Christmas Ornaments proudly made by Child Labor
By Marjorie Elizabeth Wood, NYTimes
Today millions of American children will be opening gifts left under Christmas trees. Sadly, many of those trees are decorated with ornaments produced by involuntary child labor.
Just this month, an advocacy network, the Global March Against Child Labor, led a surprise raid of a sweatshop in New Delhi. Fourteen children, ages 8 to 14, were rescued. They were working in small, unventilated spaces for up to 15 hours a day, forced, under the constant threat of violence, to make Christmas decorations and seasonal gifts to be sold in America and Europe.
These were just 14 children of the six million who, according to the United Nations, are trafficked into labor under the threat of physical harm or physical restraint each year. Forced labor is part of an even bigger problem: recent estimates indicate that there are 215 million laborers under the age of 18 worldwide, over half of whom are working in hazardous conditions. The United States Department of Labor publishes a “list of goods produced by child labor or forced labor,” which mentions 134 goods — including decorations, clothing, electronics, shoes, jewelry, fashion accessories and toys — produced in 74 countries.
During the holiday season, heightened consumer demand in the West for these goods leads to a shortage of labor. To cope with this, teenagers and children are often recruited or, as in the New Delhi case, trafficked into forced labor. Poor parents are often tricked into selling their children to middlemen for a few dollars, after being told that their children will receive care and a free education, and that their wages will be sent back to the family.
Last Christmas, an investigation of toy factories in China, where 85 percent of the toys on the American market are produced, revealed that about 300 youth workers were drafted to help with the holiday demand. Another undercover investigation of a Chinese factory revealed that children as young as 14 were making Disney’s best-selling Cars toys in preparation for the 2011 holiday season.
The use of child labor has been rising around the world since the financial crisis in 2008. A recent study by the risk-assessment company Maplecroft revealed that manufacturing supply chains in 76 countries were at “extreme risk” of involving child labor at some stage, up from 68 countries last year. Among these countries are key American trading partners: China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and the Philippines. Bangladesh, where a recent garment factory fire killed 112 workers, is also a major offender. Many of the dead were young women, some as young as 12.
America’s own history of addressing domestic child labor in the early 20th century points the way to a global solution to the current problem. Just as today, toys and trinkets then were often made by poor children in factories and tenements — but in America itself. In 1912, Lewis Hine photographed New York City tenement children sewing dolls and displayed the images alongside photographs of middle-class children playing with the same dolls in Central Park. The photographs prompted the State Legislature the next year to prohibit the making of dolls and children’s clothing, among other items, in tenement houses.
Child-labor opponents in the early 20th century drew attention to child labor at Christmastime to stir a complacent American public. Life magazine captured the irony in a 1913 cartoon that contrasted a child laborer, making a stuffed toy, with a privileged child who would later play with it. And in a popular book from 1914 called “Children in Bondage,” one reformer wrote that tenement children were “wasting their bodies and souls to make a little joy for the rest.”
Child advocates also promoted boycotts on the products of child labor. Florence Kelley introduced the “White Label,” which was given to businesses that refused to sell the products of child labor. During the Christmas season, child advocates told consumers to shop only at White Label stores. The movement raised consumer awareness and helped spur the effective abolition of most industrial child labor in the United States in 1938.
Today, business interests have managed to thwart serious efforts to curb the problem of child labor abroad. Though many corporations and trade associations have official policies against child labor, they are not clamoring for import bans on the products of child labor. Some have even successfully lobbied against such legislation. For instance, the Child Labor Deterrence Act, which would ban the import of goods made by children under the age of 15, has repeatedly failed to pass since Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, introduced it in 1992.
What we need now is a White Label movement for the 21st-century global economy. Among others, Shima Baradaran, a law professor at Brigham Young University, has advocated fair-trade labeling to combat child labor. Fair trade, she points out, is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, and consumers would be less likely to purchase the products of child labor if other options were made known to them.
In an age when business lobbying makes meaningful trade regulation difficult to achieve, this kind of social entrepreneurship must carry the day. The Department of Labor already conducts extensive research on the sources of commodities in global markets. This information could form the basis of a public awareness campaign about child-labor-free products. To bring this campaign fully into the digital age, nonprofit organizations should sponsor the design of an app that allows consumers to determine whether products are child-labor-free. (There is already a Fair Trade Finder app that helps consumers locate nearby stores that sell fair trade products. A child-labor-free app could serve a similar purpose.)
Through the choices they make in the marketplace, consumers have the power to reverse the trend of global child labor. And as the world’s largest market for child-labor goods, it is American consumers who must lead the way. In the season of giving, and with New Year’s fast approaching, there is no better time to find the resolve.
4.) Pagan Orgies to Human Sacrifice: The Bizarre Origins of Christmas
By Kristi Harrison, Cracked
Christmas was not, as it turns out, miraculously handed down as a fully formed holiday, complete with wrapped gifts and blinking lights. Rather, it is a rich tapestry woven from countless inexplicable and pointless customs.
The Bible doesn't give a lot of clues as to what time of the year the birth of Jesus happened (i.e., "... they met many travelers along the way, for it was just three days before the final game of the NFL Season...") So, why December 25th? No one knows for sure.
One likely explanation is that early church leaders needed a holiday to distract Christians from the many pagan revelries occurring in late December. One of the revelries was The Saturnalia, a week-long festival celebrating the Romans' favorite agricultural god, Saturn. From December 17 until December 23, tomfoolery and pagan hijinks ensued, and by hijinks we mean gluttonous feasting, drunkenness, gambling and public nudity.
The Romans would also switch roles between masters and slaves for the occasion, so not only did the slaves get to pathetically lower their own sense of self-worth by participating in the charade of freedom, they also got to wear a Pileus (roughly translated, "Freedom Hat").
Master: "Happy Saturnalia! Here's your freedom hat! We're equals!"Slave: "Thank you, master!" (puts on hat and primps in the mirror)Master: "Saturnalia is over! Give me back my hat! How dare you put a hat on your slave head! YOU SHALL TASTE THE WHIP TONIGHT, BOY.
One other pagan celebration that might have given Christmas its date was Natalis Solis Invincti, which roughly translates to "Birthday of the Invincible Sun God," giving it officially the most awesome holiday name ever.
By the 12th century, the Christian Church had incorporated a few of the less-sinful pagan traditions into the 12 days of Christmas. We only wish the public nudity could have been left in ... maybe on the 10th or 11th day. Along with the gambling. And the drinking. Then again, it appears everyday is Saturnalia in Vegas so maybe we'll just go there instead.
5.) Santa (and his slaves)
Our favorite morbidly obese, undiagnosed diabetic trespasser is actually a bastardization of the Dutch Sinterklaas, which was actually a bastardization of Saint Nikolas, the holier-than-thou Turkish bishop for whom the icon was named.
The actual saint was not, in fact, famous for making dispirited public appearances at shopping malls. Rather, he was known for throwing purses of gold into a man's home in the cover of night so that the man wouldn't have to sell his daughters into prostitution.
So, back then Christmas wasn't "get a new Xbox day." It was, "you don't have to become a filthy whore day." While it could be argued that this basically makes Nicholas the anti-pimp, we prefer to think of him as the Bible's answer to Travis Bickle.
Later, Martin Luther invented his own Christmas symbol, Kristkindl, as part of his rejection of all things Catholic. What he came up with is by far the gayest of all Christmas symbols, as Kristkindl is portrayed as a "blond, radiant veiled child figure with golden wings, wearing a flowing white robe and a sparkling jeweled crown, and carrying a small Christmas tree or wand."
This is why you sometimes hear Santa referred to as "Kris Kringle."
Not surprisingly, most of the world has rejected his weird-ass version and over the years we've cobbled together our own Santa Claus: part Saint Nikolas, part Sinterklaas and part Norse god Odin. By the 19th century American writers were describing Santa as wearing a red sash with a skin-tight red suit with white spotted fur at the fringes. He was basically all those other figures with a little Freddie Mercury thrown in.
Writers at the time were still calling Santa an "elf," including Clement Clark Moore in his famous poem The Night Before Christmas. Perhaps the image of a dwarf-sized intruder seemed less threatening than a Chris Farley-sized version, but we're pretty sure we'd be more likely to piss our pants if an overly jolly costumed dwarf magically appeared and started hopping around our living room floor. The little person might just end up with a bullet in the head. Not that there's anything wrong with frolicking little people with a propensity for wearing elf garb, of course.
Except that there totally is.
Some of you are disappointed that we explained Santa without mentioning that the modern image of him was invented for a Coca-Cola ad, as the Internet has probably told you. That's because it isn't true. Come on, guys. Not everything in the Western World is based on some crass marketing campaign.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, however, is.
This signature character in Christmas folklore, with his own song and movies and a mountain of yearly merchandise, was slapped together by the Montgomery Ward marketing team for a coloring book they were giving out. Prior to inventing Rudolph, they used to just buy the books and hand them out each Christmas, but in 1939 they figured it'd be cheaper to have one of their guys draw one up in his spare time. It's not like toddlers are great at detecting quality in these things.
So copywriter Robert L. May wrote it up, and created what turned out to be a marketing bonanza ... of which he didn't get paid a penny. A few years later the company actually let May have the rights to Rudolph, which was either an act of amazing corporate generosity or else they just assumed the Rudolph fad was over. After that, May's brother-in-law wrote up the song that you've no doubt heard every Christmas since you were born. It became a huge hit and the Rudolph marketing empire was born, along with a permanent addition to the Santa legend.
That's right; Europe brought their real-life saints, Norse gods and rich cultural traditions to the table, and America slapped on a promotion from a department store. Who knows, maybe 300 years from now Santa's sleigh will be towed by Energizer Bunnies, long after society has forgotten what an "Energizer" is. And, maybe Santa will sport a cheap cardboard crown and a creepy frozen grin.
7.) Christmas tree decorations
Question: What customary Christmas holiday decoration bases its origins in ritualistic human sacrifice?
Answer: What, you can't read the heading? It's the Christmas tree, you lazy bastard.
Back in the pagan day, all inanimate objects were fair game for worship. Trees, rocks, mountains, funny shaped sticks that look like phalluses, whatever. So supposedly some of the Norsemen got it in their heads to worship a thunder god named Thor by ritualistically sacrificing humans and animals at the tree they designated "Thor's Oak."
Little did they know that Thor was too busy fighting the Incredible Hulk to notice the messy sacrifices.
You know who did notice? Christian missionaries. They notice everything. So, one missionary of the Christian persuasion, Winfred (aka Saint Boniface), came upon an imminent sacrifice and sternly disapproved. He took an ax and chopped down Thor's freaking oak, which in itself should make him some sort of god by default. Of course, because of his boring ass monotheistic beliefs, instead of declaring himself the god of thunder, Winfred focussed on a tiny little fir tree that grew from the hacked trunk. And as all Cracked readers likely know, the fir trees' triangular shape represents the Trinity, and voila, a Christian tradition was born.
However the tree did not, according to legend, spring out of the ground with little blinking lights and tin foil on it's branches. The thing with decorating the tree goes as far back as the 16th century, when people in Germany used to decorate their trees with apples, a tradition we can only assume stemmed from some crooked tree salesman who ran out of apple trees one year and wouldn't admit it. Other decorations included nuts and cheeses which again appears to be the same salesman testing the gullibility of his clients.
A guy brought the tradition to America in the 1800s, and when we say "a guy" we literally know who it was: a German immigrant named August Imgard. He was the first to stick little candy canes on it, and to put a star at the top. Whatever German strand of mental imbalance caused him to do that, this guy's spur-of-the-moment decoration idea now utterly pervades the imagery of the holiday. He was just a very bored German dude that needed a place to hang his candy canes.
We can go on and on about how different Christmas would be without him, but of course his contribution pales in comparison to St. Boniface. Without him, when little Timmy runs down the stairs this Christmas the only present he would find would be the gift of human sacrifice.
The Truth about Christmas
By Christopher R Rice
Here are 8 things about Christmas they won't teach you in school/church:
1.) Jesus Christ Wasn't Born on Dec. 25
History convincingly shows that December 25 was popularized as the date for Christmas, not because Christ was born on that day but because it was already popular in pagan religious celebrations as the birthday of the sun.
“Lacking any scriptural pointers to Jesus’s birthday, early Christian teachers suggested dates all over the calendar. Clement… picked November 18. Hippolytus … figured Christ must have been born on a Wednesday … An anonymous document[,] believed to have been written in North Africa around A.D. 243, placed Jesus’s birth on March 28” (Jeffery Sheler, U.S. News & World Report, “In Search of Christmas,” Dec. 23, 1996, p. 58).
A careful analysis of Scripture, however, clearly indicates that December 25 is an unlikely date for Christ’s birth. Here are two primary reasons:
Shepherds were not in the fields during December. According to Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays, Luke’s account “suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night” (p. 309).
Similarly, The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary says this passage argues “against the birth [of Christ] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted” shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night.
Such censuses were not taken in winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating.
Given the difficulties and the desire to bring pagans into Christianity, “the important fact then … to get clearly into your head is that the fixing of the date as December 25th was a compromise with paganism” (William Walsh, The Story of Santa Klaus, 1970, p. 62).
When was Jesus Born?
The biblical accounts point to the fall of the year as the most likely time of Jesus’ birth, based on the conception and birth of John the Baptist.
Since Elizabeth (John’s mother) was in her sixth month of pregnancy when Jesus was conceived (Luke 1:24-36), we can determine the approximate time of year Jesus was born if we know when John was born. John’s father, Zacharias, was a priest serving in the Jerusalem temple during the course of Abijah (Luke 1:5). Historical calculations indicate this course of service corresponded to June 13-19 in that year ( The Companion Bible, 1974, Appendix 179, p. 200).
It was during this time of temple service that Zacharias learned that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child (Luke 1:8-13). After he completed his service and traveled home, Elizabeth conceived (Luke 1:23-24). Assuming John’s conception took place near the end of June, adding nine months brings us to the end of March as the most likely time for John’s birth. Adding another six months (the difference in ages between John and Jesus) brings us to the end of September as the likely time of Jesus’ birth.
Who did Donald Trump Spend Christmas Eve With?
By Ben Marquis
A New York Post piece in 2009 noted that Trump spent Christmas Eve that year at a private party with Soros and liberal Hollywood director Oliver Stone, among others. While business dealings were likely discussed at the event to some extent, they probably weren’t the main topic or reason for the gathering.
Perhaps worse than that, though, is the revelation that Soros essentially bailed out Trump in 2004 with a special high-interest “mezzanine” loan the real estate mogul needed to construct his Trump Tower in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“Donald Trump has lined up three New York hedge funds, including money from billionaire George Soros, to invest $160 million in his Chicago skyscraper, a key piece in perhaps the largest construction financing in the city’s history, according to real estate sources and public documents,” the Tribune piece read.
Coincidentally, it was 2009 that Trump changed his party status from Democrat to Republican after he and Soros connected, and Soros invested $160 million in Trump’s Chicago skyscraper.
Jared Kushner didn't disclose his business ties with George Soros, Peter Thiel, and Goldman Sachs, or that he owes $1 billion in loans, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The top White House adviser and son-in-law of Trump failed to identify his part ownership of Cadre, a real-estate startup he founded, which links him to the Goldman Sachs Group and the mega-investors George Soros and Peter Thiel, sources told The Journal.
Kushner also failed to identify debt of more than $1 billion from 20 lenders and personal guarantees to pay more than $300 million of that, according to The Journal.
He still owes money to Bank of America, Blackstone Group, Citigroup, UBS, Deutsche Bank, and RBS, all of which were not disclosed, according to The Journal.
8.) How Does Jesus Want Us to Celebrate His Birth?
Celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ? Many "mainstream Christians" do this very thing on each Christmas and many Christian Jews and Churches of God now also celebrate the Nativity during the Feast of Tabernacles some even calling it The Feast of The Nativity! Why would any "Christian" have a problem with such a harmless token of worship? Don't millions of people celebrate their own day of birth? How much more should they celebrate Christ's? What could possibly be wrong with that?
Does the Scriptural record witness that annually, at this day of Jesus' birth (whichever day it truly was), the heavenly host would once again offer up praise and glory to God in the highest in honor of Jesus' birth? No! Nowhere! Never! If we take the "ideals" of the pagan christmas day and begin to apply them to God's true feast days, then how are we any better than Constantine who blended paganism with the faith once delivered to create modern Christianity?
What did the shepherds do upon witnessing this event? Did they praise the infant and exchange gifts between themselves?
Luke 2:15 "And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them".
Please notice that the shepherds gave all praise and glory to God! They did not exalt the day of Jesus' birth nor mark the day in anyway.
Our rejoicing and hope lies not in the fact that He was born as a helpless infant, but that He became our great Saviour through enduring all trials and overcoming all things, perfect, blameless, without blemish or spot--for only by His death can we attain our resurrection. He was born so that His life, death, and resurrection would bear witness to God the Father, and not to exalt Himself.
Why Jesus Hates Christmas
By Justin Eimers
Think about this…Christmas is intended to be a time where we reflect on what was given to us in the person of Jesus. It’s a time where we reflect on that and do our best to mimic that. Now many will object, “Isn’t giving presents on Christmas meant to signify that?” And the point is a valid one…however; the present we received is one that brought hope, redemption, joy, salvation, peace, and love. What gift are you giving that does the same for someone else? No, buying a new game console, or sweater, or any other item falls short of this goal. I think when we look at who God gifted His Son to, we see a surprising revelation.
If we really want to reflect God in the giving of gifts…than perhaps we should be giving not to one another…but to those who are in need. People in need of forgiveness, hope, love, mercy, grace, integrity and so on. You see, God gifted His Son to a race of degenerates. To creatures that were so helplessly lost in their own decay that they believed the decay to be valuable. Some will protest (mostly conservatives), “So you want us to give to those who can’t provide for themselves? To the homeless drunk whose choices put him in his predicament? To the woman with 5 kids, all from different fathers who cannot get her head on straight and stop seeking after men for the wrong reasons? They don’t deserve that…they haven’t earned it! I’ll give to whoever I want…and it certainly won’t be them.” Ok…that’s fair…and on some level, I understand it. Working in the welfare system I see more abuse than the government would ever admit (sometimes by the government themselves).
But…be grateful that God was not of the same mind. God sent His Son…his treasured, prized, perfect Son for us. Are we any better than the homeless drunk…or the young lady with entirely too many kids from too many fathers? Are you really going to say that YOU are deserving of Jesus? If you are let me stop you…you’re not. None of us are worthy of Him…not a single person reading this post. No, God by His grace, love, mercy, and compassion gave us His Son. So…you want to remember what God has done for us…you have no other choice than to give to the unworthy (and give generously). Otherwise…what business do we have calling it Christmas.
We harm the Gospel when we participate in Christmas. Now notice…partaking in Christmas does not harm the Gospel. Christmas is the national holiday where people literally die while morons run over each other trying to get a furry toy that laughs and vibrates (I’m talking about you Tickle Me Elmo). Christians, children of God should have no part in this idiocy…ever. Christmas is a time where we remember what was done for the human race and in remembrance show love to those hurting and in need.
All I want to see is Christmas go back to being Christmas. A time where the people of God come together to remember what was done for them…and the sacrifice that our heavenly Father made for us. A time when the Creator and Master of the universe became one of us.
The beginning of a journey that culminates at Easter, never leaving the world the same.
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