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:

Press Trust of India:


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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

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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

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 []

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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--( 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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