Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dallas Protests Gaza Bombings

On December 28, Dallas played its part in the worldwide protests against the Israeli bombings in Gaza. As the protest moved intoitsthird hour, just after 2 PM, about 750 protesters had gathered along the street where John F Kennedy was murdered in 1963. The crowd spread from Houston Street, where Kennedy's parade made its last turn, all the way down to the infamous railroad overpass. More families were still arriving. It was the largest peace demonstration in recent memory.

Noor Elashi was accosted by reporters as soon as she arrived. They asked the slim young woman if she thought the tremendous turnout was fueled by the outrage over the government persecution of the Holy Land Foundation. Leaders of the charity had been jailed just two months earlier after years of government efforts to connect them with terrorism. Ms Elashi's father was the most prominent of the victims.
She told reporters, "Yes," that progressive North Texans had begun to see the United States government's role in the 60-year occupation of Palestine, and that they were ready to stand up and do something about it. She referred to her imprisoned father as a hero who is already being acknowledged by progressives around the world.
Speakers raised their voices over the din of "Stop the bombing, stop the war!" and "Free, free Palestine!" Mustafa Carroll of the Committee on Arab Israeli Relations read a statement denouncing the bombings and calling for steady pressure on the U.S. government. Civil Rights leader Reverend L. Charles Stovall reminded the crowd that persecution of a people never works. Other community leaders praised the many families in the protest and denounced the violence in the Middle East.
Similar voices were being heard all over the world!

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Monday, December 29, 2008

American Jewish and Arab statements on Gaza

Statement on Gaza from Brit Tzedek v'Shalom (Jewish peace group)
Sunday, December 28, 2008


Who among us has not watched in alarm and anguish as the crisis has unfolded in Gaza and southern Israel over the past two days? Close to 300 Palestinians have died and hundreds more are wounded -- both Hamas militants and ordinary citizens. More than 120 rockets have been launched into Israel, with one man killed.

Though some Israeli action is an understandable response to continued rocket fire from Hamas, and the idea of contained surgical strikes may be compelling, these airstrikes represent a huge escalation of the conflict -- a crisis that may end in a wider war in which many more Palestinians and Israelis die in the weeks to come.

The now familiar sequence of escalating mutual hostility, invasion, and withdrawal without security arrangements has never worked -- in Lebanon, the West Bank, or in Gaza itself. The United States and the entire world community must intercede to help reestablish a ceasefire, put an end to rocket attacks on Israel, and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Brit Tzedek calls on President Bush to initiate an international effort aimed at negotiating an immediate ceasefire. Such a ceasefire must halt all attacks from both sides and allow humanitarian assistance into Gaza.

Further, we call on President-elect Obama to make clear that he will, as President, urgently assert US leadership to achieve a comprehensive diplomatic resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflicts.

Today, black smoke spirals over Gaza as the hospitals fill with the wounded. Israelis stay close to bomb shelters and 7000 reservists get ready for a possible ground assault. If the international community fails to swiftly establish a durable peace, the consequences will be dire. The current hostilities in Gaza may be only the beginning.

There is no doubt that Israel has the right and the obligation to protect its citizens. But Israel's only hope for survival as a secure and democratic Jewish homeland lies in a diplomatic -- rather than military -- solution, and in a negotiated peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Steve Masters, President, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Diane Balser, Executive Director, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

National Office
11 E. Adams St. Suite 707
Chicago, IL 60603
Ph: (312) 341-1205
Fax: (312) 341-1206

ADC Condemns Gaza Attacks

Advocacy group calls on US to play its proper role as an honest broker to the humanitarian disaster in Gaza

Washington, DC | December 29, 2008 | www.adc.org | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today strongly condemned the continuing Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. Reports indicate that the Israeli air strikes over the past two days have killed 330 people in Gaza and have left over 1450 more injured, almost 300 of which are in critical condition. The UN estimates that %5 of those killed are children under the age of 18. These strikes come after several weeks of a tight blockade which left many of Gaza's 1.5-million inhabitants without sufficient food, water, fuel or medicine. The population of Gaza is 2/3 refugee and more than half are under the age of 16. The UN has listed Gaza as the most densely populated area in the world with a population density that is higher than that of Manhattan in New York City.

Numerous studies have indicated that similar attacks in the past have failed to make Israeli citizens any safer and resulted in increased support of Hamas extremists. During the cease-fire brokered by Egypt this past summer, rocket attacks by Hamas extremists had greatly diminished. The blockade of Gaza was relaxed slightly by Israel however it never ended completely. Israel escalated the situation in early November by killing 4 Palestinians in Gaza in the bloodiest violation of the cease-fire during the Egyptian-brokered agreement. The month that followed brought a return of a suffocating siege on the civilians of Gaza and rocket attacks against southern Israel. Prior to the current Israeli attacks, over 850 Palestinians had been killed by Israel since the Annapolis summit in late 2007. These numbers are compared to less than 20 Israelis killed by rocket fire from Gaza since 2000. The disproportionate nature of this latest round of violence is representative of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in general and continues to fan the flames of discontent in the Arab and Muslim worlds. On Saturday, ADC called upon Americans to contact their legislators and representatives to express thier outrage at the attacks in Gaza. That action alert can be found here : http://www.adc.org/index.php?id=3396

Today, ADC sent letters to President Bush, President-Elect Obama, Secretary of State Rice, and the Ambassador of Israel in Washington calling for an immediate end of hostilities on all sides. Further, the letters criticized the American response to the attacks which placed all blame on Hamas with no mention of Israel's disproportionate and continuing bombardment of Gaza. While Hamas is guilty of rocket fire, which indiscriminately targets civilians in Israel, this falls within the context of a prolonged siege in which Israel too is indiscriminately targeting 1.5 million civilians in Gaza. The official response from the White House and State Department was irresponsible and ignored American national and economic interests in addition to international humanitarian law and the laws of war.

ADC Calls on:

1) All parties directly involved to immediately work to end hostilities on all sides and arrive at a new cease-fire agreement;

2) The United States to exert immediate pressure on its ally Israel to halt attacks on Gaza's population;

3) The Arab world to work to alleviate the suffering and hunger in the Gaza Strip;

4) The American media to fairly portray the situation in Gaza and to recall the disproportion, context of occupation, and siege when mentioning the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas on southern Israel
Throughout the history of Arab-Israeli peace negotiations only cease-fires and agreements have brought peace and security for both Arabs and Israelis.

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New York Times endorses Employee Free Choice Act

Dear friends -- from Rick in Ohio

Great news! This morning the New York Times, the most influential voice in the major media, called on President-elect Obama to ignore corporate pressure and push for quick passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.

"The measure is vital legislation and should not be postponed," the editorial said. "Even modest increases in the share of the unionized labor force push wages upward, because non-union workplaces must keep up with unionized ones that collectively bargain for increases."

It goes on to say that "if pay continues to lag, it will only prolong the downturn by inhibiting spending."

The editorial also calls for greatly increasing staff and resources of the Labor Department, hopefully under the direction of Rep. Hilda Solis, Obama's nomineee for Secretary of Labor. The Department, it says, should do far more to enforce and strengthen labor standards, including safety and overtime regulations.

The editorial should strengthen the hand of centrist Democrats and Republicans who have supported the bill but will be the main targets of the campaign, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to defeat it. It also gives us another weapon to pile the pressure on Sen. Voinovich who has so far opposed the bill.

Here is the link to the editorial:



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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Iraqi CP opens new office in Sadr City

This is pretty impressive, and probably will not get reported in The New York Times or other commercial media.

Iraqi Letter reports:

A new office for the Iraqi Communist Party was opened in Al-Thawra City (Sadr City) in Baghdad on 5th December 2008. The ceremony, held in open air in Jamila district, was attended by a big gathering of party members and supporters, as well as a delegation from the party Central Committee. The president and members of the municipal council of Sadr City, and other guests were present.

Note: This vast very poor neighborhood was long known as "Revolution (al-Thawra) City" until the Islamic Shiite upsurge after the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein. Today, reports indicate the standing of religious parties has suffered as Iraqis are turned off by the sectarianism and violence.

Abdul Hussein al-Rubaei, representing the party district committee, stressed in his speech the political significance of opening the new party office in this toiling [working class] area. Comrade Izzet Abu-el-Timmen, member of the party Political Bureau, conveyed the greetings of the Central Committee, and reiterated the party's support for the population of the City and their demands to aleviate the injustive they had suffered under the former dictatorial regime. He also called upon them to participate actively in the forthcoming provincial elections and to give their support to the electoral list "Madaniyoun" (No. 460) that represents the democratic forces.

The secular and democratic left in Iraq has wide and deep roots, and is vastly under-reported in U.S. commercial media and in the left. The provincial elections, currently set for Jan. 31, will show something about how the political trends are shaping up in Iraq. That's why there's been an upsurge of violence with various reactionary elements (right-wing Islamists, former Baathists, etc.) trying to intimidate or eliminate their opponents.

See more photos here.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Why is it the most powerful nation can't stop such a rip-off? Why is it one of the most technologically advanced nations can't smell a rat? Why did people look the other way? One answer for all: capitalism. It doesn't include checks and balances...it's all about maximizing profit.

What about socialism?


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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Strikes in Greece

Big demonstrations in Athens

The following is a message published on the KKE Web Site in regard to the struggle taking place in Greece:

Today, Wednesday December 10,2008 in 63 Greek cities PAME organized big strike rallies. Today’s strike is very successful. Key demands of the strike are: increases in wages and pensions, to stop privatization, to stop the layoffs and measures to be taken immediately for the unemployed.

Among strike’s demands, the demand to stop the state violence and the state authoritarianism at the expense of democratic freedoms has a leading position.

Today's strike rally of PAME in Athens was attended by a WFTU Delegation. The General Secretary of WFTU who participated in the demonstration, speaking to journalists declared:

"We condemn the murder by police forces of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a 15-years old pupil, which happened in the center of Athens. We demand the government to stop the state violence and state authoritarianism. On behalf of the WFTU we express our solidarity to the thousands of young workers, pupils and students who demonstrate every day against the policy of the government. We welcome the large labor demonstrations. The responsibilities of all governments so far are big for the existing unemployment, the high-prices and the poverty of the people. The economic crisis of the system should not be payed by the workers. The government is trying to take advantage of some few demonstrators who hide their faces or wear hoods over their heads and put fires to scare the people.
The government's plans will not succeed. "

Grandes manifestaciones en Atenas

Hoy, miércoles 10 de diciembre de 2008, PAME ha organizado grandes manifestaciones en 63 ciudades griegas. La huelga que tiene lugar hoy es un gran éxito. La principales reivindicaciones de la huelga son: el aumento de salarios y pensiones, el cese de las privatizaciones, el cese de los despidos masivos y que se tomen medidas inmediatas para los desempleados.

Entre las reivindicaciones de la huelga, ocupa una posición principal el cese de la violencia del estado y el cese del autoritarismo estatal contra las libertades democráticas.

Una delegación de la FSM ha participado en la manifestación de PAME en Atenas. El Secretario General de la FSM, que ha tomado parte en la manifestación, ha declarado a la prensa:

“Condenamos el asesinato a manos de las fuerzas de la policía de Alexandros Grigoropoulos, un alumno de 15 años, que ocurrió en el centro de Atenas. Exigimos al gobierno que pare la violencia del estado y el autoritarismo estatal. En nombre de la FSM, expresamos nuestra solidaridad a los miles de jóvenes trabajadores, alumnos y estudiantes que se manifiestan cada día contra la política del gobierno. Aplaudimos las grandes manifestaciones laborales. Las responsabilidades de todos los gobiernos hasta ahora son muy grandes respecto a la actual tasa de desempleo, los elevados precios y la pobreza del pueblo. La crisis económica del sistema no deberían pagarla los trabajadores. El gobierno está tratando de aprovecharse de unos pocos manifestantes que ocultan sus caras o llevan palos en sus manos y prenden fuego para asustar a la gente. Los planes del gobierno no tendrán éxito.”

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On the rebellions in Greece

From the Greek Communist Party (KKE) on the riots over the police shooting a teenager.

As you probably already know riots have broken out in
Athens and in several Greek cities.

We thank all the comrades expressing already solidarity
with the struggle in our country against the police

The unrest began on 7.12. in the centre of Athens soon
after the killing by police forces of a young man in
Exarchia district.

Riots then spread to Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest
city, to the northern cities of Komotini and Ioannina, and
to Crete.

Two police officers have been suspended, and an inquiry is
under way.

Interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said in a statement:
"The government expresses its profound regret over this

"An inquiry on the circumstances of the death has already
begun and, if the policemen are found to have been derelict
in their duty, the punishment will be exemplary."

In Athens police fired tear gas at hundreds of
stone-throwing youths, who went on a rampage as news of the
shooting spread.

After a lull of a couple of hours, rioting resumed shortly
after midnight local time (2200 GMT), with some protesters
marching through Athens city centre and others fighting
police outside the National Technical University of Athens.

In Thessaloniki dozens of youths attacked a police
precinct, while others blocked a road near the university

An Interior Ministry press officer told Reuters news agency
that Mr Pavlopoulos had offered his resignation to Prime
Minister Costas Karamanlis, but it had been rejected.

The riots continued also on Sunday 7th December.

The Communist Party of Greece and the Communist Youth KNE
are organizing on Monday 8th and on the following days
protest rallies in all big cities of the country.

The 4 biggest Universities of the country are closed and
more will follow on the next days.

Under the popular protest the government was forced to
close all the public schools for the 9th December.

KKE and KNE issued a statement [ see bellow] condemning
the police attacks and the growing police violence against
workers, immigrants and young people. Mass mobilizations
and protest demonstrations will follow since on 10.12.08 is
planned the next big general strike against the "anti
crises" measures by the government in favour of the big
capital an on the expenses of the working people.


Statement by the Press Bureau of the CC of KNE on the
murder of the 15-year-old boy

We condemn the murder in cold blood of 15-year-old
Alexandros-Andreas Grigoropoulos committed by a policeman
in the Exarchia area of Athens.

The leadership of the police forces and the government bear
outsized responsibility.
This incident is a result of the education and orientation
of the security forces which are directed against the
people, against the popular and working class movement,
against the struggle of the youth.

The repressive measures of the state are fully in line with
the attack against the life and the rights of the youth to
work, education and stable working time, through the
flexible working relations. Their target is to cause fear
to the workers and the youth.

The arsons and damages have nothing to do with the mass
popular movement. Such attacks legalise violence and
authoritarianism. On the other hand, they are used as an
alibi by the government of ND as well as by the previous
ones, in order to conceal the fact that the target of state
repression is the popular labour movement.

The only effective response to the provocations of the
government is the organised popular movement; the
combative, organised, self-protected mobilisation of the
youth. The real causes and the responsibility for this
incident should not be concealed as it has been in other
cases (e.g. torture of immigrants in police stations, the
beating of the student in Thessaloniki etc.).

We appeal to the youth to express its indignation, to
protest, to condemn and to make, through its organised
struggle, accountable politically and criminally the
responsibles for the police attacks.
Schools, universities, TEI (Technical Education Institutes), IEK (Vocational Training institutes) and evening schools should be closed down. The mass organisations should release statements condemning the police attacks and organise mass demonstrations and rallies. The youth along with the popular labor movement

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

CANADA: Dump Tories to solve crisis

Dump the Harper Tories NOW!

Fight for New Policies that Put People First!

The federal Conservatives under PM Stephen Harper are teetering on the verge of shattering defeat, six short weeks after the October 14 general election. They fully deserve to be thrown out of office in next Monday's non-confidence vote. The Communist Party of Canada joins with labour and other forces in calling for the defeat of this government.

Contrary to the 'spin-doctoring' coming out of the Prime Minister's Office, the present governmental crisis erupted not because of some conspiratorial intrigue cooked up on the Opposition benches, but rather because of the Tories' own unmitigated arrogance and conceit, and their own stunning indifference to the fears and concerns of working people as the capitalist economic crisis deepens, threatening the jobs, benefits, pensions and social welfare of millions of Canadian workers.

Last Thursday's economic update presented by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty exposed the anti-working class, right-wing, pro-corporate nature of the Conservative government. Flaherty's 'mini-budget provoked the current impasse when it failed miserably to address the people's concerns through legislative protections and stimulative public spending. Instead, the Harper government used the deepening economic crisis as an excuse to opportunistically launch a frontal assault on the public sector through its plan to sell off $3.4 billion in public assets to its corporate friends; by limiting federal wages and 'suspending' the right to strike for federal employees; by attacking pay equity for women; and by cancelling the Party Financing Act, upon which the large political parties – especially the opposition parties – largely depend.

Wedded to their right-wing, neoconservative economic and political agenda, and arrogantly overconfident that they could survive yet another round of parliamentary 'chicken' with the opposition parties, the Harper Conservatives decided to press ahead as if they had a majority in Parliament. But as our Party stated immediately after the October election, the "Tories have no mandate to impose their right‑wing agenda on the country".

As a result of its anti-people policies and actions, the Harper government has not only lost the 'confidence' of the majority of MPs in the House; the overwhelming support by the labour and people's movements for new Liberal-NDP coalition shows that this government has also lost the confidence of most of the Canadian people.

Our Party welcomes the refusal of the opposition parties to be taken in by Harper's latest retreats (to abandon the cancellation of party financing and the ban on federal workers' right to strike), and calls on these parties to hold firm in their commitment to defeat this discredited government and to establish a new working majority in Parliament.

The defeat of the Harper Tories will mark a significant victory for working people across Canada, but while such a change is a necessary condition for real progress to address the pressing needs of the people, it will not be a sufficient condition to ensure a genuinely new direction in government policy. A new Coalition government would be highly susceptible to public pressure, and would open new doors to win pro-people policies.

Labour, Aboriginal peoples, youth and students, women, and other people's movements and organizations will need to intensify extra-parliamentary mobilizations to demand real and immediate action from any new government that emerges after Monday's vote.

In the view of the Communist Party of Canada, such an Anti-Crisis Action Plan should include:

  • protections for Canadian working people through the immediate introduction of plant closure legislation to stop the exodus of manufacturing jobs;
  • substantial public investment in auto, forestry and other vital manufacturing industries on a full financial equity basis (no corporate hand-outs), along with iron-clad guarantees preventing layoffs, job cuts, wage or pension reductions, and requiring reinvestment in the domestic economy;
  • the expansion of EI to cover all workers for the full duration of unemployment (including the elimination of the waiting period), with benefits at 90% of former earnings;
  • a moratorium on evictions and mortgage foreclosures and utility cut-off due to unemployment;
  • an immediate increase in the minimum wage to $15/hr., along with legislation to protect and improve wages, benefits and pensions for all workers, to help raise incomes and stimulate domestic consumption;
  • emergency action to improve the social and economic conditions of Aboriginal peoples;
  • a massive public investment program to construct affordable social housing, to rebuild Canada's decaying infrastructure, in environmental protection and conservation, and in job creation programs for youth and the arts;
  • sweeping progressive tax reform based on ability to pay, and the revocation of all corporate tax breaks, write-offs and deferrals at every level – measures that will shift the tax burden from working people onto the corporations and the wealthy;
  • emergency measures to protect and extend our public healthcare, education and other social programs, including the establishment of a publicly funded and administered system of universal, quality, affordable childcare with Canada-wide standard; and
  • Canada's immediate withdrawal from the disastrous war of occupation in Afghanistan, and a 50% cut in military spending.

The longer-term security and effectiveness of these immediate anti-crisis actions will in turn require more transformative measures to safeguard the jobs, incomes and services for the Canadian people, including (amongst others):

  • the democratic nationalization of the big banks, insurance and other financial institutions in Canada;
  • the nationalization of the energy industry to guarantee domestic supply and to provide the material basis for the economic rebuilding of Canadian industry and the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs;
  • Canada's immediate withdrawal from NAFTA, a halt to the "Security and Prosperity Partnership" (SPP) negotiations, and the adoption of a much more diversified, multilateral trade policy based on mutual benefit; and
  • the introduction of a liveable, guaranteed annual income (GAI), as well as a shorter work week with no loss in take-home pay.
    Issued by the Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada, December 3, 2008

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

#mumbai: Pakistan party responds to Mumbai attacks

Communist Workers and Peasant’s Party of Pakistan (CMKP) strongly condemns the barbaric and heinous acts of planned murder and destruction carried out by terrorists in Mumbai India. We express our sincerest condolence with all the people who fell victim to this savage

We also salute the entire Indian Left that is doing its utmost to reign in
reprisals by Hindu fundamentalist forces against the Muslims of India.

We strongly feel that the role of the Left in Pakistan is to expose and
organize against right-wing forces, both inside and outside the Pakistan
Military, that harbor an agenda against harmonious relation between Pakistan
and India.

The Left and the people of both countries should not let Mumbai terrorist
attacks undermine the Pakistani India peace process. Such a development will
provide the Pakistan Army with an excuse to continue a heavy deployment on
the Pak-India border and play in the hands of religious extremists to carry
on with their deadly vendetta against the people of both countries in the
name of religion, race and caste.

The people of both Pakistan and India have been a victim of religious
terrorism. It is for the people to understand that such terrorist
organizations and action sprout from the ideology of hate and divide on
religious grounds which is preached by both the Hindu and Muslim
Fundamentalists. People should not allow any agenda put forward by such
organizations to further the oppression of religious minorities.

Crimes of such barbarity must make people realize that the moment has
arrived for the people of both India and Pakistan to develop a unified
commitment towards peace and harmony in the world and combat extremism and
terrorism in all its shades and colors.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

#mumbai Some India news websites

The Hindu: http://www.hinduonnet.com/

Press Trust of India: http://www.ptinews.com/

NDTV: http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/default.aspx

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New statement on #Mumbai attacks from CPI-M

news from the cpi(m)
November 29, 2008

Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) now in session in New Delhi has issued the following statement:

Unitedly Face Threat of Terrorism

The country has experienced a sense of relief at the successful conclusion of the security operations against the armed men who had perpetrated the terrorist outrage in Mumbai. The clearing of the Taj Hotel on the 29th morning and the rescue of the people trapped there has ended the three day ordeal which saw the terrible toll of over 200 dead and several hundreds injured in the multiple strikes in the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Trident-Oberoi and Taj Hotels and the Nariman House.

The Polit Bureau pays its homage to the officers and men of the security forces, the National Security Guard, Anti Terrorism Squad, the Mumbai Police and other forces who laid down their lives fighting against terrorists. The Polit Bureau conveys its heartfelt sympathy to all those who have lost their family members in these dastardly attacks.

The lessons from this grim incident has to be drawn correctly and promptly. The continuous and widespread terrorist attacks which have occurred in the country have shown up the weakness in our intelligence and security systems. The country expects the Government to immediately take effective steps to revamp and strengthen the intelligence and security set up. A beginning has to be made by identifying and taking steps against the forces with external links who have perpetrated this crime.

This is the time for all sections of the people and political circles to rise above any sectarian interests and ensure that the unity and integrity of the country is safeguarded by curbing all forms of terrorism whatever their source.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Kudos and solidarity to the Mumbai hotel workers

I have heard a few stories where the hotel workers acting selflessly and heroically helped guests get to safe spots and eventually escape the violence. Can you imagine going to work and this happens? What would you do? Since workers get hardly any recognition for their daily struggles and courage and creativity this blog absolutely recognizes the courage of these workers. I don't know how many hotel workers were killed or wounded. Solidarity goes out to all and their families.

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#mumbai: more on the comrade at the Taj hotel


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What I can figure on #mumbai

Been on twitter and lots of Indian news sites. Seems like 24 hours after the very well coordinated attacks on Mumbai (Bombay) there are three ongoing situations, at the famous Taj hotel, the Oberoi Trident hotel and the Nariman House. There are over 100 people dead and more than 300 wounded. The terrorists landed by boat and went to numerous sites including train stations, hospitals, restaurants and now there are these three active sites. The head of the anti-terrorist task force in India seemed to have been targeted and killed, just adding to the chaos.

Everyone, including the prime minister, is saying it's well-coordinated (yep) and must have ties to "external" forces. Who those external forces are is still to be found out. I have heard -- all pretty obvious or bizarre conspiracy -- Pakistan/Kashmir-related groups, Mossad, Somali pirates among the top. Seems like India sunk a ship that was under the control of the famous Somali pirates just recently.

It's pretty obvious that this was well-planned and supported...but many possibilities remain, including organized crime groups (well isn't that what terrorists really are?), internal Indian forces.

There is so much chaos. I just heard that each Indian state has their own intelligence agency so just imagine the crazy coordination between all these groups. India can be a pretty chaotic, vibrant place regularly, so I cannot imagine with this in its largest(?) city and financial center.


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Indian comrade/MP in on of Mumbai hotels

"Indian Communist MP N.N. Krishnadas said after being rescued by commandos Thursday: ‘I was having dinner with some colleagues when two masked militants barged into the restaurant. They fired indiscriminately. I saw three people being shot. The terrorists left the room soon after.’"


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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On terrorist attacks in Mumbai

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

On Terrorist Strike in Mumbai

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) expresses its deep shock and outrage at the multiple attacks in Mumbai city which have led to the loss of more than a hundred lives and injuries to many. These attacks targeting a railway station, hotels and other places by groups of heavily armed men accompanied by explosions, bear the hallmark of a carefully planned terrorist strike.

The country expects the government and the security agencies to uncover the full scope of this nefarious attack and the forces behind it. Given the recurring and widespread pattern of terrorist attacks occurring in the country, the Central Government has to assure the people that concerted efforts are being made to tackle the problem.

The immediate need is for the people to face this grim situation with fortitude and foil any sectarian attempts to exploit the situation. The entire country expresses its solidarity with the people of Mumbai in this difficult situation.

The Polit Bureau conveys its heartfelt sympathy to all those who have lost their loved ones including the police personnel who have died. The loss of Hemant Karkare, the brave officer who was heading the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad and other police officials is especially grievous.

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Being thankful

As we prepare to sit and dine with our loved ones this Thanksgiving, there is much to be thankful for including eating that plate of delicious food in front of us. As the U.S. economy continues to worsen and unemployment rates increase, the thought of millions of people going hungry in the richest country of the world seems unheard of. But the fact of the matter is that millions are getting left out in the cold struggling to find food they cannot afford, let alone shelter or a job. Home foreclosures, the rising cost of living, minimum wage and energy bills and lack of health care are taking heavy tolls on hard working Americans all across the country. Hunger in the rest of the world is a devastating reality and continues to haunt the global community as nations struggle to adapt to a crumbling economic meltdown. So I am thankful today. I am grateful for the love shared by my family, for the support shared by my friends in struggle, who everyday fight for a better world where everyone can share the wealth of the earths natural resources in peace and unity. I am thankful for the hope that millions see in electing our first African American President Barack Obama and the urgency to ease the growing economic crisis affecting all. Together let us reflect on how we can play a positive role in helping one another in creating real and lasting change so that every human being is appreciated and respected, fed, clothed, and most of all loved. Remember there is no progress without struggle, but our fight is the fight for all. Let's celebrate our victories and meet the growing challenges that lie ahead with a warm heart and a rebellious spirit. Here are some interesting reads:

Detroit Free Press

Crisis times are no excuse for people going hungry



Number of Americans on food stamps to exceed 30 million this month


USA Today

Food banks can’t meet growing demand


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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Is Obama moving to the "center"?

Here is an excellent commentary by Greg Sargent, who writes for the very useful and well-informed liberal political news blog TalkingPointsMemo:

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne asks Obama advisers whether his appointments herald a shift to the center and is told that the answer is No:

Obama's selection of a team of highly skilled pragmatists has already been described as a move to the political center, but Obama advisers and longtime acquaintances say that this is a misreading of the incoming president and his approach. They describe it as combining a practicality about means with an overriding concern about the corrosive effects of growing economic inequalities...

Washington often divides the Democratic policy world between progressives and pragmatists. With Obama, as yesterday's news conference showed, it will have to become accustomed to a president who is both.

This goes to the heart of the debate that's taking shape among liberal writers over Obama's first moves. Do Obama's appointments constitute a betrayal of liberals, as Chris Bowers argues? Or is Obama merely assembling a team of experienced hands in order to implement his own progressive vision, as Matthew Yglesias contends?

I have no problem believing what Obama's advisers are telling Dionne. Either way, I don't see why we shouldn't just wait to see what actual policies Obama implements before making any judgments one way or the other. [emphasis added by me]

Very good point Greg!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Al Sharpton's response to al-Qaeda

Recently, the second in charge of the notorious terror network al-Qaeda denounced Barack Obama as a "house slave." Here is what Rev. Al Sharpton had to say:

"The statements made by Al Qaeda regarding President-Elect Barack Obama are racist and denigrating to Americans, particularly African Americans. President-Elect Obama is doing the bidding of all people of good will around the world. . Terrorists who indiscriminately killed Americans of all colors and economic status on September 11th, can not try to exploit the racial divide in this country for their own destructive purposes. Americans must be united with our President to stamp out terrorism and racism of any stripe." [emphasis added]

Reverend Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network

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Getting out of Iraq - reality vs. sloganeering

Some U.S. anti-Iraq-war people are starting to zero in on all the flaws and weak points of the proposed Iraq-U.S. agreement, but I'd say they are pretty much missing the forest for the trees.

What are they offering as a concrete and realizable alternative? "Out now"? Let's get serious. The nub of the issue right now is that the UN authorization for the U.S. occupation expires Dec. 31. What should happen Jan. 1? Do we, like the Iraqis judging from most reports, want to see Iraq get out from under the UN mandate and start taking over from the U.S.? And do we, like the Iraqis, want some restrictions on the U.S. military during this process -- Or are we just going to sit back and talk in slogans?

This report from Leila Fadel at McClatchy Newspapers, which has done a pretty good job reporting from Iraq, spells out some of the huge changes this agreement represents, for example:

If Iraq's parliament endorses the agreement, in six weeks American forces would have to change the way they operate in Iraq, and all U.S. combat troops, police trainers and military advisers would have to leave the country by Dec. 31, 2011. President-elect Barack Obama's campaign plan to leave a residual force of some 30,000 American troops in Iraq would be impossible under the pact. ...

The American military now can come and go as it pleases in Iraq. It raids homes without judicial approval, controls Iraq's airspace, detains civilians without warrants for as long as it wants and conducts unilateral operations against high-value targets, including a recent cross-border attack on an al Qaida in Iraq member in Syria that was condemned by Iraq, the Arab League and Syria.

The agreement forbids attacks on other countries from inside Iraq, and if it were approved, beginning Jan. 1 all U.S. operations would have to be conducted in cooperation with the Iraqi government.

"It is not permitted to use Iraqi land, water and airspace as a route or launching pad for attacks against other countries," the pact says, according to an Arabic copy that McClatchy obtained.

The military also would have to get arrest warrants from the Iraqi government, judicial orders for raids on homes and to consult in advance on every operation, including the attacks on high-value targets that American forces now routinely conduct on their own. ...

The Green Zone, where American contractors, some military personnel and officials live and work, would come under Iraqi control on the first day of next year. U.S. soldiers currently protect the area in central Baghdad, and checkpoints are manned by Peruvian mercenaries. State and Defense department officials breeze through the checkpoints, while most Iraqis are subjected to long searches.

Control of Iraqi airspace would be transferred to the Iraqis the day the agreement took effect, and after that the Iraqi government would issue annual permits to all U.S. military aircraft. Currently, the U.S. controls all air traffic over Iraq, including civilian flights, and it could shut down Iraq's airspace.

In provinces that have been turned over to Iraqi control, U.S. troops couldn't remain in cities, villages or towns after the agreement took effect, and as of June 30, all American combat troops would have to be in agreed-on locations outside populated areas.

They'd have no right, beginning next year, to venture off their bases and outposts without Iraqi authorities' approval and cooperation.

The Bush administration refused to meet Iraqi demands for legal jurisdiction over American military personnel, but the agreement does give Iraqi authorities the right to prosecute private contractors ...

It's also important for Americans to recognize that there is a political struggle going on in Iraq over the direction of their country. It remains to be seen if the Iraqi Parliament will ok the agreement, but don't get fooled by the political posturing and maneuvering going on there - a lot of it is geared toward the upcoming provincial elections and efforts by various parties to strengthen their hands in that contest. When push comes to shove, most seem prepared to support this agreement as a better alternative than keeping Iraq completely subjugated to the U.S.

Clearly, too, this agreement is in line with Obama's approach on getting out of Iraq.

A recent New York Times article sheds light on the dynamics:

“Before, the Iraqis were thinking that if they sign the pact, there will be no respect for the schedule of troop withdrawal by Dec. 31, 2011,” said Hadi al-Ameri, a powerful member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a major Shiite party. “If Republicans were still there, there would be no respect for this timetable. This is a positive step to have the same theory about the timetable as Mr. Obama.” ...

Many Shiite politicians had been under intense pressure from Iranian leaders not to sign a security agreement. Iran, which has close ties to Shiite politicians, has feared the agreement would lay the groundwork for a permanent American troop presence in Iraq that would threaten Iran.

But now, the Iraqis appear to be feeling less pressure from Iran, perhaps because the Iranians are less worried that an Obama government will try to force a regime change in their country. ...

with Iraqis believing that Mr. Obama, as president, would move faster to withdraw American troops, Iraqi and American officials said obstacles to a security agreement appeared to be fading.

Jabeer Habeeb, an independent Shiite lawmaker and a political scientist at Baghdad University, put it simply: “Obama’s election shifts Iraq into a new position.”

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Support Long Beach Journalists Holding the Line for Quality Journalism and Jobs

Target: MediaNews Group
Sponsored by: Southern California Media Guild/CWA Local 9400

As negotiations for a successor contract drag on into a second year, the company continues to push for the absolute right to outsource or offshore any and all newsroom work despite the union's attempt to negotiate reasonable alternatives.

The company is abandoning its watchdog duty and responsibilities to the community it serves. After years of staff reductions, just 11 news reporters and 5 photographers remain to cover the 5th largest city in California and one of the busiest ports in the world. The citizens of Long Beach and the 23 surrounding communities the paper covers need a staff of locally-based committed and experienced journalists to provide the community with the quality local journalism that will keep its citizenry informed. Democracy depends on it.

Click here to support Long Beach journalists for quality news and a fair deal or copy and paste this URL into your browser http://www.lang9400.com/phpPETITION/petition.php

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Front page news

The New York Times web site informs us that:

In an elaborate hoax, pranksters distributed thousands of free copies of a spoof edition of The New York Times on Wednesday morning at busy subway stations around the city, including Grand Central Terminal, Washington and Union Squares, the 14th and 23rd Street stations along Eighth Avenue, and Pacific Street in Brooklyn, among others.

The spurious 14-page papers — with a headline “IRAQ WAR ENDS” — surprised commuters, many of whom took the free copies thinking they were legitimate.

The paper is dated July 4, 2009, and imagines a liberal utopia of national health care, a rebuilt economy, progressive taxation, a national oil fund to study climate change, and other goals of progressive politics.

The hoax was accompanied by a Web site that mimics the look of The Times’s real Web site. A page of the spoof site contained links to dozens of progressive organizations, which were also listed in the print edition.

Later on Wednesday morning, the Yes Men (those pranksters who fooled WTO folks and others - subject of a 2004 documentary) issued a statement claiming credit for the prank. The statement said, in part:

In an elaborate operation six months in the planning, 1.2 million
papers were printed at six different presses and driven to prearranged
pickup locations, where thousands of volunteers stood ready to pass
them out on the street.

Articles in the paper announce dozens of new initiatives including the
establishment of national health care, the abolition of corporate
lobbying, a maximum wage for C.E.O.s, and, of course, the end of the

The paper, an exact replica of The New York Times, includes
International, National, New York, and Business sections, as well as
editorials, corrections, and a number of advertisements, including a
recall notice for all cars that run on gasoline. There is also a
timeline describing the gains brought about by eight months of
progressive support and pressure, culminating in President Obama's "Yes
we REALLY can" speech. (The paper is post-dated July 4, 2009.)

"It's all about how at this point, we need to push harder than ever,"
said Bertha Suttner, one of the newspaper's writers. "We've got to
make sure Obama and all the other Democrats do what we elected them to do. After eight, or maybe twenty-eight years of hell, we need to start
imagining heaven."

Check it out yourself here.

And be sure to check out the brilliant mea culpa parody of Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rosalio Munoz: CPUSA program hit mark

The attached photos are of marchers at the Nov.5 “Yesterday we voted, today we march” demonstration of the Fast for Our Future in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate the election victory where supporters of immigrant rights helped change the course of our country. Scores of marchers carried with them the Communist Party USA's 2008 election program as do the marchers in the photos.

The CPUSA called for a landslide victory over the right wing Republicans in the summer of 2007 with its report "On the Road Again" initiated by Chair Sam Webb.

After John McCain became the presumptive Republican during the primaries the party discussed and approved an election programmed prepared by its Political Action Commission chaired by Joelle Fishman. Webb and Fishman cooperated with the PWW in preparing these excerpts.

-- Rosalio Munoz

Reprinted below are excerpts from Communist Party USA 2008 Election Program “Help Make History, turn Our Country Around,” published in May 2008. This program was widely distributed as part of the coalition effort to change the political direction of our country. It offers a framework for the ongoing movement, post election, and the development of solutions to meet the financial and economic crises on behalf of peoples needs. The full program is available at http://www.cpusa.org.

A new day is dawning. Our country is at a turning point. This is a time of great possibility. Across the land people are coming together to reshape our nations priorities to make government of by and for the people a reality

A landslide vote on November 4 can open the way to recovery from the very deep wounds of the Bush administration and decades of corporate right wing control.

Working people want bold new policies to end war, restore democratic traditions and create green living wage jobs, affordable housing, health care and quality education for everyone.

Although the ultra-right is weakened and divided they continue to push fear, division, racism and anti-immigrant bigotry in this years elections, aided and abetted by the corporate media. These multipronged poisonous tactics can only be overcome with unbreakable unity

Voters are demanding a new kind of politics to rebuild our country for the common good. A democratic spirit of unity and hope is inspiring millions to get involved.

In 2008 union members, African Americans, Latinos, youth and women, seniors, environmental and peace voters are forging a powerful new all encompassing movement that makes great changes possible.

We offer these proposals as a contribution toward the bold policy changes necessary to meet the immediate needs of working people. Funding to come from monies now being spent on the Iraq war, military budget and tax breaks to the super rich.

1. Immediate Relief:
A moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. Reset mortgages so payments are affordable. No bailouts for banks. Extend unemployment compensation. Increase food stamps, WIC, children’s health insurance and low-income energy assistance. Assist deficit-ridden state and local governments so they can preserve services and jobs. Fund ready to go infrastructure projects

2. A Peacetime, Green Jobs Economy.
Enact massive public works jobs creation. Priority to areas hurt by loss of manufacturing, high unemployment areas including the Katrina devastated Gulf Coast. Major clean, affordable energy development project for solar, wind and biomass electricity generation. Restore Federal energy regulation and encourage public ownership of utilities. Enact the Employee Free Choice Act to enable workers to form unions without intimidation and win higher wages and benefits, dignity and respect.
Enact HR 676 the US National Health insurance Act to provide universal insurance with single payer financing. Fully fund public education. No privatization of Social Security or Medicare. Expand and improve benefits.

3.Restore Civil Rights, the Bill of Rights and Separation of Powers
Restore the civil Rights act enforcement, affirmative action. End the "school to prison pipeline. Pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship. Outlaw hates crimes. Preserve Roe vs. Wade. Repeal the Patriot Act. Prosecute Bush violations of the Constitution. Expand voting rights. Restore the Fairness Doctrine in media

4. Strength through Peace.
Withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. With no bases or US corporations left behind. Full care for returning veterans. No war on Iran or Afghanistan. Adopt a new foreign policy of diplomacy and respect for all nations. Renew commitment to UN peace role. End trade policies that enrich corporations while destroying jobs. Ratify Kyoto treaty and other climate change agreements. Enforce nuclear non-proliferation, work to abolish nuclear weapons. Cut Pentagon spending in half, close down US bases around the world.

People and Nature Before Profits
Defeating the right wing is the first step in the struggle to end exploitation, poverty, racism and war inherent in capitalism.
Our vision is a socialist USA that opens the way for equality, world peace, real democracy, a society in which people control their own destinies in a sustainable world.

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When was the last time a president walked the picket line?

When was the last time a president walked the picket line? NEVER?!

This is why America should be so proud of having elected this man president.


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Reaction from South Korea

This is from the Hankyoreh, south Korea's largest liberal/progressive newspaper.

Barack Obama ushers in new progressive era

Eight years of neoconservative policies fade with historic election of the United States’ first African American president

The history of the United States is now divided between pre-Obama and post-Obama.

The seemingly insurmountable barrier of race and the impregnable fortress of neo-conservatism that has controlled U.S. society for the past 30 years have come tumbling down in the face of Barack Hussein Obama. The first African American president produced in 232 years of history and the American voters have ushered in a new age of “neo-progressivism.”

For 30 years, it has been neo-conservative hegemony that has controlled the United States and the world. The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, sweeping 44 of the nation’s 50 states, was a signal flare for the neo-conservative age. While there was a hiatus in the form of the Clinton era, the two consecutive elections of George W. Bush, who presented a platform of economic policy for the rich and the arrogant foreign policy of a superpower, had many experts declaring the death of progressivism and the eternal triumph of conservatism. The U.S. Democratic Party was mocked as a sterile party unable to rise again. But on Tuesday, American voters lined up for hours in front of voting booths in the darkness of the early morning to make it clear that they want a new future.

Currently in San Francisco as a researcher at the Asia-Pacific Research Center of Stanford University in the United States, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy policy planning committee chair Kim Ki-sik said in a phone interview Tuesday with The Hankyoreh that “the Obama wave has surged in California throughout year. In front of houses and on cars, Obama flags have been waving. There has been an abundance of enthusiasm for making changes through Obama, not mobilized, but voluntary.” Kim also said, “Even if you talk to students at Stanford, which is known as an upper-class school, they all support Obama.”

Neo-conservatism has been the twin of the “neo-liberalist” economy, which went bust in the Wall Street financial crisis. The conservative moment, which has joined with Christian fundamentalism since the late 1960s to seize power in U.S. society, has been the unshaking root supporting these two systems.

Paul Krugman wrote in his book “The Conscience of a Liberal” of how neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism have gotten rid of all government intervention to curb inequality and attempted to turn back time to the period before the New Deal. Grover Norquist, a major figure in neo-conservatism, also declared that he wanted to bring the United States back to the time “up until Teddy Roosevelt, when the socialists took over. The income tax, the death tax, regulation, all that.” With the election of George W. Bush, the conservative movement seized power. Bush was elected president twice, conservatives controlled both houses of the U.S. Congress, and the fear from the 9/11 terrorist attacks was used to declare that the United States had the right to ignore the United Nations and international society and invade nations from Bush’s “axis of evil.”

It did not seem that a progressive age would ever come again. But neo-conservatism has imploded from incompetence, and neo-liberalism from greed. Under George W. Bush’s presidency, the U.S. national debt is approaching US$10 trillion. The surplus left by Bill Clinton has turned into a deficit of close to US$500 billion. In the eight years of the Bush administration, 5 million people have fallen into the poverty class, and the number of Americans without health insurance has increased by 7 million. The average income for CEOs has increased from 30 times the salary of ordinary workers in 1970 to over 300 times that salary today. The Bush administration has threatened the world by applying a Cold War doctrine with a dualistic structure of good and evil to 21st century society.

Just as Franklin D. Roosevelt opened up a “progressive age” in the 1930s after the Great Depression shattered the Gilded Age of the law of the jungle, Obama too has greeted the dawn of a “new progressive age” with the Wall Street financial crisis symbolizing the failure of neo-liberalism.

Obama, who campaigned for the poor in Chicago and opposed the Iraq War, made it clear in his election campaign that he would pursue a taxation policy with a distribution that lowers taxes for the poor and collects more from the rich. In his victory speech on Tuesday, he cited the New Deal and spoke of the progress of history. He also professed a new foreign policy of tolerance, saying that he would meet with enemies as well as friends to conduct dialogue. The world now has high hopes for a “less arrogant America.” An editorial in Great Britain’s Guardian newspaper declared, “Obama is America’s hope and our hope.”

It may not seem real yet, but today we witnessed a moment of history being rewritten.

Please direct questions or comments to [englishhani@hani.co.kr]

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama landslide

Florida! This is a major development that will need and get much study. Virginia, likely North Carolina - the reactionary "Southern strategy" has crumbled. As Obama said in his acceptance speech: E Pluribus Unum - out of many, one - and with a new and important meaning: a kind of wonderful unity came to the fore today to defeat the forces of ignorance, racism and reaction, but not just that - to move ahead on a progressive agenda. Now comes the struggle to bring that agenda to life.

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Ohio goes for Obama - with a huge assist from labor

When I saw Ohio called for Obama this evening, I called my friend Bruce Bostick, a longtime steelworker and union activist, and frequent contributer of great stories to the PWW, to congratulate him. This is a huge victory for Ohio's working class, and its union movement.

In our paper Bruce reported on Ohio AFL-CIO leader Joe Rugola's walk across his state last month, stopping at towns and cities ravaged by plant closings and corporate greed, to rally Ohio workers to vote for Obama.

At a stop in Barberton, IBEW leader and newly elected mayor Bob Genet said,

“There were 1,800 good manufacturing jobs here,” said Genet. “That’s 1,800 families that have lost jobs and a huge blow to our local tax base. But it’s more than that. That is where all of our fathers worked. They used to hire family members. It was a good union shop, part of our family here. Now it’s just an old rusty building, thanks to the policies of this administration.”

Writing from Cleveland, Rick Nagin reported on the challenge issued early on by Cleveland area labor leader Loree Suggs, who told union delegates they needed to unite behind Barack Obama. “Go back to your locals. Now is the time to unite. We cannot let any bias or racial thoughts get in the way,” Suggs declared.

Nagin reported:
In case there was any doubt, Soggs said, the building trades had learned that their longtime opponent, the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), had endorsed Republican John McCain, citing his opposition to every key issue protecting unions and working conditions including project labor agreements, the Employee Free Choice Act, the Davis-Bacon Act and occupational safety and health regulations.
“If your members have a problem with racial bias, tell them to get over it,” Soggs said. “Get over it for all time, but especially now for this election, get over it. We must put Barack Obama in the White House and, if we don’t, we are in deep trouble.”

It's clear that Ohio's far-sighted labor movement has made a huge contribution to moving our country forward.

Congratulations, Buckeye Staters.

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People power on the march

What a beautiful sight it has been to see the hundreds of volunteers in my little city over the past few days, young and old, perched in corners on folding chairs, sitting on the floor, in any nook or cranny, using cell phones or landlines, calling voters across the nation to vote to TURN OUR COUNTRY AROUND - peace, unity, stop the hate and slime, put people before corporate greed. This morning I spent an hour phonecalling voters in the Old Dominion state - in fact in the former capital of the Confederacy, Richmond - reminding them to vote and where to vote. Around me were over a hundred folks doing the same. It's been a steady stream of volunteers of all ages, I'd say the majority women - a strong rejection of the repulsive Sarah Palin. Enthused, energized and ready to move ahead to build for progressive change in our country.

Here's a video for today - people power on the move:

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Japan's young turn to Communist Party

Capitalism has let them down, they say

By Danielle Demetriou

TOKYO--(telegraph.co.uk) With its gleaming designer stores, the world's second largest economy and an insatiable appetite for luxury labels, Japan has long been regarded as the land of the rising capitalist.

But a wave of discontent among its younger workers is fuelling a change in the nation's political landscape: communism is suddenly back in fashion.

What many young Japanese view as an erosion of their economic security and employment rights, combined with years of political stagnation, are propelling droves of them into the arms of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), the nation's fourth largest political party.

New recruits are signing up at the rate of 1,000 a month, swelling its ranks to more than 415,000. Meanwhile a classic proletarian novel is at the top of the best-seller lists, and communist-themed "manga" comics are enjoying soaring success.

A further sign of disaffection among young Japanese - who in recent years have been more renowned for their political apathy than their revolutionary zeal - is the increasing frequency of rallies by workers on the streets of the capital.

Earlier this month, crowds of up to 5,000 young Japanese workers marched through the streets of central Tokyo to express their growing discontent with the government over working conditions.

And the job losses, financial insecurity and social dissatisfaction that are expected to go hand in hand with the current global credit crisis are expected to increase the ranks of the party further.

Spearheading the lurch to the Left are young Japanese in their twenties and thirties, who have become increasingly disillusioned with changes to employment laws which they blame for creating a climate of insecurity.

Some 44 per cent of country's workforce are part-time only, while a profusion of short-term contracts has created a generation of freelancers who are often between jobs.

Kimitoshi Morihara, deputy director of the Japanese Communist Party's international bureau, said: "Working conditions dramatically changed for younger generations in 2002 when new temporary working laws were introduced.

Today, more than one in three Japanese is in temporary work. They have almost no rights, no security and no future.

"The political climate in Japan is changing and more young Japanese are becoming politically aware because these issues have long been ignored by other parties." The revival of hard left politics comes as Japan faces the prospect of an general election in coming months, following the parliamentary deadlock which led to last month's sudden resignation of Yasuo Fukuda, the third prime minister in less than three years.

The country's schlerotic political system has enabled the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to hold power for an almost unbroken five decades, although its powers were critically curtailed last year when the main opposition party won control of the upper legislative chamber.

Resurgent Japanese communism is deploying all the tools of the 21st century, with the internet and on-line video sites playing a vital role.

The party's charismatic chairman, Kazuo Shii, triggered a rush of new recruits with a rousing parliamentary speech attacking the "exploitation" of young workers, which has become cult viewing among young Japanese on video websites.

With his grey salaryman suit and glasses, 54-year-old Mr Shii appears a far cry from conventional revolutionary stereotypes. However, after eight years at the helm of the party he has been propelled to prominence to become something of a media personality.

Among those who have recently come under his sway is Miki Tomohiro, a 34-year-old freelance writer from Fukutsu City, Fukuoka Prefecture. "When I saw Mr Shii speaking, I felt as if he was exposing capitalism in its crudest form," he said. "I surfed the internet to find out more about the party before joining." Oomori Shuji, 30, a temporary worker for Toyota, from Aichi Prefecture, who joined the party in June, added: "Since my graduation, I have never been fully employed. At a JCP workshop, I learned about the realities of temps hired by the day and the working poor, who are without social security or bonuses, and are often easily fired.

"The party is considerate of the plight of young people, including their jobs and living conditions. It has a concrete policy on these questions." Another sign of the growing allure of the Left is the sudden surge in popularity of a classic Japanese novel, Kanikosen - the Crab-Canning Ship ­- about embattled factory workers who rise up against their capitalist oppressors.

Nearly eight decades after it was written by Takiji Kobayashi, a communist who was tortured to death for his political beliefs aged 29, its sales have leapt from a slow annual trickle of 5,000 to 507,000 so far this year, unexpectedly catapulting it to the top of the nation's bestseller lists.

A "manga" comic book depicting the same Marxist tale is also winning over young Japanese, with 200,000 copies sold in a year. Kosuke Maruo, editor at East Press, which publishes the manga version, said: "The story succeeds in representing very vividly the situation of the so-called working poor today.

"They cannot become happy and they cannot find the solution to their poverty, however hard they work. Young people who are forced to work for very low wages today may have a feeling that they are in a similar position to the crew of Kanikosen." Kyudo Takahashi, 31, a freelance writer from Tokyo, attributed the popularity of the story to a growing sense of displacement among his generation.

"Kanikosen was a textbook in school but we didn't read it seriously then," he said. "Now, we're reading it again because we're frustrated with the government.

"In the book, people are exploited again and again. They are not treated like humans, more like cows at a hamburger factory. That is how many people feel today. When we find work, someone is always exploiting us. We cannot feel secure about the future."

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Friday, October 31, 2008

News flash: most Americans WANT to redistribute the wealth

A new Gallup poll released yesterday finds that "a majority of Americans (58%) say money and wealth should be more evenly distributed among a larger percentage of the people."

And just under half (46%) "go so far as to say that the government should redistribute wealth by 'heavy taxes on the rich.'"

Gallup says it has been asking the public for over 20 years whether they think the distribution of money and wealth in this country is "fair," or whether money and wealth should be "more evenly distributed among a larger percentage of the people," and "across the nine times the question has been asked, a majority of Americans have agreed with the thought that money and wealth should be more evenly distributed."

In each of the four times Gallup has asked "Do you think our government should or should not redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich?" in recent years, "between 45% and 51% of Americans have gone so far as to agree with the fairly harsh-sounding policy of 'redistribut[ing] wealth by heavy taxes on the rich.'"

That's the real American spirit, dontcha think?

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In Working-Class Pennsylvania, Union Reps and Football Stars Make Strong Case for Obama -- and Against McCain

Originally posted on the AFL-CIO blog and the Huffington Post, and then reprinted on the Portside mailing list.

By Carl Davidson

Organized labor has set its sights on winning western Pennsylvania for Barack Obama.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney came to the Electrical Workers ([2] IBEW) Local 712 hall in Vanport on Oct. 25. He was joined by United Steelworkers ([3] USW) top officials, as well as members of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team who were scheduled to be at the afternoon rally. In between, the unions deployed more than 2,200 rank-and-file union members to knock on the doors of some 31,000 union family homes across the state in a single afternoon, an effort that will become even more earnest over the next several days.

I arrived in the morning’s gray drizzle, unlike the sunny fall days of the last month of Saturday “labor walks.” Media work was my task for the day, and I made sure a New York Times reporter quickly met all the local union officials and pro-union local candidates.

While I was getting wired on black coffee and a jelly donut, Bob Schmetzer, a local IBEW official, handed me one of his home-made fliers. “Here, whaddya think of this?” he said. “I got it off the Internet.” It was one of the now-classic pieces that expose the undercurrent of white supremacy in the campaign, using role reversal: “What if John McCain graduated at the top of his class at Harvard, and Obama came in at the bottom of his class with the record of a goof-off? What do you think Fox and the right-wing talk shows would be doing with that?” It gave a dozen more examples, using irony and good humor to make a very serious point.

“Terrific,” I told Bob, “We have to get people thinking about things like this. It arms them against the right.” He agreed, and worked the hall, pulling over one after another of his key guys, giving each of them the leaflet, going over it with them. He’s thinking ahead, educating his troops, knowing that this battle’s more than just dollars and cents.

Sweeney’s arrival was low key. Hovering nearby was a young union staff woman, Yael Foa, assigned by the AFL-CIO to work with us in Beaver County. She’s talented and tireless, but stood to the side, beaming as Sweeney greeted each union member as if he or she were family. Wearing his union jacket and cap, white hair and the trace Irish lilt in his voice, he’s soft-spoken and warm with everyone and gets the same in return. People like and respect him.

But on the platform he’s a firebrand.

You’re the reason Obama is out in front in Pennsylvania. Make no mistake; each of you here is very important. Of all the things that we do—mailings, advertisements, phone banking—there’s nothing more effective or more persuasive than what you’re doing today, a personal visit from one union brother or sister to another. Beaver County is the key to western Pennslvania, western Pennsylvania is the key to Pennsylvania—and without Pennsylvania, there’s no way McCain can win!

Sweeney closed by pushing the entire ticket, from Obama at the top to Vince Biancucci and Dennis Rousseau, both local guys with a union history, for state representatives at the base. He stressed the AFL-CIO’s core message: No more nonsense about privatizing Social Security and putting it into the stock market, he said. No more notions of taxing health care benefits—extend health care to everyone. No more nonsense about de-regulation of banking and Wall Street. They’ve made a huge mess, and we need a New Deal and a new leadership to turn things around. Obama is the most pro-labor candidate we’ve ever seen, so shift into high gear and let’s make him our president.

Now everyone was appropriately fired up as they donned “Steelworkers for Obama” T-shirts and hit the streets of nearby mill towns and the back roads in the semi-rural township hills and hollows for the next four hours.

While this is a key area, it’s only one small part of organized labor’s effort in this campaign. Aside from millions of dollars spent on print and other media pushing “Green Jobs,” health care and the right of unions to organize, both the AFL-CIO-affiliated unions and Change to Win-affiliated unions like SEIU are making a common front, working together on this election. This weekend alone, more than 250,000 union volunteers across the country are on the streets going door to door. Busloads from safe areas like New York City spend weekends in the rural Pennsylvania Poconos or working-class neighborhoods of Philadelphia. Car caravans from Chicago work the factory towns of Indiana, Kentucky and western Ohio. There’s nothing quite like seeing it in motion: “Awesome!” as Obama’s younger volunteers put it, although they’ve done some pretty awesome things themselves.

The mid-afternoon sun broke through the clouds. I returned to the union hall after joining the Beaver County Peace Links event—a weekly vigil at the court house for more than five years now, with our “Bring the Troops Home Now!” banner and “Honk for Peace!” signs.

The union parking lot was filling up for “Steel Blitz for Barack” time. Soon a bus would arrive carrying Dan Rooney, owner emeritus of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team; Edmond Nelson, former Steelers star defensive lineman; USW President Leo W. Gerard; and other union officials and players.

Outsiders might not get it, but in an area where “Steelerism” comes close to being a state religion, THIS IS A BIG DEAL. Dozens of young, mostly white kids, boys and girls, were bundled up against the wind, plastering each others’ coats, front and back, with “Union Voters for Obama” and “Steelers for Obama” stickers, clutching autograph books, waiting for their heroes.

Inside, Billy George, head of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, warmed up the packed hall. George is from the tough McDonald Heights neighborhood of nearby Aliquippa, home of defunct Jones and Laughlin Steel, once the largest steel mill in the world. He was with USW Local 1211, a powerful and militant local in its day.

“What time is it?” he yelled into the mike. “UNION TIME!” the room yelled back, no prompting needed. George predicted that the Steelers will win their division, then the Super Bowl, and then he asked, “Who will be the president to greet and open the Super Bowl?” “BARACK OBAMA!” the crowd roared.

George got serious and turned to labor history. He spoke about the fierce battles by the Steelworkers Organizing Committee in the 1930s and the historical marker that sits at the old plant gate in downtown Aliquippa. The marker recalls the 1937 U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of Aliquippa’s workers in the case that finally broke the back of reaction and allowed nationwide union organization to spread and FDR’s New Deal to accelerate.

Explained George:

Social Security came out of this. Our right to organize came out of this. These are the most important things we’ve ever won, and now McCain and the Republicans want to “privatize” it or take it back. Can you imagine if they put your Social Security in the stock market? No way, no way we’ll let them. I know everyone here agrees with me, but I want four full shifts out of each and every one of you in the next 10 days. Get this message out to your neighbors, relatives and everyone else around here that knows better, or ought to.

Next up was Leo Gerard, the Canadian-born international president of the United Steelworkers. Even with his north-of-the-border accent, he knows the exact language of this group today.

We’ve been getting the shaft, but this is our time, we’re going to turn it completely around. We’ve never had a candidate like Barack Obama.

After the thank-you’s and standard lines, Gerard asks the workers here to follow a thought experiment with him: to imagine a candidate born to wealth and privilege of the high officer class. Follow him as he fritters away his studies. Recognize and respect his service, but when he gets back, he dumps his first wife and marries into brewery millions. He goes to Congress with the goal of letting the banks run wild and voting against the unions 85 percent of the time. He’s so wealthy, he doesn’t even know how many homes he has.

Now imagine, Gerard went on, a candidate with a single mother, who works hard, but leaves him mainly with Kansas grandparents to raise him. They sacrifice everything to get him an education. He gets to Harvard, top of his class. Wall Street is offering hundreds of thousands of dollars just for sign-up bonuses, but what does he do? He decides to give something back. He works for a church group on the South Side of Chicago, with the unemployed laid-off workers, many of them steelworkers, helping them get retrained, helping them find a future.

Gerard exclaimed:

The Republicans want to talk about character! What does this tell you about it? What does this tell you about the difference between these two men? I listened to right-wing radio yesterday, making fun of Obama for going to visit his dying grandmother, the woman who gave everything to see him succeed. He set aside the time to see her while she could still hear his voice, and they mock it.

McCain and the Republicans have been running around like “Robin Hood in Reverse,” then dump all this slime on Obama and us, and we’re supposed to shut up and like it? No, take the measure of these two men. Take the measure of which one stands with family as we know it, take the measure of which one can benefit the working class that we’re part of. Obama is going to be a great president, and we’re going to put him there.

By this time there was not a dry eye in the house. The Steeler’s Dan Rooney took the mike to add his admiration of Obama. But the most powerful applause comes for linebacker Edmond Nelson, a huge man who dwarfed everyone else on the platform.

He shouted out:

I’m for Barack Obama because I hate this war in Iraq. I hate this war because of the lies told us about “Weapons of Mass Destruction” to drag us into it. I’m for Obama because I hate what’s been done to our soldiers and the people of Iraq.

His words brought the strongest applause of the afternoon.

But Nelson, an African American, closed with “I’m for Barack Obama because I want to see people who look like me get a fair shake and a decent chance in this society.” Again, powerful applause from a group that’s more than 90 percent white but knows exactly what he means.

As the autograph lines started forming, one of the AFL-CIO chiefs brought the room back to order, saying: “One last speaker, one of the most important. She’s going to tell you what to do.”

Kyra Ricci, a petite twenty-something with a terrific smile but also a “listen up now” sense of command, laid out the tasks of the final days. She had her young people with their sign-up clipboards stationed around the hall so they wouldn’t be gotten by without a commitment.

It was the perfect counterpoint to end the day. Three powerful movements are coming together here—organized labor, the African American fight for justice and a new anti-war youth insurgency. Given the sense of class-conscious solidarity and unity in the hall, it’s hard to see how McCain and the GOP can stop them. But it’s also clear that an Obama White House, in calling for partners for “change from below,” also will face forces that will not be easily deflected or denied.

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