Monday, September 29, 2008

Jesse Jackson and Unions Protest on Wall Street

Before news that the bailout package failed today in Washington, hundreds of trade union members and civil rights advocates gathered on Wall Street to protest any bailout that favored Wall Street over Main Street.

Called by the Transport Workers Union Local 100, 1199 United Healthcare Workers East and Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the rally was held within site of the New York Stock Exchange on the very day that markets had their worst one-day fall in 20 years.

Here are photos from the rally. A full article in the People's Weekly World to follow.

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700 billion as economy sinks and WaMu goes down. What's next?

As Congress struggles to fix the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression with a 700 billion bailout plan for Wall Street, people like myself on Main Street wonder what's the deal with my bank WaMu? I'm a WaMu customer and I didn't know what to think about the banks recent collapse, especially when our economy is in a such a mess.

Last week Washington Mutual collapsed under the weight of its huge bad debts on the mortgage market and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized WaMu and sold the bank to JP Morgan Chase & Co. for 1.9 billion. Great! What the heck does that exactly mean, I thought?

So now what? I wondered. Should I cancel my account and withdraw the little amount of my money in the bank? Is it too late now? Should I be worried? Should I open a new account elsewhere? What about my direct deposits? Sheesh, imagine all the paper work I thought. Would I need a new debit card? Maybe I should put all my money under my mattress like the old times. Remember that? I'm sure people still do it, people who don't trust banks. Maybe they have the right idea.

Shortly after Chase bought WaMu a memo was sent to all customers saying our checking accounts, savings accounts and certificates of deposits - "are now backed by the strength and security of JP Morgan Chase," the largest depository bank in America.

Everything remains the same including same account numbers, same WaMu name on the holders account, same checks, debit cards, credit cards, deposit slips, same online banking and passwords, and same branches and ATMs.

The memo added that "soon" I'll be able to use Chase's ATMs free of charge. (I should have read the entire memo before I withdrew money this past weekend from a Chase ATM and I was still charged a three dollar fee. Three dollars! Go figure! I wonder if I'll get that back in the future?)

The memo added that soon I'll begin to see the Chase name on my statements, online and on reissued credit cards. The bank locations will eventually be renamed Chase and I'll be reissued a new debit card with the Chase name, but until then I should bank as usual. Sometime next year I'll be able to use the actual Chase banks.

WaMu, which was founded in 1889 is the largest bank to fail by far in U.S. history.

I guess for now I don't have to worry but given all the problems with rising unemployment rates, massive foreclosures, rising student loan debts and a Republican administration that puts Wall Street and major profit-before-people driven corporations, including banks first, I wonder whats next?

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Economic crisis threatens the world

About 10 years ago the People's Weekly World ran a piece titled 'Economic crisis threatens the world' by Sam Webb. To read it go to
I think it provides some useful historical and political background to the current mess and the organized fighback needed.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Win to Obama

Barack Obama looked presidential and in command of the facts. But the chattering classes will parse this for forever. Here are some insightful comments:


Sep 27 08, 2:50am (about 2 hours ago)

Not sure at which point I'll switch to Law and Order SVU. Oooh looks like it'll be very soon. McCain just can't look at Obama - so rude. Or is he frantically checking his notes or trying to keep his false teeth from flopping out.

Comments from Wash Post:

polls are showing Obama won...even among women and the over 55 crowd. huge win.

Palin/Biden should be another win if Biden keeps feet out of mouth.
Posted by: wpost4112 | September 26, 2008 11:59


Posted by: MILLER123 | September 26, 2008 11:58 PM |

It seems to me that Obama won by a nose. i agree that he wiped up on the economy.

McCain had some good points towards the end, but he hurt himself by being snide, by his sneering expression, and by his failure to ever look at Obama.

Frankly, it made me notice that McCain is shorter and older. And that he seems to have a perspective at least 20 years out of date.

Posted by: thaimex | September 26, 2008 11:58 PM |

Some comments on "The Fix":
- McCain's grin was scary.
- McCain's absolute inability and avoidance of Obama - refuse to address him by name and refuse to look him in the eye - smacked of disrespect at best and possibly other...motives at worst.
- Obama was right about Kissinger's stance on no preconditions. McCain was again mischaracterizing or outright lying.
- The lasting image most voters have is of McCain kissing George's a-- in 2004 so he'd have Rove and the money at his disposal in 2008.

Posted by: paulaann25 | September 26, 2008 11:58 PM

Wow! I was surprised at Obama's performance.

I'm a delegate to the Republican convention - started re-thinking McCain when he picked inexperienced Palin - and frankly, Obama was the greater statesman tonight.

Worst of all, McCain sounded like an old man talking about the past.

Posted by: DenverVoter | September 26, 2008 11:57 PM

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wall Street Demos Protest Bailout

Two big rallies rocked Wall Street today as Congress debated the Bush plan to bailout the financial elites. One called by the New York City Central labor Council and the other by a broad coalition of groups including United for Peace and Justice, US Action, True Majority, Acorn, to name a few.

The main message of each demonstration was to call on Congress to refuse any bailout of Wall Street without a real bailout of Main Street, transparency, accountability and controls. A full article will follow, but for now, here are some photos from the two events held hours and blocks apart.

Labor Rally at Noon on Broad Street and Exchange Place:

4pm Rally at the Wall Street "Bull":

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Palin on "foreign policy"

Watch and weep (or cringe):

Watch CBS Videos Online

As some viewers remark, no wonder McCain is trying to bump the vice-presidential debate as far away as possible ... say, Nov. 5 or so ...

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McCain runnning for cover on financial crisis

A couple of good commentaries to note:

Harold Meyerson writes in the Washington Post about "McCain's Ploy":

Slipping in the polls? Concerned that Americans may be paying more attention to the declining economy -- and even supporting economic regulation again -- than to your own stellar leadership abilities?

What's a Republican presidential nominee to do?

If you're named John McCain, the answer became apparent yesterday afternoon -- make the solution to the economic crisis all about you. Suspend your campaign. Pull out of tomorrow's debate -- a trivial exercise merely allowing Americans to judge the two candidates side by side. Change the terms of the nation's economic discussion from the course we should take, and the defects of the laissez-faire model that got us here, to the indispensability of John McCain, leader of leaders.

In the Wall Street Journal piece titled "It's Judgment Day for McCain," Thomas Frank suggests that McCain has "a special advantage to bring" to any investigation of Wall Street practices:

many of the relevant witnesses are friends or colleagues of his. In fact, he can probably get to the bottom of the whole mess just by cross-examining the people riding on his campaign bus.

A number of progressive groups are organizing rallies today around the country, calling it a national day of action on the theme "Congress must fix the mess created by Wall Street. But the right way. NOT by a no-strings-attached $700 billion handout." Check here to see the organizations involved and find an event in your area.

And Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, has put up an action page where you can send a message to your member of Congress and congressional leaders and tell them "No blank checks for Wall Street."

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

$700 billion Wall Street bailout!?!

Remember the trickle down theory of economics? I think this started under the Reagan administration with the idea that giving all kinds of breaks to the guys at the top would some how trickle down to benefit the rest of us. As if a trickle was what we needed! I always said I was in favor of the trickle up theory. Give us all the money and just see how the economy would benefit!

You know how it is, when you read about someone who won it big on the lottery what do they say they are going to do with it? Pay off their debts, put aside money for their kids’ college education, buy a new car and a big new TV, take a nice vacation, maybe even start up a small business. Sounds to me like all that would benefit the economy.

So I would suggest that Bush instead of giving $700 billion in bailouts at the top—by the way, that’s $700,000,000,000.00, quite a lot of zeros isn’t it? —don’t hand that out to the guys at the top whose greed or stupidity caused this mess to begin with. No, give it out to us and we will pay off some of our debt, save some of it and spend some of it—the holidays are coming. And let the benefits trickle up for a change.

By the way, the population of the U.S. these days is over 300 million (that’s 300,000,000) plus about 4 million for Puerto Rico (that’s 4,000,000). So the $700 billion bailout averages to about $2300 from (instead of for) every one of us. This week.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Large Hadron Collider explained via hip hop

By Kate McAlpine.

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Veterans speak on why they back Obama

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Landmark victory for clean air and better jobs in S. California

From S. California AFL-CIO via Rosalio Munoz:

A federal judge this week cleared the way for one of the nation’s most sweeping environmental cleanups by refusing to grant an injunction against the landmark Clean Trucks Program at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The decision, which clears the way for the program to take effect in October, marks the the culmination of a two-year effort by LAANE and a broad-based alliance including the Natural Resources Defense Counsel, the Teamsters and nearly 40 other labor, environmental, public health and community-based organizations to address the severe economic, environmental and public health impacts of the broken trucking system at the nation’s largest port complex. Under the Clean Trucks Program, thousands of polluting trucks will be removed from the road while conditions for some 16,000 port truck drivers will dramatically improve. Air quality authorities have linked 3,700 premature deaths each year in California to pollution from the transportation of goods -- more than the number of people who die from homicide.

The Coalition’s efforts, along with the strong support of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, have been critical in overcoming enormous opposition from the trucking industry and major shipping interests such as Wal-Mart that have long profited from a system that places the entire burden of buying and maintaining trucks on poor, largely immigrant drivers. As one driver said in his testimony before the L.A. Port Commission, "They are making me choose between replacing my truck and feeding my kids."

The new program will shift the responsibility for ownership and upkeep of clean-burning vehicles to the trucking companies, while also requiring that drivers become employees of these companies rather than independent contractors – a move that will significantly raise job standards and ensure basic workplace protections.

Beyond the benefits to drivers and the communities that have suffered from polluted air, the Clean Trucks Program is a watershed accomplishment for the burgeoning blue-green alliance. Often on opposite sides of public policy debates, labor advocates and environmentalists have created a powerful partnership that could serve as a model for a good jobs/green growth movement in cities across the nation.

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Why the ultra-right is mobilizing against Obama

If you want to know why the ratcheted-up, anything-goes onslaught against Obama's presidential campaign, you need only look at this chart put together by the Washington Post, based on an analyis by the Tax Policy Center:

(source: Washington Post)

It graphically shows that

Obama's plan gives the biggest cuts to those who make the least, while McCain would give the largest cuts to the very wealthy.


For the approximately 147,000 families that make up the top 0.1 percent of the income scale, the difference between the two plans is stark. While McCain offers a $269,364 tax cut, Obama would raise their taxes, on average, by $701,885 - a difference of nearly $1 million.

The chart says it all. This election is not about "experience," "abortion," "national security," saluting the flag or lipstick. It is about a section of the tiny group of the richest people in our country, deathly afraid that finally they may be forced to pay the bill owed to the American people - to America's working families who have made their riches possible.

So this tiny group of very rich and powerful are priming up an all-out dirty campaign.

The outcome, I think, will rest on the grassroots mobilization by ordinary working class Americans fired up in the last few weeks of this campaign.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Machinists union stands up to right-wing/media b-s

A major national political development took place on Monday in Florida. The 2,600 delegates to the International Association of Machinists convention enthusiastically voted to endorse Barack Obama for president of the United States. They set in motion a major on-the-ground election effort in key battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

This move by the nation’s second largest industrial union — those famous blue-collar voters the Republican right and the corporate media have been voicing oh so much concern about — came despite a week of assault by the very same Republican far-right embodied in the McCain/Palin campaign, with a cowed corporate media largely following their script.

The IAM had backed Hillary Clinton, and during the primaries IAM President Tom Buffenbarger made some over-the-top comments. Yet, this week, he and this 700,000-member blue collar union took their stand based on the nitty gritty of what is at stake for America’s working class in this election. It was a significant rejection of all the b-s the anti-worker, anti-family, anti-women, anti-democracy McCain-Palin campaign is spewing.

Yet a Google search today turned up barely a word about this in the corporate media.
Aside from our newspaper, you have to go to the Machinists web site to get any information about it.

Likewise, Hillary Clinton’s rousing speech to that convention, and her campaign tour of Florida, drew skimpy and tepid coverage in the corporate media.

The IAM notes that:

The packed convention hall rose to their feet repeatedly during Clinton's remarks and displayed unequivocal support for her request to back the candidacy of Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

"You were with me from the start, and I want you to know that I will stand with you as we try to change what's going on in this country," Clinton told the delegates. "I believe this country is worth fighting for, and that's why I am fighting to elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States.

"I don't think there's ever been higher stakes in an election than what we're facing this November. Barack and I may have started on different paths, but we are on one journey now, and it's a journey to take back our country because Americans do better when we have a Democratic president," declared Clinton.

"I know Senator Obama. I've seen his passion and determination. He understands both the economic stresses here at home and the strategic challenges around the world," said Clinton. "We've got to start with a president who actually understands the changes we have to make. And no one has more at stake in this election than the American labor movement."

Immediately following her remarks, delegates unanimously passed a resolution endorsing Barack Obama for president. "This union is not half-hearted with its endorsements," said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger, who was an early and strong supporter of Sen. Clinton in the primary race. "We will have boots on the ground in every state to make sure our members understand that Barack Obama is the best chance in a generation to reclaim the American Dream for working families."

The endorsement of Obama will trigger a massive education campaign among IAM members and extensive publicity in union publications and worksites nationwide. The IAM is a significant political presence in the key industrial states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Quote of the week

"Here's a whole row of old white women who are voting for Obama and have no hesitation about it," said 64-year-old Karen McFadyen of Orlando, as her companions nodded agreement. "The only thing Sarah Palin has in common with me is that she wears a skirt."

In Kissimmee, Fla., on Hillary Clinton's Florida campaign tour for Obama yesterday.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Real McCain of Genius


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Jon Stewart does it again

Must watch for all who love to see hypocrisy (Karl Rove, Bill O'Reilly and Dick Morris) exposed. Hmm, maybe there is a better word..anyway good one.

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NY Labor Day: Time to Make a Change

This Labor Day working people and their families in New York State are in an exciting and challenging moment. For the first time in years, the labor movement together with its broad movement allies, has the potential to change the course of the country in a more positive direction.

The 2008 Presidential election is historic. Not only has the Democratic Party nominated an African American as its candidate for the first time, but there have also been record turnouts in the primaries and a vibrant grassroots movement has developed.

What’s at stake for working people in the election couldn’t be starker.

McCain represents four more years of the failed Bush policies of war and aggression, tax-breaks for the rich and big corporations, and destruction of social services vital to working-class communities. On the other hand, the candidacy of Barack Obama reflects and represents the massive desire for change: for a livable environment and a sustainable world, for jobs with justice, for peace and progress, for fair taxes and a program to rebuild our cities and towns. Let's be clear, there is a big difference between these two choices. McCain is no "maverick." He is a real conservative who puts the "rights" of the rich and corporations ahead of the needs of the working majority. McCain received a dismal zero percent pro-labor voting record for 2007 while Obama has a stellar 100 percent record and said he looks forward to signing the Employee Free Choice Act into law as our next President.

25 percent of the Democratic Party’s Convention delegates were union members, while the GOP Convention speakers took turns bashing unions and blaming them for the economic crisis in the country.

Of course, deeper Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and in an increase in progressives in the Congress will also shift the terrain in Washington, opening the way for legislation to turn-back the damage of the Bush years, and to repair the country from 30 years of right-wing rule. This is no time to sit out the election.

We not only have a chance to undo the Bush Agenda, but to win big transformative victories and set the stage for higher levels of struggle. A decisive electoral victory in November will lead the way to passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, the end of the occupation of Iraq and implement some form a of national health care. The working-class has been on the defensive for decades, this election has the chance to put the movements back on offense, to set the agenda for the country.

The potential for change is not just in Washington. There is a chance for a shift in the balance of forces in Albany as well. For the first time in decades, the Republicans could lose control of the New York State Senate. No longer will they be able to block progressive legislation, block taxation on the rich, and block reform of out-of-date laws like the Taylor Law, which bans public workers from striking.

A big people’s victory in November is not the end of the struggle, but a new beginning on more favorable ground. The mass movements of the people: the peace movement, student movement, civil rights movement, women’s movement, and labor movement have to keep the pressure on to ensure a new Democratic Administration and Legislature keep the promise to meet the people’s needs.

Together, we can win in November and together we can go on the to change the world.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Shake up Washington???

Does John McCain really think he's the outsider?? He's been in the administration and with the ruling party for eight years!!! He's going to "get the job done?" He's been in Washington for 26 years and the Republicans have ruled most of them!!! Does he think the American people are crazy?

He's going to go after corruption??? He was one of the Keating 5 -- caught in corruption with the savings and loan industry.

Plus he is the biggest supporter of the illegal, immoral Iraq war.

I know this convention is about mobilizing the Republicans' base but come on. This is the ruling party and they are acting like they had nothing to do with the last eight years!

Now they are trying to go after families who have kids with special needs. He has not supported any increase in federal funding for the Individuals with Disability and Education Act. This kind of hypocrisy makes me sick.

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Where the word 'Maverick' comes from

Just so the far-right doesn't claim the word "maverick" for themselves...the root of it comes from a Texas politician from the 1800s: Samuel Maverick who refused to brand his cattle.

Interestingly enough...his great grandson, Maury Maverick took on the 1950s redbaiting/McCarthyism.

Read Roberto Botello's remembrance of this real "Maverick."

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What about those 18 million cracks?

Sarah Palin's speech was just what Republicans like in a woman. It was mean-spirited, all form and no substance. Absolutely nothing about furthering those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling. Actually her speech was more about covering up those cracks.

Who is Palin?

She is associated with the far-right/white supremecist Alaskan Independence Party. See Tim Wheeler's story.

It's an insult to ordinary working class people, moms, and small town folks to be compared to her and her reactionary ideology.

Absolutely nothing of substance in her speech. No policy information. And she couldn't because she is so far-right and the country is tired of these policies. So instead she launched a typical Rovian mean-spirited attack on the Democrats and Obama. Like Giuliani and those before her. It was like watching those "super-Orcs" from Middle Earth crawl out of the fires of Saurmon.

They are desperate.

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Are they really for “democracy at the workplace?”

By John Wojcik

The labor movement, backed by a clear majority of the public, has made enactment of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) a central issue in the 2008 elections. (At the Democratic National Convention in Denver hundreds of union delegates were running around explaining to other delegates why restoration of the right of workers to form unions is the first step in turning around the American economy.)

Right now workers who try to form a union are up against employers who coerce, harass, intimidate and fire them. “Elections,” in which workers vote “yes” or “no” for union representation are held on company property after a long period during which workers have been forced to attend anti-union propaganda sessions. The union is not allowed in and has to reach workers outside the workplace.

Heavily funded right-wing outfits are rearing their ugly heads now all over the country, trying to turn back the growing support for the EFCA and they are attacking congressional and Senatorial candidates who support the bill.

One TV ad shows a union leader who looks like the stereotypical gangster barging into a voting booth and telling a worker who is in there that he can’t vote in secret. The gangster-type “union leader” hands him a card and tells him to make his choice while a bunch of people standing nearby look on.

The ad is co-sponsored by the so called “Coalition for a Democratic Workplace.”

This attack on the EFCA is as absurd as it is hypocritical.

To begin with, in any democracy, when people join an organization they usually do so by filling out a form, a card or an application printed by the group they want to join. When the company you work for joined the Chamber of Commerce in your town there was no election. You did not have the right to force the boss to attend a meeting at which workers had a chance to propagandize with him about how bad the Chamber of Commerce is. Democracy means that when you want to join an organization you should be able to sign up and join. No one has the right to force you to wait months or more so they can have a chance to talk or scare you out of doing it.

If the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace was really interested in pursuing the noble goal of democracy on the job there are numerous ways they could do it.

They could insist, for example, that before your company decides to move to Mexico and lay everybody off it must put the issue up for a vote by the entire workforce. They might also insist that employers allow workers to vote on whether raises should come every six months, rather than every year or whether the health insurance deductibles they pay should be raised or lowered.

The companies, of course, are not interested in workplace democracy. Those decisions, they tell us, are company decisions and are none of our business.

Workers know that most workplaces are dictatorships where democracy stops as you enter the door. Any country in the world run like most companies in the U.S. would be high on the list of countries sanctioned for human rights violations. The rights that the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace are concerned about are the rights of the boss to stop workers from freely choosing to form or join a union.

They believe the bosses have the right to threaten that they will close down if the workers unionize.

They believe bosses have the right to corner workers individually or to herd them into a room where they scare them into voting against a union.

They believe bosses have the right to fire people who want a union.

The reasons we must back the EFCA, however, go beyond even these issues of our human, civil and democratic rights.

The economy grows and profits grow but wages stagnate or even go down.

This is the direct result of the attacks on the labor movement and the fact that smaller percentages of the workforce are now unionized than 30 years ago.

The EFCA is the first step in reversing this trend. If the trend is not reversed we could well see an America with a few super-rich on the top and the 90 percent majority living in absolute poverty. It’s the stuff of depressing futuristic science fiction films and we can’t let it happen.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Not your ordinary shotgun wedding

Nope, not when you have the GOP candidate for the United States. These kids are facing an assault weapon wedding. Wow. Lot of pressure for teenagers.

Now the GOP is accusing everyone of sexism. This has got Karl Rove's fingerprints all over it. They want to talk about anything but public policy and issues.

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Cuba faces Gustav

The Hurricane

By Fidel Castro

When hurricane Gustav started to threaten our country on the same day when our Olympic delegation returned, I wrote: “We are lucky to have a Revolution! It is a fact that nobody will be neglected. Our strong, forceful and farsighted Civil Defense protects our people.
“The growing frequency and intensity of these natural phenomena show that the climate is changing due to the action of man. The current times demand ever increasing dedication, steadiness and conscience.”

I know of the colossal efforts that the Revolution has to make after the national territory is hit by a hurricane. I could add that Cuba counts on keen and persevering scientists such as José Rubiera.

Hundreds of millions of working hours are lost in a brief period of time when the wind gusts beat directly against economic and social centers. Endless rains accompany these natural phenomena. Rivers overflow and sweep away anything they find in their path and flood extensive areas. Thousands of farms that produce vegetables, milk, eggs, poultry meat and pork, as well as sophisticated irrigation systems, are seriously damaged; tens of thousands of hectares of sugar cane, food grains, cereals and fruit trees ready for harvest are lost. Schools, polyclinics, entertainment and cultural centers, private housing, roofs, factories, warehouses, highways and bridges are all damaged by wind and rain.

This time those winds and rains affected all provinces in a greater or lesser degree, since the hurricane made its way through the seas nearby the southern part of the country and moved across the westernmost province. Its eye’s radius was 30 kilometers in length, and strong winds blew over a diameter of more than 450 kilometers.

Nothing is as devastating as the damage and destruction left behind by a hurricane. Hundreds of thousands of compatriots mobilize and work very hard during the passing of the hurricane and afterwards during the recovery stage. Reserves are reduced or depleted. Today, more than ever, the damages caused on food supplies are costly and significant. But this is our country; this is our rightful place in this planet, and we have to develop and defend it.

The task we have ahead requires time and expertise. The true Cuba and its noble people, which have been ready to share with others its knowledge and even part of its resources including its own blood, were not built overnight. That is why it has been an invincible adversary in confronting the powerful empire that has tried all of its weapons against our country.

But there is hardly any information to the world about Cuba’s merits and its extraordinary struggle.

Two days ago, none of the international press reporting on Cuba referred to the hurricane that was approaching our island or the intensive efforts made by our Civil Defense, with the generous support of millions of Cuban families led by a courageous political vanguard.

One of the cables published by the German news agency DPA read:

“Popular Cuban Actor Arrives in Miami: ‘I left because I grew tired.’”

We, Cubans, could add: What patriot! What democrat! What brilliant example is this prototype that they presenting to us! This is the way in which they disseminate throughout the world information about a guy far less known and important than hurricane Gustav.

I do not hate other human beings, but I hate vanity, egocentricity, selfishness, arrogance, smugness the absence of ethics and other tendencies human beings are born with. Only education and the example set by those who excel in their battle to be better will succeed and influence all of us.

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Confront racism, leader tells union

This just in from Gary Hicks in Boston...Right on! Labor is really taking this head on and getting a good response to it.

Confront racism, leader tells union
Issue shadows campaign for Obama, Haynes contends

By Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff September 2, 2008

The state's top union leader, concerned that some white voters will not vote for Barack Obama because he is black, issued an impassioned plea to union members yesterday to confront racism on the campaign trail.
Speaking to politicians and pipefitters alike, Massachusetts AFL-CIO president Robert Haynes brought the audience to its feet at the Greater Boston Central Labor Council's annual Labor Day breakfast. He surprised many union members by delivering an unusually direct speech on the sensitive issue of racism, echoing concerns from other union leaders nationwide.
"Barack Obama's skin color isn't what matters in this election," Haynes told more than 350 people who gathered for bacon and eggs at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston. "I'll be damned, and I know you'll be damned, if I let racism . . . scare this country into voting for John McCain." Haynes followed US Senator John Kerry, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and union leaders who also urged workers to vote and campaign for Obama, citing the urgency of the election and the fact that Democrats have lost the last two presidential contests.
Only Haynes raised the issue of racism directly.
Haynes said he decided to confront racism head-on because he had been hearing racist comments about Obama - some subtle, some overt - in restaurants and mechanics' garages across Massachusetts. Recently on the Cape, for instance, an elderly man busing tables suggested that he would not vote for Obama and referred to black colleagues as "those people." In another case, he said, car mechanics who normally voted Democrat said they would not support Obama because he is black.
Haynes said he gave his speech because he wanted to give union members something to say in response to racism on the campaign trail. Yesterday, he told union members they could emphasize the economy and workers' rights. They could point out that black union members have been voting for white Democrats for president all their lives.
When all else fails, he said, make voters see the shame in racism.
"You've got to look them dead in the eye," he said. "Can you imagine telling your kid in this day and age that you're not going to vote for someone because of the color of their skin?"
Nationally, other union leaders have raised concerns about racism hurting Obama among working-class white people. The national AFL-CIO endorsed Obama in June and launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to urge people to vote for him.
Making the point is crucial now, Haynes said, as dozens of union members flock to New Hampshire and other swing states to campaign for Obama. Massachusetts unions could have a key influence on New Hampshire voters, he said; about 10,000 of New Hampshire's 40,000 union members work in Massachusetts.
Haynes said he had never given such a speech before - even when Deval Patrick, Massachusetts' first black governor, was running for the seat.
Haynes's speech inspired many in the crowd.
"I don't think racism should be the point of the election," said Arthur Johnson, a 52-year-old security guard from Revere who is white.
Lauren Jacobs, organizing director of the Local SEIU 615, said union members who are campaigning in New Hampshire are emphasizing the issues that Obama shares with all voters. Obama is the son of a single mother, she said, and he struggled to put himself through college, something that resonates with voters.
"People really connect with this guy," she said.
Haynes said racism was prevalent everywhere, not just in the unions, although he did not think that most voters were racist. Still, he said he decided to make it a major issue because even a small number rejecting Obama because of his race could hurt his chances.
"We can't afford to have this guy lose the presidency because of unspoken truths," he said afterward. Haynes represents 400,000 union members in Massachusetts.
After the speech, union members, white and black, approached Haynes to shake his hand, slap him on the shoulder, and thank him for his speech.
David Eastmond of Boston, an iron worker for more than 30 years, said he hoped union leaders would share the speech across the United States.
"As an African American, I've been voting . . . for white presidents all my life," he said. "When the tables are turned, we've got a good candidate. Why can't we vote for him?"

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Labor Day in the Motor City - Detroit rocks!

"I'm a labor guy"

Detroit metro greets Obama as only the Motor City can! It's one feisty crowd, and Obama rocking right with them:

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Labor Day in Milwaukee

A very nice account of the impression Obama made at Milwaukee's Labor Day here. I haven't seen any reporting of this event in the corporate media.

In particular:

He spoke about the things which have come about due to the impact of labor unions. Things that were not given to individuals, but were fought for by organizing and working together. Some of the victories of labor he mentioned were a 40 hour work week, health care benefits and worker's compensation for those that are injured on the job.

He also spoke of the quiet storms that many Americans are facing today.
He talked about the hard times and the difficult choices for all Americans. He mentioned that inner city kids that work hard in school cannot go to college, because of the cost of school and the lack of support from our government.

The entire speech was only fifteen minutes long. It was very thoughtful and sincere. One of the blogs I read today contained a quote from a NYT reporter that has been following Obama all campaign. This reporter said that yesterday's labor day speech was Barack Obama's finest speech of the campaign.

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Why Palin

Among the reasons given for McCain to have chosen Sarah Palin as running mate (getting HRC supporters, mobilizing far-right base) one other should be considered: Keeping Alaska in GOP hands.

Alaska is a HUGE state with a LOT of OIL and ENERGY wealth. Putting the state's governor on the presidential ticket should mobilize a big GOP turnout in November. A GOP turn out that could possibly vote straight GOP, even for their indicted and embattled GOP senator Ted Stevens.

After Stevens was indicted, the Alaska senate race came into play. Stevens faces popular Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, a Democrat, in a year that Democrats seem to have the mo' on their side.

The Dems are trying to get at least 57 Senate seats -- a veto-proof 60 majority would be better -- to avoid making the SEnate the bastion of reaction that it had played in the 1930s and 1960s preventing reform legislation from being passed. Every seat counts and especially Alaska's seat. After all, drilling in ANWR or other Big Oil deals could be at stake.

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Poor Bristol Palin

TheNew York Times
Gov. Sarah Palin’s husband, Todd, left, with four of their children — Piper, Willow and Bristol, holding Trig — and Cindy and Meghan McCain on Friday in Ohio.
Here's my thoughts on 17-year-old Bristol. First, check out this photo on's worth a gazillion words. Cynthia McCain with her ruling elite, pain-killer addicted glare ("how dare you Alaskan trash ruin our run to the big White House"), daughter Meghan can't help but stare at the pregnant Bristol ("Wow. We have words for a girl like you...s---.")
Why doesn't Daddy Palin ever hold 4-mos.-old Trig? Mamma Palin always hands Trig to Bristol. She even made a big deal about saying Bristol was babysitting Trig in the bus.
Why? Maybe those Internet rumors had some truth and the pregnancy announcement was just a way to throw them off? Or is it a bizarre, macho thing that Todd Palin never holds Trig. Or are they just training Bristol for the life of holding babies. Any which way -- bizarro -- and I get a little whiff of Handmaid's Tale when I look at these photos.
But I have lots of contradictory thoughts about poor Bristol. First off -- the hypocrisy of these religious far-right wingers, like Brisol's parents and their supporters. Here they preach and pass policies to fund "Abstinence Only" sex education programs, when obviously it doesn't work! I can understand the glee some might feel because of the blatant hypocrisy is exposed with this story.
On the other hand, they have been forced to say "this stuff happens" and we are going to love our in other words -- this happens -- too much -- but it happens. The far-right has totally demonized sex -- in general -- and premarital sex in particular. But now they are forced to admit it happens.
On Black radio, etc., the talk is why do Black families get called pathological when it happens to a Black teen, but with Bristol it's normal and she deserves support. Don't all teen moms deserve support? Including affordable health care and day care and continuing their education? And shouldn't the biggest support be comprehensive sex education and including access to birth control?
More contradictory thoughts: the corporate media is spending way too much time on Bristol. It makes me sick because I envision all these middle-aged men getting all worked up about a teenage sexual encounter. So it's all titilating to them and disgusts me. Leave that 17-year-old girl ALONE!!!
I've known plenty of teens who have gone ahead and had a baby instead of choosing to terminate the pregnancy. But this is the most infuriating thing of all. Abortion has been so demonized that the discussion about the consequences of having a baby when you are a teen versus terminating a pregnancy is not even in the discourse. Movies like Juno make it seem so easy to have a baby, give it up for adoption and then go back to your carefree teen life. WRONG!
My mother told me if I EVER got pregnant as a teen, she would yank me off to an abortion clinic so fast it would make my head spin. That was how SHE felt about teenage moms. And she saw a lot of that growing up in rural Illinois. "Babies having babies," she said, "ruins your life. You won't have a life anymore."

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Report on March on the RNC - 40,000 take to streets

Report on March on the RNC - 40,000 take to streets
By Leslie Cagan, National Coordinator, United for Peace & Justice

September 2, 2008

Yesterday, on a hot and humid day in St. Paul,
Minnesota, upwards of 40,000 people marched to the
front door of the Republican National Convention to say
'US Out of Iraq Now', 'Money for Human Needs, Not War';
'No to the Republican Agenda'; 'Yes to Peace, Justice,
and Equality'.

Like most major marches, no one knew for certain how
many people would turn out for the March on the RNC.
The media coverage of the long struggle with local
officials for permit rights had, in the end, helped
organizers get the word out throughout the Twin Cities
area for the march. Groups all around the upper Midwest
organized buses, vans, and carpools to bring people
into town. It was clear that this was an opportunity
not to be missed. As the Republican Party was beginning
its four-day gathering to nominate John McCain as their
presidential candidate, we would be on the streets to
raise a clear strong voice addressing the war and a
range of other issues.

The demonstration began with a two-hour rally that felt
even longer. It was hot as the sun beamed down. The
weak sound system prevented lots of people from hearing
the speakers on the stage, one of which was UFPJ's Co-
Chair George Martin. Yet, everyone was patient, knowing
that it was important to give people time to gather
before heading out for the march.

A little after 1:00 PM, the march kicked off and was
led by a contingent of veterans and military families -
some of the people most impacted by the war in Iraq. I
watched the march go by, and what a sight that was!
People from many walks of life, some young, some old,
some from close-by in St. Paul and Minneapolis, some
from faraway places - all of them gathered for the
march. Contingents of immigrants, labor, poor people,
young people, doctors, religious, and faith-based
groups and much more took part in the march, carrying
tons of great homemade signs and banners. Literally,
tens of thousands of people united in their call to end
the war now!

It was a powerful statement of the deep opposition to
the war in Iraq that exists in every corner of this
country. It was a clear call for an end to the threats
of war with Iran. You couldn't miss the demand to turn
our nation's priorities around and start meeting the
needs of our communities and stop feeding the machinery
of war with our tax dollars.

The march took a route that went in front of the Excel
Center, the site of the RNC - though, once in that
area, marchers had to walk in an area with huge fencing
on both sides of them. While there was hardly any
police presence at the rally site or with the march
itself, there was a massive police operation in the
downtown area, especially near the Convention Center.

The march route turned around at this point and
returned to the starting location on the lawn of the
State Capitol. All but a few hundred people left the
downtown area, exhausted and hot but glad to have been
a part of this important mass mobilization against the

Some people stayed downtown; and before too long, there
were confrontations with the police. I was not in
attendance downtown during the melee, and I'm not able
to report back firsthand, but from the information that
I have received and heard, it is clear that the police
overreacted and used excessive force, using pepper
spray, hitting people with batons, pushing people back
with horses, and much more. Regardless of how we feel
about the activities of the some of the people in
downtown St. Paul, the actions of the police force were
deplorable. In the end, the police arrested 284 people,
including at least four journalists.

United For Peace and Justice was proud to have been
part of the locally-led coalition that organized the
demonstration, and we congratulate the organizers for a
job well-done. We are pleased that we helped get the
word out and mobilized people to be at this march and
other activities in St. Paul during the RNC, just as we
did in Denver for the DNC.

We urge you to keep watching the news to see how things
unfold in the next few days, especially in terms of
police conduct. They need to know that people around
the country are watching!
UFPJ was also working to spread the word about the
major national mobilization, Million Doors for Peace,
scheduled for September 20. A group of staff and
volunteers was actively leafleting in both Denver and
St. Paul, at a whole host of locations in both cities,
to ensure that people and the groups they are
associated with become involved in this very important

More information on the Million Doors for Peace
mobilization will be sent out shortly. To hear more
about this effort, click here
and sign-up to be a volunteer, willing to knock on forty doors in your own
neighborhood for voter education, petition-signing, and other related items. You
can sign-up here to volunteer for this effort.

Leslie Cagan, UFPJ National Coordinator

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Monday, September 1, 2008

GOP/police crack down on freedom of press

ST. PAUL, MN—Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was unlawfully arrested in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota at approximately 5 p.m. local time. Police violently manhandled Goodman, yanking her arm, as they arrested her.

Goodman was arrested while attempting to free two Democracy Now! producers who were being unlawfully detained. They are Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. Kouddous and Salazar were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were being arrested on suspicion of rioting. They are currently being held at the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul.

Democracy Now! is calling on all journalists and concerned citizens to call the office of Mayor Chris Coleman and the Ramsey County Jail and demand the immediate release of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar. These calls can be directed to: Chris Rider from Mayor Coleman's office at 651-266-8535 and the Ramsey County Jail at 651-266-9350 (press extension 0).

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Pretty hilarious McCain-Palin video

McCain "gets to know" Palin. Yuck and guffaw all at once.

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