Category Archives: Class

MexicoWatch: Protest, tragedy, politics, bodies


We begin with an image from the Tumblr WHAT ARE WE HERE FOR?, featuring images from a photographer living in Mexico:

Graffiti in Tixtla, Guerrero the neighboring town to Ayotzinapa, the rural teachers school with 43 students missing since September 26. The faces on the hanging pigs are those of the Mexican president and the mayor of Iguala, Guerrero who, along with his wife, ordered the attack on the Normalistas most of whom where first year students.

Graffiti in Tixtla, Guerrero the neighboring town to Ayotzinapa, the rural teachers school with 43 students missing since September 26. The faces on the hanging pigs are those of the Mexican president and the mayor of Iguala, Guerrero who, along with his wife, ordered the attack on the Normalistas most of whom where first year students.

From Al Jazeera America, compounding a tragedy:

Classmates of missing Mexico students abandon studies

  • Dropout rate among freshman class escalates as students fear further violence, follow wishes of their families

Since 43 students at a teachers college in rural Ayotzinapa, Mexico, were disappeared in September, dozens of remaining members of their first-year class have abandoned their studies.

Within days of the students’ kidnapping and suspected massacre by a drug gang, nearly everyone in the first-year class — where the majority of the 43 disappeared students were enrolled — left the school, students told Al Jazeera.

“The freshman class was down to about five students, but now as we better understand the situation and have talked to the families, some have started returning, one by one,” said Uriel Alonso Solís, a 19-year-old second-year student at Ayotzinapa, adding that about 25 freshman students are currently attending classes.

But at least 75 students have discontinued their studies, according to members of the school’s student committee.

The Christian Science Monitor documents a hack attack:

Anonymous hits Mexican websites to protest kidnapping of 43 students

The hacktivist collective aimed a digital attack at Mexico that took down and defaced at least eight websites in response to the government’s handling of the abduction and possible murder of 43 trainee teachers.

Anonymous attacked and took down several Mexican government websites Thursday night, an online assault the hacktivist collective said was meant to protest the government’s handling of the recent mass abduction of 43 students.

While smaller scale attacks have been going on for three weeks, the so-called #opMexico culminated Thursday evening in a wave of assaults on government and academic sites. The operation took down several websites and defaced others. Some sites hit in the attack were redirected to a webpage featuring an Anonymous logo, a poem, and a video titled “Anonymous: Operation Sky Angels” that outlines their motive for the attack.

In the video, the hacker group chides the government for failing to deliver justice and accused it of being “deeply implicated in the violence it claims to oppose.” After calling the government “abusive” and shrouded in a “veil of corruption,” the trademark Anonymous robotic voice vows to “avenge” the students and make the government “pay for their crimes.”

And the video, via TheAnonMessengers:

Anonymous: Operation Sky Angels

Program note:

#OpMexico

Follow https://bitly.com/anonyreport for updates.

From the Latin American Herald Tribune, and hardly surprising:

Families of Missing Students Claim Harassment by Mexican Authorities

Families of the 43 students who went missing more than two months ago in southern Mexico have claimed the government is harassing organizations supporting them in their quest for justice.

At a press conference Thursday, the families blamed the authorities for this week’s attempted kidnapping and beating of a student who was also threatened for taking part in protests demanding that the missing students be returned alive.

“The government told us to stop (the protests) to avoid bloodshed,” said one of the family members, adding that the apparent threats did not scare them but in fact made them stronger.

According to the family member, the government is fearful of how the protests could evolve so it is trying to halt the demonstrations.

From teleSUR, keeping up the heat:

Ayotzinapa Protest to Continue through the Holidays

  • Relatives of the Mexican disappeared students say they have nothing to celebrate during the holidays and call for actions to continue.

Relatives of the 43 forcibly disappeared students from the Ayotzinapa teachers college in the state of Guerrero called for actions demanding the safe return of the missing students to continue during the holidays.

They added that during this time normally reserved for celebration, they have nothing to celebrate.

The relatives of the disappeared students are specifically calling for solidarity actions to be held from Dec. 23-27, when most students and some workers are on holiday. A spokesperson for the relatives said that not only have they lost their children but they’ve lost their fear, “because we no longer fear continuing this struggle.”

And one such protest, via teleSUR English:

Mexico: March for justice held in hometown of murdered student

Program notes:

Hundreds of residents of the town of Tecoanapa in the Mexican State of Guerrero marched to demand justice for the missing Ayotzinapa Teachers Training College students. Tecoanapa is the hometown of Alexander Mora, the only missing students whose remains have been identified. The family of the dead student is calling for renewed protests demanding justice.

From the Washington Post, tragedy unearthed:

Mexicans’ search for bodies reveals a history of hidden deaths

They picked up spent shotgun shells and placed them in plastic baggies for safe keeping. They examined discarded bottles, charred sticks, crusted weather-worn clothes. Over rocks and ridges, to the tops of trees and down in bone-dry riverbeds, the parents were searching for their children’s graves.

“Fifteen minutes more,” a father in dusty camouflage said before trudging farther up into the thick Mexican forest, hacking the thorny branches with his machete. “Just a little farther.”

Forty-three students went missing here in September, and for all the attention that received, they were hardly the first. Their abduction by police has loosed a flood of new accusations and begun to reveal a history of hidden deaths.

Before that crime, many people had been too afraid of the police to report the disappearances. Last month, just seven parents attended the first meeting in the basement of a Catholic church here for relatives of the missing. But as the national uproar over the students has grown, plus the arrest of the Iguala mayor, the dissolution of the town’s police force and the torching of city hall, the scope of the brutalities began to become clear. Dozens, then hundreds, of people came to subsequent meetings at the San Gerardo church, which has become the gathering point for a citizen movement to search the surrounding hills and fields for the students’ remains.

From the Department of the Obvious, via teleSUR:

Mexico’s Human Rights Commission Acknowledges Crisis

  • At the country’s annual human rights award ceremony, Mexico’s ombudsman affirmed that the country is suffering a crisis in human rights.

Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) president, Rual Gonzalez, said the “shameful acts of Iguala and Tlatlaya are not the product of a spontaneous generation.” He declared that the “conditions that gradually led to those events have been boiling for a long time.”

He made his comments at an annual human rights awards ceremony, with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in attendance.

“Human rights are in crisis in different parts of the country,” said Gonzalez.

He also echoed some questions that activists have raised in marches and protests: Where were state security institutions that should prevent risks and threats to internal security and public order? What were the corresponding authorities of the different levels of government doing when these events occurred?

The Los Angeles Times continues is superb reporting on what goes into so much of the food the fills U.S. supermarkets:

Company stores trap Mexican farmworkers in a cycle of debt

The mom-and-pop monopolies sell to a captive clientele, post no prices and track purchases in dog-eared ledgers. At the end of the harvest, many workers head home owing money.

Company stores, called tiendas de raya, are a stubborn vestige of an oppressive past. During the early 20th century hacienda era, they kept peasants buried in debt, fueling resentment that helped spark the Mexican Revolution.

The country’s export farms have modernized rapidly in recent years to meet U.S. food safety standards and satisfy Americans’ appetite for fresh fruit and vegetables year-round.

But the company stores operate as they have for generations: as mom-and-pop monopolies that sell to a captive clientele, post no prices and track purchases in dog-eared ledgers.

The tiendas play a key role in a farm labor system that holds workers in a kind of indentured servitude. The combination of low pay and high prices drives many deep in debt to the stores. They spend the picking season trying to catch up. Guards and barbed-wire fences deter workers from fleeing the camps and their unpaid bills.

The company store has a long history, and back in 1956, the top rated song in the United States, recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford, recalled the stores’ repressive role in poor mining communities in the U.S.:

After the jump, as presidential cabinet member’s curiously presidential real estate dealings, a big thumb’s up from Washington, a quite reasonable asylum plea denied, a proposed amnesty for village vigilantes, a hitman’s claim of killing nearly a thousand, gunmen kill and burn their way through a village, and a story that shouldn’t surprise. . . Continue reading

Chart of the day: Obama, race, & politics


From a just-released McClatchy-Marist poll [PDF], some stunning findings on race and politics in America, and the one point where African and Americans are in agreement: The belief that election of Barack Obama has worsened race relations in the U.S.:

BLOLG Poll

Bernie Sanders breaks it down: The rich win


In a deft takedown of the new spending bill, Sen. Bernie Sanders places the trillion-dollar spending package in the context of the flow of wealth to the few at the very top as the national infrastructure collapses and families fall further behind and the young are burdened with ever-larger debt obligations to obtain an education that will merely enable them to tread water while the elderly see their pensions and Social Security payments covering less of their living expenses.

One family, the Waltons [no, not those Waltons, but the Walmart Waltons] owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans, while 90 percent of new income goes to the top one percent.

The major beneficiaries of the package are defense contractors, most of whom, as Sanders notes have been found guilty of fraud or made settlements with the government for  constantly underestimating costs, then collecting payments for massive overruns.

The bill also allows significant benefit cuts for employees who belong to more than one pension plan and can end in disaster for millions of middle class employees. In some case, cuts can reach half of the promised pension benefits. Meanwhile, the banksters who caused the crisis used to justify the draconian cuts escaped punishment and continue to salt away their millions and billions.

Anyone who things that Congress regulates Wall Street has it backwards, Sanders said. With their power and wealth and massive campaign funding, its the banksters who regulate Congress and write the laws the pass.

And now Wall Street’s giants have infused the spending bill with a provision repealing the regulations passed in wakes of the crash that imposed weak but real limitations on their rampant greed, setting the stage for another crash [and bailout] to come.

From his YouTube channel:

Bernie Sander: Wall Street Wins Again

Program notes:

Sen. Bernie Sanders discusses the omnibus appropriations bill on the Senate floor.

The Invisibles: Animating the Internationale


From British artist Nisha Duggal comes an animated version of an anthem dear to our heart, composed in the wake of the brutal suppression of the Paris Commune to rally of the hearts of those stirred by the lost chance of making a world more equitable than that which would arise during the grossly inegaliatarian Belle Epoque.

As French economic Tomas Piketty has revealed, the industrialized nations of the North have now once again attained the same levels of wealth disparity as those attained in the late 19th Century and seem destined to surpass them absent a rising resistance, as the discussion in our previous post makes eminently clear.

So for all of you who might be looking for a moment of inspiration, this from Nisha Duggal:

The Invisibles [The Internationale – English]

Program notes:

In a singular call to action The Invisibles employs and re-affirms Socialist anthem The Internationale for a contemporary audience. Vive la Révolution!

Music: The Internationale:

Eugène Pottier (1871) & Pierre de Geyter (1888)

Traditional translation with adaption by Billy Bragg (1990)

Performed by Nisha Duggal, Drums by James Broomfield

From Tomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century:

BLOG Unequal

We were born in the U.S. when inequality was at its lowest, and in our lifetime it has risen to levels never before seen. Unless we act together, all signs are that it will only grow worse.

The Democrats: Plutocratic since ’92, gettin’ worse


Bill Moyers and journalist and Harper’s Magazine publisher John R. MacArthur conduct a devastating dissection of the Democratic Party and the plutocratic alliance that has devastating America’s dwindling class of well paid blue collar workers to satisfy the demands of the plutocrats who now control both major parties in the U.S.

At the core of the agenda mandated by the Chicago Democratic machine [a point we’ve made here countless times] is the demand for an end to all remaining barriers to corporate and bankster profiteering [read looting], a push begun by Bill and Hillary back when Bubba signed NAFTA and continuing through today as Barack Obama, a product of that Chicago machine, rams through “free trade” agreements across both the Pacific and the Atlantic, sounding the death knell for organized labor and the aspirational working class.

From Moyers and Company:

Democrats Bow Down to Wall Street

From the transcript:

BILL MOYERS: In 2008, Obama, he used NAFTA against Hilary Clinton, as you said, because Bill Clinton had sponsored it in 1993. And he promised that he would reform NAFTA.

JOHN R. MACARTHUR: Right.

BILL MOYERS: Has he?

JOHN R. MACARTHUR: No. As soon as he got into office, he announced, we really don’t need to reform NAFTA. We’ll find other ways to help people who’ve been hurt by NAFTA, which they, and of course, they’ve done nothing. In fact, he’s pushed more free trade deals, Korea, Colombia, et cetera, you know, he keeps pushing, and now, the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, which will make things even worse.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah. You say if he wins the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he’ll be giving away big chunks of our remaining manufacturing base to Japan and Vietnam and other Pacific Rim countries. Why does he want to do that?

JOHN R. MACARTHUR: Because he’s the fundraiser in chief. And again, this goes back to Bill Clinton. Because Obama’s really just imitating Bill Clinton. Clinton made an alliance with the Daley machine in Chicago, which Obama, he’s inherited that alliance with the two Daley brothers. The people who were thriving are the people in power. Rahm Emanuel is now mayor of Chicago. Bill Daley and Rahm Emanuel were the chief lobbyists for passing NAFTA under Clinton. They’re the ones who rounded up the votes. They’re the ones who made the deals with the recalcitrant Democrats and Republicans who didn’t want to vote for it. These people are in the saddle. They succeeded each other as–

BILL MOYERS: They’re Democrats, too.

JOHN R. MACARTHUR: Democrats. But Daley succeeded Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s chief of staff. These are the people Obama talks to all the time. And they’re saying, free trade, great. We don’t know about factories closing. But it’s a great way to raise money.

BILL MOYERS: Senator Mitch McConnell, who will soon be the Senate majority leader, said that new trade agreements are one of his top priorities. Are we about to see some bipartisan cooperation between the Republicans in the Senate and Obama in the White House on passing this new trade agreement?

JOHN R. MACARTHUR: Absolutely. They’ve already announced that they’re going to try to work together. And if history is repeated, you will see fast track passed.

BILL MOYERS: Which means…

JOHN R. MACARTHUR: Which means you give the president, you give the executive branch, the authority to negotiate the trade agreement in secret. That’s what Congress gives away, which I think is unconstitutional. Because the Senate is supposed to advise and consent, right? But so far, nobody has challenged it on constitutional grounds. You give fast track authority to the president. They negotiate the deal. At the end of it, a gigantic bill, very complex, because I’ve read the NAFTA agreement, it’s very complex language. You give it to Congress. And you say, okay, vote for it, yes or no, up or down.

No amendments allowed, no amendments allowed. And so that’s when the heavy lobbying starts. And most times, at least in the past with PNTR, that’s permanent normal trade relations with China, and NAFTA, the big money wins. And this is what’s going to happen again with TPP if people don’t stop it before it gets to the fast track stage. And I guarantee you, this is a way to send more jobs, particularly to Vietnam and Malaysia. What’s happening now is that labor rates are going up slightly in China. This panics the corporations. They want other places to go. Vietnam’s an even cheaper labor platform than China. And so it’s cheap labor coupled with really minimal environmental protection. You can do just about anything you want to.

Killing American democracy with a spending bill


Or rather, killing off what little remains standing in the way of a complete plutocratic takevoer.

All in all, it’s a brilliant dissection of the what the Congressional spending bill really does from Abby Martin, who is maturing into a a dramatically effective voice for the rest of us in her transformation from a community access channel commentator right here in Berkeley into a journalist of real stature.

And if you’re not furious before the clip is over, check your pulse to see if you’re still alive:

From Breaking the Set:

The Top 5 Things That Screw Over Americans in 2015 Spending Bill

Program notes:

Abby Martin discusses the spending bill that is about to be voted on by Congress and the various ways that it screws over regular Americans.

Chart of the day: The ethnic wealth gaps widen


From the Pew Research Center, data reveals that the “recovery” has widened disturbing inequities in the U.S.:

BLOG Wealth