Unprivileged Children

Fate of Early 1900s Young Laborer
Reminds Us: Our Kids Are Not Alright

The harrowing life and sad death of a young child laborer, who lived in North Carolina a hundred years ago, uncovered recently by a Massachusetts researcher, may have at least some positive effects. It may bring to mind the fact that much of what we take for granted today, about labor relations and children’s rights, cost countless lives and took several decades to be achieved.
Also, even though officially no kid under 16 is allowed to be hired as a worker in this and most countries, it may serve as a reminder that in some parts of the world, such a regulation if even exists is all but a joke. Child abuse, prostitution, forced to join murderous armies or traded as a commodity, are all still rampant and very much part of the daily lives of millions.
Reading about poor 12-year-old Giles Edmund Newsom, whose picture above was taken in 1912, days before his 12th birthday and after losing his fingers in an accident at Sanders Cotton Manufacturing Co., in Bessemer City, also made us go back a couple of years. That’s when we published a quick post about child soldiers of Mogadishu, massacres in Brazil, cases of underage farm labor right here in the U.S., and the Army’s use of computer games as a recruitment tool.
We invite you to read that post keeping in mind that some of events described have had developments in the past two years, and most of the protagonists of those stories have changed. But the substance of Continue reading

Bloody Throes

The Hiroshima Reminder
& the Age of New Killings

Capping a few particularly blood-drenched weeks for thousands of civilians around the world, today’s the 69th anniversary of the mass killing of almost two hundred thousand residents of Hiroshima, by the first ever U.S. atomic bomb attack. It sealed the end of the World War 2 and started the nuclear age.
Meanwhile, Israel’s has withdrawn for now its ground troops from Gaza, but bombs continue to rain over Ukraine and Iraq. Plus, 100 years ago last Monday was the beginning of WW1, while around the same time, 50 years later, the first American combatants were sent to Vietnam. Blood soaked time, indeed.
Yet, for a breed of beings that’s been waging war since its inception on this planet, we’re surprisingly coy to call this game of mutual extermination for what it is. When it comes to rile up the troops and send them to the slaughtering fields, we’re often like bad parents, and lie to them that it won’t hurt. But it always does.
We insist in giving the carnage a catchy name, and promise it won’t last, but it always does, no matter how jazzed up the latest campaign is marketed to be. Remember ‘Shock and Awe?’ Almost like what the schoolyard bully would promise to do with us, at the end of the classes.
The writer H.G. Wells, best known as one of the forefathers of modern sci-fi literature, could’ve spared his legacy from a tragic miss, when he gave that first international conflict a pompous sobriquet: ‘the war to end all wars.’ 37 million dead, and two decades later, he couldn’t believe the world was ready to have another go at it.
To bury Japan’s imperial dreams of taking over where Hitler’d left off, the U.S. leveled two entire cities – Nagasaki was destroyed three days later, with almost another hundred thousand killed -, using atomic power, and justified it by claiming that such a power could not be topped, and it’d be forever a deterrent against war.

And yet, many more followed. Speaking of justification, the Vietnam War, perhaps the most traumatic conflict the U.S. got ever involved, was triggered Aug. 4, 1964, with a confrontation with North Vietnamese forces at the Gulf of Tonkin, by covertly operating American ships.
The incident prompted Congress to give an unfortunate carte blanche to President Lyndon Johnson, and later Richard Nixon, to escalate a war that even now remains difficult, to well, justify. Coincidentally, Nixon signed the end of the war in 1973, and resigned from office 40 years ago this coming Saturday.
What we didn’t know then was that the only thing that the atomic bomb could possibly sustain was fear. Out of it, another war lingered, the Cold one, just enough to reset borders and redesign political alliances. Once we were done with it, Continue reading