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Oct. 4, 2012
Vol. 54, No. 39
Racism, schooling gap cut years from life
By Deirdre Griswold It doesn’t take a scientific study for people who are poor to know that their lives are very, very difficult. Now a study shows that being less educated, which usually equates to being poorer, is actually severely shortening the life span of millions of people in the United States. And the gap is widening. The study, entitled “Differences in Life Expectancy Due to Race and Educational Differences Are Widening, and Many May Not Catch Up,” was published in the August issue of the journal Health Affairs. The study shows that both race and education contribute to a wide disparity in life expectancy. Other studies done in the past have shown that racism against African Americans shortened their lives. This is still very much the case, and the disparity between white and Black longevity continues, regardless of education or income levels. However, the new study finds that from 1990 to 2008 an actual decline in life expectancy occurred among white women and men who did not complete high school — in other words, poorer workingclass whites, many of whom live a precarious existence. African Americans with similar educational backgrounds showed some improvement in their life spans over the same period. However, that still left them living fewer years than whites. At the high end of the educational spectrum, both whites and African Americans with four or more years of college could look forward to living longer. The authors concluded, “Disparities at the educational extremes are astonishingly large, and growing larger.” They found that “in 2008 white males with 16+ years of education now live 14.2 years longer than black men with less than 12 years of education. The difference is 10.3 years for women. These trends in disparities at the educational extremes are widening. In 1990 the most educated men and women lived 13.4 years and 7.7 years longer, respectively, than the least educated.” The most shocking finding of this study is the speed at which this gap has widened. For example, “[I]n 1990 the gap in life expectancy between the most and least educated white females was 1.9 years; now it’s 10.4 years.” Multiplying the wealth gap A study of this kind does not give reasons why less-educated people are dying sooner, and undoubtedly there are many factors. It is up to those in the struggle against class and national oppression to fill in the blanks. One of the most obvious objective reasons is that the United States has neither universal free higher education nor universal free health care. Socialist countries like the Soviet Union pioneered in these areas, even though most of them inherited extreme underdevelopment. Developed capitalist countries in Western Europe and Japan then instituted forms of national health care and state-subsidized higher education. But in the U.S. both higher education and medical care are increasingly chained to the profit interests of the very rich. This multiplies the already existing wealth gap. Being poor means you’re often less educated and sicker, which then perpetuates your poverty. The result is that the U.S. has very poor overall rankings in many health studies. These days, even a modest college education costs tens of thousands of dollars, and most students start out their working lives — assuming they find a job — saddled with enormous debts. Health insurance, often depending on whether you have a union job or not, can cost many hundreds of dollars a month. This is clearly unaffordable if you have a near-minimum-wage job and impossible if you have no job. Since the last year covered by the study — 2008 — this situation for the working class has only worsened. The capitalist economic crisis that hit the housing market in 2008 and then moved to the banks via the mortgage crisis has brought four years of persistent high unemployment, with no end in sight. Future studies covering the period since 2008 will undoubtedly show an even greater health gap. The United States, despite all the propaganda about being the great land of opportunity, actually has the worst statistics of all the developed countries when it comes to longevity. A study completed last year by the Human Mortality Database showed that life expectancy for women in the United States had dropped from a middle ranking in 1970 to the lowest of all the developed countries by 2010. (New York Times, Sept. 20) Huge class and racial divisions The recent study on education and life expectancy shows how huge class and racial divisions shorten the lives of milContinued on page 3
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Oct. 4, 2012
Youth organizer shares
Journey to joining Workers World Party
Dinae says justice for Trayvon Martin.
this week ...
In the U.S.
Racism, schooling gap cut years from life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Journey to joining Workers World Party . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Forum marks Occupy Wall Street one-year anniversary . . . 2 ‘ Fracktavists’ challenge gas industry, fracking . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Chicago Teachers Union president defends strike . . . . . . . . 4 LGBTQ labor group commits to solidarity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 ‘Redd’ Welsh releases ‘Stand with the People’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 What’s next after March on Wall Street South . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Protest, hearing challenge Pa. solitary con nement . . . . . . 6 Ongoing protests target racist Pa. voter ID law . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Blueford supporters shut down Oakland City Council . . . . 7 Pa. guv meeting disrupted by protest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 OWS free university welcomes radical ideas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Dinae is a New York activist and organizer in her high school and community. The following article is the first in a series of personal stories from young Workers World Party members describing their political development and their path to becoming revolutionary Marxists. By Dinae I first started to think I might be a communist at the end of my freshman year of high school. I was into many activities at the time, including spending time doing community service with a special after-school program. Through this organization I was invited to a weeklong summer leadership camp. I was pretty excited! The first day, I recognized everyone, including the service project coordinators — except one. This quiet person ended up being Workers World party member Larry Hales, but at the time he was just another participant in the activities to me. I didn’t say anything to him the first couple days. By the second night, I saw that he was wearing a Fight Imperialism Stand Together (F.I.S.T) – a WWP-led youth group – shirt and it caught my attention. At the time, I had no clue what imperialism was, but the shirt stood out because it looked so radical! I got the courage to ask him about the shirt and he began to tell me about F.I.S.T. and it’s ideals, although I had yet to know what socialism actually stood for. I was impressed, but all
I knew of socialism was that it was “evil to society.” From then on, my curiosity grew. When the camp ended, Larry and I stayed in contact. Two months later, I started hanging around the Workers World office, and began to read literature such as “What Is Marxism All About?” “The Communist Manifesto” and “The State and Revolution,” as well as the weekly Workers World newspaper. I absorbed myself in going to demonstrations — as many as 3 or 4 a week — and I loved it! A whole new side of the world was becoming clear to me. I started to see that the class struggle can allow for greater change in the world, with the ultimate goal being real socialism — a society where everyone’s needs are met. I began to see capitalism as destructive to the people of the world and also how it had plagued my life in malicious ways. Although I faced heavy opposition from some people around me, I decided in December of 2010 to join Workers World Party. I was a sophomore in high school. Joining this party helped me become a better activist. It also has allowed me to make lifetime relationships with amazing people, help fight for basic necessities for my community, and ultimately has changed my life forever!
Around the world
The real criminals behind Pakistan’s factory res . . . . . . . . . 8 Attack on NATO airbase blow to Afghan occupation. . . . . . 8 Haiti: No more words, people want deeds. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Colombia Peace Talks: Interviews With The Insurgency . . . 9 Political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal on ’Arab summer?’. . 10 Pro-U.S. demonstrations target militias in Benghazi . . . . . 11 South Africa: Wildcat strikes of platinum, gold miners . . . 11
Heed Troy Davis’ words . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 ‘They don’t really care about us’. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Forum marks Occupy Wall Street one-year anniversary
By Workers World New York bureau On Sept. 21, the New York Branch of Workers World Party held a forum to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The speakers included not only WWP organizers Larry Holmes and Caleb Maupin, but also Lauren Digioia and Yoni Miller, leading OWS activists. The meeting was chaired by WW Managing Editor LeiLani Dowell. Justin Wooten, a Montclair State University student who was recently arrested and severely beaten by New York police, attended the forum and was recognized from the podium. Wooten faces serious criminal charges as a result of events at the Sept. 17 OWS demonstration commemorating the anniversary. Caleb Maupin, a youth activist and WW writer, opened the forum, remarking, “Occupy Wall Street has made a huge contribution in the struggle against capitalism. The fact that people are talking about the 99% and the 1%, not just in New York, but in Utah, Missouri, South Carolina and everywhere else is a huge leap forward.” Maupin pointed out, “Sam Marcy, a founding member, of Workers World Party, used to always urge people to put their ‘class glasses’ on. As a result of Occupy Wall Street, literally millions of workers are walking around with their class glasses on, and this is a huge victory. One of the big Marxist-Leninist concepts we saw play out with Occupy Wall Street is that of ‘expropriating the expropriators.’” Yoni Miller spoke on OWS’s political evolution, the current ecological crisis, and various new strategies that could be implemented in upcoming class battles. Miller also thanked WWP for not condemning or ignoring OWS, as many other left groups have done. Lauren Digioia spoke of her personal experience, having worked as a server in Times Square before becoming inspired to join the OWS movement and fight against the capitalist system. She pointed out that modern capitalism urges youth to “sell their souls to the devil” in the hopes of getting ahead. She also reflected on how being in the struggle has brought her closer to other people, amidst an alienating capitalist society that seeks to drive people apart. Larry Holmes, First Secretary of WWP, concluded the forum with stirring remarks about the elections, the looming economic disaster, and the threat of mass austerity, among other things. He spoke of how OWS was a sign of things to come, no doubt impacting the Chicago Continued on page 6
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Workers World 55 West 17 Street New York, N.Y. 10011 Phone: 212.627.2994 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.workers.org Vol. 54, No. 39 • Oct. 4, 2012 Closing date: Sept. 25, 2012 Editor: Deirdre Griswold Technical Editor: Lal Roohk Managing Editors: John Catalinotto, LeiLani Dowell, Leslie Feinberg, Kris Hamel, Monica Moorehead, Gary Wilson West Coast Editor: John Parker Contributing Editors: Abayomi Azikiwe, Greg Butterfield, Jaimeson Champion, G. Dunkel, Fred Goldstein, Teresa Gutierrez, Larry Hales, Berta Joubert-Ceci, Cheryl LaBash, Milt Neidenberg, Bryan G. Pfeifer, Betsey Piette, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Gloria Rubac Technical Staff: Sue Davis, Shelley Ettinger, Bob McCubbin, Maggie Vascassenno Mundo Obrero: Carl Glenn, Teresa Gutierrez, Berta Joubert-Ceci, Donna Lazarus, Michael Martínez, Carlos Vargas Supporter Program: Sue Davis, coordinator Copyright © 2011 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of articles is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved. Workers World (ISSN-1070-4205) is published weekly except the first week of January by WW Publishers, 55 W. 17 St., N.Y., N.Y. 10011. Phone: 212.627.2994. Subscriptions: One year: $30; institutions: $35. Letters to the editor may be condensed and edited. Articles can be freely reprinted, with credit to Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., New York, NY 10011. Back issues and individual articles are available on microfilm and/or photocopy from University Microfilms International, 300 Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48106. A searchable archive is available on the Web at www.workers.org. A headline digest is available via e-mail subscription. Subscription information is at workers.org/email.php. Periodicals postage paid at New York, N.Y. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to
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Oct. 4, 2012
‘Fracktavists’ challenge gas industry, e ects of hydraulic fracturing
By Betsey Piette Philadelphia The shale gas industry is feeling the heat. Major protests have drawn record numbers of participants, publicity and public support, such as in Albany, N.Y., in August and at Shale Gas Outrage 2012 outside the Marcellus Shale Gas Insight Conference Sept. 20-21 in Philadelphia. On Sept. 21, the pro-drilling Marcellus Shale Coalition announced plans to launch a public relations campaign called “Learn About Shale” to try to repair the industry’s reputation. Pennsylvania Gov. “Toxic Tom” Corbett led the charge by criticizing drilling opponents who, he claims, “don’t understand the industry.” “Pennsylvania is reaping the bounty” from natural gas drilling, according to Corbett. “It is beyond belief that there are still people who would trade this progress for a return to the status quo.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept. 23) Corbett’s election campaigns benefited from gas industry donations, but for most Pennsylvania families, there is nothing bountiful in the rapid expansion of drilling. For them the “status quo” means having clean well water that doesn’t catch on fire or make family members ill. Tammy Manning was one of several Pennsylvania residents who spoke out at the Shale Gas Outrage rally about the impact of drilling. She relayed her family’s experience after buying a house located within 7,000 feet of two multi-well drilling sites in the northeastern part of the state. By late 2011, methane and carbon monoxide were coming out of kitchen faucets and heavy metals were found in their water. Her granddaughter, whose bedroom was above the kitchen, threw up every morning. By March, the air above the water well was 82 percent methane. Despite defects on many gas wells at nearby drilling sites, the gas company tried to portray the Mannings and their neighbors as crazy, gullible and mercenary. Public officials expressed concern that the industry is “losing the hearts-andminds campaign in the Philadelphia area to anti-drilling activists.” Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection Michael Krancer said, “It’s all about disclosure.” However, the natural gas industry has yet to disclose the full array of more than 250 potentially toxic and carcinogenic chemicals contained in hydraulic fracturing fluid. ‘Enormous, uncontrolled experiment’ The industry’s lack of transparency and cooperation was the focus of “The Potential Health Effects of Hydraulic Fracturing” symposium at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia on Sept. 21. Dr. Robert Oswald, professor of molecular medicine at Cornell University, challenged the gas industry’s claim that fracking has never been proven to contaminate drinking water. He noted that a major problem in scientifically challenging the industry is its failure to disclose the chemicals used and its insistence on nondisclosure agreements in contracts and legal settlements with property owners impacted by drilling activities. Pre-drilling testing is usually done by the natural gas industry or companies they control, seldom by independent laboratories. The companies own the test results and can chose whether to release them. Oswald compared the industry’s response to concerns over health problems stemming from fracking to that of the tobacco industry, which for years denied their products’ link to cancer and other health problems. People can’t prove their illnesses are fracking related because the industry blocks access to the data needed to do so. “Contaminated wastewater from drilling is spread on roads to melt snow; sent to water treatment plants; recycled; or stored in injection wells with limited oversight by an understaffed DEP,” said Oswald. Without rigorous scientific studies, “the gas drilling boom sweeping the world will remain an uncontrolled experiment on an enormous scale.” “It’s hard to find a group of people in southwestern Pennsylvania who are not impacted,” said Raina I. Rippel, director of the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project. “We are all downwind and downstream from gas drilling activity. The debate about whether there are health impacts needs to end.”
1,500 say “No fracking” Sept. 20 in Philadelphia.
WW PHOTO: JOE PIETTE
Rippel described the scenario: “People are suffering serious quality-of-life issues, with skin rashes, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, breathing problems, headaches and eye irritation. But the nondisclosure provision of Act 13 prohibits doctors from even questioning their patients about exposure to drilling. People’s kids are affected, but they are afraid that if they speak out against the industry, they won’t be believed.” Activists ght fear, isolation To combat this fear and isolation, filmmaker Kirsi Jansa has been producing a series of short documentaries called “Gas Rush Stories.” Jansa showed documentaries filmed in Germany and southwestern Pennsylvania at an afternoon conference of “fracktavists” on Sept. 21. The films can be downloaded from gasrushstories.com. Dana Dolney helped launch a “faces of fracking” campaign in 2010 after 11 families in Woodlands, Pa., experienced well water problems stemming from drilling activity by Rex Energy. While the company agreed to pay to pipe water to a multimillion-dollar housing complex, “poor people in Woodlands are told to let their children drink poisoned water,” said Dolney, who maintains a blog called theleague-of-activists.com.
Marilyn Hunt traveled with her family from West Virginia to raise awareness of the double impact that mountain top removal and fracking has had on isolated rural communities. While the Hunt family controls the mineral rights on their 70acre farm, their property is surrounded by drilling activity. When area residents began experiencing flu-like symptoms including headaches, sore throats and respiratory problems, doctors told them to drink more fluids, unaware that the problems stemmed from contaminated water wells. When people began to test their water, the gas companies purchased the testing laboratory the residents had used. With help from a nearby university, residents were finally able to run tests that found hundreds of contaminants in their wells, including acrylonitrile (plastic cyanide), a known carcinogen used in at least three stages of the drilling process. The gas industry and its politicians can launch all the fancy public relations campaigns they want to hide the truth about natural gas drilling and its horrible effects. But the result will be people like Dolney, Hunt and hundreds of others who will become fracktavists in the struggle for people’s health and environmental wellness.
Continued from page 1
Racism, schooling gap cut years from life
lions in this immensely wealthy country. It states, “To provide perspective on the magnitude of the negative effect of the absence of an education and all that accompanies this disadvantage on longevity, consider that black females with less than 12 years of education have the same life expectancy as women now living in Vietnam; black males with less than 12 years of education have the same life expectancy as men now living in India.” Both Vietnam and India are countries that were impoverished through the theft of their resources over many generations by the colonial rulers in France and Britain, respectively. Vietnam then suffered a massive U.S. war that destroyed much of its infrastructure and poisoned its land with the herbicide Agent Orange, created by Dow Chemical. African Americans have a history of oppression as an internal colony within the U.S. The racist Jim Crow system superexploited the labor of those who had formerly been enslaved. Chattel slavery was abolished, but African Americans were denied political and economic liberation by the reign of Ku Klux Klan terror that kept them chained to the sharecropping system, forced to work for the same former slave owners at little more than starvation wages. It was only the massive resistance of the Black population through the Civil Rights and Black Power movements that put an end to the era of legalized white supremacy. These struggles underlie the improvements in life expectancy for Black people in the U.S. In addition, Black workers have a more advanced class consciousness. They have been playing a leading role in labor struggles against cutbacks and layoffs, as seen most recently in the Chicago teachers’ strike. They also achieved a higher rate of union membership than white workers: 16.3 percent compared to 13.6 percent. (figures for 2004-2007, Economic Policy Institute) The report notes that the number of whites who did not finish high school declined in the period 1990 to 2008 to 8 percent of the white population. That percentage, however, still adds up to roughly 16 million whites counted in this study. What accounts for the dramatic reversal in their life expectancy? Certainly changes in the economy must be examined. This was the period of the galloping high-tech revolution. Millions of jobs that earlier might have been available to a person with limited education were disappearing. Moreover, the bosses intensified their union-busting attacks and forced down real wages to the levels of the 1960s. With this revolution in technology came the advent of part-time and temporary low-wage jobs — with no benefits like health coverage — as the new norm, leading to an increase in poverty. The hardest thing for most people to understand is that greater productivity under capitalism does not translate into generalized improvement in living standards. Quite the opposite. It’s hard to understand this because it is so contrary to what should be happening. Indeed, the biggest boosters for the capitalist system constantly point to technological innovation as the promise for the future. But under capitalism greater productivity leads to greater monopolization and the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands. The working class as a whole — Black, white, immigrants, young and old, workers of all genders and sexualities — is in desperate need of a broad-based, militant social movement that challenges the very premises of capitalist exploitation. Nothing less can reverse the decline in health and general welfare and make a reality of that old toast, “Here’s to a long life and a merry one.”
Oct. 4, 2012
On historic strike
Chicago Teachers Union president defends strike
By G. Dunkel Teachers all over the United States closely followed what happened in the one-week strike of the 26,000-strong Chicago Teachers Union, which had national implications. The CTU membership will vote on the new contract next month. In the meantime, public reactions to the strike from both sides of the barricade could not be more strikingly different. At a press conference after the CTU suspended the strike Sept. 18, pending a vote on the contract, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel said, “This settlement is an honest compromise. It means returning our schools to their primary purpose, the education of our children. It means a new day and a new direction for the Chicago public schools.” He went on to extol the lengthened school day and school year — the day one hour and 15 minutes longer, the year two weeks longer. Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education and former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, told a National Public Radio’s weekend show, “I obviously had great friends on every side of this – teachers, principals, children, the mayor. … I always say it’s like a family.” NPR’s interviewer Scott Simon asked Amy Goodman asked her, “Do you feel you have won this strike?” Lewis responded, “Oh, absolutely. I think that teachers across the country realize how important it is to stand up as a union together and fight back against things that are actually bad for children. And I want to tell you that, as we went through the contract, basically article by article, one of the things that got the absolute most applause of the night was lesson plans — that teachers could do their own lesson plans.” They no longer have to follow the wishes of “somebody in an airconditioned building with a spreadsheet.” Talking about how the salary raises would go into effect, Lewis said, “Well, we fought off merit pay, which was something that they were absolutely adamant about. They wanted to take away our lanes, which are for achievement of advanced degrees. They wanted to take away our steps, which are for experience. And it’s the way we’ve been doing things traditionally for some time.” She added that the CTU now has some recall rights and an anti-bullying clause, which would make it harder for principals to manipulate some teachers’ assignments to get rid of them. In response to Emmanuel’s claims about lengthening the school day, Lewis said, “And from the very beginning, we didn’t actually fight him on this longer school day, because the law gave him the opportunity to impose it. But we wanted to make sure it was a better school day. And a better school day for us included a broad, rich curriculum for our students.” When Goodman raised the question of Rahm Emmanuel being part of the Democratic Party but still getting support from Paul Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Lewis pointed out, “Well, the school reform issue is an issue of billionaire elites, by and large, and it’s very nonpartisan. So it’s no surprise that the RomneyRyan ticket would support any anti-union, you know, beef that the mayor has.” After rebutting a lot of the attacks on the CTU and other teachers’ unions, Lewis responded to Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top: “We’ve never liked those programs. We found them to be extraordinarily destabilizing. And also, the idea of the market approach for public education, as far as we’re concerned, tramples on democracy. You know, public schools are the place where you get to learn about democracy, and it’s been trampled out.” To view the entire Lewis interview, go to democracynow.org.
Karen Lewis, president of the CTU.
Duncan, “[W]ere you, the administration, Mayor Emanuel, who used to be the president’s chief of staff, eager to get this story out of the news cycle?” Duncan responded, “I think that had zero to do with anything. I think what we were all eager to do is to get children back into the classroom.” Union leader on strike signi cance Karen Lewis, president of the CTU, appeared on the “Democracy Now” radio show Sept. 19 to evaluate the strike. Host
Pride at Work convention
LGBTQ labor group commits to solidarity
By Martha Grevatt Cleveland Pride at Work, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer constituency group of the AFL-CIO, held its eighth convention in Cleveland Sept. 12-14. Since its founding convention in 1994, P@W has raised the old union slogan, “An injury to one is an injury to all.” Many of the group’s founders were veterans of the Coors beer boycott campaign in California, which brought together many forces against a right-wing, anti-union, anti-LGBTQ and racist company. Over the years, conventions have passed resolutions to support striking and locked-out workers, for solidarity with labor struggles in other countries, and for the freedom of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. In 1994, many moderate “gay rights” organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign, resisted calls for inclusion of transgender issues. P@W, however, voted unanimously to constitute itself as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender labor organization. The name “Pride at Work” was chosen at the group’s first steering committee meeting. In 1997, P@W became the AFL-CIO’s newest constituency group, joining the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Labor Committee for Latin American Advancement, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and the Coalition of Labor Union Women. The convention opened with a remembrance of the lives of transgender community members who had been killed since the last convention in 2009. Photos were projected and details shared about the 15 hate crime victims, almost all of them women of color. The final photo projected was of CeCe McDonald, an African-American transgender woman convicted for defending herself in the face of a bigoted attack in 2010. “She was imprisoned for surviving,” said Gabriel Haaland of San Francisco. Haaland described his own experience of being arrested at a demonstration and getting discriminatory treatment for being transgender, calling it “a state-sponsored hate crime.” Haaland sued, and reported that he was treated differently at a subsequent arrest for civil disobedience. He asked convention attendees to make calls to get the charges dropped against Leslie Feinberg, who had a court appearance that day, following her arrest for demanding McDonald’s freedom. Struggle only answer to bigotry P@W’s executive director, Peggy Shorey, gave statistics on the economic discrimination faced by transgender workers. They are four times as likely as the general population to be in extreme poverty. A reported 26 percent have lost jobs for being transgender and 90 percent have faced on-the-job discrimination. Their bosses ignore the fact that 78 percent of transgender workers experience improved job performance after they transition. As a consequence of discrimination, 34 percent of African-American transwomen live on less than $10,000 a year. Compared to the country’s average of 1.6 percent, 41 percent of the transgender population have attempted suicide; the figure is 49 percent for transgender women of color. Reports later in the convention covered the extreme discrimination transgender people face in health care, with 19 percent denied treatment because of their status. Many insurance companies refuse to cover gender reassignment surgeries. A transgender man, born biologically female, recently died of uterine cancer when he was denied treatment. Voter suppression laws could deny franchise or even lead to charges of voter fraud for an estimated 25,000 voters whose gender identity does not match the gender on their drivers’ licenses. Resolutions passed included a call for national actions for transgender health care on Feb. 1; support for the Chicago Teachers Union; a boycott of anti-worker and anti-immigrant Hyatt hotels; solidarity with workers, unions and LGBTQ communities around the world; solidarity with the DREAMers; and other progressive resolutions that keep alive the spirit of “An injury to one is an injury to all.” Speakers during the three days included chapter leaders reporting on concrete acts of labor solidarity, such as supporting the Mott’s strikers in upstate New York; helping shut down the port in Longview, Wash.; and turning people away from LGBTQ events at Hyatt hotels. Other speakers addressed issues facing youth and people with HIV/AIDS, voter suppression, hate crimes and state ballot initiatives to support marriage equality. Leaders of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and the A. Philip Randolph Institute spoke, along with national leaders of many unions. A downside of an otherwise powerful convention was the predictable push, mainly from labor officialdom, for supporting the Democratic Party in the November elections. Yet, as the statistics presented at the convention show, voting for Democrats in and of itself does little to end the oppression and exploitation experienced by LGBTQ people, including as part of the working class. While many of the 200 LGBTQ and ally labor activists who attended the convention will vote for President Barack Obama and the Democratic ticket, it is clear that they will also be out in the streets for the rights of workers, the LGBTQ community and all oppressed people — no matter who gets elected. Martha Grevatt is a 25-year Chrysler UAW activist and a founding member of Pride at Work.
‘Redd’ Welsh releases ‘Stand with the People’
The spirit of Woody Guthrie, the working-class troubadour who popularized the struggles of poor and working people in ballad and song, was heard again Sept. 22 in Berkeley, Calif., during the CD release concert of “Redd” Welsh, a local San Francisco Bay Area activist. Performing his original music on the piano, Welsh (whose real first name is Dave) brought the people’s struggles up-to-date. In his own rhythm and blues style, Welsh belted out songs about the 21st century lives of the workers and oppressed from his new CD, “Stand with the People.” The walls of the Berkeley Fellowship Hall rocked with the lyrics of such songs as “You can steal $26” and “Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains).” His songs are a strong protest against a system that
sends someone away to jail for stealing food to feed a family while bankers steal billions in bank bailouts. Welsh’s music challenges working people to fight back against this unjust, racist, capitalist system. In “Who Are the Terrorists in this World?” this local working-class singer points the finger at the real murderers and plunderers — the U.S. imperialist system. Welsh is a retired postal worker and tireless activist who is spearheading local efforts to “Save the People’s Post Office.” Like Guthrie, Welsh is wherever working people are “fighting for their lives” in the Bay Area. For CDs, the complete lyrics and more information, check out www. reddwelsh.com —Judy Greenspan
Oct. 4, 2012
What’s next after March on Wall Street South
By Ben Carroll The March on Wall Street South was a resounding success. The streets of Charlotte, N.C., vibrated and shook on Sept. 2, as more than 2,500 people from across the South and the rest of the U.S. delivered a searing indictment to the banks and corporations headquartered in Charlotte, along with the pro-war, pro-Wall Street, two-party system whose job it is to serve the interests of finance capital over the people. Charlotte, the second largest banking and financial center in the U.S. behind New York City, is home to Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Duke Energy, among many others. The demonstration raised a people’s agenda for jobs and justice directly to the shimmering doors of these corporate pillars, as well as to the Democratic Party as they prepared to convene their convention. It was a truly historic demonstration on many fronts – – the unprecedented level of unity that was built between many different struggles and groups, the mass political consciousness that was developed about the role of the banks and the two corporate parties in capitalist society, the direct confrontation with the most notoriously racist and hated among the banking institutions, and the foundation that was built to continue deepening the work around community struggles. True nature of capitalist democracy When it was announced more than a year ago that the Democratic National Convention would be held in Charlotte, organizers knew that they would be faced with some unique challenges in building these demonstrations, particularly in how to develop a multinational coalition and march. While there are differences in the program and the composition of the Republican and the Democratic parties, at the end of the day these two parties represent the same interests. They carry out the austerity programs of the big banks, wage imperialist wars, and ensure the continued dominance of the ruling class. Our challenge lies in how to expose this most effectively and elevate this consciousness in a mass way. At a time when the Democrats are led by the first African-American president, and the convention was set to be held in the U.S. South, this question necessarily takes on much more gravity. The South has the largest Black population in the U.S. and was built on a foundation of national oppression and racism that remains very deeply entrenched to this day. The restructuring of the capitalist economy taking place on a global scale is looking more and more to the South as a vital region to extract superprofits from the working class, and particularly from Black and Latino/a workers. The South is also a bastion of right-towork (for less) and numerous other antiunion laws. North Carolina is one of only two states in the country where it is illegal for public workers to collectively bargain, and has the lowest level of unionization in the country. Additionally, direct foreign capital investment has increased substantially in the region over the past decade. Charlotte has grown to become the second largest financial and banking center in the country, earning the title, “Wall Street of the South.” It is home to some of
WW C OMMENTA RY
WW PHOTOS: BRENDA RYAN
Sept. 2 rally and march, Charlotte, N.C.
the most notorious and hated big banks, which carry out racist foreclosure practices and are driving students deeper into debt, bankrolling the prison industry, encouraging the criminalization of immigrants and profiting off environmental destruction, to name a few of their crimes. The coalition’s work elevated Charlotte and the South’s central role in the capitalist economy, at a time when that system is being dragged down by its irresolvable contradictions and introducing even more vicious austerity measures onto the backs of working people. This approach provided a basis upon which to build multinational unity and elevate a thoroughly anti-capitalist program that put the blame squarely on those responsible for the crises being experienced by working and oppressed peoples — the banks, corporations and the political system that ensures their power — through the work to build the demonstrations. Organizers also took a principled position early on to oppose racism, bigotry and all forms of oppression, and to defend Obama against any racist attacks being hurled from the right. This overall approach to building the demonstrations allowed organizers to engage people around the concrete conditions of their everyday lives and expose the broader forces that have created these conditions — namely the banks, corporations and the two parties that work on their behalf. To draw out these contradictions more, the Coalition to March on Wall Street South raised a program that spoke to the conditions and needs of working-class and oppressed people, bringing to light the clear differences between this peoples’ program and those of the Democratic and Republican parties. The march was built under the banner of “Building People’s Power at the DNC.” This, along with drawing out the rich history of people’s struggles in the South throughout the work to build the protests, shows a clear alternative to the trap of capitalist democracy and a path forward for how to ultimately turn the tide. Next steps: Build people’s power “‘Powerful,’ ‘dynamic,’ ‘vibrant,’ ‘diverse,’ and ‘heartening’ are a few words that, at best, serve to inadequately describe what occurred here in Charlotte during the DNC as a result of the recent
manifestation of people’s power,” Ayende Alcala, an organizer with the Coalition to March on Wall Street South and Occupy Charlotte, told WW. “From that wonderful collaborative effort, the momentum of building people’s power shall continue in many ways and forms. People’s Power Assemblies, in my humble opinion, represent the next great platform, expression and outgrowth of the ever growing momentum, and have the ability to serve as the next great catalyst for resurgence and movement.” The alienation and frustration with the political system that so many feel is evident in communities throughout the country. The mantra of powerlessness is repeated to us over and over again throughout our lives. We are trained to individualize our struggles and deal with them in isolation, which contributes to the feelings of despair and hopelessness felt by many. This is especially true in Charlotte, where the towers of the big banks and corporations loom over the city, enshrining their power and staring down on the rest of the city. The people are at their mercy, they seem to say, and without them the world as we know it would come crashing down. Demonstrations like the March on Wall Street South are important to break through the isolation experienced in our communities, and show an alternative to the way we are taught to deal with our daily struggles — to view them as part of a larger system, come together with our neighbors and friends who are dealing with many of the same things, and get in the streets to build independent movements for people’s power that can one day
eliminate the system that is at the root of our shared problems. We learn through our experiences and through struggles. The lessons learned and taught through the March on Wall Street South mobilization were numerous. But perhaps one of the most important things was that it showed that it is the people who have the power. We are the ones who make history — not the banks, the corporations or the politicians. The possibilities of what we can achieve when we unite across all the social boundaries that are meant to divide us are endless. Along the march, many of the folks who lined the streets to see the demonstration commented that this was the first time they had seen anything like this in Charlotte. To continue to build upon the foundation that was laid by the March on Wall Street South, organizers are preparing to convene a People’s Power Assembly in Charlotte on Nov. 10, as similar assemblies are held across the country. Several meetings have already taken place to begin planning for this assembly. The call to build people’s power that was raised through the mobilization is being carried forward by many community leaders, who have taken the initiative to convene the assembly in Charlotte. This mobilization was a step forward to building a movement that not only addresses the conditions in our communities today, but prepares us to take the power back from those bank towers that loom over Charlotte and every other city, and run society ourselves to meet all human needs, not for profit. The writer was a main organizer for the March on Wall Street South.
Oct. 4, 2012
Protest, public hearing challenge Pennsylvania solitary con nement
By Betsey Piette Philadelphia In August 2011, Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, stated that solitary confinement “may cause serious psychological and physiological adverse effects on individuals” and “violate the international prohibition against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” He called for the absolute prohibition of solitary confinement in excess of 15 days. Yet in the U.S. today at least 80,000 prisoners are held in some form of solitary confinement for prolonged periods. Around 25,000 people are in supermax prisons. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, there are 2,500 prisoners in solitary confinement in the state’s Restricted Housing Units, many for decades! Calling for the abolishment of solitary confinement, a spirited rally was led by the Human Rights Coalition in Philadelphia on Sept. 17. The next day, the organization Temple University for a Democratic Policy Committee of Pennsylvania held a hearing on the effects of solitary confinement. The HRC notes that with the increase in the number of U.S. prisons and prisoners over the last 30 years, “the use of solitary confinement has exploded, with little oversight by legal, legislative, or law enforcement agencies.” When complaints are filed, the DOC ends up “investigating itself.” Shandre Delaney, whose son Carrington Keyes spent 10 years in solitary confinement at SCI Pittsburgh in retaliation for his political beliefs, charged, “The DOC not only tolerates abuse, it is standard operating procedure.” Delaney added, “The Pennsylvania DOC was the training ground for Abu Ghraib.” Charles Graner Jr., the former U.S. Army reservist convicted in connection with the 2003-2004 torture and dehumanize. Prisons are making big money, not just for the Correction Corporation of America, but for the U.S. government, the biggest profiteer.” At the hearing, psychologists Dr. Terry Kupers and Dr. Craig Haney emphasized how solitary confinement exacerbates mental illness. Kupers described the expansion of prisons and supermax facilities in the 1980s. Funding was cut for rehabilitative services while prisons began to see a rise in recidivism. According to a 2003 study by the Urban Institute, Justice Policy Center, while 95 percent of prisoners will be released back into their communities at some point, within three years nearly 7 out of 10 males will be rearrested and half will be back in prison. Robert Meek, of the Disability Rights Network, explained that 800 prisoners registered as having mental health issues are currently held in solitary confinement in Pennsylvania prisons, while beds at the state’s mental health facility sit empty. Jules Lobel, of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who testified via telecast, challenged the state’s contention that solitary confinement punishes the “worst of the worst.” Lobel represents prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison in California who have engaged in hunger strikes to bring attention to their conditions. In Pennsylvania, the DOC maintains a “Restricted Release List” of prisoners placed in solitary confinement for indefinite periods of time. Those on the list can only be released with the approval of the DOC secretary, even when they have not committed any offense in years and have received no notice of their designation. Wrongly accused of the murder of a prison guard and held for years in solitary confinement in a California prison until his conviction was overturned, Shujaa Graham passionately told the state representatives conducting the hearing, “Do the right thing. Stop torturing people!”
Former political prisoner, Robert King, Sept. 17.
WW PHOTO: JOE PIETTE
sexual, physical and psychological abuse of Iraqi prisoners of war, had served as a guard at SCI Greene. Delaney raised that 92 criminal accounts of sexual abuse of prisoners were filed against one officer at SCI Pittsburgh, but nothing was done. Former prisoner Dana Lomax Williams noted that many women hesitate to speak out about sexual harassment for fear of retaliation. DOC = Department of Cruelty Theresa Shoats, daughter of Black political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoats held in solitary confinement since 1983, called the DOC “the department of cruelty.” Shoats stated, “Our fight is not just for the 2 million people in prison, but against a prison system that affects people on the outside as well. Forty public schools are going to close in Philadelphia, while Graterford Prison is set to expand. We need to step in front of those bulldozers to save a child’s life.” Speakers at the rally and hearing stated that political activism and racism were often factors behind prolonged solitary detentions. Mumia Abu-Jamal, Pennsylva-
nia’s best known political prisoner, spent nearly 30 years in solitary confinement on death row before his January 2012 release to general population, where he continues to challenge his 1982 conviction. Former prisoner Hakeem Shaheed charged that he was placed at the infamous supermax prison in Marion, Ohio, in retaliation for speaking out against torture and abuse within federal prisons and because of his Muslim beliefs. A highlight of the rally was an address by Robert King, the only freed member of the Angola 3, who spent 29 years in solitary confinement in Louisiana. Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace, who along with King organized a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1971, have spent over 40 years in solitary confinement after the death of a prison guard. An ongoing lawsuit and international movement are demanding their release. King compared the struggle to abolish solitary confinement to the abolitionist movement of the 1800s, noting that anti-slavery activists took a moral stand against a system that was protected by laws. “Like slavery, prisons are meant to
Ongoing protests target racist Pa. voter ID law
By Betsey Piette On Sept. 18, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court sent the state’s controversial voter identification (ID) law back to a lower court for a “supplemental opinion,” leaving the law in a temporary limbo. Claiming they would tolerate “no voter disenfranchisement,” the majority decision by three Republican judges and one Democrat gave Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. until Oct. 2 to decide whether the state has sufficient time to accommodate prospective voters who presently lack the required ID. Some have labeled the higher court’s split 4-2 decision as a victory for opponents of the law. A 3-3 split decision would have resulted in the law being upheld. However, concerns continue over whether people will have time to comply if the law is ultimately upheld. Pennsylvania law requires new voters to register by Oct. 9 in order to vote in November. Many fear the higher court’s decision only adds more confusion to waters already muddied by conflicting policies issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which has been charged with issuing the new ID. Justice Debra McCloskey Todd, one of the two dissenting Supreme Court judges who criticized their colleagues for not directly blocking the law, stated, “There is ample evidence of disarray in the record. … The eyes of the nation are upon us, and this court has chosen to punt rather than to act.” (philly. com, Sept. 19) Just days before the court ruling, hundreds rallied in Philadelphia against the law that many see as a racist attempt to disenfranchise over a million Pennsylvania voters — predominantly people of color, who are poor, elderly and live in urban areas, and who are least likely to have drivers’ licenses or passports. Similar rallies have taken place across the state since the law was passed in March 2012 under Gov. Tom Corbett and a Republicandominated state legislature. Under the guise that it was intended to prevent “wide-spread” voter “fraud,” the new law requires voters to produce a photo ID with a current expiration date in order to vote in November. For those who lack a Pennsylvania driver’s license or U.S. passport, the PennDoT claims it will issue ID cards — providing individuals produce original birth certificates and Social Security cards. An analysis of driving records earlier this year found that 9 percent of voters statewide, or 758,939 individuals, could not be found in the PennDoT database. The ACLU charged that an additional 500,000 registered voters have expired PennDoT cards that would be rejected by poll watchers. In August, the ACLU, challenging the law as a 21st-century poll tax, requested an injunction to keep the law from going into effect, which Judge Simpson denied on Aug. 15. One day after the higher court’s ruling, a study released by the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group reported that at least 28,500 students from more than 15 colleges will not be able to use their existing school IDs to vote in Pennsylvania in November because the IDs lack an expiration date. While many of the state’s nearly 100 colleges and universities are issuing new student IDs or distributing expiration-date stickers, the campuses in the PennPIRG study planned no changes. A study from a University of Washington professor estimates that 37 percent of eligible Pennsylvania voters are unaware of the new law and another 13 percent mistakenly think they have acceptable IDs.
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Occupy Wall Street Anniverary
teachers’ strike and other ongoing events. Holmes said OWS raised the question of what role a revolutionary communist party would play in modern struggles and also highlighted the need for some form of unity among various Marxist-Leninist tendencies. The discussion after the speakers included the experience of the American Servicemen’s Union, which organized GIs against the Vietnam War; the political ramifications of the tactics used by the Weather Underground in the 1960s and 70s; and the role that OWS has helped to play in broadening class consciousness on long-time injustices like racist police brutality. Dinae Anderson commented about her recent experience in becoming a communist as a teen and how it was similar to OWSers who recently became politically active. A number of OWS activists attended the forum. The forum ended with attendees collectively chanting “All day! All week! Occupy Wall Street!” and the Spanish version of “The anti-capitalists are here !” before ending with the singing of “The Internationale” with piano accompaniment.
Oct. 4, 2012
No justice, no peace!
By Terri Kay Oakland, Calif. The Justice for Alan Blueford (J4AB) campaign, angry and over a hundred strong, led by Alan’s family, forced the Oakland City Council to cancel their meeting Sept. 18. They had gone to the City Council, which hadn’t met since mid-July, to demand the police report on Alan Blueford’s killing, and that murder charges be brought against Officer Miguel Masso. The Council had previously promised to assist the family in getting to the truth about their 18-year-old son’s May 6 killing by the Oakland Police Department. It had taken over two months to get the coroner’s report, which was finally released after the J4AB campaign held a press conference and rally in front of the coroner’s office. The report showed that there was no gunpowder on Alan’s hands and no drugs or alcohol in his blood. Now, after more than four months, the family was insisting that they would not leave the Council without the police report. Jeralynn Blueford, Alan’s mother, pleaded to the Council: “We came here in May asking for help … and this officer is at home on our tax dollars. We still don’t have a police report. The [police] story has changed so many times.” Adam Blueford, Alan’s father, pointed out that the coroner, per the report, had moved Alan’s body at 1:25 a.m., only an hour after he was fatally shot. This indicated that they were more worried about quickly removing Alan’s body than conducting a proper investigation. Jenny, Alan’s sister, told the Council: “Look at my parents’ faces and see if they need more time for the police report. We don’t need money. … You have the power to demand the answers.” After the family and supporters took over the meeting for an hour, the Council president, Larry Reid, declared a 10-minute recess, supposedly to wait for the appearance of Police Chief Howard Jordan and the police report. The 10 minutes turned into 45, after which the Council tried to reconvene and move on to the next agenda item, without the promised appearance of Jordan or the report. Ironically, the first item was a declaration of an “international day of peace”! The crowd roared, chanting “No justice! No Peace!” The J4AB supporters
Alan Blueford supporters shut down Oakland City Council
partment, a fact which did not stop OPD from hiring him. “It has never been explained why Masso shot himself in the foot with his own weapon, whether this was an accident that caused Masso to think he was shot or done on purpose to cover up the shooting. Additionally, Masso had absolutely no reason to stop Alan the night of May 6 in the first place. “OPD Chief Howard Jordan claimed that Masso thought Blueford and his friends had a concealed weapon or drugs, an incredible claim as these two items look nothing alike. More likely, Masso saw a group of young African-American men on the streets of Oakland late at night and assumed they were criminals and treated them as such. “The allegation that Alan’s fingerprints were on the gun says nothing about the events leading up to his murder. Whether he pointed the gun at Masso, or Masso even saw him holding it at all, will remain unverified until all the evidence in the case is released — something OPD has steadfastly refused to do. “‘We still want the police report. We still want Masso fired. We still want an end to stop-and-frisk practices in Oakland,’ said Adam Blueford, Alan’s father. ‘This doesn’t change anything for us. This is just another broken promise from the police that they need to be held accountable for.’ “The Bluefords and their supporters will be attending the October 2 meeting of the Oakland City Council to once again demand justice for their son. For more info: www.justice4alanblueford.org”
PHOTO: GINO PEPI, OSCAR GRANT COMMITTEE
Family members demand justice before City Council, Sept. 18.
were determined not to allow the Council to conduct business as usual. Reid hastily adjourned the meeting, declaring the next meeting to be in two weeks! Blueford supporters respond to OPD article On Sept. 22, an article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, in an attempt to slander Alan Blueford. The OPD and the Council had received significant negative press after the Sept. 18 Council meeting. They used Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, Chronicle columnists often used for this type of political volleying, to present a “leaked” story from the OPD, that they supposedly now had Alan’s fingerprints on a gun, claimed to have been found 20 feet from his body. A Sept. 23 press release issued by the J4AB campaign reads in part: “Suddenly this allegation is released, with no way of substantiating it, seemingly as revenge against the Blueford’s for demanding justice for their son. If this evidence were so clearly damning, they likely would have released it months earlier. “‘First we want to know if it’s actually true,’ said Dan Siegel, former legal advisor to Mayor Jean Quan. The police have
already lied to the press, claiming that Alan shot at Masso, which we now know is not true. Now they leak this item to the press because they think it will help their case, but we still can’t see the police report. “This latest action by the Oakland Police Department is yet another maneuver to avoid any accountability for the actions of Officer Miguel Masso, who should have never been hired in the first place. Masso faced brutality allegations during his previous tenure at the New York Police De-
Pa. guv meeting disrupted by protest
OWS free university welcomes radical ideas
In the week following Occupy Wall Street’s one-year anniversary demonstration, occupiers convened a “free university” in Madison Square Park in New York City. From Sept. 18-22, the park became liberated space for anti-capitalist ideas to be discussed in a relaxed, outdoor environment. Growing interest in Marxist-Leninist ideology and the struggle for socialism was shown by young activists. Workers World Party was one of two Marxist groups to contribute to the university by organizing four classes, along with distributing and selling WW newspaper. Caleb Maupin and Sue Davis held a class on “Socialism, Class Struggle, and Revolution.” The class included a lively discussion of Marxism, feminism, organized labor and the history of WWP. Larry Hales and Monica Moorehead organized a class entitled “What Is the State? Who Does It Serve?” This class was very
WW PHOTO: JOHN CATALINOTTO
The role of the State discussion, Sept. 19.
well attended, with much debate and discussion on the evolution of various forms and epochs of class rule and oppression. Sara Flounders led a class on “Why Wall Street Is War Street.” Bill Dores joined with Gary Lapao, a representative of the International League for People’s Struggles, to hold a class entitled “What Is Imperialism?” — Workers World New York bureau
Protesters disrupted Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s “Town Hall” meeting on Sept. 19. Ten minutes into the event at the Philadelphia Art Museum, three banners criticizing cuts in school funding and general assistance, plus the building of new prisons, were unfurled as a third of the audience chanted slogans for seven minutes while police escorted those holding the banners out of the building — one banner at a time. Then, as Corbett’s interview started again, protesters stood up and disrupted his talk every few minutes, raising the pending execution of Terry Williams, the cuts in general assistance, fracking and the other issues, including education cuts. A groundswell of “boos” erupted whenever Corbett made a particularly unpopular statement. Meeting organizers ended the event a half-hour earlier than its planned 90 minutes when it became clear that Corbett could not answer questions
without being shouted down. The quickly organized coalition behind the disruption included anti-fracking activists, ACT-UP, Decarcerate PA, Fight for Philly, and others organizing against the elimination of state sponsored programs for the poor, including general assistance and adult basic health care, and the reactionary, racist Voter ID law. A number of Occupy Philly activists were also on hand. Afterwards, around 50 people were able to temporarily hold Corbett “hostage” in the indoor parking garage of the museum by blocking the exit ramp for 30 minutes. “See how prison feels!” was yelled towards where Corbett was trapped, before police finally cleared the entrance and escorted the governor’s convoy of two large black SUVs past the demonstrators, who chanted: “Jail Corbett!” and “Who do you protect?! Who do you serve?!” a rhetorical question aimed at the police. — Report & photo by Joe Piette
Oct. 4, 2012
The real criminals behind Pakistan’s factory res
By Gene Clancy The deadly fire of 1911 — which killed 146 workers, mostly immigrant women and girls — and the ensuing publicity, encouraged union organizing and led to a certain amount of public regulation of conditions on the factory floor, including fire safety. Fast forward 101 years, change the nationality and location, and an equally gruesome crime is committed not in the U.S. but in Karachi, Pakistan. Two catastrophes on Sept. 12 revealed that similarly horrible conditions still flourish, except that big capitalists in the U.S. and Western Europe — in search of greater profits — have exported most of the jobs — and the danger — to the developing world. In Karachi, 295 people were either burned to death, died from smoke inhalation or were crushed to death as they tried to escape a deadly fire. Like the Triangle fire, it was a textile factory. Earlier the same day, over 25 workers were killed when a shoe factory burned down in Lahore, Pakistan. In both cases, the factories had contract relationships with upscale retailers in the U.S. and Western Europe. The facts of the Karachi textile factory fire are nightmarish. It turns out that workers were unable to escape because the doors were locked. It was reported that this was to prevent them from leaving their shifts early, though it has also been said that it was because of a “fear of theft” of the clothing. (dailymailnews. com, Sept. 12) There was no emergency exit, with other doors blocked by piles of finished clothes. Workers had to smash through iron bars on the windows and to jump several stories down to escape the flames. Unsafe chemicals in the rickety building made the smoke even more toxic. Most of the workers were women. The dead also included seven children, many of whom accompanied their mothers into the factory, but at least one who was illegally employed. Imperialism’s criminal connection Reactions from most mainstream media have mainly been to attack the poor regulation and widespread corruption in the Pakistani government which led to the “They have made their shops better and safer for their machines and their goods, but not for us workers. O my God! how long will we have to stand it? How long?” This was the anguished cry of the mother of a fourteen-year-old girl who had just lost her life in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist fire in Manhattan in the spring of 1911. —Miriam Finn Scott, “The Factory Girl’s Danger,” The Outlook, April 15, 1911. disasters, the worst industrial fires in that country’s history. Notably missing, however, is any mention of the transnational corporations whose insatiable drive for profits combined with their greedy capitalist partners worldwide to create the conditions which led to the fires. Modern capitalist production is a global operation. Faced with increasing criticism and resistance, the transnationals go to great lengths to cover up their close connections to the sweatshops that provide them with lucrative profits. For this, they turn to so-called “monitoring” agencies to certify and then cover up their crimes. This week it emerged that a U.S.-based monitoring group, Social Accountability International, had approved the safety standards at the Karachi factory just weeks before the fire. Why would a monitoring agency “certify” a factory with so many violations? Below are some answers according to Al-Jazeera: • The firm receives corporate funding and its board of directors includes figures with strong manufacturing ties; • Tom De Luca, the chairperson of the board, currently runs his own consulting firm. He was previously vice president of imports and compliance for Toys R Us, working for the firm for more than 20 years; • Dan Henkle is Gap Inc’s senior vice president for social responsibility; and • The organisation also receives financial backing from 20 transnational companies that contribute between $10,000 and $65,000 annually to be corporate programme members, including the Walt Disney Co., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Gucci. Both the greedy factory owners in Pakistan and elsewhere, and the criminals on Wall Street have the blood of innocent workers on their hands. They must, and will, be held accountable by the people.
Attack on NATO airbase blow to Afghan occupation
By Chris Fry “I think we are on track!” in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta cheerily told reporters on Sept. 21. But the very same article opines: “But after a week in which most joint operations between coalition and Afghan troops were suspended, U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is anything but ‘on track.’ In fact, it may be more imperiled than at any other time in Mr. Obama’s presidency.” (Washington Post, Sept. 22). John Gresham of the pro-militarist Defense Media Network reported in midSeptember about the extent of the damage inflicted upon U.S. aircraft at Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan, when 15 resistance fighters wearing U.S. military uniforms carried out a three-hour battle on Sept. 14: “Eight irreplaceable aircraft (the AV8B has been out of production since 1999) have been destroyed or put out of action — approximately 7 percent of the total flying USMC Harrier fleet,” and these planes were specially equipped and effective. “A Harrier squadron commander is dead, along with another Marine. Another nine personnel have been wounded, and the nearby Marines at Camp Freedom are now without effective fixed-wing air support.” U.S./NATO kills civilians, suspends joint actions Two days later, on Sept. 16, NATO jets “mistakenly” killed eight women and children gathering firewood, as well as wounding seven more. That and the revelation of the anti-Islam video have caused mass demonstrations in Afghanistan. That same day, four U.S. troops were killed by Afghan police in another so-called “green on blue” attack, where Afghan soldiers and police have killed some 51 NATO troops, most of them U.S. soldiers. And because the Camp Bastion fighters were wearing U.S. uniforms, because they knew just how to penetrate base security, because they brought the weapons necessary to inflict maximum damage and because they obviously knew the location of their targets, it seems apparent that they had received assistance from within the Afghan military. On Sept. 18, NATO command announced that it was suspending all joint operations with the Afghan military and police. This was a dramatic shift in strategy. Up to 80 percent of combat operations in recent months were joint operations between Western and Afghan forces (Washington Post, Sept. 22). This took the junior partners of the NATO occupation by surprise: “The decision, which was announced in Washington, took the UK government by surprise, coming just a day after the defense secretary, Philip Hammond, spoke in defense of NATO’s continued work with Afghan troops in parliament. Whitehall sources said British commanders were unaware the announcement was going to be made.” (The Guardian, Sept. 18). Clearly the resistance to the 11-year occupation by the Afghan people has grown so much both in strength and organization that Washington’s efforts to destroy it and leave behind a “friendly ally” is coming apart at the seams. But the price in money and blood to carry on this increasingly hopeless task is not being paid by the billionaires or their politician hacks, the only ones who benefit from this war against a poor country. Instead, it is one more burden that the workers here bear as long as this occupation is allowed to continue.
No more words, people want deeds
By G. Dunkel A number of strong, militant protests against the government of Michel Martelly have taken place in Cap-Haitien, the second largest city in Haiti, in the past few weeks. Demonstrators have burned tires and held mass marches. Haitian cops and Minustah — the United Nation’s occupying force in Haiti — using tear gas and live rounds, fired into the air, forcing demonstrations back from government offices. Some 20 popular organizations and outspoken opposition figures Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles and activist leader Pierrot Augustin called the protests. Michel Martelly is the Haitian president that the U.S. maneuvered to install last year. These protests condemned government indifference, corruption, lawlessness, the high cost of living, environmental degradation and, above all, Martelly’s broken promises — all general issues throughout Haiti. They also challenged a land-grab local big shots with ties to the Martelly regime were trying to pull off. The high cost of living had become painfully obvious to parents who couldn’t pay for the supplies and fees their children needed to return to school. (Haïti-Liberté, Sept. 19) Marchers yelled, “Down with Martelly! Down with corruption! Down with expulsions! Down with the high cost of living!” “Expulsions” is the term Haitians use to describe what happens when a big landowner kicks peasants off land that the peasants have been tilling, sometimes for decades, to eke out a living. Protests, general strikes, picket lines and marches over these issues took place in many other parts of the country, as well as in Cap-Haitien. In Les Cayes, Haiti’s third largest city, people widely honored the Sept. 14 general strike. Most businesses were closed, including gas stations, public markets and mass transportation. Small business owners in the south of Haiti, where Les Cayes is located, previously supported Martelly but have moved into opposition over growing lawlessness and arbitrary taxation along with blatant corruption. The even poorer workers, peasants and unemployed of Les Cayes gave them plenty of support. The day before the strike, the state secretary for communications, Joseph Guyler C. Delva, showed up in Les Cayes with 400,000 gourdes ($10,000 U.S.) to bribe local leaders to call it off. When Delva debated a local opposition figure named Gabriel Fortune at the Les Cayes radio station, demonstrators, many of them former Martelly supporters, gathered outside the station and accused Delva of being “a defender of the devil” and the Martelly government’s “propaganda chief.” (Haïti-Liberté, Sept. 19) The cops had to be called to get Delva out of the station safely. The many demonstrations in Port-auPrince, Haiti’s capital, protested the general issues of corruption, incompetence and subservience to foreign financial institutions and raised the particular needs of the organizations calling the protest. Continued on page 10
Oct. 4, 2012
Colombia Peace Talks: Interviews With The Insurgency FARC-EP Comandante Timochenko
Excerpts from an exclusive interview with the top comandante of the FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Peoples’ Army), Timoleon Jimenez (Timochenko), by Carlos Lozano, editor of the Colombian weekly newspaper VOZ. VOZ: A new process of dialogue is beginning with a government that is somehow or other the heir to the “democratic security” regime of [President Alvaro] Uribe. How will the FARC deal with this? Timoleon Jimenez: We have always been willing to look for solutions other than war. With Uribe this was not possible, because of his open disregard of our policy. [President Juan Manuel] Santos is not only heir to the democratic security regime, but was also one of its star players. In fact, with some cosmetic changes, he has continued it. But as he himself says, he decided to take the risks of talking and took positive steps in this direction. Any Colombian would say that the real risk is the war and not dialogue, and that’s why we don’t hesitate to accept talks to seek peace. Regarding how to deal with the new process, we do it with high expectations of reaching the end of the conflict. The President repeated that he is not thinking of making the mistakes of the past, and we hope this is so. You know that the biggest mistake of all the above processes has been to come to the table to demand our surrender, without a real will to work at resolving the causes that gave rise to and continue to fuel the confrontation. VOZ: The agenda includes the issue of “laying down arms,” which would be the culmination of an agreement or covenant of peace. What are the FARC’s expectations? TJ: There is no sense starting a process to get the final termination of the conflict, without contemplating laying down weapons as a target. Laying down arms consists of the abolition of the use of force or of appealing to any kind of violence to achieve political or economic purposes. It’s a real farewell to arms. If we could succeed in making that a reality in Colombia, our country would take a huge leap forward. We hope that the Santos administration and all sectors that use violence for economic and political ends agree with this view. VOZ: What are the insurgency’s conditions for the process to end successfully? TJ: The ruling oligarchy in Colombia, solidly supported by the governments of the United States, has spent almost 50 years betting on exterminating the guerrillas. Twelve presidents, one with repeated mandates, invariably promised our end and gave the military apparatus a free hand to carry this out. When Santos orders a step up in operations he is not doing it to give satisfaction to the sectors of the extreme right, he does it because he believes, as all previous governments did, that these steps really can force us to surrender. VOZ: What do you think about the six to eight months that President Santos has budgeted? TJ: This involves an expectation that he is generating on his own, contrary to what was agreed in the letter and spirit of the Exploratory Meeting. There was no final date discussed there, even the word “months” wasn’t used, so the president’s statement lets us know how difficult this road we are starting on will be. By the way, they gave clear evidence of their strategy: when they don’t achieve something at the negotiation table, they intend to impose it in the media. VOZ: What policy proposal will the FARC-EP make to Colombians at the start of the dialogue? TJ: To mobilize around the definitive ending of the conflict. War or peace are issues that concern all us Colombians and we are obliged to speak out. The government aims to have the dialogues conducted exclusively among their representatives and ours, very discreetly, with no noise, as it repeats incessantly. That means once again that what is agreed to in the talks is being done behind the backs of the Colombian population, which truthfully is only in the interest of the transnational corporations, bankers, business people and landowners. That cannot happen again in this country. The large majorities of the people should be heard and listened to. Our proposal addresses that. VOZ: Why have the FARC decided to take on this new attempt at peace? Weakness? Strategy? Realism? TJ: Those who claim that military pressure was what definitely moved us to political negotiations are forgetting that this past decade of war erupted when [President Andres] Pastrana unilaterally ended the peace process taking place in Caguan [in 2002]. It is the Colombian state that is returning to the table for talks with the FARC, after they made their internal evaluations. One of them, which has not been made public, has to be the recognition that the enormous effort to defeat us has been futile. The FARC is still here, fighting, resisting, advancing. Now we return to the natural setting of politics — civilized dialogue. It is absurd to say that we have been forced to sit at the table, when it was the state that rose angrily from the table. We negotiate because a political solution has always been our banner and that of the popular movement. VOZ: But then hasn’t the FARC taken severe blows during the last ten years? TJ: We cannot deny that we have received serious blows. And extremely painful ones. The deaths of four members of the National Secretariat cannot be minimized. What was also very hard were the deaths of our combatants under fire from bombardments. However, we have absorbed with courage all these experienc-
Timoleon Jimenez (Timochenko)
es. No current member of the Secretariat has less than 35 years of guerrilla experience, and also most of the Central Chiefs of Staff. The replacements were not improvised. Forty-eight years of continuous struggle have produced a formidable apparatus. We went ahead, with pain in the soul, but more experienced and confident in our rationale. In every war there are casualties. The media campaign insists in presenting us as a defeated organization with no future. They have always done so. If they were facing a defeated force, they would not be working on further increasing their troop strength and their already huge arsenal. These are truths that the state and the media deliberately concealed. Either way, the continuation of the conflict will involve more death and destruction, more grief and tears, more poverty and misery for some and greater wealth for others. Imagine the lives that could have been saved these last ten years. So we seek dialogues, a solution without shedding blood, through political understanding. With that we propose to go to Havana. We trust that the national government also understands the need to end violence practiced so long against the Colombian people. Read the entire interview at workers. org. Translation by John Catalinotto.
ELN Comandante Gabino
Excerpts from an interview in Marcha (Argentine magazine) with Comandante Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista (Gabino), historical leader of the ELN (National Liberation Army). Marcha: Why are the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia] and not the ELN in the peace talks that were recently announced? Gabino: In the dialogue with President [Cesar] Gaviria in the 1990s of the last century, the insurgency was at the same table. At the other times each guerrilla force was negotiating separately. The ELN considers having the insurgency around the same negotiating table as the most promising approach to the peace process. And we must strive to make this a reality. This requires levels of unity and we are taking steps to have this happen. We are respectful of the process started by the government with the FARC compañeros and wish them every success. We hope that over time that the process now started separately may come together at one table because, except for some differences, we are forces with similar goals, which is the most important thing. Marcha: What are today, in Colombia, the requirements for this peace that is back on everyone’s lips, even President [Juan Manuel] Santos? Gabino: Most Colombians are weary of an internal war that has lasted over 50 years; the various social sectors have been organizing and speaking about a political solution that concludes with an end of the conflict. This is the case with the Congress of the Peoples, which is promoting a Peace Congress for next year. Similarly, a large number of popular and social organizations have expressed themselves, saying peace is urgent. When speaking of reaching a peaceful settlement, all Colombians are hoping that this time has come; the problem is that we understand and want it in different ways, and according to different interests. The vast majority of Colombians, including the insurgency, believe that peace means social justice and equality, democracy and sovereignty. In contrast, for the ruling class, peace is achieved when it defeats the internal enemy on the battlefield, which President Santos reaffirmed days before the announcement of the start of the talks with the FARC. lar struggle did not have political and legal guarantees. When this perverse logic is changed and there are guarantees and respect for the people’s struggle, the people will not be forced to take up arms to achieve their rights. But that decision is in the hands of the Colombian ruling class; as they say, the ball is in their court. And if after 50 years of fratricidal war, they are ready to recognize the majority’s right to justice and social equality, democracy and sovereignty, the country will be heading toward peace. Of course this is not achieved through a decree, but it is urgent to open the path in that direction. So we do not see that the solution is the demobilization and disarmament of the insurgents; that formula has been tried and failed because the essence of the conflict is social and gave rise to the armed uprising. Then we have to go to the cause that gave rise to this and seek solutions; only then will we go to the heart of the matter to make changes and overcome the problems. Source: eln-voces.com. Translation by John Catalinotto.
Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista (Gabino)
To be stable and enduring, a peace process under the conditions in Colombia requires the participation not only of the insurgency and the government, but also of different popular sectors, who are the ones bearing the brunt of the war. It is understood that peace requires a long and complex process, which confronts powerful enemies who pocket enormous dividends from the war. Marcha: How does the insurgency see its future in Colombia in the years to come? Does it consider the possibility of withdrawing from the armed struggle and putting all its strength into the political struggle? Gabino: We took up arms for almost 50 years because the legal and wider popu-
Oct. 4, 2012
Political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal on
Heed Troy Davis’ words
This column was transcribed from a Sept. 12 audio column from prisonradio.org. everal years ago, a new American president charmed the crowds in Cairo with his eloquence, his seeming earnestness, and most importantly, his person. This president was the first such U.S. chief executive with caramel brown skin, and his name, Barack Hussein Obama, reflected, at least in part, an Islamic and African ancestry that sent ripples of delight throughout the North African audience. Several years later, American embassies in several Arab countries are attacked, and most potently, a consular office in Benghazi, Libya — where a young U.S. ambassador is credentialed to the new, post-Gadhafi government — is struck by RPG fire — and burned to the ground, killing at least 4 Americans, including the country’s U.S. ambassador. Reporters assign blame to an insulting and inflammatory anti-Islamic film that maligned the Prophet Muhammad. But, that said, friends don’t burn or bomb friends. Despite all the promise of Obama’s Cairo speech, his drone wars against alleged Islamic extremists, not to mention his continuing acquiescence to Israeli extremism and anti-Palestinian attacks, have burned bridges in the Arab and Muslim consciousness that finally explodes in real burning and real bombs. Nor should it be overlooked that these attacks occurred on 9/11. In Cairo, that vast, cosmopolitan and ancient city, where once the Obama name stirred hums of hope, now the embassy is raided and the U.S. flag shredded. And, as ever in life, there is irony, for the American Embassy in Libya was undoubtedly the source of the arming of the anti-Gadhafi resistance — and perhaps the source of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, burning it to the ground. In other words, the chickens have come home to roost. It seems the Arab Spring is over.
n Sept. 21, 2011, shortly before the state of Georgia executed him, Troy Davis urged his supporters to “dismantle this unjust system!” That call rings as true now as it did in 2011. Davis had been convicted of the murder of a police officer and sentenced to death in a trial in which no physical evidence had been brought against him. Seven of the prosecutor’s nine witnesses later recanted their testimony and said they had been coerced by police. The state of Georgia spit in the faces of Davis, his family and friends, and an international movement when it legally lynched him a year ago. A year later, a case reminiscent of Davis’ requires the attention and support of those against the U.S. death penalty. Reggie Clemons, an African-American man, was in court in St. Louis this week to challenge his conviction for the 1991 murder of two white women. Like Davis, not a shred of physical evidence was presented in Clemons’ trial. Clemons was convicted under the testimony of two witnesses, both white. One, a cousin of the two women, originally confessed to the murder, but then changed his story to implicate Clemons. The other, Daniel Winfrey, was a co-defendant in the case and framed Clemons as part of
a plea bargain. According to the Associated Press, Winfrey later told a fellow inmate that “no one would believe a bunch of black men.” (Oct. 25, 2005) Clemons had been severely beaten by police and coerced into making a confession of rape, which he later retracted. Clemons’ mother recently testified that when the police arrived at her home in 1991, they told her that her son did not need a lawyer, although he was facing a double murder charge. The chief prosecutor in the case attempted to revise important police records of the case. (guardiannews.com, Sept. 22) The Innocence Project estimates that between 2.3 percent and 5 percent of all prisoners in the U.S. are innocent. That’s between 36,800 and 80,000 of the U.S.’s 1.6 million prisoners, who are overwhelmingly poor and overwhelmingly people of color. People belonging to the wealthy ruling class — some of whom commit genocidal crimes against working people every day — are rarely convicted in the U.S., and almost never executed. In Troy Davis’ honor, and that of so many others, the movement to end the racist death penalty and the entire prison-industrial complex, including mass incarceration, grows stronger.
‘They don’t really care about us’
ichael Jackson was right, singing, “They don’t really care about us.” The superrich not only don’t care about us, they hate us. Mitt Romney confirmed it with notorious remarks to his fellow multimillionaires about “the 47 percent.” According to Romney, nearly half the people in the United States “are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.” In the wealthiest country on earth, 147 million people actually think they shouldn’t go hungry. That’s how many people belong to Romney’s “47 percent.” The Department of Agriculture hands out billions to agribusiness not to grow crops and stockpiles millions of tons of food to keep prices high. None of this keeps small farmers from losing their land. Massive unemployment isn’t the only reason more people and their families need food stamps. Millions of workers qualify for food assistance because their wages are so low. Shouldn’t every child be “entitled” to the very best health care? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Deamonte Driver didn’t have the right to health care. This African-American, 12-year-old boy died of a toothache on Feb. 25, 2007. Deamonte’s family had lost their health insurance and couldn’t afford a dentist. By the time he was admitted to a hospital, bacteria from a tooth abscess had spread to his brain. Wasn’t Deamonte Driver entitled to live? Yet Romney said his job “is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” This revolting hypocrisy is typical of the capitalist class. When have Wall Street bankers and wealthy speculators ever taken “personal responsibility” for themselves? During the latest economic crisis they were bailed out with trillions of dollars stolen from people all over the world. Armies of servants — overwhelmingly Black, Latina and Asian women — raise the children of the rich, cook their food, wash their clothes, clean their toilets and do the myriad of tasks that millionaires and billionaires disdain, but that workers and poor people must do for themselves and their own families every day. Sneering at poor and working people is nothing new for wealthy parasites. The difference is that Romney’s attack on “the 47 percent” includes tens of millions of white workers. Slavery, racism and something new Compared to workers in Canada, Japan or Western Europe, U.S. workers work the longest hours, have shorter vacations and fewer benefits. The capitalist class gets away with this increased exploitation because they keep the U.S. multinational working class divided. So much of political culture in the U.S. is derived
from slavery. The U.S. Constitution, in Article 1, Section 9, prohibited Congress for 20 years from banning the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The African holocaust was “constitutional.” Since 1977, 3 out of 4 executions have been carried out in states that joined the Confederacy. Two-and-a-half million people are locked up in prisons, most of which are run by state “correction departments.” Whipping enslaved people was also called “correction.” Wall Street became the financial center of the country because it was the banking house for the slave masters. One of the worst results of racism in the U.S. is the difference in life expectancy between African Americans and whites. In 2007, Black men lived six years less than white men, while white women lived four years longer than Black women. (2011 Statistical Abstract of the United States) However, a new study has revealed that from 1990 to 2008, life expectancy for the poorest whites dropped by four years. (See page 1 article.) And capitalists despise white workers, too. Just before the Civil War, South Carolina Sen. James Hammond defended slavery. Hammond claimed Hammond claimed that slaves in the South and poor workers in the North need to be exploited so that “civilization can flourish.” Hammond’s defense of slavery and his linking it to the necessity of keeping white workers poor in the North inflamed the Northern working class. Romney’s words should inflame everybody. Frontal assault needs mass response Romney attacked immigrant workers in his “47 percent” speech. He claimed they “have no skill or experience” and are told “you’re welcome to cross the border and stay here for the rest of your life.” Romney’s audience laughed at this big lie. Yet they would be hard pressed if immigrants, many of whom are undocumented, didn’t pick the crops and feed them. The wealthy and powerful have stayed on top by concentrating so much misery in the Black, Latino/a and other oppressed communities. Wounded Knee was just one of countless massacres committed against Native peoples. China bashing will lead to new attacks against Asian workers, like Vincent Chin, who was beaten to death by a racist Chrysler foreman in 1982. Arabs, South Asians and all Muslims are targeted for attack. Racism, sexism, bigotry and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, and immigrant bashing aren’t odious enough for the 1% during this period of accelerated decay of the capitalist system. They’re launching a frontal assault on all workers. Everything the working class has won in the last 80 years is under attack. What is needed is for people to act on a massive scale and do what the Chicago teachers did — fight back and struggle. It is the only way to stop the attacks on “the 47 percent” and the entire working class. It’s the only answer that the 1% will understand.
No more words, people want deeds
Continued from page 8 On Sept. 10, the National Union of Haiti’s University Teachers (UNNOH), led by professor Josue Merilien, marched through Port-au-Prince to demand open access to the school system in Haiti for all students and decent wages for professors. The next day, the Movement for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity for Haitians (Moleghaf) demonstrated for job creation, a change in the living conditions of marginalized populations and a lower cost of living. On Sept. 12, the Platform of Victimized Employees of Public Enterprises (Pevep), consisting of hundreds of people laid off illegally and arbitrarily from state enterprises, demonstrated to get their jobs back. Pevep says these dismissals were the result of neoliberal policies that the U.S. government and international financial institutions forced on Haiti. Even though the children of Pevep members were on the march, when they went by the earthquake-wrecked National Palace, which is currently being torn down by an NGO, the cops attacked with tear gas. More demonstrations took place in Port-auPrince and smaller Haitian cities, and there have been calls issued for some later in September. Popular anger against the Martelly clique is growing and events don’t seem to be breaking his way.
Oct. 4, 2012
LIBYA, phase 2
Pro-U.S. demonstrations target militias in Benghazi
By Abayomi Azikiwe Editor, Pan-African News Wire The attacks on the U.S. Consulate and another compound in Benghazi on Sept. 11, resulting in the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, two ex-Navy Seals and another diplomat, have opened up a new phase in the struggle over Libya. On one side is the U.S.-backed puppet government that replaced the government of Moammar Gadhafi, along with various militias that are its allies. On the other side are armed groups that were anti-Gadhafi for reactionary reasons and that the U.S. and NATO also used against the Gadhafi government. These groups are ideologically reactionary but oppose Western hegemony and thus the U.S. puppets. On Sept. 25, President Mohamed Magariafis of the U.S.-installed General National Congress government based in Tripoli ordered all militias in the eastern region of the country around the major cities of Benghazi and Darna disbanded. Earlier, on Sept. 21, several hundred people trashed and burned the headquarters of the Ansar al-Sharia group — which had been a close U.S. ally against Gadhafi — killing several of its members. Though they were blamed for the attack on the consulate, Ansar al-Sharia’s leader, Mohammad Ali al-Zahawi, had indicated just two days earlier that the group had no involvement in the deaths of the diplomats. He denied that the brigade was an al-Qaida affiliate but expressed admiration for al – Qaida. (BBC, Sept. 24) A crowd estimated at 30,000, backed by the GNC government, marched Sept. 21 through the streets of Benghazi shouting, “No to militias.” (Associated Press, Sept. 21) Signs in the crowd reflected the pro-U.S. influence, mourning the deaths of the Consulate staff and reading, “The ambassador was Libya’s friend” and “Libya lost a friend.” Stevens had been in Benghazi since the early days of the revolt against the Gadhafi government in 2011. He was considered the U.S. government’s point man in the center of its regime-change efforts against Libya. Many of the militias now under attack had been an integral part of the U.S.-imposed political situation in Libya. These groups were armed, financed and given authority over various sections of the country. According to the Associated Press article, “The unprecedented public backlash comes in part in frustration with the interim government, which has been unable to rein in the armed factions.” In Darna, which has been a stronghold of Islamists for many years, the militias operate openly and with impunity. The former government of Gadhafi during 2011 warned that the city, which is located north of Benghazi in the mountains near the Mediterranean coast, would attempt to break away from Libya and form an Islamic state. Eyewitness accounts raise questions about source of attacks For several days in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, the Obama administration argued that the killing of Stevens and the others sprang from the worldwide demonstrations sparked by the release of an anti-Islam film entitled “Innocence of Muslims.” Spokespersons for the administration claimed that the armed attacks were largely spontaneous and that the targeted militia group took advantage of a chaotic situation. However, during the following week, the State Department was forced to change its line. Evidence emerged that there were no demonstrations at the location and that the consulate was attacked by more than 125 armed men without warning. In addition to concerns regarding his safety expressed by Stevens in his diary, Gen. Carter Ham, the head of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), had also warned of possible attacks on diplomatic and intelligence personnel in Libya, perhaps including a role for al-Qaida. Gen. Ham’s questions indicated that the U.S. was having problems transforming the various militia “into border police, into national police, into maritime police” where they can serve the central government — and thus U.S. hegemony. (CNN Security Blog, Sept. 24) In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the consulate, the Obama administration ordered at least 50 Marines into the country and the deployment of warships and drones. U.S. foreign policy failures mount The New York Times reported Sept. 23 that the destruction of the U.S. base of operations in Benghazi and the killing of Stevens and the other personnel was a major blow to CIA operations there. “Among the more than two dozen American personnel evacuated from the city after the assault on the American mission and a nearby annex were about a dozen CIA operatives and contractors, who played a crucial role in conducting surveillance and collecting information on an array of armed militant groups in and around the city.” This article goes on to say about the U.S. Consulate and annex, “From these buildings, the CIA personnel carried out their secret missions.” These recent developments in Libya and the massive anti-U.S. demonstrations around the world illustrate the flaws in Washington’s foreign policy, at the same time the Western imperialist powers face a protracted economic crisis. Groups the U.S. manipulated to overthrow the Libyan government in 2011 and similar efforts now in Syria — not to mention the 11-year war in Afghanistan — show that many of these forces will turn against U.S. control.
Wildcat strikes of platinum, gold miners re ect deepening economic crisis
By Abayomi Azikiwe Editor, Pan-African News Wire Miners at the Marikana Lonmin Platinum PLC facilities returned to work on Sept. 20 after a bitter six-week strike that left 45 people dead and many injured. Lonmin bosses agreed to a 22 percent pay increase to get the striking workers back to the mines. The work stoppage and Aug. 16 police massacre shook up the political and economic structures in South Africa, which is led by the African National Congress. The National Union of Mineworkers, the Congress of South African Trade Unions’ largest affiliate, opposed the wildcat strike led by the rock-drill operators. The Marikana labor unrest sparked wildcat strikes at other platinum mines as well as gold and chrome facilities. Some Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) workers are still out; they have elected their own negotiators, bypassing the NUM. Alathus Modrsane, who is on that team, said, “We are no longer with the NUM because we saw that they are failing us.” (Associated Press, Sept. 21) Miners are still out at AngloGold Ashanti Kopanang, where 5,000 are employed. Workers striking the Gold Fields mine near Carletonville want the same raise won by the Lonmin workers. According to the same article, Sven Lunsche, representing Gold Fields, claimed that the company can’t afford the workers’ demands; he urged the strikers to resolve their issues through NUM structures. He said the wildcat strikes worry the industry, “since … these issues have gone beyond the collective bargaining forum. They are happening outside … an established and orderly forum.” But the gold mineworkers complain that NUM is not representing them. NUM representative Lesiba Seshoka said, “If they want to recall or remove [union representatives], they must … [have] a vote of no confidence or [tell] us the allegations and we will launch an investigation.” Although miners’ salaries have improved, many jobs have been lost in massive industry restructuring. Workers and their families say their living conditions in mining towns are pure hell and they need modern housing, electricity, water and sanitation. Historically, South Africa had been the world’s leading gold producer; however, Ghana and Mexico are now outstripping the country in gold production. South African industry has downsized its workforce and production. After mines were closed there since the ANC took governmental control in 1994, COSATU has less power to demand concessions from the bosses. Economist Dawi Roodt said, “COSATU has moved away from its roots to become a political organization, while it’s supposed to be a labor movement. Because of the separation between the grassroots and leadership, the mineworker feels his interests are not being protected anymore.” (Radio Netherlands, Sept. 24) Reportedly, South Africa is only producing 7 percent of the world’s gold supply compared to 65 percent 30 years ago. U.S.-based Exploration Insight Director Brent Cook said that the South African gold industry is aging and no longer attractive to investors, and that “gold mining [there] will decrease … because it is becoming increasingly difficult to mine those ore bodies at deeper depths, higher costs and among social unrest.” (bdlive.co.za, Sept. 22) These capitalists’ intransigence toward the workers’ needs cannot be separated from the overall world economic crisis. Lower wages and horrible working conditions are being forced on the global workforce. With the South African union movement’s strength and militance, mine owners and bankers are seeking avenues in other regions where they can earn higher profits without organized labor’s and political parties’ interference. The bosses’ attitudes necessitate a different approach by the ANC government where mines and other national assets are viewed as the property interests of the workers and the people. South Africa still has the most mineral wealth on the planet, with the largest deposits of platinum, magnesium and chromium reserves. Former ANC Youth League president indicted Internal problems within the ANC and the union movement have hampered the national democratic revolution from transitioning to a noncapitalist path of development. This year’s purging of the ANC Youth League’s top leadership reflects the tensions inside the ANC, COSATU and South African Communist Party alliance. Julius Malema, former ANC Youth League president, was accused of fostering division in the party. He and the ANCYL advocate nationalizing the mining industry and redistributing land to the majority African population. ANC governments have not expropriated capital or agribusiness interests. This, coupled with large-scale unemployment and poverty due to apartheid’s legacy and five years of economic crisis, has worsened conditions for many in the majority, while many middle-class and business sectors have grown wealthy. Malema, who championed the miners ’cause, has been indicted on corruption charges; the South African Revenue Services has assessed him for $ 2 million in unpaid taxes. He and his attorney, Nicqui Galaktiou, say the charges are politically motivated. Although Galaktiou had not seen the warrant as of Sept. 21, she said, “[Malema] will hand himself over voluntarily at a court appearance next week.” (guardian.co.uk, Sept. 21) The ANC’s congress in December will debate their guidelines for the next five years and will select the leadership that will run in the 2014 national elections. South African President Jacob Zuma will seek another term despite criticism that he has turned his back on the country’s workers, farmers and youth. Zuma and the ANC leadership say, in their defense, that they have improved services in the cities and rural areas, but there is still much work to be done. The ANC’s upcoming congress will be followed in South Africa and around the world. The question is whether that will lead to fundamental changes inside Africa’s most industrialized state.
¡Proletarios y oprimidos de todos los paises unios!
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Diálogos colombianos: Entrevistas con la insurgencia
FARC-EP Comandante Timochenko
Extractos de una entrevista exclusiva con el máximo comandante de las FARCEP, Timoleón Jiménez, realizada por Carlos Lozano, Director del semanario colombiano VOZ Comienza un nuevo proceso de diálogo con un Gobierno de alguna manera heredero de la “seguridad democrática” uribista. ¿Cómo lo abordan las FARC? “Nosotros siempre hemos estado dispuestos a la búsqueda de soluciones distintas a la guerra. Con Uribe no fue posible, por su abierto desconocimiento de nuestra condición política. Santos no es solo heredero de la seguridad democrática, sino además uno de sus protagonistas estelares. De hecho, con maquillajes al nombre, ha continuado con ella. Pero como él mismo lo dice, decidió asumir los riesgos de dialogar y dio pasos positivos en ese sentido. Cualquier colombiano diría que el verdadero riesgo es la guerra y no el diálogo, por eso no vacilamos en aceptar las conversaciones para buscar la paz. En cuanto al modo de abordar el nuevo proceso, diría que lo hacemos con grandes expectativas de alcanzar el fin del conflicto. El Presidente repite que no piensa cometer los errores del pasado y confiamos en que así sea. Usted sabe que el principal error de todos los procesos anteriores ha sido el de llegar a la mesa a exigir rendiciones, sin voluntad real de atender a la solución de las causas que dieron origen y siguen alimentando la confrontación.” La agenda contempla el tema de la “dejación de armas”, que sería el punto de llegada de un acuerdo o pacto de paz. ¿Qué expectativas tienen las FARC al respecto? “Carecería de sentido iniciar un proceso encaminado a conseguir la terminación definitiva del conflicto, sin contemplar la dejación de armas como punto de llegada. Dejación de armas consiste en la abolición del empleo de la fuerza, de la apelación a cualquier tipo de violencias, para la consecución de fines económicos o políticos. Es un verdadero adiós a las armas. Si lográramos que en Colombia eso fuera una realidad, nuestro país daría un salto enorme hacia adelante. Confiamos nuevamente en que la administración Santos, y todos los sectores empeñados en la violencia como método de acción económica y política, coincidan en este criterio con nosotros. ¿Cuáles son los presupuestos de la insurgencia para que el proceso culmine con éxito? “La oligarquía dominante en Colombia, apoyada sólidamente por los Gobiernos de los Estados Unidos, lleva ya casi 50 años apostándole al exterminio de las guerrillas. Doce Presidentes, uno con mandato repetido, han prometido invariablemente nuestro fin y dado manos libres al aparato militar para cumplirlo. Cuando Santos ordena incrementar las operaciones no está dando satisfacciones a los sectores de extrema derecha, lo hace porque cree con ellos, como todos los anteriores gobiernos, que de veras podrá rendirnos por obra de la fuerza.
¿Qué propuesta política le hacen las FARC – EP a los colombianos al comenzar el diálogo? “Movilizarse en torno a la terminación definitiva del conflicto. La guerra o la paz son asuntos que nos conciernen a todos los colombianos y estamos obligados a pronunciarnos. El Gobierno pretende que los diálogos se realicen exclusivamente entre sus voceros y los nuestros, de modo discretísimo, sin bochinches, como repite insistentemente.
¿Qué opina de los 6 a 8 meses que presupuesta el Presidente Santos? “Se trata de una expectativa que él está generando por su cuenta, en contravía de lo pactado en la letra y el espíritu del Encuentro Exploratorio. Allí se concertó no poner fechas fatales, ni siquiera la palabra meses, así que lo expresado por el Presidente nos indica lo difícil que va a ser este camino que emprendemos. De paso, evidencia de manera clara la estrategia que van a implementar: cuando no logren algo en la mesa intentarán imponerlo en los medios.
”Es decir, que se desconozca otra vez a la población colombiana, que se pacte a sus espaldas lo que en verdad solo interesa y conviene a las transnacionales, banqueros, empresarios y terratenientes. Eso no puede suceder más en este país. Las grandes mayorías deben ser escuchadas y atendidas. Nuestra propuesta apunta a eso.” ¿Por qué se decidieron las FARC a asumir este nuevo intento de paz? ¿Debilidad? ¿Estrategia? ¿Realismo? “Quienes afirman que la presión militar ha sido definitiva para movernos a una negociación política, olvidan que esta década de guerra se desató cuando Pastrana puso fin de manera unilateral al proceso de paz que se celebraba en el Caguán. Es el Estado quien regresa a la Mesa de Diálogos con las FARC, para lo cual habrá hecho sus valoraciones internas. Una de ellas, así no la haga pública, tiene que ser el reconocimiento de que el enorme esfuerzo realizado para vencernos ha resultado inútil. Las FARC seguimos ahí, combatiendo, resistiendo, avanzando. Ahora volvemos al escenario natural de la política, los diálogos civilizados. Es absurdo afirmar que nos han obligado a sentarnos a la Mesa, cuando fue el Estado quien se levantó furioso de ella. Dialogamos, porque la solución política ha sido siempre una bandera nuestra y del movimiento popular.
¿Pero entonces no han recibido las FARC golpes severos durante estos diez últimos años? “No puede negarse que hemos recibido serios golpes. Y sumamente dolorosos. Las muertes de cuatro miembros del Secretariado Nacional no pueden ser minimizadas. Son muy duras también las muertes de combatientes bajo el fuego de los bombardeos. Sin embargo, hemos asimilado con coraje todos esos casos. Ninguno de los actuales miembros del Secretariado cuenta con menos de treinta y cinco años de experiencia guerrillera, lo cual puede aplicarse también a casi todo el Estado Mayor Central. Los relevos no se improvisan. 48 años de lucha continua han producido un formidable engranaje. Seguimos adelante, con dolor en el alma, pero más avezados y convencidos de nuestras razones. En toda guerra hay muertos. La campaña mediática insiste en presentarnos como una organización derrotada y sin futuro. Igual ha sido siempre. Si se tratara de hacer frente a una fuerza vencida, no estarían trabajando en incrementar aún más el pie de fuerza y el ya de por sí enorme arsenal adquirido. Son verdades que el Estado y los medios ocultan deliberadamente.
“Sea como sea, la perduración del conflicto implicará mayor muerte y destrucción, más luto y lágrimas, más pobreza y miseria para unos y mayor riqueza para los otros. Imagínese las vidas que se hubieran ahorrado estos diez años. Por eso buscamos los diálogos, la solución incruenta, el entendimiento por vías políticas. Con ese propósito vamos a La Habana. Confiamos en que el Gobierno Nacional también entiende la necesidad de poner fin a tan larga violencia practicada contra el pueblo colombiano.”
ELN Comandante Gabino
Marcha (periódico argentino) Extractos de la entrevista con el Comandante Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista “Gabino”, histórico dirigente del ELN.
diferencias, somos fuerzas con objetivos similares, que es lo más importante. Marcha: ¿Cuáles son hoy, en Colombia, los requisitos para esa paz que vuelve a estar en boca de todos, incluso del presidente Santos? C.G.: La mayoría de colombianos está cansados de una guerra interna de más de 50 años; los distintos sectores sociales se han venido organizando y pronunciando sobre la salida política que concluya en la terminación del conflicto, como es el caso del Congreso de los Pueblos que viene promoviendo un Congreso de Paz para el año entrante. De igual manera han expresado la urgencia de la paz un alto número de organizaciones populares y sociales. Cuando se habla de lograr la paz, todos los colombianos y colombianas queremos que ese momento llegue; el problema está en que la entendemos y queremos de diferente manera, de acuerdo a intereses en juego. Las grandes mayorías de Colombia, incluida la insurgencia, consideramos que paz es justicia y equidad social,
Marcha: ¿Por qué están las FARC y no el ELN en las negociaciones de Paz recientemente anunciadas? C.G.: … Sólo en los diálogos con el presidente Gaviria en la década de 1990 del siglo pasado, la insurgencia estuvo en la misma mesa. Las demás experiencias han sido dialogando por separado cada fuerza guerrillera. El ELN considera como lo más acertado para el proceso de paz, la mesa única de la insurgencia. Y debemos esforzarnos para que así sea. Esto requiere niveles de unidad y estamos caminando para lograrlo. Somos respetuosos del proceso que ha iniciado el gobierno con los compañeros de las FARC y les deseamos muchos éxitos. Confiamos que más adelante, el proceso que ahora se inicia por separado, pueda confluir en una misma mesa ya que, salvo algunas
democracia y soberanía. En cambio para la clase dominante la paz se logra cuando se haya vencido al enemigo interno en el campo de batalla, reafirmación hecha por el presidente Santos días antes al anuncio del inicio de los diálogos con las FARC. Un proceso de paz en las condiciones colombianas, para que sea estable y duradero, requiere de la participación no solo de la insurgencia y el gobierno, sino también de los diversos sectores populares que son los que están llevando el peso de la guerra. Se sobreentiende que lograr la paz es un proceso largo y dispendioso, donde se atraviesan poderosos enemigos que le sacan inmensos dividendos a la guerra.
Marcha: ¿Cómo ven el futuro de la insurgencia en Colombia para los próximos años? ¿Evalúan la posibilidad de replegar la lucha armada y volcar toda su fuerza a la lucha política? C.G.: Nos levantamos en armas hace casi 50 años porque la lucha popular amplia y legal no ha tenido las garantías políticas
y jurídicas. Cuando esa lógica perversa se modifique y haya garantías y respeto para la lucha popular, el pueblo no se verá obligado a empuñar las armas para alcanzar sus derechos; pero esa decisión está en manos de la clase dominante colombiana, como quien dice, son ellos los que tienen la palabra. Y si luego de 50 años de guerra fratricida, se disponen a reconocerle a las mayorías el derecho a la justicia y equidad social, la democracia y la soberanía, se marchará hacia la paz. Claro que esta no se alcanza con un decreto, pero es urgente que se abran los causes en esa dirección. Por eso no concebimos que la solución sea la desmovilización y el desarme de la insurgencia, esa fórmula ha sido ensayada y fracasada porque la esencia del conflicto es social y ello dio origen al levantamiento en armas, entonces hay que ir a las causas que lo originaron para buscar soluciones, solo así se irá a la esencia del asunto para cambiarlo y superarlo.
Fuente: https://eln-voces.com/. Vea workers.org/mundo-obrero/ para leer toda la entrevista.
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