kill or maim few people. But it could spew radiation up to several kilometres, depending on wind speed and the type of material used, forcing evacuations and breeding chaos.

That’s why they’ve been dubbed “weapons of mass disruption.”

[…]

Preliminary findings of a federal study released to the Canadian Press say a gauge like the one stolen in Red Deer, detonated near Toronto’s CN Tower, would spew radiation over four square kilometres and cost the economy up to $23.5 billion.

In fact, explosives would not even be needed. A terrorist could leave an unshielded radioactive device — a so-called silent bomb — in a park or airport lounge.

A radical proposal: Instead of pointless PR gestures like no-fly lists, how about we step up common sense security measures – for example, not allowing nuclear devices to fall off the backs of trucks (both literally and figuratively).