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Farah Mustafa

Trouble with Bangladesh’s garment industry

Six months ago, the world did not expect Bangladesh’s topmost industry to bring in more heartbreak than it did revenue.Since November, Bangladesh has seen at least two major workplace safety-related tragedies. November’s garment factory fire had 112 victims, and the death toll of April’s garment factory collapse had about ten times more victims at 1,127.According to The Associated Press, April’s collapse was the worst disaster in the international history of the garment industry. The collapse occurred on the soil of the world’s third largest exporter of clothing, behind only China and Italy. The eight-storey building called the Rana Plaza, which collapsed on April 24 in Savar, Bangladesh, on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, housed five factories that produced clothing for popular North American and European retailers, like the Loblaws-owned Joe Fresh.Following April’s accident, the country’s government and foreign retailers are taking action to ensure that such labourers can enjoy adequate workplace health and safety conditions.According to the International Labor Rights Forum, an advocacy group for workers’ rights, factory collapses and fires in Bangladesh have accounted for the deaths of 1,800 garment industry workers since 2005. This raises questions as to why occupational labour and safety issues haven’t been addressed before by governments and multinational corporations.“An individual event like this factory collapse is clearly a tragedy. There are four million people working in the garment industry in Bangladesh – the vast majority of whom haven’t been hurt in a collapse or a fire,” said Benjamin Powell, the director of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University, in a phone interview last Thursday. “If you mandated higher safety standards for all those four million workers, many of them would be out of a job. We can’t extrapolate from the injuries and deaths of some – things that would put the… Read More

The Great Gatsby: Greatest Asset was the Greatest Flaw?

The fifth screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 magnum opus The Great Gatsby didn’t stray too far from the original plot of the classic American novel. This was both the movie’s greatest flaw and asset.The movie, which was co-written and directed by Baz Luhrmann, best known for Moulin Rouge! (2001) and Romeo and Juliet (1996), features a rather dapper-looking Leonardo DiCaprio in the Roaring Twenties as the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby whose over-the-top parties—complete with loud music, confetti, fireworks, and, of course, unlimited drinks for all—are the talk of New York’s elite upper class.Despite the superficial appearance of Gatsby’s grand lifestyle, the man is humble. His wealth is only a means to a romantic end: the love of his pre-First World War romance, the now-married Daisy Buchanan, played by the elegant Carey Mulligan. Gatsby works with Daisy’s cousin, Nick Carraway, his neighbour and the alcoholic narrator of the story, played by Tobey Maguire, who is struggling to be a bond broker—and thus lives in a modest cabin next to Gatsby’s castle of a mansion—to attract Daisy’s attention. As Gatsby attempts to relive parts of his past, he must also work during the movie to hide the secrets of his success from evil-eyed enemies.This story was first depicted in a silent film made in 1926, one year following the book’s release, with Warner Baxter (42nd Street) as Gatsby, Lois Wilson (The Guiding Light) as Daisy, and Neil Hamilton (Batman) as Nick. Other adaptations took place in 1949, 1974 and 2000. Hollywood has come a long way since the time of black and white silent films, and this generation’s version of The Great Gatsby is incomparable to the rest in terms of its technology.The film was released in both 3D and 2D, but viewers of the 2D-edition of the film were… Read More

Press Freedom Drops in Canada, Report Says

Canada’s ranking fell from 10th to 20th in a worldwide measure of press freedom completed by Reporters Without Borders last week in light of Friday’s World Press Freedom Day.The top and bottom three countries have secured their positions for the third year in a row, with Finland, the Netherlands and Norway at the top, and Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea at the bottom.Canada is no longer boasts the most press freedom in the western hemisphere, being trumped by Jamaica, as shown by the annual index that measures the freedom of news and information circulation and government attitudes towards press freedom among 179 countries.But even with the declining status, Canada is categorized as being in a “good situation”, the best label a country can receive on the index of five categories.According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 2012 was the deadliest year for journalists in the past decade with 121 fatalities.“Unfortunately, last year was a year when the killings of journalists reached higher levels than they have been in many years. This is the tip of the iceberg because for every killing, there are far more threats,” said Guy Berger, director for freedom of expression and media development at UNESCO, in an interview with the freedom of expression group IFEX last Thursday.“Last year has also not been a good year in terms of online freedom of expression because more and more governments are introducing laws that are not thought through in as much detail as one would hope. All laws about freedom of expression, whether they pertain to the Internet or anything else, should meet international standards.”Death, harassment, coercive silencing and government-controlled censorship are very real threats to journalists in parts of the world.Quite suitably, this year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day was “Safe to Speak:… Read More