HIGHTOWER: The Disney-McDonald's Sweatshop Partnership

"Disney Makes Dreams" goes an old advertising pitch for the maker of "Cinderella," "Snow White" and "Fantasia," along with Mickey, Goofy, Pluto and all those other loveable Disney characters.But for the young workers in Vietnam, Disney is a nightmare, a company far more abusive than the wicked old step-sisters who kept Cinderella in bondage. In Vietnamese sweatshops, hundreds of young women who are only 17, 18, 19 years old, spend their youth making little giveaway toys that are based on cute characters from Disney movies. These little toys are part of the "Happy Meals" that McDonald's fast-food restaurants sell.A McDonald's spokesman is thrilled with the success of these children's meals, recently gushing that [quote] "Our new global alliance [provides] unbeatable family fun as customers enjoy 'the magic of Disney' only at McDonald's."He should check the magic of the toy factory in Da Nang City, where the women toil 10 hours a day, seven days a week, plus mandatory overtime. They are paid SIX CENTS AN HOUR. Lest you think that's real money in Vietnam, it costs 70-cents there just to buy, not a "Happy Meal," but the most basic meal of rice, vegetables and tofu. A breakfast, lunch and dinner would cost the workers $2.10 a day . . . yet they are paid only 60-cents a day.No one sings "Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It's off to Work We Go" on that starvation pay. Plus, it's a dangerous place to work, with poisonous fumes filling the sweatshop. In February, 200 women fell ill, and three were hospitalized by over-exposure to acetane, a chemical solvent. Despite such incidents, the Disney/McDonald's factory refuses all appeals to have the simple decency to improve the ventilation system.This is Jim Hightower saying . . . To help stop this abuse by Disney and McDonald's, contact the National Labor Committee on 212-242-3002.For more information:National Labor Committee: 212-242-3002Source: "McDonald's/Disney linked to six-cent-an-hour sweatshop in Vietnam" by Ellen Braune. National Labor Committee Press Release. April 23, 1997.

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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