Lula Arrives in China to Anti-Imperialist Brazilian Anthem – French Strikes Could Kick It Up – Child Labor Still Unchecked in the U.S. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attend a welcome ceremony in Beijing on Friday. (Ken Ishii / Getty Images)

Lula Arrives in China to Anti-Imperialist Brazilian Anthem – French Strikes Could Kick It Up – Child Labor Still Unchecked in the U.S. 

Folks, 

Greetings from the Burgh, where it’s a beautiful 80-degree day, and the Buccos are 8-5 with the 2nd-best record in the N.L. 

Lula Arrives in China to Anti-Imperialist Brazilian Anthem

However, today’s big global news happened in Beijing, where Brazilian President Lula met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

During Lula’s official welcoming ceremony in Beijing today, the Chinese surprised Lula by playing a rendition of Ivan Lins & Victor Martins’ 1980 song “Novo Era.” The famous Brazilian song commemorates the Brazilian left’s resistance to the US-backed dictatorship of Brazil from 1964-1985. (Watch a video of a surprised Lula upon hearing the playing of “Novo Era” when arriving for his official welcoming ceremony in Beijing today) 

On the top of Lula’s agenda in China is to get China to agree to help push for a Brazilian-brokered peace deal in Ukraine. Since arriving late Wednesday in Shanghai, Lula has attended the inauguration ceremony of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as the head of the BRICS Bank, which is run by a combination of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. During the event, Lula took the opportunity to criticize the IMF and present BRICS as an alternative for developing nations seeking financial support from abroad. 

Additionally, Lula spoke in favor of delinking the foreign trade of Brazil away from the dollar. A move that many say would help the Brazilian economy. However, Lula’s criticism has won him denouncements in the Washington Post and elsewhere. Daniel Larson at Responsible Statecraft has more: 

Washington will have little success cultivating good relations with its neighbors like Brazil if it buys into the emerging anti-Lula narrative that is taking hold in Washington today. A recent Washington Post report presented the problem in the U.S.-Brazilian relationship as one entirely of Lula’s making.

“The West hoped Lula would be a partner: he’s got his own plans,” the headline read. In this case, the “partnership” in question seems to be one where Brazil ought to agree with everything the U.S. wants and should never pursue its own interests. Most of the article is a litany of all the ways that Lula’s foreign policy does not conform to American preferences, and the report overstates the significance of these differences to make them seem more alarming.

The report presents Lula’s emphasis on “pragmatism and dialogue” in foreign policy as being at odds with “promoting democratic norms in the Western Hemisphere and beyond,” but there is no contradiction between the two. The real problem, as the article soon makes clear, is that Lula “shows little concern over whether it antagonizes Washington or the West.”

Since the U.S. tends to be antagonized over remarkably minor things when other states pursue their own independent course, the trouble here is not Lula’s lack of concern but rather Washington’s hypersensitivity.

For more, check out Responsible Statecraft. 

French Constitutional Court Clears Way for Macron to Enact Pension Reforms 

Today, a French Constitutional Court ruled that French President Macron would allow him to implement a law raising the retirement age from 62 to 64. Trade unions, which have led strikes that have mobilized millions throughout the country, have vowed to continue their actions until the law is repealed. 

“All the labour unions are calling on the President of the Republic to show some wisdom, listen and understand what is happening in the country and not to promulgate this law,” the leader of the CGT union, Sophie Binet said in a statement. 

For more, check out Reuters. 

16-Year-Old Says He’s Still Cleaning Kansas Meatpacking Plant After His Employer Was Fined 

Finally, over the past months, the mainstream media has been covering the huge uptick of child labor law violations. Now NBC News has the story of one child meatpacker, who says that he is still employed at his meatpacking house, months after his company was cited for the breaking law: 

When the Labor Department discovered over 100 migrant children cleaning Midwest slaughterhouses in February, their employer, Packers Sanitation Services Inc., paid a $1.5 million fine, agreed to stop employing children, and, according to PSSI and employees who spoke to NBC News, quickly fired all workers found to be underage.

But a 16-year-old whom NBC News is calling Pedro said he’s still cleaning blood and animal parts off the kill floor of a Kansas slaughterhouse up to seven nights a week, a job illegal for anyone younger than 18 under U.S. labor law. Pedro spoke to NBC News on the condition of anonymity. Although the job is hard, dangerous and tiring, he fears losing his paycheck would put him and his family in Guatemala in an impossible situation. Pedro said he used a false identity to get the job.

From 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., Pedro is responsible for hauling away animal parts in a cart, scrubbing blood off the floor and cleaning machines with harsh chemicals. He is proud of the job he does and said he works extremely fast to get the job done on time.

“Where they kill the cows. I have to clean all the blood of the cows until I finish. I have to leave my area clean,” Pedro said.

For more, check out NBC News. 

Links & News Elsewhere 

Alright folks, that’s all for today. Donate to help us keep filing this newsletter. Please, if you can, sign up as one of our 749 recurring donors today. 

Thanks again for all the support & suggestions. Keep sending them to [email protected] 

Love & Solidarity, 

Melk 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing over 1,800 stories from 46 states, Elk was the only American reporter in the room with Lula on the morning of the election & traveled with him to the Oval Office. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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