Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Big grocers take aim at the UFCW

Darrin Hoop, a member of UFCW Local 21 in Seattle, asks whether his union is prepared to draw the line against concession demands from the big grocery chains.
THE UNITED Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) is in the midst of an 18-month period in which it is negotiating contracts for more than 400,000 of its 1.3 million members.
Will the union move forward or backward? So far, there are several grocery contracts that have been settled throughout the country. Most recently, on July 8, over 16,000 members of UFCW Local 1500 in the New York City area settled with Stop & Shop, Pathmark and King Kullen.

Prior to that, the 5,800 members of UFCW Local 23 ratified a contract that covered 36 Giant Eagle stores in Western Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia. Members of the Madison Heights, Mich.-based UCFW Local 876 unanimously ratified a three-year contract for about 12,000 workers at 118 Kroger stores in Michigan.

Unfortunately, both the UFCW local union and International Web sites--and, not surprisingly, the mainstream media--have very few details of these settlements. Due to the history of concessionary contracts negotiated by the UFCW [1], the silence is troubling.

But there's another major struggle taking place in the grocery industry that will help determine the union's direction: Some 25,000 grocery workers around Washington state have been locked in tense negotiations for over four months.

On the bosses' side, three of the richest grocery corporations in the U.S.--Kroger, Albertson's (owned by Supervalu), and Safeway--have united for negotiations as Allied Employers, Inc. For the workers, 19,000 are represented by UFCW Local 21, while the other 6,000 are represented by UFCW Local 81 and Teamsters Local 38. The workers are spread out over 218 stores in nine counties throughout Western Washington.

The contract originally was set to expire May 1, but has now been extended three times and is set to expire at the end of August.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Polish star faces trial on claim drunks wrote Bible

Published Date: 25 August 2010
One of Poland's leading pop stars faces trial for suggesting that the Bible was written by people "who liked herbal cigarettes and were drunks".
• Dorota Rabczewska, aka Doda, could face two years in jail over her 'youthful' remarks Picture: AFP

A Warsaw court has cleared the way for criminal proceedings after it rejected an appeal by Doda against attempts to prosecute her for insulting religious feeling. Famed for her penchant for shedding clothes and colourful language, the singer faces two years in jail, if convicted.

Doda's troubles relates to comments she made during a television interview in 2009 when she said that she had little faith in the Bible because "it is hard to believe in something written by people who liked herbal cigarettes and were drunks".

Asked if she had anybody in mind the 26-year-old singer, whose real name is Dorota Rabczewska, replied "all those who wrote those amazing stories".

Miss Rabczewska has argued that her remarks were "youthful" and off-the-cuff, and that she had never intended to insult religious feelings. She also attempted to argue that she meant medicinal cigarettes.

But the comments riled conservative Catholics in Poland already angered by the singer's willingness to bare all in Playboy, and her raunchy videos. In one, Miss Rabczewska, who once fronted an IrnBru advertising campaign in Poland, empties a bottle of the soft drink over her bikini-clad chest, while in another video she appears naked apart from skimpy underwear.

One of her critics, Stanislaw Kogut, a senator in the Poland's upper house of parliament, called Doda's comments an "insult to Christians and Jews", while Ryszard Nowak, the chairman of the Committee for the Defence Against Sects, an ultra-conservative organisation dedicated to upholding Catholic values, appealed against an initial decision by prosecutors to drop the case. His argument that Doda had broken Polish law protecting religious sensibilities and, therefore, her actions merited official investigation triggered legal proceedings against her.

Reacting to the news that the case against the singer stands, Mr Nowak welcomed the court's decision. "This case has been around for over a year, and Miss Rabczewska has had plenty of time to apologise, but instead she has just mocked us even more," he said.

"She has tried to say that she was talking about non-alcoholic wine and medicinal cigarettes. This is a matter of historical significance because if it had been dropped, it would have shown artists that there are no boundaries."

In the wake of the Bible comments, Mr Nowak also launched a campaign this summer to get towns to cancel Doda concerts arguing "that similar blasphemy may occur".

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We are Experiencing a 1930s Style Depression

By Grant Lawrence
I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. I will keep telling you so in hopes it sinks in with somebody. Over the last couple of years we have been through ‘green shoots’ and a supposedly slow recovery. Well as I said often, there wasn’t any green shoots and their was never a recovery. Unless you want to call bail outs for bankers and corporations a recovery.
So the news out now is the housing market just dropped 27% in July. It probably dropped more. We know, or should know, we can’t trust government numbers.
Now many economists are beginning to rethink their double dip recessions and call the economic disaster what it is–a Depression.
The US economy is in a 1930s-style Depression, Gluskin Sheff economist David Rosenberg said Tuesday….The 1929-33 recession saw six quarterly bounces in GDP with an average gain of 8 percent, sending the stock market to a 50 percent rally in early 1930 as investors thought the worst had passed….(source: cnbc)
The economy is in a depression and the government has used all of its resources bailing out the big banks which means there is little for the people.

Wal-Mart Asks Supreme Court to Weigh In on Suit

Published: August 25, 2010
Wal-Mart Stores asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to review the largest employment discrimination lawsuit in American history, involving more than 1.5 million current or former female workers at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores.

Nine years after the suit was filed, the central issue before the high court will not be whether any discrimination occurred, but whether more than a million people can even make this joint claim through a class-action lawsuit, as opposed to filing claims individually or in smaller groups. In April, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco ruled 6-to-5 that the lawsuit could proceed as a jumbo class action - the fourth judicial decision upholding a class action.

The stakes are huge. If the Supreme Court allows the suit to proceed as a class action, that could easily cost Wal-Mart $1 billion or more in damages, legal experts say.

More significantly, the court's ruling could set guidelines for other types of class-action suits. "This is the big one that will set the standards for all other class actions," said Robin S. Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, an arm of the Chamber of Commerce, which has filed several amicus briefs backing Wal-Mart.

Why Doesn’t the Media Have the Guts to Attack Fox News’ Hate-Filled Witch Hunts?

By Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America
Posted on August 25, 2010, Printed on August 25, 2010

Same chorus, different song.

One month after launching a jaw-dropping campaign of racial discord and warning of a looming, Obama-led “race war,” Fox News and the far-right media have turned the page of the hate hymnal and embraced a new enemy: Muslims.

Yes, the bigotry is off the charts. Yes, the purposeful misinformation is almost too plentiful to catalog. And yes, once the again the mainstream press remains mostly mum about the upsetting spectacle being played out for all to see.

The so-called “debate” in the press about the proposed Islamic center for downtown Manhattan is not a serious one. Just like the ‘debate’ in the press about racism and Shirley Sherrod was not serious. And just like the ‘debate’ in the press about Michelle Obama’s vacation was not serious.  They’re not debates. They’re hate-based witch hunts sponsored by the right wing, and reporters and pundits ought to have the guts to point that fact out.

When is the press going to acknowledge that the rules have changed, and these naked smear campaigns being launched by Fox News and the far-right press have no precedent in our politics and, more importantly, they’re changing the way our news agenda is being set?

I mean, c’mon. Pam Geller is now acting as our nation’s newsroom assignment editor?

Yes, cover the controversy surrounding the proposed Islamic center — it’s a legitimate story. But in the process, don’t play dumb about the proud hate rhetoric that’s driving so much of the story. Don’t play dumb about the vicious Muslim-bashing that’s front-and-center on Fox News as it rallies its base to loathe Arab-Americans, just as it seemed to rally its base to loathe African-Americans last month.

Rather than doing the right thing, the press has taken a pass and pretended the hysterical, relentless religious bigotry that’s been let loose by the GOP press isn’t newsworthy or deeply troubling. The media silence is deafening and depressing. (And yes, exceptions are noted and appreciated.)

Trust me, folks at Fox News and friends get the message: Full steam ahead!

Eric Boehlert is is a senior fellow at Media Matters for America. He’s the author of Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush (Free Press, 2006) and Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press (Free Press, 2009). He worked for five years as a senior writer for Salon.com, where he wrote extensively about media and politics. 

© 2010 Media Matters for America All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/s

Barry Cooper fights the law, wins: Odessa drops all ‘KopBusters’ charges

From Raw Story:

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 -- 7:51 pm

Exclusive: Cooper to release City of Odessa from $40 million civil suit
barrycooperismyhero Barry Cooper fights the law, wins: Odessa drops all KopBusters chargesBarry Cooper, a former Texas police officer who turned against the drug war and executed a reverse-sting operation against the Odessa police department, will walk free on all related charges, an attorney for Ector County announced Tuesday.

Cooper, perhaps the nation's best-known drug war activist thanks to his "Never Get Busted" DVDs, set up a fake marijuana grow house in Odessa, wired it for sound and video, then used an anonymous letter to bait police into a Dec. 2008 raid.

The letter was delivered to a local church, which eventually turned it over to police. Not long after that officers came crashing through the door.

Cooper, his wife Candi and another individual who assisted their operation were all arrested two months ago on the Class B misdemeanor charge of Making a False Report to a Peace Officer in relation to the Odessa sting. Candi's arrest took place at the family's apartment in south Austin and Barry turned himself in days later at the Texas capitol building, with a typical showman's flare.

Continue reading at: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/0824/barry-cooper-fights-law-wins-odessa-drops-kopbusters-charges/

Memphis Gay Ordinance Tabled

 From The Advocate: http://advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2010/08/24/Memphis_Gay_Ordinance_Tabled/
By Michelle Garcia
Janis Fullilove x390 (grab) | ADVOCATE.COM
The Tennessee Equality Project has requested that Memphis city councilwoman Janis Fullilove withdraw the Employment Non-Discrimination Ordinance Tuesday.

“It became very apparent that it was being treated differently, and it became very, very apparent we were not going to get a fair hearing from the majority of the council members,” Michelle Bliss of the TEP told ABC News-Memphis

The bill was up for three readings by the council, but was treated with contention by some of the council members, and community members like local clergy. 

Fullilove, who sponsored the bill, was on the receiving end of death threats for supporting the legislation. She even found a dead cat thrown on her lawn from opponents. 

"No one should be discriminated against based upon their color, their sexual orientation, not at all," Fullilove said earlier at a city council meeting.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


From DailyKos

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism

From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights

The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause

The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism

Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

5. Rampant sexism

Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

6. A controlled mass media

Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.

7. Obsession with national security

Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together

Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

9. Power of corporations protected

Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated

Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts

Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment

Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption

Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

14. Fraudulent elections

Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

NOTE: The above 14 Points was written in 2004 by Dr. Laurence Britt, a political scientist. Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of: Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile).

"What no one seemed to notice. . . was the ever widening gap. . .between the government and the people. . . And it became always wider. . . the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway . . . (it) gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about . . .and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated . . . by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. . .

Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures'. . . must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. . . .Each act. . . is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.

You don't want to act, or even talk, alone. . . you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' . . .But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. . . .You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father. . . could never have imagined." :

From Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free, The Germans, 1938-45 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)

Capitalists, Global Warming, and the Climate Justice Movement

Tuesday, August 24 2010
By James Herod

Infoshop News special digital edition
The fifteenth meeting of the Conference of Participants (COP15) in the Kyoto Protocol took place this month in Copenhagen, Denmark from December 7 to 18, 2009. The purpose of the conference was to wrap up more than two years of negotiations by representatives of all the world's governments to get a legally binding treaty for a new round of reductions in carbon emissions under the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol to replace the first round which was expiring.

So what happened? The United States sabotaged the negotiations by refusing to agree to any legally binding treaty, by refusing to commit itself to any significant reduction of its own carbon pollution, and by refusing to work through the U.N.'s open and democratic negotiating process, instead maneuvering behind the scenes in secret to strike a deal with a few select countries which was then sprung on the conference at the last minute. Naturally, the negotiations collapsed and the conference ended in failure, except for the United States, which outcome is obviously what it had intended all along. To understand the significance and probable consequences of this event some background will be necessary.

Amidst growing reports from the world's climatologists of alarming increases in temperatures worldwide due to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a treaty was fashioned at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992, called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. To date, 192 nations have signed the treaty. The United States tried to obstruct this summit from its outset. The original draft of the treaty had to be greatly weakened and watered down before the United States would agree to sign on.

The same thing happened five years later in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, where an addition to the Rio treaty was being negotiated to put some teeth into it through legally binding cuts in carbon emissions. Once again the United States was obstructive, refusing to cooperate, unless reductions in carbon emissions were handled through the market (the so-called "Cap and Trade, with Offsets"). Al Gore flew to Kyoto to negotiate this demand. The world finally agreed, just in order to get some treaty, but then the U.S. never ratified the Kyoto Protocol anyway.

Gore's presence at this crucial conference is significant. He had been for some time closely involved with Wall Street's efforts to create a market for carbon trading. In a brilliantly researched essay(1) David Noble persuasively argues that there had been a split in the capitalist ruling class with regard to global warming. Its original response (and its propaganda) was to deny it. But then the financial elite realized that a lot of money could be made if carbon emissions could be commoditized and traded on the market. They launched a massive propaganda campaign to convince the world that global warming was real, that it was being caused by humans (by burning fossil fuels), and that capitalists could solve the problem through their normal market mechanisms. Global warming moved into the mainstream.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Republicans hot, cold on Constitution, depending on what’s at stake

From Raw Story:

Monday, August 23rd, 2010 -- 8:06 am

Republican Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia won his seat in Congress campaigning as a strict defender of the Constitution. He carries a copy in his pocket and is particularly fond of invoking the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

But it turns out there are parts of the document he doesn't care for — lots of them. He wants to get rid of the language about birthright citizenship, federal income taxes and direct election of senators, among others. He would add plenty of stuff, including explicitly authorizing castration as punishment for child rapists.

This hot-and-cold take on the Constitution is surprisingly common within the GOP, particularly among those like Broun who portray themselves as strict Constitutionalists and who frequently accuse Democrats of twisting the document to serve political aims.

Republicans have proposed at least 42 Constitutional amendments in the current Congress, including one that has gained favor recently to eliminate the automatic grant of citizenship to anyone born in the United States.
Democrats — who typically take a more liberal view of the Constitution as an evolving document — have proposed 27 amendments, and fully one-third of those are part of a package from a single member, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill. Jackson's package encapsulates a liberal agenda in which everyone has new rights to quality housing and education, but most of the Democratic proposals deal with less ideological issues such as congressional succession in a national disaster or voting rights in U.S. territories.

Now That’s Rich


We need to pinch pennies these days. Don’t you know we have a budget deficit? For months that has been the word from Republicans and conservative Democrats, who have rejected every suggestion that we do more to avoid deep cuts in public services and help the ailing economy.

But these same politicians are eager to cut checks averaging $3 million each to the richest 120,000 people in the country.

What — you haven’t heard about this proposal? Actually, you have: I’m talking about demands that we make all of the Bush tax cuts, not just those for the middle class, permanent.

Some background: Back in 2001, when the first set of Bush tax cuts was rammed through Congress, the legislation was written with a peculiar provision — namely, that the whole thing would expire, with tax rates reverting to 2000 levels, on the last day of 2010.

Why the cutoff date? In part, it was used to disguise the fiscal irresponsibility of the tax cuts: lopping off that last year reduced the headline cost of the cuts, because such costs are normally calculated over a 10-year period. It also allowed the Bush administration to pass the tax cuts using reconciliation — yes, the same procedure that Republicans denounced when it was used to enact health reform — while sidestepping rules designed to prevent the use of that procedure to increase long-run budget deficits.

Obviously, the idea was to go back at a later date and make those tax cuts permanent. But things didn’t go according to plan. And now the witching hour is upon us.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Appalachia Rising: On September 27th, A Resounding "No!" to Mountaintop Removal

by Bo Webb

Goldman prize-winner and fellow Appalachian Maria Gunnoe has said: "Go to the most peaceful, beautiful place in the word that you can imagine. And then watch somebody drop a bomb on it. That's, basically, what's happening right here" - here, in Central Appalachia.

The "bomb" is mountaintop removal strip mining. The most beautiful places that Maria and I know, the most beautiful places that generations before us have treasured in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, are now, literally, being blown out of existence.


Because a few men from the energy industry think their hostile attitude toward the Earth will continue to go unnoticed.

I beg to differ. Americans are noticing. And realize that bombing our Mountains and our land is the wrong way to go.

The Mountains are the most precious resource in Central Appalachia today. The Mountains contain scores of medicinal plants, clean water, fresh air, and are the headwater source for much of the drinking water in the mid Atlantic and Southern states. They are a life giving forest, an incubator of life.

The Mountains are sustainable, the coal is not.

And that is why I am joining with hundreds, if not thousands, in Washington D.C. on September 25-27 for "Appalachia Rising." We share a new vision for life on this planet.

There will be housing and food, speakers and cultural events.  And a major demonstration. Everyone is invited - it's easy to register: http://appalachiarising.org.

In a massive, positive action, we want the world to say with us "No!" to mountaintop removal strip mining.
I grew up in the mountains. My family homesteaded in Central Appalachia in the 1820s. But today, my ancestral home is regularly under assault from the blasting of a nearby mountaintop removal site.
Like others, I have cringed at the news of over 500 mountaintops destroyed and 2,000 miles of streams buried by mountaintop removal rubble.

And so, I have made the choice to join the fight for what we all love: the land, the people, our communities. Already mountaintop removal has devastated or eliminated community after community in Southern WV, from Mar Fork to Blair, from Lindy Town to Kayford and beyond into Eastern KY, Southwest Virginia and Eastern Tennessee.

But Appalachians are not, and never shall be, the "collateral damage" of a need for so called cheap electricity.
And if you share our values, I urge you to come to Washington, D.C.

Let me offer three reasons why you should join us in D.C. on September 27th.

First, because silence perpetuates violence. The violence of coalfield residents forced to breathe air poisoned by silica dust from mountaintop removal bombing, among other injustices and health violations. Such violence will continue until we end our silence, until we blend our unique, individual voices together as One Big Voice.
Second, because our children and grandchildren demand it. Who will inherit this world? They will. And that includes the land, the water, and the air. The only way to preserve this world for them is to stop this global mentality of turning Earth's lands into wastelands. From the Tar Sands of Canada to the mountains of El Salvador, this mentality leads to tragic consequences like contamination of water supplies. Consequences that generations after us have no choice but to live - and die - with.

Third, because the commitment of so many others to be in Washington, D.C. holds great promise. Not just the promise of enthusiastic young people - who have climbed trees and blocked roads to focus the world's attention on Central Appalachia. But the promise of our conviction in the value of water, forests, and safe, live-able communities.

Not just the promise of power in numbers, but the promise of sharing heartfelt and humorous stories.
And not just the promise of a network that can win the fight, but the promise of ending human suffering in one corner of the nation.

To the thousands from Appalachia who live displaced throughout America - join us! Can you recall the beauty of the mountains? The hollow or community you grew up in? See to it that America protects that beauty, not that more mountaintop removal destroys it.

We can live without mountaintop removal strip mining and still meet America's current demand for electricity.
Less than 5% of all electricity in America comes from mountaintop removal. For that 5%, we get a lot of suffering. But we can plug that gap with renewables like solar, wind, and hydro energy - IF our government provides the right incentives to business... and IF our representatives do their job responsibly.

I call upon all Americans of conscience and goodwill to stand with me on September 25-27 in Washington D.C. And in the days and months beyond.

We must pressure Congress and the White House so they can no longer elude our demands for a life of dignity in Central Appalachia.

The late Senator Robert Byrd - a friend of Appalachia - pointed out before his death that there is a "diminishing constituency" in America willing to defend the practice of mountaintop removal.

Our demand is simple. The federal government must fully enforce the Clean Water Act and abolish mountaintop removal. In doing so, we will protect the Mid Atlantic and Southern water systems from contamination due to mountaintop removal.

We are fed up with the thousand and one violations of our lives and property rights. But through Appalachia Rising, we want the world to see how America resolves its deepest, most difficult conflicts through dialogue, peaceful demonstration, and democratic politics.

Our common struggle, and the commitment of so many young people, gives me reason still to champion the ideals of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in Central Appalachia - and America- today.
Won't you join me in Washington, D.C. on September 27th?

Appalachia Rising: http://appalachiarising.org

Bo Webb is a documented 6th generation of his family living in Peachree Hollow in the Coal River Valley, West Virginia. He is a decorated Marine combat veteran serving in Viet Nam 1968-69. He is alsos a former business owner and the former board president of Coal River Mountain Watch, a sponsor of Appalachia Rising.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Number One Sign Russia Needs a New Hard Core Marxist Revolution


Russian Billionaire: Kill All Gays

 A Russian billionaire who amassed his fortune in oil following the collapse of the Soviet Union told listeners on a Moscow radio program he wanted all gays and lesbians to die.

According to the UK Gay News, German Sterligov said he believed all gays, lesbians and atheists deserved to die while appearing on the radio show Cultural Shock. 

Reads the UK Gay News.

During the radio show, the host of Cultural Shock, Ksenia Larina, asked Mr Sterligov: ‘I want to understand, German, what what you want to do … what to do not only with atheists but also with gays and lesbians?”

Mr. Sterligov responded: “As it is written by the Apostle Paul, Let it be their blood upon their heads.
Other guests on the program chipped in. One asked: “This is what is written about gays and lesbians?”

“Yes, replied Mr. Sterligov. “This is what is written about the homosexuals.”

Another guest wanted clarification. “That means to kill?”

“Yes, for sure,” Mr. Sterligov confirmed.

You know those Bolsheviks had the right idea when they killed the Czar and his family.  Russia needs a new Revolution because Capitalism sucks.

Perhaps we should kill all the Billionaires and redistribute their stolen wealth.  Remember Behind every great fortune one can find great crime.

Monday, August 16, 2010

From Cordoba CNT-AIT, Solidarity in the conflict against the multinational EULEN.

From Libcom.org
Submitted by cnt-ait on Aug 8 2010 19:26

The conflict started in the University of Córdoba where EULEN has a contract for maintenance and gardening services. After several unsatisified demands, a case was started against EULEN and the University of Córdoba for illegal transfer of workers and there was a ruling against the University, forcing it to hire the comrade who filed the lawsuit.
SOV Cordoba (CNT-AIT) asks for solidarity in the conflict we have against the multinational EULEN.
EULEN is a company basically dedicated to the service sector (cleaning, maintenance, social healthcare services, security, etc. ) specializing in subcontracting services to the public administration and to large companies.

It is therefore one of the main spearheads of privatization and outsourcing of public services and the worsening of working conditions, even having its temporary work agency, FLEXIPLAN.

The conflict started in the University of Córdoba where EULEN has a contract for maintenance and gardening services. After several unsatisified demands, a case was started against EULEN and the University of Córdoba for illegal transfer of workers and there was a ruling against the University, forcing it to hire the comrade who filed the lawsuit.

Later, a union branch was established in the contract that EULEN has in the Swedish multinational ABB (Asea Brown Bovery, s.a.) dedicated to manufacturing large transformers. The reason for the conflict is because the collective agreement which is legally appropriate has not been applied; it has been replaced by another with worse pay and work conditions, as well as failure to comply with health and safety standards, a dual wage scale, and use of a special employment center to destroy employment and funnel grants.

This branch has maintained the conflict for more than a year, having won a court decision to implement the agreement that we demanded. But now we are faced with the dismissal of a comrade from the union, without reason.

The company recognized that the dismissal was unfair and paid compensation to the worker but refuses reinstatement, which is what the comrade and the union are demanding. The company hired another worker in his place but still needs workers. The firm denies that they have made this into a confrontation with the union.
There are no legal channels for the reinstatment of our comrade partner so this will only come from direct action and mutual aid, which is why we are asking for your solidarity.

Recently a new union has been fonded in the EULEN contract in the cement works of the Portugues group CIMPOR (COSMOS) in Córdoba. Again there was a conflict cause by the implementation of a collective agreement that did not recently formed a new association in the contract section of the cement EULEN Portuguese group CIMPOR (COSMOS) at Cordoba, here again the cause of conflict is the application of a collective agreement that does not match the lower wages and loss of other rights.

A few years back, EULEN started its international expansion, opening offices in Portugal and much of Latin America with the help of Spanish multinationals such as BBVA and BSCH, Repsol and Telefónica to develop cleaning, maintenance, and other services.

We would like to ask the IWA sections to show their support for us in this conflict by sending faxes and emails to the offices of EULEN nearest to you and to the headquareters in Madrid.

We would like to ask the sections in Portugal and Argentina to consider the possibility to make any type of protest or support action at the office of EULEN in those countries and to send us any information they have about the activity of EULEN in those countries.

Also publicize the forum for EULEN workers and the root fo the conflict:
More information:

Greece sinks further into recession as European economy falters

By Stefan Steinberg
16 August 2010
The Greek economy sank further into recession in the second quarter of this year. According to the latest figures from the Greek statistics bureau, the economy shrank by 1.5 percent April through June, as compared to the first three months of this year. This decline follows a prior fall in Greek gross domestic product (GDP) for January through March.

The Greek economy declined by 3.5 percent in the second quarter compared to the same period a year ago.
The Greek statistics bureau acknowledged that the decline in GDP was largely a result of the austerity program dictated by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union and implemented by the social democratic PASOK government. Prime Minister George Papandreou has cut wages in the public sector and raised the value added tax to record levels. The resulting slump in consumer demand has been accompanied by a collapse in the country’s construction industry and a steep fall in revenues from tourism.

The deepening crisis in Greece has resulted in near-record levels of unemployment. Official unemployment now stands at 12 percent, an increase of 43 percent compared with one year ago.

Hardest hit by the jobs crisis are younger workers, with 32.5 percent of all workers between 15 and 24 unemployed in May. Even these figures disguise the real scale of the jobs crisis, since they do not take into account those working part-time but seeking full-time work and those who have given up looking for work because of the lack of jobs.

With the recession gathering speed in Greece, production levels fell across Europe in June. Factory output dropped by 0.1 percent, although economists had anticipated an increase.
According to the figures released by the European Commission, the slowdown in the growth of industrial production was not limited to smaller, weaker economies such as Greece, but also applied to the continent’s larger economies.

French industrial output faltered in the second quarter of this year, rising by just 0.8 percent. Production in the French auto industry was down by 7.4 percent in June following the end of the government’s “cash for clunkers” subsidy program. A business confidence survey conducted by the Banque de France at the start of this week indicated a slowdown in the rate of recovery in French manufacturing and services in the second half of 2010.

Olivier Gasnier, economist at SocGen, declared that the French figures were an “unpleasant surprise.” He said they were particularly disappointing “because we have the impression that recovery is already flagging and that is even before the budgetary adjustments have kicked in.”

Spain and Portugal also recorded second-quarter slowdowns in their economies.

Financial markets reacted immediately by driving up the interests rates on the bonds of a number of the most exposed European economies. In the past month, interest rates paid by Ireland have nearly doubled, while interest rates have risen markedly for Greek, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish sovereign debt.

The signs of a slowdown in the European economy coincided with weaker economic data from the US and China. In response, European investors have withdrawn funds from high-risk European economies and moved them into so-called “safe havens” such as German bonds, whose prices rose sharply last week.
Reflecting the growing unease, the Euribor-Eonia spread, a common measure of banking sector risk in Europe, climbed this week to its highest level since September last year, with markets anticipating further economic turmoil in the coming months.

The only positive trend in European production emerged in Germany, where figures published this week showed an economic growth rate of 2.2 percent in the second quarter, the highest quarterly increase since German reunification two decades ago. The German GDP figure lifted the growth rate for the 16-nation eurozone to 1 percent in the second quarter, a higher rate than had been forecast.

The German figures have been greeted with euphoria and self-congratulatory pronouncements by bankers, government officials and sections of the German media, but as Financial Times columnist Wolfgang Münchau pointed out recently, the German economic recovery is more “mirage” than “miracle.”

Münchau noted that the recovery in Germany has taken place against the background of a record postwar fall in German production of 5 percent in 2009—a decline much more pronounced than that of most other European economies. He wrote that the country could return to its production levels of 2007 only if it maintained a growth rate of 2.5 percent for 2010 and a similar rate for 2011. However, there are many factors indicating that it will prove impossible for Germany to maintain such a level of growth.

Germany was able to regain some economic ground in the early part of this year due to stimulus subsidies made available to employers by the government. But as is the case in France and many other European countries, these subsidies, such as short-time working, have largely come to an end.

Germany’s export industry also benefited in recent months from the fall in the value of the euro, which at one point declined to near 1.20 per dollar. In recent weeks, however, with concern growing over the prospects for the US economy, the euro has risen toward the 1.30 per dollar mark. The strengthened euro makes German exports less attractive on world markets.

Warning that Germany’s rebound was not reflected in Europe as a whole, David Owen of Jefferies International pointed out, “Germany is only 30 percent of the system. The other 70 percent are struggling. The headwinds facing the system are still immense.”

The president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, issued his own warning last week, predicting that the euro-zone economy would be “much less buoyant” in the second half of the year.
The strength of the German economy is also its Achilles heel. Germany’s relatively expensive exports can find buyers only under conditions of expanding markets. But urged on by the German government, one European nation after another has introduced drastic austerity programs, which will inevitably depress economies and choke off consumer demand, with far-reaching longer term implications for German exports.

The latest figures recording a slowdown in growth in most of the eurozone mean lower state revenues, which will increase pressure from the financial markets for governments to introduce even more severe public spending cuts.

For its part, the German government insists that the latest GDP figures vindicate its policy of withdrawing all forms of stimulus and intensifying austerity measures. Along these lines, German economists have harshly criticised the mildly reflationary measures announced last week by the US Federal Reserve.

Germany’s main business newspaper Handelsblatt quoted a economist from Barclays who described the Fed’s policy declaration as an “act of desperation” and warned that a downturn in the US would have massive repercussions for the German economy.

In a commentary in last Wednesday’s edition, the Handelsblatt correspondent in New York expressed his wholehearted support for the imposition of severe austerity measures in the US, approvingly citing a recent interview given by former US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What the Tea Parties Really Want: A Return to "White Man's Country"

From Alternet:

By Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report
Posted on August 9, 2010, Printed on August 14, 2010
After all is said and done, what much of the so-called Tea Party wants is a return to America as a White Man’s Country. There are a few obstacles in their way, including the U.S. Constitution, but that’s not insurmountable. “On a daily basis pundits and politicians rear their ugly heads to say that the children born of undocumented persons should no longer be given American citizenship.”

The founding fathers made one think perfectly clear when they ratified the constitution in 1787. Full citizenship rights were meant only for white men of property. Over a period of nearly 200 years, people’s movements guaranteed that those rights were extended to everyone regardless of race or gender, but the fact that the struggle literally took centuries should not be forgotten. It is tempting to snicker at the sight of today’s Tea Party members, grown men wearing knee breeches and three-cornered hats. Yet their costumes tell an important tale. They evoke an era still seen as the high water mark of American society, the days of the enslavement of one race and the extermination of another. This movement has captured the Republican Party outright and leaves even some Democratic politicians and pundits in a state of fear and/or awe.

The pull of that early history is ever present for many white Americans. No matter the degree of progress made, the adherence to the evils of America’s early days are never far from the surface. Simply put, there are too many brown faces for the liking of a majority of white people. Even the president has a brown face. His very presence has been a shock to the country’s system and to the mythology which says that only white people are truly American.

For decades, the presence of undocumented foreign nationals has been an accepted fact in the United States. Estimates of their presence run as high as 11 million. In the very recent past that presence was considered positive, a proof of America’s attractiveness to the rest of the world and a boon to industries dependent upon their labor.

Under the guise of concern for integrity of our borders, and stemming illegal activities, that presence is now being called a threat and a danger to the nation. Republicans like former presidential candidate John McCain have bowed to pressure from the Tea Party wing and moved from advocating a path to citizenship to producing nonsensical campaign videos to “build the dang fence” and prevent Mexicans willing to pick fruit and bus tables from entering the country.

The guarantor of citizenship since 1868 has been the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which grants automatic citizenship to anyone born in the United States. That amendment and its guarantees are now under direct threat. On a daily basis pundits and politicians rear their ugly heads to say that the children born of undocumented persons should no longer be given American citizenship.

Arizona legislators, the go-to group for turning white supremacy into law, have proposed denying birth certificates to anyone who can’t prove legal residence. Flush with the nationwide popularity of SB1070, which turns Arizona into the “show me your papers” police state, they are now drunk with the possibility of keeping the dark skinned people in check and away from what they hope to make an oasis of whiteness.

All of these proposals are masks for a simple proposition. Citizenship rights should only be extended to white people, just as in the barbaric days of the golden age of whiteness. All but the most unrepentant racists will deny this intent. Instead we hear lunatic tales of beheadings in the Arizona desert, non-existent kidnappings and birth tourism terror plots to make sleeper cell American citizen babies.

Black Americans should be the first to denounce these bizarre schemes to undo constitutional protections. The 14th Amendment was a means of protecting the rights of the newly freed population and of over turning the infamous Dred Scott decision which nullified the very concept of black citizenship.

“We want our country back” is not just an anti-Obama call to action. It is a call to revive an idea which ought to have been firmly discredited by now, that America should belong only to white people and that they alone should have a voice in how it is run. It would be a terrible mistake to see these citizenship proposals only as anti-Latino based bigotry. They are surely that but they are also a means of keeping the non-white population under control and depriving them of any rights which a white person need respect.
© 2010 Black Agenda Report All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/147781/

Judge Revokes Approval of Modified Sugar Beets

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/14/business/14sugar.html?hp
A federal district court judge revoked the government’s approval of genetically engineered sugar beets Friday, saying that the Agriculture Department had not adequately assessed the environmental consequences before approving them for commercial cultivation.

The decision, by Judge Jeffrey S. White of Federal District Court in San Francisco, appears to effectively ban the planting of the genetically modified sugar beets, which make up about 95 percent of the crop, until the Agriculture Department prepares an environmental impact statement and approves the crop again, a process that might take a couple of years. 

The decision could cause major problems for sugar beet farmers and sugar processors. In the past the sugar industry has warned there might not be enough non-engineered seeds available. However, the judge ruled that crops currently in the ground can be harvested and made into sugar, so the effects will not be felt until next spring’s planting season. 

Beets supply about half the nation’s sugar, with the rest coming from sugar cane. Sugar beet growers sold the 2007-8 crop for about $1.335 billion, according to government data. 

The decision came in a lawsuit organized by the Center for Food Safety, a Washington advocacy group that opposes biotech crops. 

Judge White ruled last September that the Agriculture Department’s approval of the beets violated the National Environmental Policy Act, but he did not specify a remedy. Earlier this year, he denied a request by the plaintiffs to prohibit the planting of the engineered seeds this year, saying that would be too disruptive. But he warned farmers to move toward using conventional seeds. 

In his order Friday, the judge granted the plaintiffs’ request to formally vacate the approval of the beets. That would bar farmers from growing them outside of a field trial. 

But Judge White denied the plaintiffs’ request for a permanent injunction that would have also banned the growing of the crops. He said an injunction was not necessary if the crop was no longer approved for commercial planting. . 

A decision by the United States Supreme Court earlier this year in a similar case involving genetically engineered alfalfa essentially precluded the granting of an injunction. 

In the alfalfa case, the Supreme Court indicated that the government might grant partial approval of a genetically modified crop. It seems that such an option might be available in the sugar beet case as well, which could reduce any hardship for farmers. It is also possible the Agriculture Department will appeal.
Caleb Weaver, a spokesman for the Agriculture Department, said Friday night that the department was “looking at the decision to figure out what’s appropriate as the next step.” Monsanto declined to comment, saying it would defer to sugar growers and processors. 

Duane Grant, a sugar beet farmer in Rupert, Idaho and chairman of the Snake River Sugar Company, said he had not seen the decision and could not assess its impact. 

But Mr. Grant, who had intervened in the case, added, “I’m pleased that the crop that is currently planted would be allowed to be harvested and processed. That’s clearly in the best interest of the public.” 

Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said the ruling was another sign the Agriculture Department was not doing its job. “This is regulation by litigation,” he said. 

The ruling followed a hearing held earlier Friday in Judge White’s courtroom. 

The Agriculture Department and its allies had argued that the approval of the crop should not be revoked, saying the department’s mistakes were not that serious and that the crop was going to be eventually approved anyway. At the least, they asked for a nine-month delay in revoking the approval to give the department time to put interim measures into place. 

But Judge White disagreed, writing in his opinion that the Agriculture Department’s errors “are not minor or insignificant” and that it had already had time since his initial ruling in September to put interim measures into place. 

The judge said it was not clear legally if he could consider the economic consequences of revoking the approval, but that even if he could, the Agriculture Department had not adequately demonstrated there would be a severe impact. 

In his previous ruling, Judge White said the department had not adequately assessed the consequences from the likely spread of the genetically engineered trait to other sugar beets or to the related crops of Swiss chard and red table beets.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

White House: Some ‘crazy’ liberal critics of Obama ‘need to be drug tested’

Fuck you, Robert Gibbs....  You are nothing but a puissant neo-liberal scum sucking bottom feeder. 

By Sahil Kapur
Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 -- 7:58 am

The White House is sparing no punches to some of its critics on the "professional left," describing them as insatiable and unrealistic.

In an interview with Sam Youngman of The Hill published Tuesday morning, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs unleashed a series of forceful attacks on some unnamed progressive critics of President Barack Obama.
"I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested," Gibbs said. "I mean, it’s crazy."

The paper described the president's spokesman as "simmering with anger" and "in furious disbelief" over some of Obama's liberal detractors, from whom he has faced regular criticism for not pushing a progressive agenda more authoritatively.

Profits soar as bosses cut workers

From Worker's World

Published Aug 8, 2010 11:43 PM
Corporate profits are rising, corporate cash is piling up, business has increased. But jobs are not coming back any time soon for the millions of unemployed.

This is the theme running through the big business media. It shows deep anxiety over the new stage of the capitalist economy and the way the “jobless recovery” is playing out.

While 30 million workers remain unemployed or underemployed, corporate profits have soared to an annual rate of $1.2 trillion — higher than at the height of the bubble. Much of that $1.2 trillion comes from laying off workers and getting more production out of those who remain.

“It turns out,” wrote Steven Pearlstein in the July 30 Washington Post, “that companies have found ways to produce as much as they ever did, but with fewer workers. As a result, over the past year, output for each hour worked rose more than 6 percent, even as average hourly earnings have risen less than 2 percent. The rest of those productivity gains have gone straight to the bottom line, creating a record stash of cash on corporate balance sheets.

“Some of the cash,” continued the article, “has been used to pay down debt or buy back stock. But so far the one thing businesses haven’t done is hire back full-time employees, preferring instead to contract for temporary workers or increase the hours of the workers they already have.”

Pearlstein then made a remarkably candid observation for the big business press: “The only surprise is that anyone is surprised by the lack of private-sector hiring. It is only in the world of Chamber of Commerce propaganda that businesses exist to create jobs. In the real world, businesses exist to create profits for shareholders, not jobs for workers. That’s why they call it capitalism, not job-ism.”

When a mouthpiece of big business such as the Washington Post allows such anti-capitalist commentary, it is a sign of deep worry about the permanence of this economic system.

The July 26 New York Times described the same trend in a piece entitled “U.S. Firms Wringing Huge Profits Out of Job Cuts.” The headline says it all.

The Times chose to focus on Harley-Davidson, whose sales have fallen for the last three years in a row. “But despite that drought,” observed the Times, “Harley’s profits are rising — soaring, in fact. Last week, Harley reported a $71 million profit in the second quarter, more than triple what it earned a year ago.

“This seeming contradiction — falling sales and rising profits — is one reason the mood on Wall Street is so much more buoyant than in households, where pessimism runs deep and joblessness shows few signs of easing.”

A future of economic contraction & layoffs

The Times points to the fact that Harley has laid off 2,000 workers — a fifth of its workforce — and is planning to terminate 1,400 to 1,600 more by the end of next year. Harley has warned union employees at its Milwaukee factory that it would move production elsewhere in the United States if they did not agree to more flexible work rules and tens of millions in cost-saving measures.

Harley’s evolution is part of a longer-term shift in U.S. manufacturing, said Rod Lache, an analyst with Deutsche Bank, in the Times article. “These companies have cracked the code of a successful industrial turnaround. They’re shrinking the business to a size that’s defendable, and growing off that lower base.”
On a larger scale, the Times article continues, Ford’s revenue is down $20 billion since 2005. But this year, instead of a loss, it expects to announce a $5 billion profit in large part because “Ford has shrunk its North American workforce by nearly 50 percent over the last five years.”

“When Alcoa reported a turnaround this month in profits and a 22 percent jump in revenue,” adds the Times, “its chief financial officer, Charles D. McLane Jr., assured investors that it was not eager to recall the 37,000 workers let go since late 2008. ‘We have a tight focus on spending as market activity increases, operating more effectively and minimizing rehires where possible,’ he said. ‘We’re not only holding headcount levels, but are also driving restructuring this quarter that will result in further reductions.’”

A spokesperson for Alcoa said the company “had to be resized to match the realities of the recession.”
Whole industries are making more profits than ever on lower sales. Lower sales reflect lower production. Lower production reflects lower employment. And this is a permanent condition arising out of the present economic crisis.

First-time unemployment claims & the ‘recovery’

Since the end of 2007 these bosses have laid off more than 8 million workers in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. That was on top of the 7 million already unemployed before the crisis hit. Millions of others have been put on short hours, have suffered mandatory furloughs, or have been forced to work at reduced wages with harsh conditions and speed-up.

It is estimated that 150,000 new jobs are needed each month just to hire young people who come of working age. Now many of these youth cannot get any connection to the job market and do not even appear in the statistics.

Most of the layoffs that have taken place are permanent. Jobs are not coming back, even though we are now officially in the fourth quarter of a “recovery.”

First-time jobless filings have remained in the range of at least 450,000 per month during the entire eight months of the “recovery.” This has been described as “eight months of going sideways.” The most recent first-time claims for unemployment went down by a four-week average of 4,500. That decline represents a drop of only 1 percent, which is both statistically and humanly irrelevant for the nearly half a million workers who did file.

What kind of “recovery” is it when official unemployment remains at 9.5 percent?
There is no mystery about the unemployment crisis. The capitalists caused it. And now these millionaires and billionaires are hanging on to their profits and their cash reserves for dear life rather than relieve the mass suffering they have caused.

Nonfinancial companies are sitting on $1.8 trillion in cash reserves, roughly one-quarter more than at the beginning of the recession. Yet they won’t rehire full-time workers in any significant numbers, despite the desperate job crisis. People are losing their homes, living out of their cars, doubling and tripling up with relatives, losing their health insurance and their human dignity, while the moneybags who run the profit system find ways to cut more workers.

A Marxist approach to crisis

Marxists have both an analysis of the crisis and a strategy for fighting back.

From the standpoint of analysis, it is clear that capitalism itself is at an impasse. The system cannot start itself up again, and has reached an historical crisis point. All the technology, all the speed-up, the great rise in productivity — another name for a great increase in the rate of exploitation of the working class — has brought the contradictions of capitalism to a new level.

Workers to live under capitalism must have jobs. For workers to have jobs, production must constantly expand. For production to expand, there must be expanding markets so the capitalists can sell at a profit. But the bosses are boosting their profits by driving down wages, laying off workers permanently and cutting hours. In doing so, they destroy the buying power, the consumption of the workers.

The present crisis with its “jobless recovery” shows that capitalism has only misery in store for the working class, and especially African-American, Latino/a, undocumented immigrants, youth, women and all other oppressed workers who suffer higher rates of unemployment and get lower wages. The capitalists have been putting in job-destroying technology for three decades until it has reached a turning point: The system is now so productive they have to shrink production in order to stay profitable.

This is the vicious capitalist cycle, which only gets worse as the system goes on.

Demand a new WPA-style jobs program

While that is a Marxist analysis of the situation, the Marxist fighting response is that the bosses are on a hiring strike. And the workers have to fight to get jobs any way they can. They must fight to reopen closed workplaces. They must fight to rehire laid-off workers. And they must establish that they have the right to a job. There is no other way for workers to live under capitalism — the right to a job reduces itself to the right to live.

The bosses have $1.8 trillion in cash that they can use to start rehiring — if they are forced to do so by a mass mobilization of the working class and the communities around the country.

But in addition to these direct battles with the bosses, the capitalist government must be forced to give every worker who needs one a job at living wages with benefits. In the Depression of the 1930s, the Roosevelt administration, under pressure of mass demonstrations, was forced to launch the Works Progress Administration. It provided 8 million workers with jobs at prevailing wages.

The question of jobs is becoming a political issue seized on by the right wing to attack undocumented workers and even the Obama administration. This campaign is intended to divide the working class and poison the atmosphere with racism in order to keep the workers from uniting against their real enemy: the bosses and bankers who are ruthlessly throwing them onto the unemployment lines and out of their homes.

The right-wing attack does not include the demand for a jobs program for all. But the workers’ movement, the union movement and all the mass organizations should come together with a practical program to take the trillions of dollars in the vaults of the banks and corporations, the hundreds of billions of dollars given to the Pentagon, and the trillions in tax breaks for the rich and use it to put workers back to work.

The Obama administration has given the banks and corporations many concessions and bailouts, but it is not responsible for the economic crisis. It is capitalism itself and the profit-seeking capitalist class that is responsible.

This tiny handful of billionaires owns and controls the economy and the vast wealth created by the working class. They run the global system of production for profit. The economy must ultimately be taken out of their hands and put in the hands of the workers so that production can be planned to meet the needs of the many, not the profits of the few.

Goldstein is author of the book “Low-Wage Capitalism,” a Marxist analysis of globalization and its effects on the U.S. working class. He has also written numerous articles and spoken on the present economic crisis. For further information visit www.lowwagecapitalism.com.

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