Friday, May 30, 2008

Another Crane Falls in NYC

Yet another construction crane has fallen in New York City. At the corner of 91st Street and First Avenue a crane attached to a newly constructed building fell some twenty stories smashing into an occupied apartment building across the street and destroying cars below.

It is unknown how many casualties there are are. Over 100 firefighters are on the scene doing rescue work.

This is just the latest of a series of dramatic construction accidents in the city amounting to the death of 17 construction workers in the first five months of the year, more than the total deaths in all of 2007.

The most recent crane collapse led to the resignation of the head of the city's Department of Buildings and promises from Mayor Michael Bloomberg that it will never happen again. He also said the equivalent of "accidents happen." A representative of the builders association was reported as saying "no increased regulation could have stopped the collapse."

After years of reduced inspectors in the office, the City has promised additional inspectors and stopped all crane operations for a few days. But now the race to develop new construction in the city is back on. Much new construction is actually illegal or in violation of zoning laws, but it continues hoping to slip through

If workers or residents have been killed in the latest disaster, they are certainly victims of runaway development in Manhattan, which has gone almost unfettered during the economic recession. Corruption, rapacious greed, graft, government incompetence and lack of oversight has led to this situation and more construction accidents will happen until a drastic change will happen.

Breaking news: New York 1 television is reporting at least three suspected dead and the crane operator is trapped in the cab which has fallen to the ground.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Of Smears & Red Hysteria

Isn’t it amazing how dangerously influential the CPUSA has suddenly become again? As a regular peruser of the insane ramblings of Right-Wing bloggers, I am seeing a huge increase of histrionic entries by the wing-nut 101st Keyboard Brigade about Barack Obama’s secret commie background. Most entries are just cut and past jobs emanating from the (in)Accuracy In The Media howlings of Cliff Kincaid. Kincaid believes he has become the new Woodward & Bernstein by “uncovering” Obama’s childhood connection to Frank Marshall Davis, the African-American poet and journalist. Davis was a family friend during the period Obama lived in Hawaii. The whole thing is way too tiresome to get into. Google Davis and I’m sure a hard drive could be filled with the links to calls from these wanna be Paul Reveres to defend Americuh from the Red Menace posted all over the Internet.

Suddenly, the CPUSA, once again has “front organizations” and secret “moles” being used to subvert this shining republic. Obama is not being upfront about his commie connections, they write. Another hit piece titled “Barack Obama's communist connections” written by Wes Vernon from a pseudo-patriot web site called Renew America goes into more detail about the dangers of Obama’s past. My point is that these stories are being reposted over and over again. Add these to the pervasive misinformation being planted such as Obama’s a Muslim, he isn’t patriotic or that he downright hates America and it becomes too obvious that Right-Wing America is terrified of Obama. Let’s be truthful, America. The real issue is that Obama is—drum roll please—BLACK! These loons on the Right know that they can’t take the racist low road so they have found something akin to a pair of dirty under shorts to rally around. Instead of a burning cross, these drones have dredged up the old “Red under every bed” chestnut.

I have no idea whether Obama ever had Communist or Socialist leanings. Maybe he was what I like to call a “college Socialist.” I’ve seen it over and over again. College students get involved in socialist and communist parties while in school but as soon as they graduate and land a great paying job, all thoughts of Marx are forgotten. Let us hope that Obama has maintained some of the advice from Frank Marshall Davis.

I am reminded of the “When I give bread to a poor man they call me a saint. When I ask why he is poor they call me a communist” quote. Displaying social responsibility and fighting for social justice has become the new communism for the Right. How could it not? We live in a country where greed and decadence is rewarded and viewed as a sign of success. If you are poor, you are garbage not worth the time to market to. I’m an up from the dirt Prole and proud of it. Capitalism DID make me one of its grave-diggers in waiting.

My father was a janitor and my mother cleaned houses and motels. I grew up living with class prejudice. I lived in a ramshackle house with no hot water, a coal furnace, an outhouse and a party line telephone. My clothes never failed to get me ridiculed at school. What has this to do with my original rant? I think we should be screaming from rooftops that we are Communists and proud of it. We must illustrate why we are Communists. Why do we believe what we do? We have forgotten that communist work is not just an intellectual concept promoted by those who sit in offices or college classrooms. We must remember that the real work is down at the street level. We must become community activists. This is where the people learn what we are. The wing-nuts use words to label us. We should use action to define ourselves.

How about a numerical estimate of the casualties of Capitalism? The Right loves to toss around the “100 million victims of Communism” claim.

We should be blogging to counter the Right. We need to better explain to the masses what our program consists of. We need to dispel the idea that our Party wishes to turn Amerika into a Stalinist gulag. How much longer shall we allow the mistakes of the past to be used against us with an uneducated public? We need to organize more aggressively as was done in the early years. I suggest a serious summer seminar on how to talk to people about our ideas and how to counter our critics.

I hope this wasn't too long and boring. I have a tendency to ramble.

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1,000 Marines in Peru worries opposition parties

"Living in Peru" just came in from Dr. Jason Smith...

Here is a story on a Peruvian military offensive just launched at the begininng of the month in southeastern Peru, which I don't know how close it is to Ayacucho.

Living in Peru
By Israel J. Ruiz

Peru's government has authorized for a group of U.S. marines to carry out a humanitarian aid project in Ayacucho, a region located in the south-central Andes of the country. According to opposition parties, the Andean country's government has authorized for "at least 1,000 armed U.S. marines" to be on Peruvian soil from Friday May 23 to September 10.

"These personnel will be entering the country to carry out the Humanitarian and Civic Assistance Program called "New Horizons 2008" in Ayacucho," said Peruvian congressional representatives after approving the government's request.

With nationalist leaders stating that the United States was looking to set up a military base in Peru, it was reported that the approval of the U.S. mission was not easy. According to representatives, the topic was extensively debated.Congresswoman Mercedes Cabanillas explained the mission included the construction of medical posts, water wells and school classrooms.

Peru's vice president called nationalists hypocrites for accepting aid from Cuba and Venezuela but refusing to accept help from the U.S. "Ayacucho can't afford to turn away North American aid," said the vice president.

Ayacucho is remembered as the region that was worst affected by terrorism in the 1980s when Shining Path guerrillas began a war against Peru's government.

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War and warming - toxic in so many ways

“Projected total US spending on the Iraq war could cover all of the global investments in renewable power generation that are needed between now and 2030 in order to halt current warming trends.”

This and other useful information is contained in a recent report by Oil Change International. Read it here: A Climate of War.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Obama courting right-wing Cuban community

Obama gave a center-right speech to the right-wing Cuban community in Florida. In it, he declared his intentions to maintain the US embargo against Cuba, a shift from his 2004 senatorial campaign rhetoric where he questioned the embargo.

However, he also said he would take a diplomatic approach to Cuba, which is a very obvious departure from the US imperialist hostility of the last 50 years.

Also, some other interesting quotes:
"We cannot ignore suffering to our south, nor stand for the globalization of the empty stomach. We cannot accept trade that enriches those at the top of the ladder while cutting out the rungs at the bottom. It's time to understand that the goal of our trade policy must be trade that works for all people in all countries."
"We will fully support Colombia's fight against the FARC. We'll work with the government to end the reign of terror from right-wing paramilitaries. We will support Colombia's right to strike terrorists who seek safe-haven across its borders. And we will shine a light on any support for the FARC that comes from neighboring governments. This behavior must be exposed to international condemnation, regional isolation and--if need be--strong sanctions. It must not stand."

Read Fidel Castro's response here. Also, check out Tom Hayden's analysis.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Texas Raids Polygamists

On April 3, the Great State of Texas raided the ranch home of a polygamist sect and put 440 of their children into Children’s Protective Services.

Every day since then, the battle has raged through the courts and the news reports. Sometimes they only comment on the “Texas Prairie” long dress styles that the women wear, but they find something to talk about in every newscast.

Detractors of the raid say that the splitoff Morman group was just practicing its religion and should have been protected by the U.S. Constitution. Advocates say that the state has a responsibility to protect all children against any kind of abuse. The abuse usually alleged is forcing the young women into marriage and/or pregnancy at an early age (16). Supporters of the raid rarely mention that polygamy is illegal in Texas, and they reply to accusations of religious intolerance. There are Texans on both sides.

Pictures tell a lot of the story. The quaintly dressed women and children look healthy and well fed. The news reports sometimes mention that the ranch was an economic success.

On May 22, a definitive legal step occurred when the Third Court of Appeals ruled that the state hadn’t shown that the children were in immediate danger, which would have been the only legal basis for seizing them. All the children were ordered back to their parents. It won’t be that easy, since the state has been trying all along to find out which of the communally-raised children belong to which parents. DNA tests haven’t come back yet, the kids apparently don’t know their parents, and the mothers aren’t saying.

The Great State of Texas appealed their legal setback to the Texas Supreme Court, so don’t think this is over. They may be crazy, but they’re not quitters.

In trying to make heads or tails of the entire phenomenon, Texas progressives can be certain of one thing: the State of Texas has no credibility in its claim to be acting on the behalf of children’s welfare and happiness. The right-wing legislature is infamous for having cut the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPS), the Texas Youth Commission has an ongoing scandal over sexual and other forms of abuse in the young people’s prison system, and there is an ongoing effort, taking many forms, to destroy the public school system here.

Another thing we can be sure of is that children would be better off if they lived in a society where these issues pass outside the hands of hysterics and under the control of thought.

--Jim Lane

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Get better, Ted!

Ted Kennedy. I love that guy.

It was 1994, the year I turned 18 and the first time I could ever vote. As I stood in the voting booth set up inside my elementary school, Rice Square School in Worcester, Massachusetts, I pondered my options. I didn’t know much about politics, but I knew that Kennedy was both part of my state’s culture, as well as a pretty stand-up guy. From what people had told me, the candidate running against him wasn’t so good; it was this guy, Mitt Romney, who, unfortunately, still hasn’t disappeared.

So Senator Kennedy got my vote, and millions of others, allowing him to continue his reign to become the second longest serving senator in Congress.

Kennedy’s made some mistakes, politically, over the course of the years. What springs to mind, of course, is the No Child Left Behind Act and too much cooperation with Republicans over that immigration bill. But, no matter what the case, you always knew that Ted was generally doing what he thought was in the best interests of peace, civil rights, democracy, and he tried to make compromises when he saw them necessary—never based on some sort of ideological agreement with the Republicans, but in the interest of doing something. And, for much of the past few decades, with Republicans dominating either the executive, the legislature, the judiciary—or all three branches—compromises were necessary. Even now that the Democrats have a majority, they still have to compromise.

But over the years, Kennedy has become a standard bearer for progressives in the Senate: For the past 30 years he’s been fighting for abortion rights; he was one of a very small number of U.S. Senators to vote against Bush’s invasion of Iraq; he’s fought for gay rights (only four other senators besides him have spoken in favor of gay marriage; he’s voted the right way on labor issues 93 percent of the time, according to the AFL-CIO…the list goes on. One could mention the environment, student aid, education, and, of course, civil rights. In fact, Barack Obama commented that he may never have even been a member of the Senate were it not for Kennedy’s work on civil rights.

Kennedy has become somewhat of king in Massachusetts. He hasn’t had to worry about re-election in years, due both to his popularity and his rank in the Senate, yet he’s still been doing as much as possible to advance a progressive agenda. He was one of the earlier superdelegates to go for Obama, and has campaigned for him.

I'm proud of the fact that Ted Kennedy was the first person to ever get my vote, and that I came from a state that made that possible. I wish the best to Sen. Kennedy, and hope that he’ll recover. A Massachusetts without Kennedy doesn’t seem right, and a Senate without him would lack a great fighter for justice.

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Oil companies' reason for being

Woo-hoo. We used to have a "quote of the week" feature here at PWW but gave it up because of space limitations and frequent lack of good punchy quotes. Well, here's one:

Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions noted that “the world market for oil is not a free market.”

He also pointed out that oil companies “don’t exist to produce the lowest possible price of fuel for our constituents. They exist to maximize their profits for their shareholders.”

Sessions said this at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where top oil execs had been summoned to explain why they're making exorbitant profits.

For some real insights into why, see here and here.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sean Bell's murderers "disciplined"

The cops who killed Sean Bell and shot a couple of his friends for no apparent reason--other than that the cops were trigger happy and that the New York Police Department still hasn't rid itself of its decades old racism--were recently "disciplined." The discipline, according to the N.Y. Post, "could lead to loss-of-pay, suspension or dismissal."

Maybe some of them will get "dismissed"?!

These cops kill an innocent man, on his wedding day, outside of a nightclub, shoot up another two people, spray the whole area down with 50 bullets--shooting so wildly that a bullet ended up in someone's apartment, and another ended up on a train platform a football field away--and the worst the NYPD can do is maybe dismiss them?

I've worked at a lot of different places. A guy was dismissed, canned, fired--whatever you want to call it--at a factory because he was late returning from his break, and some of the wafer-things that we produced were ruined. But for the NYPD, killing an innocent Black man apparently isn't even an offense that is definitely cause for dismissal. It's infuriating, but, no surprise, as this is a long pattern with the New York City police department.

But people are fighting, moreso than in previous cases, and that's an encouraging sign. Black, white, Latino, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish--The fight goes on, united.

Here's a statement from Rev. Al Sharpton on the NYPD's announcement that they would discipline the cops involved:

In light of reports that the New York Police Department has given internal disciplinary charges to eight of the officers in the Sean Bell case, I feel it is a step in right direction. However, we at National Action Network call upon Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to follow the lead of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey who fired four police yesterday, demoted one sergeant, and disciplined others, without going through a long internal procedure. They had the right as does the New York Police Department to terminate people that violate police policy. I strongly believe that the Police Commissioner should fire the officers in the Sean Bell case pursuant to civil service laws. I might add that there was not a fatality in the case in Philadelphia like there was in New York and the City still acted quickly and unequivocally on an incident that was just two weeks ago. This is the kind of aggressive and no nonsense attitude we must have with policing in other parts of the country. There must be no tolerance for crime but also no tolerance for police misconduct and the New York Police Department must send a strong firm signal that that is the case as we have seen in Philadelphia.

Reverend Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Bill O'Reilly... what can I say?

If you were one of those people that thought "well... maybe Bill O'Reilly's not crazy, maybe it's all just an act from a man who knows how to make some money..." watch this:

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Voter Identification, a Texas Scandal

The scandal on Voter-ID in Texas is that there is no scandal. Attorney General Greg Abbott only wishes there were one.

The May 18 copy of "Dallas Morning News" carries the lead headline on page one, upper-right, "AG fails to uncover major voting fraud. Abbott saw epidemic, but prosecuted only 26 cases -- all Dems." Abbott had pledged, more than two years ago, to "root out what he called an epidemic of voter fraud in Texas." He grabbed up a $1.4 million federal crime-fighting grant, issued press releases, and went to work.

Senior political writer Wayne Slater, to his great credit, used the Freedom of Information law to find out exactly what Abbott had discovered with $1.4 million and the most powerful legal office in the state. Abbott managed to find 26 paltry cases to prosecute. Most of them resulted in probation or pretrial diversion. Most of them concerned "vote harvesters" who illegally pick up "vote from home" absentee ballots for delivery.

Abbott apparently ignored a major scandal concerning 100 ballots illegally cast in George Bush's wealthy home town of Highland Park. All of the people he prosecuted were Democrats. Nearly all of them were non-whites. The Democratic Party sued Abbott some time ago for attempting to illegally use his office to curtail voting. Leading spokespersons condemn Abbott and his efforts, but the Dallas reporter couldn't get him to respond.

The key to the whole hoopla is not actually in the major front-page article, but in a tiny article at the bottom of page ten. Greg Abbott, and other leading Republicans, are calling for a new "voter-ID" law in Texas mirroring the one in Indiana that just received the Supreme Court Seal of Approval. They claim that "epidemics of voter fraud" will be cured by these laws that, they say, would prevent undocumented workers from disguising themselves as citizens and stealing our elections.

The fact that up to 12 million (AFL-CIO estimate) disabled and older Americans would see their voting power dissipated if they had another obstacle to surmount before they could vote is just a necessary sacrifice, the rightwingers say, compared to stopping these armies of disguised vote-stealing undocumented workers. The outright racism of their argument sticks out all over it. The partisan nature of their attack on vulnerable layers of the working class is all too apparent.

Author Greg Palast, in “Armed Madhouse. And other dispatches from the front lines of the ‘Class War.” (Penguin Group, New York, 2006) unearths several leading Republicans from other states making the same claim, but they can't actually find any evidence to back it up.

Neither can Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The tiny article's tiny conclusion: "Virtually all of the 26 voter-fraud cases Mr. Abbott pursued involve absentee ballots. None would have been prevented by requiring a photo ID at the polls."

--Jim Lane in Dallas

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Do computers lie?

Do computers lie? Or just the intelligence services? These are the questions swirling around the recent charges against Venezuela from Colombian armed forces that invaded Ecuador and took computers from Colombian guerrillas after bombing their base. The Colombians claim the computer files show Venezuela helped the FARC rebels, deemed terrorists by the U.S.

But in an e-mail from Venezuela Information Office, Venezuela points out "INTERPOL's report DOES NOT back up the Colombian government's attacks on Venezuela.

"INTERPOL's stated intention 'was not to evaluate the accuracy or the source of the exhibits' content.' Therefore, the investigation 'did not include the analysis of the content of documents, folders or other material on the eight seized FARC computer exhibits.'"

Venezuela and other left oriented governments in Latin America have faced intervention from the Bush administration. The latest aggression comes at a time when Colombia's president Alvaro Uribe has been tied to far right paramilitaries charged with killing thousands of trade unionists, community activists and others. U.S. corporations like Chiquita and Drummond have also been linked to these armed groups.

These charges against Venezuela also come at a time when the Bush administration is pushing for the Colombia-U.S. Free Trade Deal, a type of trade deal that favors corporations over the people of South, Central America and Caribbean, and the workers and people of North America, and is opposed by many, including the majority of Venezuelan people.

Just too convenient, even for conspiracy skeptics.

Read the Interpol report:

Read Venezuela's Fact sheet:

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John McCain's Lobbyist Ties to Dictators

From a Center for Public Integrity report released earlier this week:

While Republican John McCain has severed ties with two campaign advisers who lobbied for the military junta in Myanmar, connections between his staffers and oppressive foreign regimes still exist and date back more than a decade.

Charlie Black, whose lobbying firm represented human rights abusers in the Philippines and Nigeria, continues to serve McCain as a senior adviser. Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, and Paul Manafort, a Republican strategist, are co-owners of Davis Manafort Inc., a public relations firm that, according to The Wall Street Journal, worked for a Ukrainian political party backed by Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

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HPV Linked to Oral Cancer in Men

When the FDA approved the new vaccine against HPV (human papilloma virus) to protect women from cervical cancer, there was an outcry among conservatives that vaccinating adolescent girls against a sexually transmitted disease would lead to promiscuity. Surprisingly, Rick Perry, the conservative governor of Texas, led the nation in trying to make this vaccine mandatory for 11-12 year old girls; not so surprisingly, he was shouted down by the religious right.

In the last few months, the debate around the HPV vaccine for girls has been a window to more deeply ingrained and particularly nasty sexism: the core of the ultra-right's argument is that if women are sexually active out of wedlock, they deserve to get cancer. You better protect your virginity girls, cuz if you have sex you'll die!

New evidence is coming to light that a large percentage of oral cancers in men is also caused by HPV. If the HPV vaccine were approved for men first, we wouldn't have even had a debate. It will be interesting to see how the debate changes now that men's lives are involved.

On a broader note, this debate touches on so many other social issues:

  • Why wasn't the HPV vaccine initially approved for both men and women? These women are not getting infected on their own.
  • HPV transmission among women follows a similar pattern as HIV among women, where married women are being infected by their husbands who picked up the virus somewhere else.
  • Vaccine use in general is on the decline due to allegations that they are unsafe.
  • In the world of medicine, women are still second class citizens; in the world of politics, women's health is barely even a blip on the radar (unless we're talking about serious obstacles, like the right to choose or access to birth control)


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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Editor's e-mail: Anti-poverty campaign launched

I get so many interesting e-mails about important campaigns that I'm going to post them on occasion. Here is one from

Half in Ten Anti-Poverty Campaign Launches
Sen. John Edwards, along with LCCR and other social justice organizations, announced a new campaign to cut poverty in America in half in ten years.

Civil Rights Groups Tell Senate: 'Stop Confirming Controversial Judicial Nominees'
As Senate Democrats continue to feel pressure to confirm pending
judicial nominees, civil rights groups have called on the Senate
to stop controversial judicial confirmations until after
November's election.

LCCR Honors Civil Rights Leaders
Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Patricia Rouse, and Soledad O'Brien will
be honored at tonight's Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Awards

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Steelworkers join Edwards

Steelworkers endorse Obama

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No more free ride for McCain

This came in yesterday from reproductive rights group, NARAL. I agree. McCain has gotten a free ride on how extreme he really is on numerous issues. His speech on judicial appointments has been interpreted as "reaching out to conservatives." Carefully worded, his speech uses all the code phrases (activist judges, strict Constitutionalist) that means more of the same of the Bush far-right philosophy. That philosophy has created a whole host of backward steps, including but not limited to women's rights. It includes okaying torture and getting rid of "habeas corpus" so the government can keep people in detention and prison forever without bringing charges.

From: Nancy Keenan (President, NARAL Pro-Choice America)

I'm excited to announce that today, NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC is endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for president! We have been so fortunate to have two fully pro-choice candidates running for the Democratic nomination, and we praised both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama for their leadership in standing up for women's reproductive rights. But only one candidate can advance to the general election.

NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC is making our endorsement now because every day that passes, Sen. McCain gets a free ride on the issue of choice. That free ride ends today.Too many voters think that McCain is a moderate. Can someone who's voted anti-choice 125 times out of 130 opportunities on abortion and other reproductive-rights issues be a moderate? It's time to put that myth to rest.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tear down that wall!

What a stemwinder John Edwards gave! Get ready for the "fight of our lives..."

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Help Stemilt Cherry workers get food, housing and justice

More than one hundred cherry pickers were evicted from where they were living after talking to news media about their working and living conditions in California. The United Farm Workers is working to aid these cherry pickers and fight the company responsible for this travesty, Stemilt Growers Company, which boasts of being the largest shipper of fresh-market sweet cherries in the world.

These cherry pickers worked for Stemilt in Washington State. They were told by company representatives to come to California for a job in the cherries. So they did. When these farm workers reached California, a number of the workers were hired, but other workers were told to just wait and see if they could get jobs. While in Washington, some of the workers were informed that housing would be available to them when they got to California, but when they got here there was no housing. They had no choice but to sleep in the fields. Some stayed in tents, others in cars and still others slept on cardboard or simply the dirt.

When workers went public, things only got worse. Stemilt company representatives' called the sheriffs to have the 100 plus workers and their property evicted from the orchard.

You can help too and send an e-mail to Stemilt asking them to take action about this situation. Go to:

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Help the PWW at the Media Reform Conference

The Media Reform Conference is just around the corner. It's at the Minneapolis Convention Center, June 6-8. The PWW has been to every conference since the first one in Madison, Wisc. Will you help us at this one? If so shoot me an e-mail at pww AT pww DOT org.

The regular registration price is $195—but a special $95 rate is available for MoveOn members. To sign up, click here.

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Debate on Tibet

While the below documentaries are from CCTV, China's state broadcasting company, it is important to note that other news agencies, such as Reuters, did report that the protests in Tibet were not peaceful. And Michael Parenti has written extensively on the Lama aristocracy and slavery that existed in Tibet's past before the Chinese revolution. I am posting this to spark some debate about the Tibet issue and I ask why progressive activists simply take what the anti-China crusaders say at face value without asking some healthy constructive questions? Such as:

What would a "free" Tibet look like?
Would they even have elections?
Would they accept a American Military base?

Lhasa documentary

The past of Tibet part 1

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Tragedy of Reading First: More Than Corruption

In “No Child Left Behind’s reading program marked ‘failure’,” author Rosita Johnson provides an accurate description of the most recent failure of Reading First and the extreme corruption connection to the program. The article, however, concludes that the goals of Reading First are “laudable” and seems to accept their claim that it is based on “scientific research.”

Reading First is based on the report of the National Reading Panel, which has been thoroughly dismantled by a number of respected scholars. Moreover, the recent failure of Reading First is only the latest of a number of failures. It has consistently failed on state, national and international test, despite the huge cost and extra time in reading instruction. Example: The secretary of education consistently claims that reading scores on the NAEP, a national test, are at an all-time high. But nearly all the increase occurred before Reading First was implemented.

Yes, the cronyism and corruption of Reading First are a tragedy, as the article concludes. But the tragedy goes well beyond this. It is also the wrong approach to helping children learn to read. The analogy with the war in Iraq is striking: The reasons for both were wrong, the implementation didn’t work, and Friends of Bush are profiting (and continue to profit).

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

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What's wrong with this headline?

What's wrong with this headline: "Exxon Posts Its 2nd-Best Quarter, But It's Not Enough for Wall St."?

Well, the headline is fine, journalistically speaking - actually it makes quite a point. And the point is what's wrong: As Americans around the country are gasping at the gas pump - not from the fumes but from the astronomically soaring prices - Exxon Mobil on May 1 reported the second-highest quarterly profits in its history ... and Wall Street investors were disappointed.

What's wrong is all about capitalism. The article, in the New York Times business section, goes on to quote financial analysts saying things like:

"Investment comes down to expectations, and the expectations were pretty high, especially after BP and Shell reported pretty good outlooks. And Exxon didn't quite deliver."

"The market wants growth, growth and growth."

- that one was from an analyst at Deutsche Bank.

When I filled up my car on Saturday the woman at the next pump turned my way with a sigh and a grimace and said, "I told my kids we're just not going anywhere. We're going to be staying home." I don't think there's too much growth in her family's economy, or in yours or mine.

If we are concerned about the health of our economy, we have to be concerned about growth in the economies of working class America and about growth in sustainable human economies that are in sync with nature.

Exxon's "growth" - and BP's, Shell's, Chevron's, etc. - is coming at the expense of their own workers who create the profits, of folks like the woman at my local gas station and everyone else whose paycheck, if they have one, can't keep up with the soaring prices, and of our planet which is reeling under the impact of fossil-fuel-produced climate change.

What it demonstrates is how capitalism is outliving its usefulness.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Communist clinic in Sadr City

I received this interesting notice from the Iraqi Communist Party over the weekend:

Communist clinic provides medical aid to Al-Sadr (Thawra) City residents in Baghdad
The mobile Communist Clinic, of the Iraqi Communist Party, visited the area of Jawadir in Al-Sadr (Thawra) City in Baghdad on Monday 5 May 2008. The solidarity initiative was aimed at providing medical aid to the residents of this district who are living under difficult living and security conditions. The clinic set up a tent and received 246 citizens, mostly women and children. The patients were given medical tests and free medications, with some patients being referred to hospital.
Take a look at photos here.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bush says no to drugs

The White House just released a "scientific" study about the effects of marijuana use on teens. Guess what kids? If you smoke pot, you could die! That's right - according to their study, marijuana use among teens can lead to dependency, mental illness, and suicide.

On the other hand, this same week the British government issued a report saying they are "unconvinced that there is a causal relationship between the use of cannabis and any affective disorder."

The scientific community has attacked the White House report, pointing out that it fails to understand even basic scientific concepts like "correlation≠causation"

What are your thoughts?

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Obama Blues Over?

Now that Obama leads in superdelegates, and Hillary has started to take a slightly less divisive tone, is his oxymoronic first-place runner up status finally over? Don't count on it. And don't underestimate the manipulative powers of the corporate media and the Democratic Party machine.

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Top 5 Reasons to See Iron Man

5. Robert Downey Jr. rocks
4. Robert Downey Jr. totally rocks
3. Gwyneth Paltrow really rocks
2. Did I mention Robert Downey Jr?
1. Iron Man fights the military-industrial complex that he helped create!

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Welcome to the People's Weekly World Blog

This blog will contain the thoughts, opinions, rants, and raves of the editors, writers, and readers of the People's Weekly World / Nuestro Mundo newspaper.

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