OAKLAND, California, May 2, 2012 (IPS) – It was May Day and Oakland was bathed in sunshine. Union workers staged militant actions; immigrants and allies marched for justice with brass bands and drummers; spontaneous street parties erupted.
There was also tear gas, flash bang grenades, screams, vandalism and arrests on Oakland Streets.
“Today, as we stand in solidarity with labour, as we stand in solidarity with immigrant workers, as we strike against this exploitative economic system, we also stand up to police violence and state repression,” Laleh Behbehanian of the Occupy Oakland Anti- Repression Committee told a rally in Oscar Grant Plaza, the space renamed by protesters for a young unarmed African American man killed by a transit police officer.
From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, “When did this all begin,America’s downward slide?” They say they’ve heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent’s income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how “lowly” your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated.
Young people have heard of this mythical time — but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, “When did this all end?”, I say, “It ended on this day: August 5th, 1981.”
The crumbling U.S. economy is putting an extraordinary amount of financial stress on American families. For many Americans, “flat broke” has become a permanent condition. Today, over half of all American families live paycheck to paycheck. Unemployment is rampant and those that do actually have jobs are finding that their wages are rising much more slowly than prices are. The financial condition of average American families continues to decline and this is showing up in all of the recent surveys.
Mitch Winehouse Posing With Wax Figurine of Daughter
“The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.” — Bob Marley
As a child who grew up in one of the many flavors of household, “dysfunction,” I can report emphatically that children always believe their parents are worth suffering for, over, about and instead of. And, sadly, Amy Jade Winehouse was, probably unbeknownst to her, a victim of this particular scourge of western civilization, the cliché of the “dysfunctional family.”
A “working class hero,” John Lennon told us in his song of that title, “is something to be/ Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV/ And you think you’re so clever and classless and free/ But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see.”
The delusion of a classless America in which opportunity is equally distributed is the most effective deception perpetrated by the moneyed elite that controls all the key levers of power in what passes for our democracy. It is a myth blown away by Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz in the current issue of Vanity Fair. In an article titled “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%” Stiglitz states that the top thin layer of the superwealthy controls 40 percent of all wealth in what is now the most sharply class-divided of all developed nations: “Americans have been watching protests against repressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet, in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.”
The Golden Age of the American working class is over and McDonald’s Golden Arches provides a glimpse of what lay directly ahead for many working Americans. McDonald’s will be adding as many as 50,000 new hires on April 19. The newly disenfranchised who were unfortunate enough to be swept away by the housing bubble collapse had to penny pinch on shoestring budgets. Those no longer able to afford Starbucks coffee, instead sipped on the newly developed McDonald’s McCafe line and the restaurant chain financially exploded despite the tanked economy. While the entrepreneurial spirit of McDonald’s is certainly noteworthy, there is a more important element to this story to be considered. The poor substitute for coffee is symbolic of a far greater crisis to the American people than just a preference for coffee beans.
This is a political crime of deception, an enormous bait and switch, in which liberals and quite a few independents were misled by a serial liar who purposely characterized himself as a reformer…
Did you receive your email from Barack Obama yet? If you are a Democrat, or on his campaign mailing list, the president has promised you are going to be the first to know when he formally launches his reelection campaign. It could be any moment now; apparently the White House is waiting for a slow news day when Libya and Fukushima and Congressional budget negotiations aren’t dominating the media agenda. Once the news is out, you are expected as a loyal Obama supporter to start sending in campaign donations and begin attending campaign organization meetings.
The problem is, if you are a liberal, the chances are pretty high that you haven’t forgotten that the White House thinks of you as “fucking retarded”.
After a vibrant life, Joe Bageant died on March 27 following a four-month struggle with cancer. He was 64. Joe is survived by his wife, Barbara, his three children, Timothy, Patrick and Elizabeth, and thousands of friends and admirers. He is also survived by his work and ideas. According to Joe’s wishes, he will be cremated. His family will hold a private memorial service.
Here’s his last post, on January 4, 2011, announcing his cancer.
This book is all about the post WWII shift from Maw and Pap’s agrarian democracy to the urban-dominated/techno/bureaucratic/ military/security/consumer Empire of today, showing how that shift and the resulting class stratification has led us to the brink of economic and ecological collapse, writes Donnelly.
Maine Governor Paul LePage has ordered state workers to remove from the state labor department a 36-foot mural depicting the state’s labor history. Among other things the mural illustrates the 1937 shoe mill strike in Auburn and Lewiston. It also features the iconic “Rosie the Riveter,” who in real life worked at the Bath Iron Works. One panel shows my predecessor at the U.S. Department of Labor, Frances Perkins, who was buried in Newcastle, Maine.
The LePage Administration is also renaming conference rooms that had carried the names of historic leaders of American labor, as well as former Secretary Perkins.
The Governor’s spokesman explains that the mural and the conference-room names were “not in keeping with the department’s pro-business goals.”
In defiance of the Obama administration, former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is headed back to Haiti today for the first time since being ousted in a 2004 U.S.-backed coup. Hours ago, Aristide, his family, and a delegation of supporters boarded a plane in South Africa bound for Port-au-Prince. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman is with the Aristides to document their journey home. She filed this report from Johannesburg.
Under the law whole cities or school districts could be eliminated without any public participation or oversight, and amendments designed to provide minimal safeguards and public involvement were voted down.
Michigan’s legislature has passed a bill declaring “financial martial law,” as one legislator put it, which allows the state to appoint emergency managers who can break union contracts in school districts and cities having money trouble, Politico‘s Jennifer Epstein reports. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Al Pscholka, says the hope is that financial managers can stage an intervention before municipalities are so underwater there are few options to balance the books. The managers will also have the power to nullify elected councils and boards, or dissolve whole cities or school districts without a public vote. Gov. Rick Snyder will likely sign the bill soon.
The call has gone out and I’m asking everyone who can to take Wednesday off and head to the State Capitol in Lansing to protest the cruel and downright frightening legislation currently being jammed down our throats.
What is most shocking to many is that the new governor, who ran against the Tea Party and defeated the right wing of his party in the primaries — and then ran in the general election as “just a nerd from Ann Arbor” who was a moderate, not an ideologue — has pulled off one of the biggest Jekyll and Hyde ruses I’ve ever seen in electoral politics.
December 18 to March 7, 2011, this little video is a time-lapse series of maps marking major uprisings and protests around the world during that period. The maps are on my blog and this was a by-product.
Obviously, not every protest in the world is represented here, but it is arguably to scale. Mostly, it looks like a virus and that’s cool.
Just as an iceberg’s mass is largely hidden beneath the waters surface, despite state and federal budgetary shortfalls, taxpayer priorities remained primarily concealed…until now. The call for austerity measures and the budgetary turmoil experienced in Wisconsin has taken a state economic union-busting policy and turned it into an explosive national ideological battleground.
Governor Walker managed to destroy a budgetary surplus with the sweep of a pen, by giving tax cuts to corporations and was going to make the public workers pay for it. Simply put, public unions ability to collectively bargain was to blame for the deficit he had created and if the peoples hard won rights could just be revoked, then state government could balance a budget.
Naomi Klein on Anti-Union Bills and Shock Doctrine American-Style: “This is a Frontal Assault on Democracy, It’s a Kind of a Corporate Coup D’Etat”
“Obama is also involved in attacking labor rights with his pushing of charter schools and draconian budget cuts. He’s not a good bad guy for progressives. So, we’re still in a situation where Obama is getting away with, in my opinion, shock doctrine-style tactics, because people don’t—still don’t want to believe that Obama is doing it, too.”
As a wave of anti-union bills are introduced across the country following the wake of Wall Street financial crisis, many analysts are picking up on the theory that award-winning journalist and author Naomi Klein first argued in her 2007 bestselling book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. In the book, she reveals how those in power use times of crisis to push through undemocratic and extreme free market economic policies. “The Wisconsin protests are an incredible example of how to resist the shock doctrine,” Klein says.
Review of: The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century
Editors, Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall
Publisher: Global Research, 2010 (391 pp)
There’s a certain irony to my reading this book while waiting at the Food Stamp office. I’m part of an increasing number suffering under the New World Order’s systematic destruction of the planet’s middle classes so as to concentrate wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer families. While global uprisings now threaten global governance under a single currency, scheming rulers have long anticipated this reaction. In The Global Economic Crisis, we learn exactly how a planet-wide military dictatorship plans to enforce its feudal vision.
The remarkable rising against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has roused interest throughout the world. Interest is especially keen in Iran, where official statements and propaganda have been aimed at the so-called Arab Street for many years now. Egyptians did not need a foreign agit-prop campaign to know Mubarak was brutal and corrupt, that he had acquiesced to various US and Israeli policies, and that their futures were not bright. Nonetheless, Iran will seek to take advantage of the new situation, and interaction between the two countries will be critical for years to come.
The Conflict With Sunni-Arab States
For decades now, there has been a low-level conflict between Iran and several Sunni-Arab states. The origin of the conflict goes back centuries and involves both sectarian and geopolitical elements. Its more immediate cause was Ayatollah Khomeini’s call for Islamic revolution in 1979 and Iraq’s invasion the following year, which was backed by many Sunni Arab states. Continue reading →