Category Archives: Labor

MexicoWatch: Protests, violence, politics, laws


We begin with an image, via Sailor Lunita, of family members with images of their missing students in a protest in Mexico today, held as part of the global day of action on behalf of the missing students of the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa who were disappeared on 26 September 2016:

BLOG Ayotz

Next, from teleSUR, marking an anniversary:

Mexico Protests Mark 5 Months Since 43 Students Disappeared

  • The forced disappearances have brought to light the deeply entrenched state violence and corruption in Mexico.

Families and supporters of the 43 forcibly disappeared Ayotzinapa students continue their fight to find their loved ones in demonstrations Thursday, marking exactly five months since they went missing.

The families called for a national day of action on Feb. 26 to pressure the Mexican government to be more transparent about the details of the case and to put more resources into locating the students. Mass protests are scheduled in Mexico City to begin at 4 p.m. local time.

Tensions have grown in the country since the students went missing, which has become the highest profile example of the entrenched corruption within Mexico’s government.

So far, Iguala’s mayor and his wife, which is where the students went missing, have both been arrested for their involvement in the disappearances and allegedly ordering local police to arrest them and hand them over to a local drug gang called United Warriors (Guerreros Unidos).

From AJ+, anger over a protester’s death:

Anger Continues In Guerrero Mexico After Protester Is Killed

A 65-year-old man has died after sustaining injuries at a protest in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, demanding better pay. The region has seen near-daily protests ever since 43 students disappeared five months ago.

From teleSUR, more revelations:

Mexico: Photos Shed Light on Military Role in Ayotzinapa 43

  • New photographs suggest the military knew more about the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa 43 than previously thought.

Mexico’s military released previously unseen photographs of students who survived a massacre in Guerrero state Wednesday that have sparked renewed controversy over the case of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa teachers training college students.

Published in Mexican newspaper Milenio, the photos allegedly show 25 students that survived the initial shoot out in Iguala, Guerrero on Sept. 26, 2014.

From teleSUR again, more protests planned:

Mexican Teachers Union Preparing for Civil Disobedience

  • Angered at the violent repression unleashed by police against teachers, unions in Mexico have put their members on maximum alert.

A teachers’ union in Mexico announced Thursday that it will escalate its tactics, declaring itself on maximum alert and preparing its members for civil disobedience and rebellion.

The National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) issued its warning in response to the violent repression against teachers by federal police in Acapulco earlier this week.

Mexico News Daily covers a law we suspect, given the vote, to be yet another instance of impotent window dressing:

Anti-corruption plan approved by deputies

  • Legislation to establish the national system will now move on to the Senate

A National Anti-Corruption System was approved today by the Chamber of Deputies after ironing out a number of differences that have stalled its passage.

It was approved by 409 of the 500 deputies.

The legislation establishes a system to coordinate efforts to implement policies to prevent and deter corruption and to promote integrity, and strengthen the Public Administration Secretary to allow it to audit, investigate and apply sanctions against crimes of corruption.

Finally, another image, this time from Insurrection News, with and image from today’s protest in Mexico City, bearing a message we suspect is true, tranlsating as “Justice will come when the blood of the bourgeois begins to run.”:

BLOG Ayotz 2

Quote of the day: Emma Goldman’s declaration


Emma Goldman was one of the most remarkable figures in American history.

Born in 1869 in the Russian city that is now Kaunas, Lithuania, she came to the U.S. 14 years later, and became a pillar of the anarchist movement in the wake of the Haymarket riot and its bloody aftermath, with her lover and life partner Alexander Berkman, she was tried for the attempted assassination of Henry Clay Frick, manager of the Carnegie Steel plant in Homestead, Pennsylvania, who had overseen the bloody suppression of a strike there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haymarket_affair

A pioneer of the movements for organized labor, women’s rights, and the abolition of capitalism, she was also the founder of Mother Earth, a journal devoted to the anarchist ideal. The following essay, one of her most famous, was published in magazine’s July, 1909, edition:

A New Declaration of Independence

When, in the course of human development, existing institutions prove inadequate to the needs of man, when they serve merely to enslave, rob, and oppress mankind, the people have the eternal right to rebel against, and overthrow, these institutions.

The mere fact that these forces–inimical to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness–are legalized by statute laws, sanctified by divine rights, and enforced by political power, in no way justifies their continued existence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all human beings, irrespective of race, color, or sex, are born with the equal right to share at the table of life; that to secure this right, there must be established among men economic, social, and political freedom; we hold further that government exists but to maintain special privilege and property rights; that it coerces man into submission and therefore robs him of dignity, self-respect, and life.

The history of the American kings of capital and authority is the history of repeated crimes, injustice, oppression, outrage, and abuse, all aiming at the suppression of individual liberties and the exploitation of the people. A vast country, rich enough to supply all her children with all possible comforts, and insure well-being to all, is in the hands of a few, while the nameless millions are at the mercy of ruthless wealth gatherers, unscrupulous lawmakers, and corrupt politicians. Sturdy sons of America are forced to tramp the country in a fruitless search for bread, and many of her daughters are driven into the street, while thousands of tender children are daily sacrificed on the altar of Mammon. The reign of these kings is holding mankind in slavery, perpetuating poverty and disease, maintaining crime and corruption; it is fettering the spirit of liberty, throttling the voice of justice, and degrading and oppressing humanity. It is engaged in continual war and slaughter, devastating the country and destroying the best and finest qualities of man; it nurtures superstition and ignorance, sows prejudice and strife, and turns the human family into a camp of Ishmaelites.

We, therefore, the liberty-loving men and women, realizing the great injustice and brutality of this state of affairs, earnestly and boldly do hereby declare, That each and every individual is and ought to be free to own himself and to enjoy the full fruit of his labor; that man is absolved from all allegiance to the kings of authority and capital; that he has, by the very fact of his being, free access to the land and all means of production, and entire liberty of disposing of the fruits of his efforts; that each and every individual has the unquestionable and unabridgeable right of free and voluntary association with other equally sovereign individuals for economic, political, social, and all other purposes, and that to achieve this end man must emancipate himself from the sacredness of property, the respect for man-made law, the fear of the Church, the cowardice of public opinion, the stupid arrogance of national, racial, religious, and sex superiority, and from the narrow puritanical conception of human life. And for the support of this Declaration, and with a firm reliance on the harmonious blending of man’s social and individual tendencies, the lovers of liberty joyfully consecrate their uncompromising devotion, their energy and intelligence, their solidarity and their lives.

With the word “anarchism” so loosely applied these days, we thought it might be a good idea to consider the words of an unimpeachable anarchistic thinker, one who played a crucial role in some of the most turbulent years of American history.

After the outbreak of World War I, Goldman and Berkman were singled out for persecution by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and the newly appointed head of his General Intelligence Division [later the Federal Bureau of Investigation] J. Edgar Hoover. Deported to Russia, she soon found herself in strong disagreement with the totalitarian instincts of the young Bolshevik regime and would spend her life in exile, a woman without a country.

Hoover would go on to lead an unending purge of dissident American thinkers, all conveniently labelled communists, even though many were not. Hoover’s name struck terror into the hearts of three generations of Americans, in part because he kept files on everyone deemed either a threat to the established order or as potential obstacles to his own career.

Goldman was one of his first victims. Thousands more would follow.

Abby Martin pulls the plug on Breaking the Set


Abby Martin, who launched her television career on Berkeley Community Television and landed her own show on RT America, is pulling the plug on Breaking the Set, which will end in another week.

Here’s how she explains it in a post on Media Roots, an advocacy group she started:

RT has given me opportunities I will be eternally thankful for and hosting Breaking the Set has been the best and most invaluable experience of my life. I never imagined the kind of support it would generate, proving how many people are hungry for raw truth and systemic change.

Throughout the course of the show, I’m most proud of the stories we’ve done on the road – Pine Ridge, Detroit, Gulf Coast, Guantanamo Bay and soon to be released Cuba. As such, after almost three years of reporting from the studio I’ve decided to focus on investigative field reporting.

Please note I’m not stopping or going anywhere. If I can’t find a platform to host my show vision with the same editorial freedom, I will turn to crowdsourcing. And until I establish my next venture I’ll be writing daily, podcasting, producing video shorts and doing talks around the world.

Please follow me on facebook, youtubetwitter and my website Media Roots to stay tuned.

I’m excited to put all my heart into the last two weeks of the most hard hitting show on TV and celebrate a great run, all of which wouldn’t have been possible without you.

Much love and appreciation to everyone for supporting me and my future endeavors.

Never Stop Breaking the Set.

We watched her evolution into a self-assured and provocative journalist, and she has covered some of the most critical issues of the day with an increasingly authoritative voice.

We hope she finds a new source for funding that will enable her to address the same range of issues and attract the same notable interview subjects. While the costs have come down on the technical end, journalism isn’t cheap.

Meanwhile, here’s the latest edition of Breaking the Set:

Brainwashing American Youth, AIPAC 2015 & Cancer at the Dollar Store

Program notes:

Abby Martin Breaks the Set on Rewriting History, AIPAC 2015, The Real Media Lies, and AUMF Again

LIKE Breaking the Set @ http://fb.me/JournalistAbbyMartin
FOLLOW Abby Martin @ http://twitter.com/AbbyMartin

EPISODE BREAKDOWN: On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin talks about a recent proposal in the Oklahoma State Legislature that would ban Advanced Placement US History courses for being “un-American” for teaching events like the Trial of Tears. Abby then speaks with Israeli dissident Ronnie Barkan then joins Abby to discuss the role Zionism and AIPAC play in US politics in light of the upcoming AIPAC conference in DC .

Abby then juxtaposes the outrage over Brian Williams’ lie about his experience in Iraq with the lack of concern with lies peddled by journalists like Judith Miller in the lead up to the Iraq War. Abby then interviews journalist Sam Sacks on Obama’s recent request for Congressional approval to use force against ISIS.

Abby wraps up the show with Lee Camp and John F. O’Donnell of Redacted Tonight to discuss everything from factory farms to Walmart’s recent announcement that they will raise their minimum wage… to $9.

Everything you wanted to know about Uber


What Walmart is to shopping, Uber is to transport — a ruthless money machine stripping workers of their rights as it offloads both personal and corporate responsibility onto their backs — through that wonderful pretense of the “independent contractor” — and stiffing taxpayers with the costs of the inevitable disasters.

More than that, Uber is destroying yet another bastion of organized labor, that ultimate desideratum of neoliberalism, which resents any force, whether exerted by government or the workers who actually make the money that their financial overlords lay claim to by virtue of their social Darwinian pretensions to natural superiority.

But, damn, it sure is clever, ain’t it?

And what a name, an almost mocking allusion to the Nietzschean pretensions of the pseudolibertarians of Silicon Valley!

Dollars for the Ubermensch, peanuts — and liability — for the serfs.

So with that by way of context, here’s a fascinating Laura Flanders interview of Bhairavi Desai, a New York cabbie who is spearheading the fight to retain worker rights and dignity.

Oh, and Uber has just hired a key Obama staffer. But what else is new, right?

From GRITtv’s Laura Flanders Show via teleSUR English:

The Laura Flanders Show: Bhairavi Desai

Program notes:

The US media has been breathlessly reporting the spin about Uber, the new $40 billion dollar car service. This episode explores the other side, with Bhairavi Desai, co-founder and Director of the Taxi Workers Alliance.

The show also features an interview with 98-year-old civil rights activist Esther Cooper Jackson, co-founders of Freedomways magazine.

EnviroWatch: Outbreaks, climate, water, fracking


We begin with the measles, via Medical Daily:

California Has 3 New Measles Cases, Arizona Says Outbreak Winding Down

California public health officials have confirmed three more cases of measles in an outbreak that began in late December, bringing to 113 the total number of people believed to have been infected in the state.

Health officials in Arizona, where seven cases of measles have been documented, said the outbreak would likely be considered over in that state if no further infections were reported over the weekend.

Across the United States, more than 150 people have been diagnosed with measles, many of them linked to an outbreak that authorities believe began when an infected person from out of the country visited Disneyland in late December.

rom Outbreak News Today, another continent, another outbreak:

Dengue fever in Malaysia: 18,000 cases and 44 deaths

The dengue fever outbreak in Malaysia last year reached approximately 100,000 cases, about a three-fold increase from 2013.

It would seem that 2015 will be another harsh dengue fever season in the southeast Asian country based on numbers reported by the Malaysia Ministry of Health Friday (computer translated).

The total cumulative dengue cases reported from Jan. 4 to Feb. 13, 2015 is 17,918. This included the 450 cases reported on Friday alone. Of this total, health authorities are reporting 44 dengue-related fatalities.

And another, via Medical Daily:

India Sees Rapid Increase In Swine Flu Deaths

India has seen a sharp rise in the number of swine flu deaths and reported cases this year, prompting officials to investigate the cause and step up efforts to combat the virus.

The H1N1 virus caused 485 deaths in India between Jan. 1 and Feb. 12, additional health secretary Arun Kumar Panda told reporters on Friday.

He said more than 6,000 people had tested positive for the virus during that time.

IPS-Inter Press Service covers another continent and another plague:

Cancer Locks a Deadly Grip on Africa, Yet It’s Barely Noticed

Hidden by the struggles to defeat Ebola, malaria and drug-resistant tuberculosis, a silent killer has been moving across the African continent, superseding infections of HIV and AIDS.

World Cancer Day commemorated on Feb. 4 may have come and gone, but the spread of cancer in Africa has been worrying global health organisations and experts year round. The continent, they fear, is ill-prepared for another health crisis of enormous proportions.

By 2020, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 16 million new cases of cancer are anticipated worldwide, with 70 percent of them in developing countries. Africa and Asia are not spared.

Medical Daily covers another health threat:

Unemployed People Undergo Changes In Personality, Making Them Less Agreeable, Conscientious

It’s well known that being unemployed for a significant amount of time can have a negative effect on your physical and emotional wellbeing. It’s likely to raise your risk of depression and suicide. But according to a new study, being unemployed can actually alter your personality too, making you less agreeable and influencing your levels of conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, and openness.

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, examined 6,769 Germans and asked them to self-evaluate the few core personality traits stated above over the course of a couple years. When the participants first began the survey they all had jobs, but a chunk of them slowly lost jobs over the course of a few years. Some remained unemployed, while others found new jobs.

“Unemployment has a strongly negative influence on wellbeing,” the authors wrote, but they wanted to find out if it could also change a person’s basic personality traits. “Whether personality changes arise through natural maturation processes or contextual/environment factors is still a matter of debate. Unemployment, a relatively unexpected and commonly occurring life event, may shed light on the relevance of context for personality change.”

From Reuters, a small but notable comeback accelerates:

U.S. wildlife managers mark population rise for rare wolf

The number of imperiled wolves found only in the American Southwest climbed to 109 in 2014, marking the fourth consecutive year that the population of Mexican gray wolves has risen by at least 10 percent, federal wildlife managers said Friday.

Wild Mexican wolves were believed to be all but extinct in the United States in 1998 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing the animal to its native range.

At that point there had been no sightings of the wolves, which are native to western Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains, in the wild in the United States since the 1970s, said Benjamin Tuggle, the Service’s southwest regional director.

Fox News Latino covers significant environmental preservation proposed:

Colombia proposes world’s largest eco-corridor with Brazil, Venezuela

Colombia’s government will draw up plans to join with Brazil and Venezuela in creating the world’s largest ecological corridor, a project aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change and preserving biodiversity, President Juan Manuel Santos announced.

The corridor will span 135 million hectares (521,240 sq. miles) of rainforest, Santos said Friday after a Cabinet meeting in Leticia, capital of Colombia’s southeastern jungle province of Amazonas.

The Colombian head of state said he expects the three countries will present the so-called Triple A initiative at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP21, late this year in Paris.

“This would become the world’s largest ecological (corridor) and would be a great contribution to that fight of all humanity to preserve our environment, and in Colombia’s case to preserve our biodiversity,” Santos added.

Corporateers and banksters aim to recolonize Africa, via the Ecologist:

Land and seed laws under attack as Africa is groomed for corporate recolonization

  • Across Africa, laws are being rewritten to open farming up to an agribusiness invasion – displacing the millions of small cultivators that now feed the continent, and replacing them with a new model of profit-oriented agriculture using patented seeds and varieties. The agencies effecting the transformation are legion – but they are all marching to a single drum.

A battle is raging for control of resources in Africa – land, water, seeds, minerals, ores, forests, oil, renewable energy sources.

Agriculture is one of the most important theatres of this battle. Governments, corporations, foundations and development agencies are pushing hard to commercialise and industrialise African farming.

Many of the key players are well known. They include the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the G8, the African Union, the Bill Gates-funded ‘Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa’ (AGRA), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC).

Together they are committed to helping agribusiness become the continent’s primary food commodity producer. To do this, they are not only pouring money into projects to transform farming operations on the ground – they are also changing African laws to accommodate the agribusiness agenda.

From the McClatchy Foreign Staff, water wonder or water woe?:

Beijing now drinking from vast water project environmentalists decry

Drinking water is flowing to Beijing from China’s controversial south-north water project – enough to fill 20,000 Olympic-size swimming pools in the first six weeks, the city reported Friday.

But concerns continue to swirl about the project’s environmental and human costs even as Beijing taps into a new water source nearly 800 miles away.

The central route of the south-north water project is China’s largest public works undertaking since the Three Gorges Dam, and it’s similarly contentious. It consists of a 400-foot-wide canal, aqueducts and other water works that stretch 798 miles to Beijing, starting at the Danjiangkou Reservoir in Henan province.

Environmentalists say the water diversions are sure to damage the ecology of the Han and lower Yangtze rivers. Construction of the canal also prompted the forced relocation of 100,000 people.

From the Guardian, can you say Frackenstein?:

Germany moves to legalise fracking

  • Four-year moratorium on shale drills set to be overturned as country initiates process to allow regulated hydraulic fracturing for shale gas

Germany has proposed a draft law that would allow commercial shale gas fracking at depths of over 3,000 metres, overturning a de facto moratorium that has been in place since the start of the decade.

A new six-person expert panel would also be empowered to allow fracks at shallower levels

Shale gas industry groups welcomed the proposal for its potential to crack open the German shale gas market, but it has sparked outrage among environmentalists who view it as the thin edge of a fossil fuel wedge.

Senior German officials say that the proposal, first mooted in July, is an environmental protection measure, wholly unrelated to energy security concerns which have been intensified by the conflict in Ukraine.

And our lone entry in the Fukushimapocalypse Now ! category, via EcoWatch:

Will Ohioans Be Forced to Pay the Bill to Keep the Crumbling Davis-Besse Nuke Plant Alive?

As the world’s nuke reactors begin to crumble and fall, the danger of a major disaster is escalating at the decrepit Davis-Besse plant near Toledo, Ohio.

Now the plant’s owners are asking the Ohio Public Utilities Commission to force the public to pay billions of dollars over the next 15 years to subsidize reactor operations.

But Davis-Besse’s astonishing history of near-miss disasters defies belief. Its shoddy construction, continual operator error and relentless owner incompetence would not be believed as fiction, let alone as the stark realities of a large commercial reactor operating in a heavily populated area.

Time and again Davis-Besse has come within a fraction of an inch and an hour of crisis management time. Today its critical shield wall is literally crumbing, with new cracks opening up every time the northern Ohio weather freezes (like this week).

Quote of the day: Rushing into the 19th Century


From an essay by UC Berkeley’s own Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration and a consistent critic of today’s raptor capitalism, writing at his blog:

During the thirty years after the end of World War II, as the economy doubled in size, so did the wages of most Americans — along with improved hours and working conditions.

Yet since around 1980, even though the economy has doubled once again (the Great Recession notwithstanding), the wages most Americans have stagnated. And their benefits and working conditions have deteriorated.

This isn’t because most Americans are worth less. In fact, worker productivity is higher than ever.

It’s because big corporations, Wall Street, and some enormously rich individuals have gained political power to organize the market in ways that have enhanced their wealth while leaving most Americans behind.

That includes trade agreements protecting the intellectual property of large corporations and Wall Street’s financial assets, but not American jobs and wages.

Bailouts of big Wall Street banks and their executives and shareholders when they can’t pay what they owe, but not of homeowners who can’t meet their mortgage payments.

Bankruptcy protection for big corporations, allowing them  to shed their debts, including labor contracts. But no bankruptcy protection for college graduates over-burdened with student debts.

Antitrust leniency toward a vast swathe of American industry – including Big Cable (Comcast, AT&T, Time-Warner), Big Tech (Amazon, Google), Big Pharma, the largest Wall Street banks, and giant retailers (Walmart).

But less tolerance toward labor unions — as workers trying to form unions are fired with impunity, and more states adopt so-called “right-to-work” laws that undermine unions.

We seem to be heading full speed back to the late nineteenth century.

Cooperatives: Establishing workplace democracy


The vast disparities of wealth in the United States derive from two sources, the fruits of the industry of American workers and the chimerical financial manipulations of avaricious banksters.

The cooperative movement is primarily aimed at the first of these sources of inequality by conferring ownership on the workers who actually produce the goods and services, although credit unions are an alternative institution to the Wall Street dominated banking system.

This video from GRITtv looks at cooperatives from New York to San Francisco Bay, and offers insights into an alternative economic movement. And while it’s not mentioned in the video, the movement has very deep American roots, from the communes of the early 19th Century to the farm coops still thriving throughout the Midwest. Perhaps the best know American cooperative is the Associated press, which is owned by member publications and electronic media.

From GRITtv:

Own The Change: Building Economic Democracy One Worker Co-op at a Time

Program notes:

A short documentary in partnership with Toolbox for Education and Social Action. Watch as we go through concrete steps for building economic alternatives by creating worker-owned cooperatives. Featuring conversations with worker-owners from Union Cab; Ginger Moon; Arizmendi Bakery, Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance (AORTA); New Era Windows; and more.

For supplementary materials from Toolbox for Education and Social Education, visit http://store.toolboxfored.org/own-the-change/