Monday, September 25, 2006

Picture this.

On Saturday night Paul and I zipped over to Greensboro to meet up with Ed Cone and his talented spouse Lisa Scheer to see her photography exhibition at the Green Bean coffeehouse. The Green Bean is a neat place. Paul and I wondered about the closed-off room with table and chairs. It's a conference room that's rentable by local businesses! So, for your your next meeting, you might walk down the street and sit around an interesting table with good coffee. By day it's a coffeehouse, by night it's a bar, and the walls are devoted to art exhibitions--like Lisa's photographs.

Which are wonderful.

While we were there we saw part of a documentary film on the labor abuses at the Smithfield Packing Company down east in Tar Heel, N.C. This article from The Nation--by Eric Schlosser, who ought to know--captures it pretty well:

Since George W. Bush took office in January 2001, the meatpacking industry has wielded more power than at any other time since the early twentieth century. The Bush Administration has worked closely with the industry to weaken food safety and worker safety rules and to make union organizing more difficult. The US Department of Agriculture now offers a textbook example of a regulatory agency controlled by the industry it's supposed to regulate.[*] The current chief of staff at the USDA was, until 2001, the chief lobbyist for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Meanwhile, the sort of abuses criticized in the NLRB's Smithfield decision are still being committed. A recent Human Rights Watch report on the US meatpacking industry found "systematic human rights violations." Lance Compa, the author of the report, teaches labor law at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Compa interviewed many workers at the Smithfield plant in Tar Heel. What's happening there, he says, is "a modern-day version of The Jungle."

*The nuclear industry is another.--SG

After seeing as much as we could stomach of this enlightening film, we went out for sushi.

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