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New documentary ‘Food Chains’ explores plight of farmworkers who make your Thanksgiving possible

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Food Chains, a new hard-hitting documentary about the battle between Florida farmworkers and the giant supermarket and fast food conglomerates, is being released in select theaters and on iTunes today.

The film, co-produced by Eric Schlosser, the investigative journalist behind Fast Food Nation and Food, Inc., focuses on the work of the grassroots Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a group of tomato pickers from Southern Florida dedicated to the plight of farm laborers across the country.

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In this PBS interview, Schlosser explains how writing about the fast food industry led him to the strawberry and tomato fields, and why he hopes those involved in the food movement will make the “abuse of poor, immigrant workers” a bigger part of their advocacy.

 

Farmworkers are among the lowest paid workers in America, averaging about $12,000 per year in wages, and many of them, especially women, have been subjected to human rights abuses in the fields. In its review of the film, The New York Times calls Food Chains an “emphatic and empathetic documentary” that presents farm laborers as modern-day slaves.

The CIW aims to change their plight with its Fair Food Program, which partners with growers and retailers to improve working conditions for farm workers.

By signing on to the Fair Food Program, supermarkets and fast food restaurants agree to pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes and to refuse to buy tomatoes from farms with human rights violations. To date, 12 major retailers have signed on: Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, McDonalds, the YUM Brands, Chipotle, Burger King, Aramark, Compass Group, Bon Appetit, Sodexo and Subway.

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Food Chains, which is coproduced by the actress Eva Longaria, follows the CIW as they stage a six-day hunger strike at the headquarters of Publix, Florida’s largest supermarket chain that refuses to sign on to the Fair Food Program.

Lucas Benitez, a farmworker and activist with the CIW, told BillMoyers.com about the success of the coalition’s program earlier this year: “[W]e’re creating a new landscape in the agricultural industry where mutual respect is the rule and harmony in the workplace is the goal. Now, workers can report any abuse without fear of retaliation and are receiving the first pay increase in decades.”

Together with the Alliance for Fair Food, the filmmakers have organized protests against Publix and Wendy’s, two companies that have not signed on to the Fair Food Program, to be held in conjunction with the film’s release. They are also asking individuals to pledge their support for fair food.

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Watch a trailer for the film, and learn where it is playing near you.

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Defense secretary throws Trump under the bus: ‘I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act’

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Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on Wednesday seemed to be at odds with President Donald Trump when it comes to invoking the Insurrection Act to quell protests over the killing of George Floyd.

Esper explained at a press conference that members of the National Guard had been deployed to keep order "in support of local law enforcement."

"The option to use active duty forces should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations," he explained. "We are not in one of those situations now."

"I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act," Esper insisted, referencing Trump's threat to use the law against protesters.

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Trump claims he was rushed to White House bunker only for ‘inspection’ — not fear of protesters

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday insisted that fear of protesters did not prompt him to be ushered into a White House bunker. Instead, the president said that he visited the facility for an "inspection."

During a Fox News radio interview with host Brian Kilmeade, Trump again threatened to use military forces against protesters.

“If they don’t get their act straightened out I will solve it. I’ll solve it fast,” he said.

The president also pushed back against the narrative that he was "hiding in a White House bunker" as protesters demonstrated outside.

"They said it would be a good time to go down and take a look because maybe sometime you’re going to need it," the president said, adding that the visit was more of an "inspection."

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William Barr personally gave order to disperse protesters ahead of Trump photo op, DOJ confirms

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The Attorney General of the United States personally issued an order for peaceful protesters to be moved ahead of President Donald Trump's recent walk outside the White House grounds, a report said on Tuesday.

A Justice Department official confirmed to The Washington Post that Attorney General William Barr gave the order when he was seen outside the White House prior to the president's walk to St. John's Episcopal Church.

But on Monday, a White House spokesperson had denied that the protesters were moved to accommodate the president.

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