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Monday August 31, 2009 - 22:49
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"If I go to Alang maybe one person will die, but if I stay five people will die. says the worker".


Alang is again in news for a short time . The death of six workers in Alang Ship yard has again brought the plight of workers in ship breaking yard into focus temporarily after the Clemenceau and Blue Lady episodes. The group of six labourers had climbed on the ship on 4th.August morning to bring down cables of the ship. When they reached engine room of MSC Jessica, and started cutting operation, fire broke out in engine room. The six workers were charred to death. This is not the first time that workers were charred to death or crushed by the crane. One worker died in month of May and another in June.

Death of workers have become routine affair and least cared. In last few months there were death in Adani power station, Tata’s Nano factory construction in Sanand and now in again in Alang. concern over the death of one worker and six injured workers, working in the NANO car project in Sanand,. of TATA. This is the second incident of death of workers after the incident in Shiracha Power Plant of ADANI. , near Mundra .

The Alang-Sosiya Ship-Breaking Yard (ASSBY) located in the Gulf of Cambay in the Bhavnagar District of Gujarat State in India is the biggest ship-breaking yard in Asia employing more than thousand workers dwindling from 10.000 to 40.000.There are around ten villages in the vicinity of ASSBY. They are Alang, Sosiya, Manar, Sathara, Kathwa, Bharapara, Mathavada, Takhatgadh (chopda), Jasapara and Mandva in 12 KM vicinity of sea coast. Conflict and amity is an usual phenomenon of the migrants with the locale. But segregation compel most of the migrants to stay in mushrooming slums which is humanly inhabitable in normal condition and full with the dust of asbestos.. Few stay in rented houses in different villages.The locals are content with small and medium business due to ASSBY. 99% migrants are engaged in ship breaking in comparison to only less than.1% local people. The migrants mostly from Orissa, UP. Bihar, Jharkhand etc. are very laborious.So the ship breakers prefer migrants in ship breaking more than the local people which is a very normal practice in Gujarat including in power loom sector at Surat, Salt factory at Kandla etc.There are 178 plots ASSBY that dismantle more than 2.5 million tons of material round the year and where 30 ships can be brokered in a month with an annual turnover of 3,500 crore. There are 2 departments to look after all these – one is Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and another is Controller of Explosion (CoE). For breaking ship no- objection certificate is issued by GMB and cleaning certificate is issued by CoE.

Alang is the classical case of violation of least regard for environment which is sacrificed for the fake economics growth.. Alang appears to be a place of Garbage Sale. Alang is not SEZ but SEZ like situation prevails. The press people cannot have free access. It is a place that symbolises the greed and exploitation, business by deceit violating all human norms and morals. The deaths and injuries are very common in Alang In May and June the death of workers was caused due to the crane’s rope carrying big steel plates cut from discarded ships broke and fell on them. Only Rs 30,000 was given to their families as expenses for performing his last rites reacting to the meagre compensation, one of the worker said , “In cases of injuries, no case is ever registered. The ship-breaking companies at best give some token compensation for medical expenses.” This is the reason why these companies never employ any worker permanently.” Said the one of the workers. Where as Mr. V H Patel, Deputy Director of the Inspectorate of Factories at Alang, claims that proper compensation to victims’ families has been paid. There is no medical insurance for the workers.

This year in June. perhaps for the first time about 15.000 workers were in strike demanding workers colony, wage hike, hospitals, schools. As per the version of the Union leader of Alang Sosiya Ship Recycling and General Workers Association (ASSRGWA) since 1982, no basic amenities are provided to the workers though the Ship breaking is recognized as an industry. But Mr. Nikhil Gupta, joint secretary of Ship Recycling Association of India says that the workers are paid much more than the base daily wages amount ranging from Rs 128 to 136 for different categories. He alleged that the ’few elements from outside Alang trying to provoke workers for their vested interest." Similarly Green peace has been accused of defaming Alang, as a part of conspiracy. THE Alang Ship Breaking Yard has came into existence in the year 1982 There are 183 plots spread over around 10 kin long stretch along the sea coast of Alang & Sosia, -The first ship its first vessel — MV Kota Tenjong beached at Alang Ship Breaking Yard on 13th February, 1983. Alang beached 4,539 ships between 1983 and 2008 and handled tonnage to the tune of 3,19,89400 LDT (light displacement tonnage). During its prime in 1998-99, Alang handled a record 361 ships with 30,37,882 LDT. About 40. 000 workers were working in the peak period.

10.000 tons are scraped daily in Alang. The scraping meets 10 to 15 % of country’s need.With 2.5m tones of steel a year feed 120 rolling mills in the country. earns 600 crs. to Govt. coffer.Tadaja out post earn Rs.70.000/ every day. GMB earned 100 cr. as premium from plot leases and 35 cr. as rent annually. 95 % are high quality steel. the purpose of dismantling is to recover steel and rest 5% are none steel matters which has to be separated from steel. This separation is the most risky one. These 5% are also consumer items old in local market in cheaper price. There is a heavy demand for all those items.

Though there is global melt down but the it is a boon to ship breaking. Right now near about 200 ship are in wait for dismantling.. "Alang is all set to set a new record in scrapping largest number of ships in 2009 as more than 600 ships are available for dismantling in the international market due to slowdown in the global trades," said Vishnu Gupta, President of Alang Ship Breakers’ Association. The greed of Ship breaking and recycling is so much that Alang is not free from explosives.

Right now a ship named" Britain Star" carrying huge explosives has arrived in polt no-60 arrived on 11th August, which has taken away the sleep of the administration and the people of near by areas are scared.

Unhealthy condition of workers and the contamination Most of the workers suffer from cholera, typhoid, and urticaria.. 8 person per 10000 suffer from urticaria where as in Alang it is 97% .

Average 30 mishaps takes place every day. They are fatal. The have to be rushed to Bhavnagr. There is no well equipped hospital. It is presumed that Asia’s biggest ship-breaking yard, is sitting on AIDS bomb. There are so far 75 confirmed HIV cases reported at Bhavnagar Hospital. There is no dearth of hooch too, which is operating under the very nose of the Police , though there is prohibition law in the state.

The Supreme Court Supreme Court-appointed two-member committee in collaboration with the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH),Ahmedabad last year, to asses the health of the workers.The committee came out with the report that fatal accident rate in ship-breaking industry is in the range of 2 per 1000 as opposed to 0.34 per 1000 in the mining industry. But according to the Greenpeace and the International Federation of Human Rights the fatal accident rate at Alang is at 50-60 per year. This is considered the worst in the world, and 16 per cent of workers here are suffering asbestos related diseases. But from 1983 until 2004, the Gujerat Maritime Board (GMB) acknowledged 372 deaths. It is difficult to asses the exact number of deaths as the dead bodies are disposed off in secret and no records are maintained or available.

Every sixth worker handling asbestos in the ship-breaking industry has shown signs of asbestosis from chest X-rays.16% which could further lead to lung cancer. According to Greenpeace, the soil and water levels around the Alang yard on the western coast are filled with dangerously high levels of toxic wastes. Extremely high levels of asbestos, heavy metals like arsenic, chromium, cadmium and hazardous and carcinogenic chemicals have been found near here.

One kg of soil of Alang contains 77 mg chromium,90 mg iron,108 nichel,112 copper,35 mg arsenic,2mg lead,74 mg zinc. Lead is poisonous for blood, kidney and nerves. Arsenic poisoning also too hazardous. The remnants of hazardous elements will be there for 10 to 20 years with out carrying the activities of ship breaking. But it is termed as the with in permitted limit. Surprisingly the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Oscar Fernandez, recently stated in Lok Sabha, last time that the workers in Alang are undergoing regular medical check up and no worker is found to be suffering from asbestosis.

One of the officers on Special Duty, GMB, said: “The penal provisions under the GMB Ship Recycling Regulations 2003, which include a fine of Rs 1,000 for a minor safety norm violation and operational suspension for a major one, are also being strictly enforced.” GMB is satisfied that T 20.000 workers are trained and there have been no fatal accidents over the last two years. Use of Helmets , gloves are promised by the ship breakers but it is a mockery as the ship breakers would say the helmet or the gloves do not save lives. those using the helmet and gloves are ridiculed and the GMB is not at all serious about the matter. The GMB is more for the ship breakers than the workers. Of course the Surakhya Divas ( Safety Day) are observed with much fan fare and at times the Chief Minister Mr. Narendra Modi join the functions of Surakhya Divas and declare special packages foe ship breaking and public-private partnership (PPP) model in an apparent bid to infuse life into the ’dying’ ship-breaking industry and to make Alang perform as per the international standards and to also promote it as a “green recycling facility” by using higher-end technologies But hardly there is any reference to the welfare of the workers.

Workers whose responsibility? GMB officers at Alang say that the labourers are not the GMB’s responsibility as it does not employ them. ``So there is no question of owning up for their welfare,’ But one of the officers says that competition for jobs is so intense that workers can lose their jobs for being ill. "If you fall sick and take leave, there will be no job for you when you come back. under this circumstances of disowning the workers one can understand the plight of workers in Alang.

“If I go to Alang maybe one person will die, but if I stay five people will die"

This is the core of the reasons that lakhs migrate from their home state. this very aspect reflects the economic condition of the people The mad , desperate compulsion of the rural populace of rural India to migrate to the world of uncertainty and probable death again reflect the health of our country after the 62 years of independence.

The response from the host states are too very shocking. The host states do least bother for their brethren people flocking to far land for bread. There are hue and cry when some thing happen in Australia but the Govt. care least for the migrating people. They never express or discus the plight of the migrants in the floor of the Assembly. Nor the labour officer rushes to the guest states to monitor whether Intra State Migration Acts and the labour laws are properly operative or not. The host states are happy to get rid of un employed s and over and above richer by Money Order economy. Due to this in different attitude of the host states the Ship breakers do not care to pay any attention to the workers. As if they are obliging the migrants offering a job in the ship breaking Yard.

The railway trains in the country are routed to ferry the migrant workers to the destination uncertainty. The heart throbbing scenes of departures in the station of the migrants every day can remind the migration Burma and Rangoon in British India. An English film was made named Wages of Fear in 1950s. The film depicts the unemployed youths ready to take any risk to earn bread. There are wages of fear every where in the world. of the poor country. the rich country survive on the wages of fear of the poor , developing and under developed country.In Alang it is rather "Dare for the Wage".

In the circus, the man enter the well of death in the motorcycle with the breathless silence of the audience. But in Alang the workers donot have any breathless audience to sympathise with them. Rather they have mercy less ship breakers, GMB and the Govt. Alang come under GMB, Gujarat Govt. But so many ministries have their stake here too. Ministry Industry, Commerce, Health, Labour, Law etc have their role in the ship breaking yard. Except the ministry of industry and commerce , whose main concern is revenue others hardly play their designated role. Ministry of health appears once in every year, on AIDs day. Ministry of environment is the slave to the dictum of LPG and some time barks to show it’s existence.Alang is not a SEZ but it is like a SEZ .

The working conditions in a ship breaking yard are such that life is cheaper than steel. As quoted in the Times of India dated 23.05.03, "Taking cognizance of frequent deaths at the yard due to lack of safety measures Gujarat High Court has directed the state government in 1997 with a legal framework to regulate the ship breaking activities, ’ship recycling yard regulation’ – popularly known as Alang regulation. The new legal framework was put in place by enshrining it in the state government Gazette in August 2000. However, vested interests view it as an infringement on free activity that can be carried out in absence of safety measures. Hence, the Alang Act was never implemented".

The nexus of Government officials, contractors and businessmen operating in that area ensure that the workers are not registered, do not get identity card by the employers, no information of working condition, false name are entered in the log book to evade to legal compensation in any eventuality.

Under these circumstances it is high time for the intervention of higher authorities in the administration, government, civil liberties organization, labour organizations to come forward and take up the issue. Often media highlight the problems of Alang. But the authority has never paid any serious attention. A survey was conducted in 1999 by Bhavnagar University. Out of 361 workers 14 face accident, 11 suffer from burn, 14 from injuries. Only 10 wear helmets, 1 have the glove, and 3 uses welding glasses. 32 receive informal training, where as rest are untrained. So the crude and obsolete technology is the backbone of the ship breaking enterprises .GMB is only interested in revenue collection without much liability for the workers. Profit maximization is the main Mantra of the Govt. by reducing the cost of ship breaking. Though the Gujarat Govt is earning Rupees 3200 cores annually from the ship breaking, the Govt. is least attention environment and workers welfare.

The Green Peace has come out with a powerful document titles,"End of Life Ships: The Human Cost of Breaking Ships," documents, with interviews and photographs, the horrific conditions at Alan in 2005.

Virtually Alang is becoming the dumping ground of the developed country. Alang appears to be a place of Garbage Sale an epitome of globalization of waste violating all norms and guidelines of thre Basel Convention to which Govt. of India is a signatory. Basel Convention, regulates the trans-border movement of hazardous wastes but violated by the rich country and India is allowing hazardous substance in the name of development. On 2003,the Supreme Court declared , “before a ship arrives at port, it should have proper consent from the concerned authority or the state Maritime Board, stating that it does not contain any hazardous wastes or radioactive substances”,. The government law states that “the ship-recycler shall not allow waste materials such as oil-cakes, scrap iron and other metallic and rubber pieces to be thrown into the sea or the seashore”,

There are 2 departments to look after all these - one is Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and another is Controller of Explosion (CoE). For breaking ship no- objection certificate is issued by GMB and cleaning certificate is issued by CoE. We quote from the Times of India report published on 22.05.03 "Serious doubts are being raised over the way no objection certificates are doled out by regulating agencies like the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and the Controller of Explosion (CoE).----Though the GMB authorities continue to blame ship-owners after every mishaps, it is the system failure which is the root cause.---there is hardly any accountability on the part of various agencies that issue clearance certificates to ensure safety of workers. Incase of "Inville", authorities had issued safety clearance certifying the ship was fit for breaking .The Controller of Explosion had granted the "man entry", "gas free "and "hot work" approval certificate before dismantling commenced. Despite CoE clearance presence of hydrocarbon and gases in the interior of Inville"was detected." It is surprising how the certificates were granted there are ample traces of gases, Sulpher, furnace oil and other materials, which can wreak havoc if exposed to heat. "Said an official of Forensic Science Laboratory. While GMB officer in charge ----admits "probably there are lot of areas which are ignored. "And with Coe having it’s office in Vadodara, functioning often becomes difficult Sources reveal that certificates are granted on mere verbal assurance and without any physical inspection. .Ship-owners often do not wait for all clearances certificates, says sources .With the prices of steel the prime extract from the ship, varying on day to day basis, ship breakers soften flout norms to sell off the scrap when prices go up .Some times , even ship breaking guide lines are ignored and interiors of the ship, which are normally broken down at the end of the operation, are dismantled earlier as there is good market for these products. This endangers the lives of 6the labourers as they working suffocating and unventilated compartments, amidst hazardous gases. The role of GMB in granting certificates is also being questioned. Even after a ship breaker obtains certificates from the Coe, it is the duty of the GMB to verify them before the final go ahead is granted. And the GMB has just a chief officer and three safety supervisors who are expected to completely survey the ship. " There could be slip-ups which come to light only after mishaps" admits Captain Deukar Of the three safety supervisors , only one is permanent employee, the others being on contract". This very Report exposes serious loopholes.

Many ships enters illegally with the full knowledge of the GMB and hope to manage to stay for scraping. Many ships move here and there , some time to Pipavav port and fiannly shelterd in Alang. The ship breakers are confidence of manipulating and getting the sanctions. Clemensue and Blue Lady episode

Alang was in world watch during the Clemensue episode followd by the Blue Lady The Clemencueau was to be sent back because of the popular protest in France and global pressure created by green peace. Of course the Supreme Court of India too ruled out the entry of Clemenceau but at the same time allowed the Blue Lad to be dismantled.. The French Ambassador did every thing to convince the India Govt. and the authority that the Clemeceau did not carry any hazardous materials. The Ministry of Environment was avoiding the responsibility on Clemenceau and pushed the it to Supreme court. The Govt. of Gujarat and the ship breakers were worried of the with drawl of Clemenceau from Alang.. There were demonstrations against the Green peace in Bhavnagar. Even the workers were waiting breathlessly for the clearance of Clemenceau. For them it was the question of bread and livelihood .

On January 17, 2006, the Supreme Court of India observed: "We do not want the environment to be polluted. When the French Government had not permitted the ship to be broken there, why should we allow the ship to come to India? Whether breaking the ship will result in pollution or not is immaterial. The best thing will be to ask the ship to go back from where it started."

But after two months passed a shocking judgment on Blue Lady ," In its order on 11 September, the Supreme Court said," It cannot be disputed that no development is possible without some adverse effect on the ecology and environment, and the projects of public utility cannot be abandoned and it is necessary to adjust the interest of the people as well as the necessity to maintain the environment. A balance has to be struck between the two interests. Where the commercial venture or enterprise would bring in results which are far more useful for the people, difficulty of a small number of people has to be bypassed. The comparative hardships have to be balanced and the convenience and benefit to a larger section of the people has to get primacy over comparatively lesser hardship."

The Supreme Court also did not consider the application filed by Bhagvat Sinh Haluba Gohil, Sarpanch, Village Sosiya, Tehsil Talaja, and District Bhanvnagar on behalf of 30, 000 villagers and 12 panchayats of Bhavnagar district of Gujarat. The villages pleaded , "Blue Lady" (SS Norway) be not allowed to be dismantled at the Alang Ship-breaking yard." The villagers have argued that "The dismantling of the ship would have hazardous effect on the residents of the villages near the Alang ship breaking yard as the ship contains large amount of asbestos which, when exposed is hazardous to the health of the residents living in the twelve villages." The Supreme Court too disliked the trial by media with the following words. "We are shocked to find demonstrations are held and articles written, and if anyone is found to be doing so, he should prima facie be held for contempt of court and suitable action be taken against him," Judge Arijit Pasayat told the court. At time there are world wide attention for Alang on various issues. The Green peace . the foreign media BBC, Guardian, Newyork Times and important dailies try to high lights the issues related to environment and the exploitation of cheap labour. But the regional media is out and out unsympathetic to the plight of workers and the issues of environments. Raising the these issues is considered as snatching away the ship breaking yard from Alang to China, Bangladesh , Pakistan or other places. The attitude is at any cost the business must go on . This same attitude is harbouerd by the Govt. of Gujarat too. In spite of global attention on Alnag there is no respite and there is no intervention from Central Govt. or any quarter either for the benefit of the workers or to save the environments.

After the Clemenceau thousand of workers went back to their home land to tell the untold story of exploitation before the media, because the both National as well as the International medias shadows the workers to high light about the plight of the workers due to unsafe working condition and the violation of all norms.(A TV crew from Paris interviewed the present writer who were later held up by the police in Bhavnagar).

Though Alang was in the world watch of the media the workers lamented of loosing the bread due to the call back of Clemenceau which was compensated after allowing the Blue Lady.

The teams after teams has visited Alang and surprisingly all the teams are satisfied . all the teams are in one opinions that there is threat form asbestos and it is with the permitted limit. the body appointed by SC . parliamentary body a team of ILO. World Bank – are with the same opinion of Metallurgical & Engineering Consultants (India) Limited (MECON) and Gujarat Ecology commission of Gujarat is well within legal parameters,

Only the media and that too national and international media and the green peace are of different opinion. Now the UPA Govt. has decided to go ahead with approved Gujarat’s Mithivirdi (Chhaya) site in Bhavnagar district for an 8,000 MW nuclear power plant. The People are protesting against it. This will be another bone of contention in coming days.

The Alang Shipyard incident raises these following questions - 1) Safety norms 2) Plight of the migrant workers 3) And violation of all acts. And so these measures should be taken with utmost care-

1- First all all kind safety measures be taken to avoid accidents and deaths 2- Ship breaking should be considered as an Industry and comes under Factory Act and various provisions for safety as per Factory Act be Safety consciousness as a Culture be developed. 3- Ship breaking be made updated with improved technology. 4- All workers be given primary training about ship breaking and be provided with safety kits compulsorily. 5- GMB should be made responsible for all lapses and responsible officials be punished for all lapses. 6- The workers should be given Identity Card, appointment Card by the employers and Labour Dept. should follow strict vigilance in this regard. 7- Interstate Migrant Workers Act be applied which ensures accommodation, medical facilities, traveling allowances. 8- Human Right of all migrant workers and members of their families be protected as per the UN CONVENTION ON THE PROTECTION OF THE MIGRANT WORKERS AND MEMBERS OF THEIR FAMILIES. 9- Ship breaking can only be after decontamination of the hazardous substance. 10- A mandatory rule be framed to compel the owners of the ship to clean their ships before exporting them and ensure that tanks are gas free for hot work. 11- A full fledged Fire fighting unit with adequate number of trained fire fighters be kept ready round the cloak. 12- Eight hour working hour norms with weekly paid holidays workers be introduced. 13- A well equipped hospitals specially to take care of accidents of the workers be instituted. 14- Adequate death compensation to the members of the families be paid with out any administrative hurdles. 15- Planned accommodation for the workers be made. 16- Long term plan for infrastructure e.g. road ,housing, drainage, water, electricity be taken up along with social infrastructure like schools, hospitals etc. 17- Attention be taken to save marine ecology, and ecology imbalance be guarded. 18- Safe guard be taken because of social segregation of the migrants due to cultural divide. 19- The Labour Dept of Gujarat as well as the Labour depts. States from where the migration takes place must guard the interest of the migrants. And their working conditions 20- The Human Rights Groups joint Parliamentary teams be allowed to visit the ASSBY and their recommendations be mandatory for the GMB and the Govt of Gujarat. 21- A complain Secret Cell be instituted where the workers can complain fearlessly and get redressal with being sacked from the job. 22- The State from where migration takes place must keep the record of the workers, make routine enquiry about the migrants, and place the report in their respective house of the Assemblies. 23- GMB should take help of experts from different fields like engineers, marine science experts, environmental scientists, and experts in sociology and planning.

This article is published in Indian Age- 1st. September 2009issue dn.rath@gmail.com

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Commentaires de l'article

Tuesday September 1 - 13:22 - Posted by Nikhil Gupta - 420bae0118e00fe4...

Dear Sir,
This is Nikhil Gupta, Joint Secretary, Ship Recycling Industries Association (India). I appreciate your knowledge about Alang ship recycling yard. Ship Recycling is a very unique industry and it takes a lot of pain to gather information and understand the industry. I am 24 year old businessman, in Alang since 3 years. I have been representing the industry at National and International Forums since past 2 years. Sir, I invite you to visit Alang so that you can publish the true story behind the working and work procedures at Alang. Because blogs, articles, pictures and statements are often misleading either to make sensation or gather publicity.

The plight of workers at Alang today is very different to what it was in 90’s. They earn between 400 to 450 per day for their work, which amounts to more than 10000 a month. MBA’s in bhavnagar, nearest city dont get such wages. Workers are provided with proper personal equipments. No Worker is employed without a training certificate from Gujarat Maritime Board.

There are more than 2 departments taking care of the industry.
Gujarat Pollution Control Board
National Institute for Occupational Health
Factories Department
Customs Department
Gujarat Maritime Board
Atomic Energy Regulatory Board
Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation
District Collector

Sir, there have been couple of unwarranted incidents at Alang recently. but let me update you with some statistics.
Since September 2007, there have been 8 deaths at Alang considering the fact that 40000 workers work for 12 hours a day and 25 days a month. if you calculate the Man Working Hours at this Industry which is not scattered like other industries, you shall understand the reason for it being so highlighted.

No industry can claim to be accident free because accidents happen not because of negligence but human error or because it was just meant to be. However, the improvements taken place at Alang is enormous if you compare it with figures from 90’s. Other industries are scattered and not in limelight so such accidents go unnoticed. All said and done, the last incident was a sad one. I was personally present at the plot and let me tell you, if the plot holder had not taken precautionary measures before, it could have been worse. Fire departments caught hold of the fire in an hours time and major accident was prevented because of awareness and safety standards at Alang.

For any further information
mail me at hksc132@gmail.com

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President Hugo Chavez companeros venezueliano died after a long battle with cancer.
International initiative to stop the war in Syria Yes to democracy, no to foreign intervention!
Thursday 13 December
Your support here: http://www.peaceinsyria.org/support.php We, the undersigned, who are part of an international civil society increasingly worried about the awful bloodshed of the Syrian people, are supporting a political initiative based on the results of a fact-finding mission which some of our colleagues undertook to Beirut and Damascus in September 2012. This initiative consists in calling for a delegation of highranking personalities and public figures to go to Syria in order to (...)
Monday 12 November
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
At first glance, the results of America’s 2012 election appear to be a triumph for social, racial, and economic justice and progress in the United States: California voters passed a proposition requiring the rich to shoulder their fair share of the tax burden; Two states, Colorado and Washington, legalized the recreational use of marijuana, while Massachusetts approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes; Washington and two other states, Maine and Maryland, legalized same-sex (...)
Sunday 28 October
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
In a 2004 episode of Comedy Central’s animated series South Park, an election was held to determine whether the new mascot for the town’s elementary school would be a “giant douche” or a “turd sandwich.” Confronted with these two equally unpalatable choices, one child, Stan Marsh, refused to vote at all, which resulted in his ostracization and subsequent banishment from the town. Although this satirical vulgarity was intended as a commentary on the two (...)
Friday 28 September
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
PART I PART II PART III If there is one major inconsistency in life, it is that young people who know little more than family, friends and school are suddenly, at the age of eighteen, supposed to decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, because of their limited life experiences, the illusions they have about certain occupations do not always comport to the realities. I discovered this the first time I went to college. About a year into my studies, I (...)
Friday 28 September
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
PART I PART II PART IV Disillusioned with the machinations of so-called “traditional” colleges, I became an adjunct instructor at several “for-profit” colleges. Thanks largely to the power and pervasiveness of the Internet, “for-profit” colleges (hereinafter for-profits) have become a growing phenomenon in America. They have also been the subject of much political debate and the focus of a Frontline special entitled College Inc. Unlike traditional (...)
Friday 28 September
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
PART I PART III PART IV Several years ago, a young lady came into the college where I was teaching to inquire about a full-time instructor’s position in the sociology department. She was advised that only adjunct positions were available. Her response was, “No thanks. Once an adjunct, always an adjunct.” Her words still echo in my mind. Even as colleges and universities raise their tuition costs, they are relying more and more on adjunct instructors. Adjuncts are (...)
Friday 28 September
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
PART II PART III PART IV When The Bill of Rights was added to the United States Constitution over two hundred years ago, Americans were blessed with many rights considered to be “fundamental.” One conspicuously missing, however, was the right to an education. This was not surprising given the tenor of the times. America was primarily an agrarian culture, and education, especially higher education, was viewed as a privilege reserved for the children of the rich and (...)
Monday 30 July
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
If there is one universal question that haunts all human beings at some point in their lives, it is, “Why do we die?” Death, after all, is the great illogic. It ultimately claims all, the rich and the poor, the mighty and the small, the good and the evil. Death also has the capability to make most human pursuits—such as the quest for wealth, fame and power—vacuous and fleeting. Given this reality, I have often wondered why so many people are still willing to (...)
Thursday 28 June
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
How much corruption can a “democracy” endure before it ceases to be a democracy? If five venal, mendacious, duplicitous, amoral, biased and (dare I say it) satanic Supreme Court “justices”—John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy—have their way, America will soon find out. In several previous articles for Pravda.Ru, I have consistently warned how the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision is one of the (...)
Tuesday 12 June
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
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Imagine, if you will, that the United States government passes a law banning advertisers from sponsoring commercials on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show or Rupert Murdoch’s Fox (Faux) “News” Network. On one hand, there would be two decided advantages to this ban: The National IQ would undoubtedly increase several percentage points, and manipulative pseudo-journalists would no longer be able to appeal to the basest instincts in human nature for ratings and profit while (...)
Thursday 7 June
by : David R. Hoffman, Pravda.Ru Legal Editor
LIVE, from the State that brought you Senator Joseph McCarthy, Wisconsin voters now proudly present, fresh from his recall election victory, Governor Scott Walker! At first glance, it is almost unfathomable that anyone with a modicum of intelligence would have voted to retain Scott Walker as Wisconsin’s governor. This, after all, is a man who openly declared he is trying to destroy the rights of workers through a “divide and conquer” strategy; who received 61% of the (...)
Tuesday 13 March
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
A question I’ve frequently been asked since I began writing for Pravda.Ru in 2003 is, “Why did you become disillusioned with the practice of law?” This question is understandable, particularly since, in most people’s minds, being an attorney is synonymous with wealth and political power. I’ve always been reluctant to answer this question for fear it will discourage conscientious and ethical people from pursuing careers in the legal profession—a (...)