Once again my Samsung Galaxy Note is killing people

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It’s a shame that every time I pick up my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 or Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 that I have to see the blood on my hands as a consumer. Samsung and Apple may compete on a lot of things, but when it comes to labor repression and workers’ rights on the Asian continent, they might be equals.

Take a look inside Korea:

The first ever large-scale trade union in Samsung Group, the Korean Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU) Samsung Electronics Service Workers’ Local (around 2000 members), is on indefinite strike. The workers have asked Samsung to stop labour repression and recognize the union, for employment security at the 3 centers with concentrated union membership, to pay a living wage and to bargain a first collective agreement.

Things got worse however:

During the strike, on May 17, the KMWU Samsung local chapter chair committed self-immolation in protest against Samsung’s continuing labour repression. 300 police forces stormed his funeral wake, arrested 25 mourners, and absconded with the labour martyr’s body. He was cremated under police protection against his dying wishes that his sacrifice be used to win labour rights at Samsung, which adheres to a “No Union” corporate policy. Police and public prosecutors have imprisoned KMWU Samsung union local Chair WI, Young-il and First Vice-Chair LA, Du-shik for protesting the raid at the funeral wake when the body was taken amid this clampdown on democratic and trade union rights.

As much as we may love our electronics we have to be reminded of the other side of the coin, and that is the horrible exploitation of labor in Asia as well as Africa to bring us these products. In Africa people are killed for the minerals that go into our gadgets and in Asia they are violently repressed and face horrible working conditions with low pay to manufacture and assemble those gadgets. As consumers we can demand better from these corporations.

via Korea: No return to authoritarianism!.

Photo by Janitors

Apparently, Apple is not the biggest and most valuable company of all time

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I saw the Apple as most valuable headline come across Twitter a few times today. Personally, I didn’t really think much of it. So what if they are? It would not change much about how I view them. They are still a corporation who subcontracts with companies like Foxconn in China, who have had workers there commit suicide. While a recent New York Times investigative piece has had the effect of making Apple more attuned to its supply chain and ensuring workers are paid more and treated better; they are still a company that seeks a tax holiday to repatriate profits without paying taxes to the United States. Basically, like all corporations you have to keep an eye on them.

But anyhow it seems that the love fest with Apple will have to be postponed a little:

Apple’s $622 billion market cap is a nominal record, which means “in name only,” or alternatively, not really. That’s because it’s a record only if you don’t adjust Microsoft’s 1999 market cap for inflation (ADDING: Microsoft doesn’t even hold the record, apparently. IBM in 1967 was worth at least $1.3 trillion in today’s money. I’ve updated my subhead to correct that MSFT’s isn’t a record). Sorry, but you have to adjust any number like this that’s that old for inflation—it’s comparing apples to oranges not to do so.

It was kind of sad to see how media outlets were willing to run with a story just to get page views. I mean you had institutions such as the Associated Press and Reuters spreading these semi-truths. It doesn’t seem that anyone but the Columbia Journalism Review did any fact checking.

Fake corporatized protest in front of Apple Store

It’s sort of sickening to see corporatized protest taking shape. In the days of Occupy Wall Street where real protest is going on, we also see these sorts of fake protests that are ginned up by one corporation to go after another corporation. Some are saying this “wake up” protest was orchestrated by Samsung. I’ve also heard that Research in Motion might be behind this as well.

Whoever is behind this demonstration is doing an injustice to those who really have a beef with Apple. Like those who have issues with worker’s safety and rights at manufacturing plants in China that make things for Apple. Or those who have issues with Apple’s environmental record.

Electronics: Willing to wait if it meant better labor conditions

It would seem from a poll that the National Consumers League conducted; that people would be willing to wait for new electronics if it meant that workers had better working conditions.

After Apple made headlines over working conditions at factories in China, a survey commissioned by the National Consumers League, a nonprofit advocacy group, found that consumers were willing to endure a delay in the release of new devices if it meant better working conditions for employees. Conducted by ORC International in March, the survey tallied more than 1,000 responses.

The results showed that 73 percent of respondents would be willing to wait. One in 10 said they would not be willing to wait, while 13 percent were undecided.

Apple, Nokia Factory in Turkey tries to one up Foxconn

Apple Inc.

Apple Inc. (Photo credit: marcopako ?)

Trexta, the corporation in Turkey that manufactures devices for Apple, Nokia, RIM and Samsung; has issues with workers wanting a safe workplace.

The scalding hot manufacturing iron fell on her hand and stuck for several minutes before someone pulled it from her burning skin. Help could have come sooner but management had removed an emergency button, claiming that workers would “play” with it.

When corporations offshore manufacturing to these countries you have to wonder: are they all sociopaths who put cost above basic human rights?

Did Apple and book publishers illegally collude to raise prices?

In the ongoing war between Amazon and book publishers; I was actually surprised to read that Apple Inc. and Macmillan Publishing are being accused of essentially conspiring against Amazon.

John Sargent, the plain-spoken chief executive of Macmillan Publishing, was the first to get on a plane to Seattle to inform Amazon of the decision and to threaten to withhold Macmillan’s books if Amazon did not agree to the new pricing model. Bezos and his colleagues reacted angrily by removing options to buy Macmillan’s books directly from Amazon. Amazon eventually relented, and e-book prices on bestsellers jumped from $9.99 to $12.99 or higher. (The publishers’ move has triggered ongoing antitrust investigations in Europe and Washington, D.C., over whether book publishers and Apple illegally colluded to raise e-book prices.)

How amazing is that? To be fair, I think that book publishers need to realize that like their music and movie brethren and sistren, the media in which people consume their content is changing. While digital books may not really be fairly priced at $9.99, they probably aren’t priced correctly at $30-$40 for the hardcover either. It’s also ridiculous to do what HarperCollins did and delay Kindle editions of highly anticipated memoirs in order to drive people to the hardcover versions.

Thought: I’m typing on a computer not a typewriter. My phone has no wires. I made the shift from paper books to a Kindle—although I will still read a paper book now and then. I also still read print magazines in addition to reading them online. The fact is I’d rather be carrying a lightweight device than a heavy tome. Technology can be disruptive, but you can’t preserve the old ways of doing everything. You can however be as fair as possible with everyone involved.

Wade Rathke hits it home on Apple and NY Times article

This week, the New York Times article on how the US lost out on iPhone manufacturing has been making the rounds all over the Internet. From what I’ve read so far, I think that Wade Rathke the chief organizer for ACORN International has the best rebuttal to the Times article out there.

Good news that we are really talking about manufacturing. Bad news that the ideology underpinning the conversation is that there can only be manufacturing at the expense of workers’ rights and wages in sweatshop conditions.

Shame on Apple, the Times, and the rest of the tribe that makes these rationalizations!

One of the examples in the Times article that Rathke criticizes, is the ability of Chinese corporations like Foxconn to mobilize eight thousand workers in a heartbeat, with this supposedly being impossible to do in America.

The reporter and others marveled at how on a whim 8000 workers could be pulled out of bed in company owned and run dormitories and put to work on a last-minute changeover. Wow, the article and others seemed to say, that couldn’t happen here in America.

Well, that’s wrong. It could happened here in America, but Apple would have to pay for it, and that’s still the real difference (emphasis added).

That’s the truth! Apple would have to pay a lot more to do this stateside and rightfully so. Another thought I had was that some of the examples that supporters of this sort of manufacturing tout, would be frowned upon in the United States. There’s a reason why sweatshops are reviled in this country.

The other point that the Times article attempts to make about corporations not being able to find thousands of people ready to work in rapid fashion is also refuted by Rathke.

Even in the pages of the New York Times, if they were interested they can read about the skilled works by the thousands that have trucked themselves into North Dakota (of all places!) to live in, yes, bunks, trailers, and all manner of man-caves in order to work in the oil industry on the planes. But, whoops, once again, I should add that they are doing so, because they get paid, and paid pretty damned well to do so!

So basically when corporations say they can’t find people to hire in the United States, what they’re really saying is that they don’t want to pay a fair and just wage for it.  Lastly, there was an argument made that besides the so-called lack of workers, the infrastructure and resources to manufacture on a large-scale and in a specialized manner, has simply left the U.S. The United States cannot compete with the coordinated system of manufacturing in Asia we’re told. If we tried, it would just add to the cost of making each iPhone. Even so, Apple would still make a handsome profit!

The problem is really about the existence of what author Phillip Bobbitt calls the market-state, and its attempt to supersede the nation-state.

The “market-state” is the latest constitutional order, one that is just emerging in a struggle for primacy with the dominant constitutional order of the 20th century, the nation-state. Whereas the nation-state based its legitimacy on a promise to better the material well-being of the nation, the market-state promises to maximize the opportunity of each individual citizen.

If we embrace the market-state then all the talk of “made in the U.S.A.” becomes irrelevant and that is troubling.

Did RIM, Apple and Nokia help India spy on the United States?

It appears that to gain access to the Indian market cell phone manufactures gave the Indian intelligence apparatus backdoor access through their devices to allow for spying on the United States.

An internal memo from India’s Military Intelligence that hackers have posted online suggests that manufacturers of mobile devices have provided “backdoor” access to the Indian government in exchange for access to the Indian market. The manufacturers, referred to collectively in the memo as “RINOA,” include RIM, Nokia, and Apple.

This is a shame but I’m not surprised. Google et al. have appeased China when it came to gaining access to their market. Although spying on the US wasn’t involved in that case, they nonetheless compromised on free speech in return for access to a lucrative market.

Did the MTA give away the kitchen sink to Apple Computers Inc?

Apple Store in Grand Central Station

It’s sounding like Apple got a sweetheart of a deal from the MTA to open an Apple Store in Grand Central Station. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is going to investigate.

As much as I hate linking to and quoting the NY Post here it is:

In addition to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who told The Post he would look into Apple’s sweetheart lease, State Sen. Tony Avella also called for an investigation yesterday.

Regardless, iPads are coming to Grand Central a week from today — probe or no probe. Confirming a Post report, Apple said yesterday it will open its store inside the Big Apple’s historic commuter hub Dec. 9.

So what does an Apple Store in Grand Central Station do for NYC’s economy?