H&M Boycotts Brazilian Leather Over Amazon Fires
- H&M, the world’s second-largest fashion retailer, announced it will no longer purchase leather from Brazil as a response to the recent fires in the Amazon forest.
- In a statement, H&M said they had decided to suspend purchasing leather from the country “due to the severe fires in the Brazilian part of the Amazon rainforest, and the connections to cattle production.”
- Many experts have said that the fires were started by farmers in order to clear forest space for crops and animal agriculture.
- The VF Corporation — which owns brands like Timberland, Vans, and The North Face — also announced it would stop buying Brazilian leather last month.
Popular retailer H&M announced Thursday that it is suspending leather purchases from Brazil amid concerns that cattle farming practices in the country have contributed to the Amazon rainforest fires.
The Stockholm-based company, which is the second-largest fashion retailer in the world, said in a statement that it would maintain the temporary ban on Brazilian leather until it could ensure that the material was environmentally sound.
“Due to the severe fires in the Brazilian part of the Amazon rainforest, and the connections to cattle production, we have decided to place a temporary ban on leather from Brazil,” the company said in a statement to AFP.
“The ban will be active until there are credible assurance systems in place to verify that the leather does not contribute to environmental harm in the Amazon,” it added.
According to the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE), fires in the Amazon have risen by 83% this year compared to the same time last year.
Numerous experts have said the fires were started by humans as part of an agricultural technique known as slash and burn, which uses controlled fires to clear forest space for crop cultivation and animal agriculture.
Other Companies Boycott Brazil
H&M’s ban follows in the steps of the U.S.-based VF Corporation, which owns brands like Timberland, Vans, and The North Face, and which also announced last month it would stop buying leather from Brazil.
However, the leather bans appear to be more of a symbolic statement than a damning business calculation.
As of 2017, less than 1% of H&M’s products used genuine leather. An H&M spokesperson also told Reuters that most of the little leather the company does use comes from Europe.
Similarly, the VF Corporation has said that about 5% of the leather it buys comes from Brazil, according to the Associated Press.
Regardless, many believe that putting economic pressure on Brazil may be the only way to force the hand of President Jair Bolsonaro, who many feel has not done enough to stop the fires.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has criticized Bolsonaro for not acting to quell the fires, has said he will block the massive EU-Mercosur trade deal with Brazil.
Targeting leather specifically is a significant avenue. In 2018, Brazil exported $1.44 billion of bovine leather, according to the Center for the Brazilian Tanning Industry. The largest export markets were the United States, China, and Italy.
See what others are saying: (Yahoo News) (Associated Press) (Reuters)
95-Year-Old Woman Dies After Police Tases Her in Nursing Home
The officer involved was suspended with pay and charged with assault.
A 95-year-old Australian woman whom police tasered in a nursing home last week has reportedly died from her injuries.
Clare Nowland, who had dementia and required a walking frame to stand up and move, was living at the Yallambee Lodge in Cooma in southeastern Australia.
At about 4:15 a.m. on May 17, police and paramedics responded to a report of a woman standing outside her room with a steak knife.
They encountered Nowland, then reportedly tried to negotiate with her for several minutes, but she didn’t drop the knife.
The five-foot-two, 95-pound woman walked toward the two officers “at a slow pace,” police said at a news conference, so one of them tasered her.
She fell to the floor and reportedly suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain bleed, causing her to be hospitalized in critical condition.
Nowland passed away in a hospital surrounded by her family, the New South Wales police confirmed in a statement today.
After a week-long investigation, the police force also said that the senior constable involved would appear in court next week to face charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.
NSW police procedure states that tasers should not be used against elderly or disabled people absent exceptional circumstances.
Following the incident, community members, activists, and disability rights advocates expressed bewilderment and anger at what they called an unnecessary use of force, and some are now questioning why law enforcement took so long to prosecute the officer involved.
See what others are saying: (Reuters) (The New York Times) (CNN)
U.K. Police Face Backlash After Arresting Anti-Monarchy Protesters
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that some of the arrests “raise questions” and “investigations are ongoing.”
The Public Order Act
A controversial protest crackdown law in the U.K. is facing criticism after dozens of anti-monarchy protesters were arrested during the coronation ceremony in London over the weekend.
The law, dubbed the “Public Order Act” was passed roughly a week ahead of the coronation for King Charles III. It gives police more power to restrict protesters and limits the tactics protesters can use in public spaces. It was condemned by human rights groups upon its passing, and is facing a new round of heat after 52 people were arrested over coronation protests on Saturday.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said protesters were arrested for public order offenses, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The group said it gave advance warning that its “tolerance for any disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low and that we would deal robustly with anyone intent on undermining the celebration.”
It is currently unclear how many of those arrested were detained specifically for violating the Public Order Act, however, some of those arrested believe the new law was used against them.
“Make no mistake. There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK,” Graham Smith, the CEO of anti-monarchy group Republic tweeted after getting arrested. “I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”
An Attempt to “Diminish” Protests
During a BBC Radio interview, Smith also said he believes the dozens of arrests were premeditated.
“There was nothing that we did do that could possibly justify even being detained and arrested and held,” Smith claimed.
“The whole thing was a deliberate attempt to disrupt and diminish our protest.”
Yasmine Ahmed, the U.K. Director of Human Rights Watch, also tweeted that the arrests were “disgraceful.”
“These are scenes you’d expect to see in Russia not the UK,” she wrote.
When asked about the controversy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters officers should do “what they think is best” in an apparent show of support for the Metropolitan Police.
For his part, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is looking into the matter.
“Some of the arrests made by police as part of the Coronation event raise questions and whilst investigations are ongoing, I’ve sought urgent clarity from Met leaders on the action taken,” Khan tweeted.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (CNN) (The Washington Post)
Foreign Nationals Make Mad Dash out of Sudan as Conflict Rages
The conflict’s death toll has surpassed 420, with nearly 4,000 people wounded.
As the 10-day-long power struggle between rival generals tore Sudan apart, foreign governments with citizens in the country scrambled to evacuate them over the weekend.
On Sunday, U.S. special forces landed in the capital Khartoum and carried out nearly 100 American diplomats along with their families and some foreign nationals on helicopters.
An estimated 16,000 Americans, however, remain in the country and U.S. officials said in a statement that a broader evacuation mission would be too dangerous.
Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, said in a statement that the Pentagon may assist U.S. citizens find safe routes out of Sudan.
“[The Defense Department] is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats,” he said.
Germany and France also reportedly pulled around 700 people out of the country.
More countries followed with similar efforts, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Indonesia.
Yesterday, a convoy carrying some 700 United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff drove to Port Sudan, a popular extraction point now that the airport in Khartoum has closed due to fighting.
Reports of gunmen prowling the capital streets and robbing people trying to escape, as well as looters breaking into abandoned homes and shops, have persuaded most residents to stay indoors.
Heavy gunfire, airstrikes, and artillery shelling have terrorized the city despite several proposed ceasefires.
Over the weekend, the reported death toll topped 420, with nearly 4,000 people injured, though both numbers are likely to be undercounted.