Obama underwear, eewww, how about a puma pawprint instead?

The latest way for soap opera stars to show their support for Obama is to model Obama underwear.  I kid you not.  Does anyone really vote on the basis of what their favorite soap opera star wears? Or does anyone else think this is just gross?

Here’s something better that should make cat lovers and P.U.M.A. political junkies alike smile.  A big cat paw.  There’s Puma Paw boxer shorts, Puma Paw thong underwear, a spaghetti strap Puma Paw camisole and a Puma Paw trucker’s hat.


Posted in Election 2008, Hillary, Merchandise. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Comments Off on Obama underwear, eewww, how about a puma pawprint instead?

Who won the Democratic Debate–Edwards, Obama, or Hillary?

I’m still looking at the transcripts for the January 21, 2008 Democratic debates on CNN. Who won–John Edwards, Barack Obama, or Hilary Clinton?

Here are the links to the transcripts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3.

And here are the T-shirts:

a T-shirt for Hillary for President,

a T-shirt for Edwards for president,

and a T-shirt for Obama for president.


Obama Tee Edwards Tee Hillary Tee

It will be interesting to see which shirt is the most popular.  Right now the Edwards bumper sticker is ahead of everything else.

Posted in Election 2008, Merchandise, Obama, Products, T-shirts. Comments Off on Who won the Democratic Debate–Edwards, Obama, or Hillary?

What is happening to Goodstorm?

A little over a year ago the internet fulfillment company Goodstorm announced it would start selling black t-shirts that were ethically produced in the United States. I was excited by the thought of offering tees that weren’t produced in sweatshops with child labor, so I started a little shop with some Arabic language tees.

Now Goodstorm has stopped paying out shopkeeper royalties. One blogger even reports he has never received a payment and can no longer access his shop in order to close it. He has discontinued working with Goodstorm and no longer recommends it. In fact, he even posts a link to the Better Business Bureau in case someone wants to file an official complaint.

I can still access my shop, but I have closed all the links to it. I have been promised more information about when I might receive a check within a few days. When a company has already received payment for items purchased, but can’t pay the royalty, that does not look good.

Still, people keep asking me for the products, especially the black “lan nesmit” (We will not be silenced) black t-shirt in Arabic.

I will try to work with Goodstorm a little longer.

In the meantime, I will be looking for another source for union or ethically produced black tees.

Posted in Arabic, Fair Trade, Merchandise, Products, T-shirts. Comments Off on What is happening to Goodstorm?

I heart Miami tees for Florida lovers

Kathryn wants to know if I can make her a tee shirt that says “I love Miami”. Why not? Here it is in the Arabic language. Available in fitted (shown), tank (shown), raglan, hoodie, and even dog. iheartmiami-fitted-tee.jpgiheartmiami-tank.jpg

If you’re in the mood for summer colors, check here.

I hope that’s something like what you were looking for, Kathryn.

Posted in Merchandise, Products, T-shirts. Comments Off on I heart Miami tees for Florida lovers

CafePress responds to Fair Trade concerns with form letter, maintains holding pattern

Last week I wrote about CafePress and their plan to discontinue a tee shirt made by American Apparel, a manufacturer known for its fair labor practices–and substitute a T-shirt made by an unknown source.

In a letter I wrote to them, I pointed out that I offer only sweatshop-free T-shirts. If I can’t determine the source of a shirt, I can’t offer it for sale. I also pointed out that the market for free trade coffee has grown by 75% in the last year. There is no reason the fair trade t-shirt market can’t grow as well.

Monday I received a reply from Director of Merchandise Cindy Clarke. Ms. Clarke writes:


I understand your concerns.  CafePress shopkeepers require a broad
spectrum of product choices to build their product assortments.  Since
our objective is to cover as many of those shopkeeper requirements as
possible, some of the items that we source are domestic and some are
sourced internationally.  Likewise, our product assortment covers both
branded and CafePress Exclusive Label items to meet the broad demand.
We leave it up to Shopkeepers to determine which products are
appropriate for their shops.  CafePress services as many Shopkeepers as
possible both legally and ethically.  

We have had several requests like yours for specific and detailed
information about our vendors and we are currently investigating how
when we can provide specific information about individual vendors.
more detailed information is available we will communicate out to the
CafePress community. 

Best wishes,

Cindy Clarke
Director of Merchandise

Well, that’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that CafePress can have something manufactured on the cheap in a sweatshop and hide it behind their “exclusive store label.” The good news is that they are “investigating how and when“, not if, they can provide information about vendors. That would give some real alternatives to those of us who don’t want to sell or wear a t-shirt, however cheap, made possible by inhumane working conditions and child labor.CafePress needs to hear from more people who buy or sell t-shirts. If you have not yet written to CafePress, can you take a couple minutes to drop them an email? If you have a blog, you might consider blogging about it as well.


Related posts:
Make a difference on World Fair Trade Day–contact CafePress
Is CafePress.com hiding sweatshops?


Make a difference on World Fair Trade Day–contact CafePress

So what have you done today to promote Fair Trade?

Here’s something you can do without leaving your keyboard. Contact CafePress.com and ask them to provide product information so that people who want to buy t-shirts that aren’t made in sweat shops can figure out what to buy.

Why is this important? Last year the National Labor Committee reported that companies like Walmart and Hanes use child labor to manufacture their oh so cheap products. Some CafePress products come from Hanes. Here is what work conditions were like for those children:

The children report being routinely slapped and beaten, sometimes falling down from exhaustion, forced to work 12 to 14 hours a day, even some all-night, 19- to 20-hour shifts, often seven days a week, for wages as low as 6 and a half cents an hour. The wages are so wretchedly low that many of the child workers get up at 5 a.m. each morning to brush their teeth using just their finger and ashes from the fire, since they cannot afford a toothbrush or toothpaste.

The workers say that if they could earn just 36 cents an hour, they could climb out of misery and into poverty, where they could live with a modicum of decency.

In the month of September, the children had just one day off, and before clothing shipments had to leave for the U.S., the workers were often kept at the factory 95 to 110 hours a week. After being forced to work a grueling all-night 19- to 20-hour shift, from 8 a.m. to 3 or 4 a.m. the following day, the children sleep on the factory floor for two or three hours before being woken to start their next shift at 8 a.m. that same morning.

The child workers are beaten for falling behind in their production goal, making mistakes or taking too long in the bathroom (which is filthy, lacking even toilet paper, soap or towels).

Thursday, Jim over at Irregular Times wrote a piece about CafePress replacing one of its ethically produced shirts manufactured by American Apparel, which is well-known for ethical labor practices, with a shirt of unknown source. He suggested people Email CafePress with their concerns, sending the email either to:

a) Cindy Clarke, Director of Merchandise for CafePress, at cclarke@cafepress.com.
b) smart07@cafepress.com — the special e-mail account which CafePress has specifically created to take further questions about new merchandise

Today Jim reports that he has received a communication from Ms. Clarke saying she has received “several requests like yours for specific and detailed information about our vendors”. Cafepress needs to hear from more people.

Whether you are a seller or a buyer, please take a few minutes to send a note to CafePress asking them to provide sourcing information about their vendors.

Here is my letter:

Ms. Clarke:

I am concerned about your recent announcement to substitute an unspecified brand of “junior jersey tee” for the “baby doll” tee manufactured by American Apparel, a company well known for ethical labor practices.

I advertise all the T-shirts I offer as ethically produced or sweatshop free. If I can’t identify the sourcing of the item, that means I can’t offer it for sale.

That also means I can’t use CafePress for my most popular item, a black tee, since CafePress does not offer a union or fair trade version of the black tee.

There seems to be no place on the CafePress website that gives product information, particularly about t-shirts. The information I have about your product sources comes from other websites and blogs–hopefully they are portraying CafePress goods and services accurately.

Last year the fair trade coffee industry grew by 75%. There is no reason the fair trade T-shirt market can’t grow as well.

I hope Cafepress can make it easier to identify your product sources for those of us who wish to offer union and fair trade products for our buyers.

The Camel’s Nose


Related posts:
Is CafePress.com hiding sweatshops?
CafePress responds to Fair Trade concerns with form letter, maintains holding pattern

Is CafePress.com hiding sweatshops?

Now that the semester is over, I have a little time to contemplate what is happening with the products I offer in the side widgets. I thought I might be adding some more products and some more slogans, but now it looks like I might be spending the short break before summer session deleting products that I’m currently offering through CafePress.com.

When I first started blogging, first at MySpace, then at Blogger, I decided all the products I offered would be sweatshop free. Having lived abroad, I have seen firsthand the difference that scrutiny–whether from sponsors abroad or from members of the royal family–can make in the lives of the ordinary people. A good part of what I blog about is the developing Arab world. I want this blog to be part of the solution for finding a world that is fair, a world where children can go to school instead of working, a world where everyone has a chance at a future, a world where people have choices about their lives and their work. This kind of economically fair and interconnected world would be much less likely to go to war.

fairtradelogo.gifIt wouldn’t make much sense for me to talk about economic development then turn around and act like profits are more important than people. Surely both are possible. Fair tade coffee experienced a 75% growth last year alone. Awareness about fair trade alternatives has been stronger in Europe, but American awareness–and the market for fairly traded items–is likely to grow.

So then, what about CafePress? Why delete shirts? CafePress has decided to discontinue their American Apparel “Baby Doll” style shirt, and in its place, substitute something called a “Junior Jersey Tee.” Neither this shirt or their new maternity shirt is made by American Apparel, a company well known for its fair labor practices. But who makes the shirts, and under what conditions?

Unlike some other internet fulfillment companies, the CafePress website does not provide product information–at least none that I can find. Not in the general information areas and not in the community forums. So how do I know the products I offer here are sweatshop free? Most, no, all of my information about their products comes from the folks at Irregulartimes.com, who have done a lot of research into products, fair labor practices, and fair trade. Chicago Fair Trade also has an interesting piece about clothing fairness issues.

Be assured that I will continue to offer only fairly manufactured items. I will be attempting to correspond with the CafePress product information people to try to find out something about these new products. If I can’t determine that they are sweat free, I’ll be removing the “Junior Jersey Tee” from my offerings.


Related posts:

Make a difference on World Fair Trade Day–contact CafePress
CafePress responds to Fair Trade concerns with form letter, maintains holding pattern


Why attack Cafepress.com?

A few days before Christmas, the internet fulfillment company Cafepress.com announced they had experienced some problems for a few hours but were back online. The next morning a new announcement confirmed the problem had been caused by a DDoS, a distributed denial of service.

This kind of attack is mounted by several people, often from multiple “zombie” computers, whose owners do not know they have been compromised. The purpose of the attack is to keep others from using the site. In the past, DDoS attacks have been used by gangsters to extort money from online gambling enterprises. Last October, one such Russian gang was arrested and sentenced to 8 years in jail for such an attack. There have also been a few instances of teenagers arrested for attacking websites as a prank.

Some $4 million has been extorted from online gambling interests, so it’s easy to see why someone would risk a jail term to rake in that kind of money, and why the gaming interests will spend a lot of money to stop it. But a little company like CafePress?

CafePress is a company that provides order fulfillment for online “shopkeepers” who design T-shirts, buttons, coffee mugs, and other gear. This type of online business requires very little startup cost and can be done by someone who is chronically ill or disabled. You might say a lot of the people who engage in this sort of business are on the tail end of the supply/demand curve. Many of Cafepress’s customers do fit this description. One, in fact, is a breast cancer survivor who designs shirts around that theme. Why attack a company like this?

Christmas is a very busy season for online companies. An online book company like Amazon is said to do a third of its yearly business in the few weeks preceding Christmas. Christmas is also a primarily Christian holiday. Who would attack an online company in the week prior to Christmas? Was it done by members of Al Firdaws, the Islamic website “Paradise” with its ties to Osama bin Laden? They were caught planning a DDoS attack on financial institutions “before the infidel new year”? Maybe once they were outed, they just diverted the attack elsewhere.

If this is the work of Islamist terrorists, it’s about the dumbest thing they have done since the Achille Laurel incident where they pushed the guy in the wheelchair off the end of a ship.

Whoever is responsible for the attack, you can say one thing. They are definitely in need of some serious adult supervision.

Posted in Arabs, Homeland Security, Islam, Merchandise. Comments Off on Why attack Cafepress.com?

Al-Firdaws and the CafePress.com Denial of Service Attack: Are they Cyberspace Terrorists or “Script kiddies”?

When internet sales fulfillment company Cafepress experienced a DDoS attack during the week before Christmas it seemed kind of curious. Then yesterday a website that uses their service,  reported getting a notice from them saying images of Mohammed could no longer be used on the site, “as it is extremely offensive to the followers of Islam”. That made me wonder about DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. One thing led to another, and I ended up looking at a warning from Homeland Security from back in October 30 about planned attacks on financial institutions that were to begin the following Friday and continue through the “infidel new year”.

I probably missed it in all the brew-ha-ha of Halloween, but as it turns out, an organization called Al Firdaws was involved in the plan to use DoS attacks to disrupt unnamed institutions. One forum caught the online exchange in one of those puzzling Arabic/English translations that leaves as much to the imagination as it reveals.

طبعا” هذا يعطي إشارة للمجاهدين (الإلكترونيين )على أهمية التركيز على ضرب المواقع الإقتصادية الأمريكية الحساسة، وترك ما عداها، لأن ضرب أي موقع معادي (يسب لإسلام مثلا”)، فإنه يعاود العمل في غضون ساعات أو أيام وكأن شيئا” لم يحدث، أما إذا ضربت مواقع الأسهم والبنوك وتعطلت لأيام أو حتى لساعات قليلة فإن ذلك يعني خسائر بالملايين، ونقل الخبر على النشرات الإخبارية، وإحداث بلبلة وعدم ثقة في الأسهم والبنوك الأمريكية، ورفع لمعنويات الأمة عامة وللمجاهدين خاصة، وغير ذلك من المنافع والمصالح، لذا أرجو التركيز على هذه المواقع، واستنفار كل المسلمين القادرين للمشاركة في هذه :Of course, “This gives an indication of the mujahideen (electronic) the importance of focusing on attacking American economic sensitive sites, and leave everything else, because the strike against any hostile site (blasphemes Islam for example “), it reiterates the work within hours or days, if nothing, “does not happen, But if the shares hit sites, banks and disrupted for days or even for a few hours, it means losses of millions, The transfer of the news bulletins, The events of confusion and lack of confidence in the shares and American banks, and raise the morale of the nation in general and the mujahideen in particular, , and other benefits and interests, Therefore, I focus on these sites, The alert all Muslims who are able to participate in this :

This sounds like one of the posters wanted to make a big splash and attract world attention rather than just attacking some little site because it isn’t Muslim enough. The poster doesn’t like to attack the small sites anyhow because if the attacks do have any effect at all, the sites just put everything back up within hours or days. Some major financial event would give the faithful a boost in morale.

But this isn’t the first time Al Firdaws has made headlines. Al Firdaws, sometimes translated as “Paradise” is the name of the Seventh Paradise or Seventh Heaven. The Al Firdaws company was based in Amman, Jordan, and registered to Marwan Alansar. Back in November of 2005, they were kicked off their Kentucky-based internet provider after making death threats against world leaders. Making death threats apparently violated their terms of service, among other things.

The statement (at http://www.alfirdaws.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&t=9116) threatens, according to the Society for Internet Research (www.internet-haganah.us/harchives/005294.html), Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush.

But exactly what are the capabilities of this group?

Some have wondered if, by not immediately trying to shut down sites that post information about making bombs and poisons, authorities aren’t taking a fatal risk in the name of acquiring intelligence about a bigger plan. Not to worry, says George Smith, a senior fellow at the public-policy and research organization GlobalSecurity.org. Smith dismisses the effectiveness of al-Qaeda’s online training information. “The level of sophistication is equivalent to what teenagers were distributing about 10 or 15 years ago,” he says.

GlobalSecurity.org’s Smith describes the general level of Internet security maintained by al-Qaeda as “really lousy,” and says that its sites are routinely invaded by people within U.S. borders. Moran goes so far as to call the online terrorists “script-kiddies,” a derogatory term for inexperienced hackers who use programs developed by others. For example, he says, in trying to promote denial-of-service attacks, the jihadists have simply instructed sympathizers to “download this tool and drop in an address.”

Al Firaws may have been shut down in Kentucky, but they’re back online. Among the many admonitions now listed in their rules, the website has multiple warnings not to disclose the city they operate out of, not to names any names of leaders, (the “warriors” aren’t going to think of that on their own?) and not to post any announcement that they are resigning from the group. I suppose that means they can’t post videos of their farewell suicide messages.

Their “paradise jihadist forums” have all sorts of useful advice about viruses and “security advice for those entering the forums”. New products are painstakingly photographed, both the outside of the box, and each individual screen needed for installation, with handwritten notes added in Arabic. There are posts on “to become anonymous on the internet remote display system that allows you to view and work on one mostly using a different computer and platform from anywhere on the internet,” another post on “the most serious program to control any computer in the world,” and one on “10 best programs that you hide ip particularly those who enter the jihadist sites.” Ooops. I guess I should have had one of those IP-hiding programs before entering their site.

But what was the buzz on Al Firdaws a couple weeks ago about the time of the CafePress attack? According to the “Paradise jihadist forum” this was the conversation:


“thanks to Allah to destroy the site ladeeni.net abuser of islam.”

(Deen means “religion”. La-deeni means “my religion”.)


“others prefer the site eljehad.netfirms.com”

(another Arabic-language site whose motto is “In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate”, a phrase that prefaces many chapters of the Koran)

Another “warrior”:

“May peace and God’s mercy and blessings

al-jihan.org prefers brother karim.

The jihad official.”

Karim means “blessed”. The third word of that Arabic-language site’s motto is “jihad”.)

Drat, it looks like I just went into three more jihadist sites without my IP-hiding software. And another news article warns not to enter the Al Firdaws site so as not to pick up a virus that will turn your desktop PC into a zombie computer. Oh, dear.

But images of the Mohammed are “extremely offensive to the followers of Islam”? The best answer to that I heard last week at the post office: Those kind of people aren’t following any religion.

T Shirt for Muslim Americans Against Terrorism

Now you can announce to the world, “I am not a terrorist.”

muslims-against-terr-blkstore-image.jpgOr maybe it should say “Arab Americans Against Terrorism”? Or “American Arabs Against Terrorism?

Is it better to identify by religion or by culture or by language? By something else? So here is another slightly different Tee:


Is nationality a force that unites people for good or divides people artificially? What about religion?

In a nation with freedom of religion (we still DO have that, don’t we?), should anyone identify their religious affiliation at all?

The T-shirts are available here. As always, sweatshop-free and ethically produced.