The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Issue no. 1013 — June 6 - 20, 2016

Editorial:
Working People Need Their Own Party

Jun 6, 2016

The American working class is not organized politically. It has no political representatives of its own. There are only two big political parties, Democrats and Republicans, and both represent the wealthy classes: those who control the big banks, big industries, big real estate, big agribusiness, and all the Wall Street wheeler-and-dealers.

Those of us who work every day for our living – no one represents us. We have no political party that speaks for us, no party that tells this basic truth, that we are one class. There are only the two big parties that seek to divide us, trick us, set us one against another.

But we are one class – black, white, Latino and every one else who must work every day just to live. We are one class, we have one set of interests, and they are distinct and separate from those of other classes.

The capitalist class improves its situation by exploiting us, and by using the government to lower our standard of living. When they benefit, we lose.

When a party represents the capitalist class, how could it represent us?

The Republicans and Democrats both decided long ago that the capitalist class was their class. Whenever they speak about our problems, it is only to trick us into giving them our vote.

We need our own party. And in this election year, at the very least, we need a way to say that.

We will get a real party in exactly the same way we once built unions for ourselves, unions that the capitalist class did not want and even made illegal. Whatever those unions have become, we need to remember how we got them: more than 80 years ago, workers fought to increase their wages, they fought to protect themselves at work, they fought against hunger, fought against police attacks on their picket lines. And, in fighting, those workers built up their own organizations.

To defend our own interests, we can depend only on ourselves, on our own collective force, on our own capacity to organize ourselves.

It is important that someone says this. Saying it won’t make it happen. But someone needs to step up to say it.

In 2014 in Michigan, there were five independent candidates who asked for people to vote to show their agreement with the idea that the workers need to be organized independently, and that they will defend themselves only by making a collective fight. It was only five candidates, only in one state. But it broke ground that needs to be broken.

Those five candidates, and the people organized around their campaign, are now working to put a political party on the ballot this year in Michigan, the Working Class Party.

Nothing, of course, is guaranteed, since the state makes it very hard for the name of a new party to be put on the ballot. Thirty thousand signatures are needed – many more in reality. And many restrictions apply. But it’s important that someone is finally trying to do it.

Of course, just putting the name of a party on the ballot doesn’t mean the workers have built a real party. For that a series of fights will be necessary.

But putting the name Working Class Party on the ballot is a kind of pledge for the future. It calls on everyone who knows the working class needs to organize independently – it lets them express themselves, to say, with their ballot, what they really think.

Over and over we’ve heard it said that nothing can be done, that things have always been this way. Maybe – and that’s not really true – but things don’t have to continue this way. That depends on what workers who want to speak up for their own class are ready to do.

Pages 2-3

Pushing Women into Back Alley Abortions

Jun 6, 2016

In Texas, abortion provider Whole Woman’s Health has sued to block a new law that would force the closing of the state’s clinics that provide abortions. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case this month, its first major ruling on abortion in two decades, with wide implications in nine other states, including Kansas, Michigan and Wisconsin. In all these states, Republicans sought to please an extreme right-wing fundamentalist Christian electoral bloc by passing laws that effectively outlaw abortion.

The Texas-style restrictions require extensive renovations that are so expensive they force the clinics to close their doors. And they require doctors who perform abortions to get admitting privileges to hospitals, when many hospitals in rural areas refuse to grant them.

The laws already passed in many states have resulted in steep drops in the number of clinics that provide abortions. In Texas, the number of clinics has fallen from 41 to 19 in the last three years. In Louisiana there are only four left; in Arkansas three. Missouri and Mississippi have one clinic each. The result of such laws is to deprive over half the women in the South and Midwest of any medical facility providing abortions in their own county.

Working class women, especially those living in poverty, are left with extremely harsh and dangerous choices. Either they have to wait too long for an appointment in the few clinics in their region – meaning they are forced into more expensive and potentially more difficult surgical abortions.

Or, they are forced to travel long distances, often to other states many hundreds of miles away. Since the Texas law passed, women have had to drive four times farther for abortion services, according to the Texas Policy Evaluation Project. Driving or taking buses such long distances has a rippling impact for working women. They must arrange their work schedules, child care, travel and finances in order to see a doctor. In the event they need more than one appointment, many women sleep overnight in their cars or outdoors in the facility parking lot because they can’t afford a motel room. Others drive hundreds of miles home and back again for their next appointment. More and more laws are passed requiring two or more appointments.

As the result, many women try to induce an abortion themselves – which is, obviously, highly risky and dangerous. A recent study by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project from the University of Texas estimated that between 100,000 and 240,000 women in Texas tried to end their pregnancies at home over the past five years. Some used the medication misoprostol; others used various herbs, vitamins and homeopathic remedies, or they had someone punch them in the stomach, or they resorted to alcohol or illicit drugs or hormonal pills. In some cases, vicious prosecutors then put them on trial for “murder.”

It’s not bad enough that state legislatures are forcing working class women back to the barbaric conditions of what were thought to be bygone days. But the sanctimonious hypocrites – usually men – who have passed these laws actually dare to say they are doing it to protect women’s health.

No, they are costing untold numbers of women their lives or their health. And that is, pure and simple, murder.

A Poisonous Merger

Jun 6, 2016

The German chemical corporation Bayer wants to buy its American counterpart Monsanto for 63 billion dollars.

Bayer makes aspirin and many other medicines, but also pesticides, herbicides, seeds, and the gamut of chemical products for agriculture. Monsanto is known for its genetically modified seeds and its star herbicide, RoundUp. The merger of these two companies would form one of the main corporations in the chemical industry and, if other mergers follow, world agriculture will be under the thumb of just three companies.

Bayer-Monsanto can supply an herbicide which “cleans” the earth and kills everything; a seed genetically adapted to this herbicide which will sprout despite the poison; and the fertilizer needed to nourish the plant in this impoverished soil. And of course this seed renders the plant sterile, so that farmers must then buy seeds each year.... This type of agriculture is used for enormous farms that produce basic commodities for the world market, a market where the needs of the population count for less than the ups and downs of speculation.

The immediate consequences of agriculture aided by Monsanto or Bayer are known: poisoned farm workers and consumers, the death of bees that pollinate old varieties of crops, the impoverishment of the soil and the reduction of arable land. The long term consequences could turn out to be even more catastrophic.

In their defense, the agro-chemical capitalists invoke the need for ever-growing production and productivity. It is certainly true that agricultural production must meet the needs of the world population. It would be stupid to give up the gains of agricultural science, including chemistry and genetics. But while Bayer and Monsanto have demonstrated their capacity to make profits grow, they have not proven their capacity to meet humanity’s needs. Hunger and famines persist, direct consequences of the capitalist market.

Many campaigns have been launched against poisoners like Bayer, Monsanto, and the others. Some have called for a ban on their toxic products after dozens of years of their use, and others have called for these companies to compensate people they have poisoned. This is fine, but it only scratches the surface of the damage they have done. The chemical industry doesn’t just produce medicine and fertilizer. It also produces military poison gas, the gas used in the extermination camps, made by Bayer’s ancestor, and Agent Orange from the Vietnam War, made by Monsanto. Who knows what else they make today? The chemical industry’s power is reinforced by consolidation, its fusion with the big banks, and the governments which serve it. It will not be checked by simple protests. There is only one way to stop its ravages: social revolution.

Chicago Democrats Think Teachers Have Short Memories

Jun 6, 2016

Chicago Public Schools is now threatening that, without a state budget, the schools won’t open in the fall.

This is part of a political game by the Democrats who control the Illinois legislature and the Chicago city government. The Democrats are trying to convince Chicago teachers and parents to blame Republican Governor Rauner for all the school system’s problems, and to rally behind them.

Rauner is an enemy, no doubt, but so are the Democrats! Former Democratic Governor Pat Quinn spent most of his time in office trying to cut teacher pensions, along with the pensions of other state workers. Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed fifty schools in one year in predominantly black neighborhoods, and has imposed cut after cut in school budgets. Do the Democrats think teachers have forgotten?

The Chicago Teachers’ Union pointed out the obvious: there is plenty of money in Chicago to fund excellent public schools for every child, no matter what the state does.

When the teachers’ union wouldn’t go along with the Democrats’ game, Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said he was “shocked” that the union was “surrendering to Governor Rauner and letting him off the hook.”

Does he really think the teachers can’t see the wealth of the city, or that they can’t remember the last decade of attacks – led by Democrats like Claypool and Emanuel?

The teachers are smart enough to remember that both parties have led the charge against them.

Pages 4-5

100 Years after Lenin’s Imperialism, Capitalism Is Still the Motor of War

Jun 6, 2016

One hundred years ago, in the spring of 1916, Lenin wrote a brochure entitled Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. One century later, this work holds its burning importance for the current state of the world.

In the middle of a raging world war, while armies of millions of men slaughtered each other in nameless massacres, while the economies of the most developed countries had become transformed to produce engines of death, while the entire planet was tethered to the carnage of war, Lenin wanted to respond to the question of: “How did we get to this point?”

At the time, just like today, there was no lack of explanations and justifications for the catastrophe. The nationalists of one country accused those of another, while others laid the blame on human nature or on one particularly fanatical terrorist, and others still more reasonable talked of political folly and of the regrettable stubbornness of the governments. Lenin cut to the heart of the matter, explaining that the development of capitalism itself had exacerbated the competition between the different powers and brought about a war over the division of the world.

Monopoly Capitalism

A century of the development of capitalism had resulted in the division of the world between certain dominant countries and certain industrial and financial groups – the monopolies. The name that Lenin used to describe this new stage of development, which put an end to the capitalism of free competition and ushered in the dominance of finance capital, was “imperialism,” a word that called to mind the power of past empires and their methods of domination. The new period was for him the final stage of capitalism, since it demonstrated the need to go beyond it in order to arrive at a superior form of society, socialism.

Lenin described how a handful of possessors of capital in the wealthiest countries had systematically exploited the planet, adding that on the basis of this economy, wars between competing imperialist powers were inevitable. War was the ultimate method to open markets to goods and capital in search of profit. This is because the market is not infinite, and it is necessary to conquer those of other capitalists in order to expand. In this way, the war of 1914-1918 was the expression of the need for the young German imperialism to make a place for itself at the expense of the old colonial powers like France and Great Britain. Germany defended its right to have colonial slaves, while France and Great Britain defended their right to hold onto theirs.

For Lenin, it was therefore pointless to pretend to fight against war only from a moral point of view, without fighting against capitalism and attempting to make a social revolution. Not only was it necessary to refuse any “sacred alliance” in the name of national defense, but revolutionaries must also work to “transform the imperialist war into a civil war,” which is another way to say what the German revolutionary Karl Liebknecht had said: “The main enemy is in our own country.” This separated Lenin and the Bolsheviks from the pacifists and the reformists who believed or pretended to believe that it was possible to return to the era before 1914. Just as Marx had demonstrated that capitalism could not turn back to the time of artisan labor and small property, Lenin demonstrated that imperialism could not turn back to the capitalism of free competition, but that the war must create a revolution.

The ever-greater concentration of capitalist enterprises and the increasing centralization of the imperialist governments characteristic of the early twentieth century were not only sources of wars and oppression. They also showed how the economy tended to become socialized at a global scale and that the straitjacket of private property was becoming obsolete. Maintaining it at all costs could only lead to catastrophe. The whole evolution of capitalism demonstrated the need to expropriate the expropriators, a task that only the working class could accomplish.

A Very Relevant Book

Lenin’s book marked a major step forward in the understanding of the events of his time and of the means to break free of them. In fact, in 1917, the war would bring about the Russian revolution, and this led to the foundation of the Communist International, the worldwide party of revolution against the capitalist system. But this brochure, written one century ago, describes the world of today in a more meaningful way than many current articles, and above all, has a clear revolutionary perspective. As Lenin wrote: “The building of railways seems to be a simple, natural, democratic, cultural and civilizing enterprise. … But as a matter of fact, the capitalist threads have converted this railway construction into an instrument for oppressing a thousand million people (in the colonies and semi-colonies), that is, more than half the population of the globe inhabiting the dependent countries, as well as the wage slaves of capital in the ‘civilized’ countries.” It is enough to add oil production to the building of railways and to multiply the number of slaves by five in order to describe the planet in 2016.

Lenin called on not only the working class of the developed capitalist countries to make revolution, but also the oppressed of the whole world, the hundreds of millions of proletarians and poor peasants that imperialism holds in its grasp in its colonies, semi-colonies, and dominated countries. The affirmation of the global nature of the proletarian revolution would come up again several years later in the policy of the workers’ state that came out of the Russian revolution, and in that of the Communist International in its early years. The ceaseless integration of the global market, the development of the working class in new countries, and imperialism’s permanent wars to maintain its order from Kabul to Baghdad confirm today what Lenin wrote then.

Lenin’s descriptions of a more and more parasitic bourgeoisie, living by clipping coupons from the stock market in the shadow of a government totally in its service, still characterize financiers today. The shameless exploitation of the small countries by the large ones that Lenin denounced in 1916 still corresponds to the policies of the ex-colonial countries; or even to the relations between the big powers in the European Union and the smaller ones – or to the foreign policy of the United States toward much of the rest of the world. Lenin showed how the parasitism of the ruling class blocked progress, cultivating militarism, expansionism, reaction, and what he termed the decay of society, illustrated by the carnage that began in 1914. He demonstrated the linkage between all of these social facts, the logic of the development of capital, of war, and of the class struggle, and discovered the approach to social revolution in the world in crisis.

Despite the time that has since passed, despite the transformations of capitalism and the cataclysms that the past century has been full of, Imperialism remains a work of burning importance. To a South African miner, to a Chinese worker, to a Moroccan high school student, or to an unemployed person in South Carolina, this book still says today: “Look at what this world is and what must be done to change it.”

Wars in the Middle East:
Imperialism’s Disastrous Results Today

Jun 6, 2016

In 1979, the United States started sending massive amounts of weapons, money, and training to support Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan fighting the Soviet Union. Ever since then, U. S. imperialism has plunged a wider and wider swath of the Middle East into war as the United States and its imperialist allies try to impose their control over this whole oil-rich region.

These current wars are a continuation of the struggles the imperialist powers launched 100 years ago to divide up the riches of the Middle East among their respective giant corporations. At that time, Britain, France, Germany, and the United States fought each other for the spoils, especially oil. Today, the giant corporations like ExxonMobil or BP are truly multinational, so the various imperialist powers cooperate – at least for the moment. But then and now, the people of the region have paid an enormous, bitter price. People who share common languages, traditions, and history were divided from each other. Wars were fomented, dictatorships set up with the backing of imperialist armies. And always, always, the big imperialist countries sent their own military machines into the region to impose their wishes.

In Afghanistan, war has continued on and off for almost 40 years with no end in sight today. Iraq has been in almost constant war since 1980. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya have all been laid waste. Between the bombs dropped directly by the U.S. or its allies, and the fighting of various proxy forces propped up by the imperialist powers, these wars have killed millions of people. Millions more have been driven from their homes. Sewers, water systems, electric power networks, hospitals, schools, and almost anyplace someone could work have been destroyed in all of these countries. And the desperation this has created has fueled the most reactionary forces, like ISIS or the Taliban, which offer nothing but the most backwards and misogynist answers to people who see no hope in their present situation.

Imperialism remains a fundamental part of capitalism, and these wars in the Middle East show that it is just as brutal today as it was 100 years ago. We can be sure that imperialism will continue to cause war after war, until we put this deadly capitalist system in the trash heap where, 100 years ago, Lenin had already said it belongs.

Ferocious Exploitation in U.S. Slaughterhouses

Jun 6, 2016

More than 250,000 workers in the U.S. chicken industry have been refused bathroom breaks, according to a recent report by Oxfam, the non-profit organization that focuses on poverty around the world.

The industry is known for its low salaries, numerous accidents and workplace harassment. The speed of the line in slaughterhouses is outrageous: almost 140 chickens are torn apart every minute, with many companies bragging they have raised the level to 175 birds a minute.

The bosses put a constant pressure on workers not to take any breaks, using all sorts of mockery and threats of discipline. If workers do get a break, they have to run to the bathroom, risking accidents on the slippery floors in the slaughterhouses. Many workers took to wearing disposable diapers to take care of toilet needs while working.

This bullying can also have severe health consequences, especially for pregnant women or for workers who avoid drinking water so they won’t need a bathroom break.

Poor countries have no claim on extreme exploitation: it happens in the richest countries too, including in the U.S., this supposedly modern, civilized country.

Pages 6-7

Overtime Rule:
Tricks and Double Talk

Jun 6, 2016

The Obama administration’s new overtime rule was finalized in May and will become effective on December 1, 2016. Under the new rule, everyone making less than $47,476 will automatically be eligible for overtime, regardless of their type of work. Previously, this rule was for those who made less than $23,660. The White House claims that an additional 4.2 million workers will become eligible for this overtime compensation.

But, it turns out that this claim will stay only on paper. First, about 60% of these newly eligible 4.2 million workers do not work overtime hours, and employers won’t change their pay because of the new rule.

The remaining 1.7 million workers would get a dismal raise, about $718 a year on average, according to the Los Angeles Times.

However, even this minuscule increase is doubtful. In the past, when such laws passed, businesses cut the base pay and/or hours to avoid paying overtime.

Republicans who opposed the new rule point this out. But none of them proposed a way to prevent businesses from cutting pay.

Obama’s overtime rule and Republican criticisms are both just election year talk from spin doctors.

Pay Gap Reflects the Role Imposed on Women

Jun 6, 2016

The single largest cause of the pay gap between men and women is the different occupations and industries in which men and women work. According to a new study from Cornell University, it accounts for more than half the pay gap.

The median earnings of information technology managers (mostly men) are 27 percent higher than human resources managers (mostly women), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data. These are jobs that require similar education and responsibility, or similar skills, but divided by gender. Another example: janitors (usually men) earn 22 percent more than maids and housecleaners (usually women).

But that is not the whole story. Another study found that when large numbers of women enter jobs historically held by men, pay declines. A striking example is found in the field of recreation – working in parks or leading camps – which went from predominantly male to female from 1950 to 2000. Median hourly wages in this field declined 57 percent, after accounting for the change in the value of the dollar. The job of ticket agent also went from mainly male to female during this period, and wages dropped 43 percent!

The same thing happened when large numbers of women became designers (wages fell 34 percent), and biologists (wages fell 18 percent). Even more telling, the reverse was true when men entered a field. Computer programming, for instance, used to be done by women. But when male programmers began to outnumber female ones, the job began paying more and gained prestige.

Does the value or importance of a job change because a woman does it? No. But this class society is organized around the idea that women’s main role is a procreative one, and jobs are only secondary. In a society which views the care of children as a private, individual affair, instead of a responsibility of the whole society, women’s physical capacity is turned against them, keeping women in a subservient position to men.

Women have been the second and third tier wage-earners for as long as capitalism has existed – to the detriment of women, their children – and men!

Let the Steel Bosses Pay!

Jun 6, 2016

This article is reprinted from issue 73 of Workers’ Fight, the newspaper of the British revolutionary workers group of that name.

The possible closure of Tata Steel’s main operations means that up to 40,000 workers are under threat –15,000 employed by Tata and 25,000 by its suppliers.

This is the latest attack on steel jobs in a long series. Already, in the run-up to privatization, in 1988, almost 2/3 of the industry’s 156,000 jobs had been cut. And, by the time Tata Steel bought most of what remained of the privatized steel industry, in 2007, the workforce was down to 29,000.

Then, between last October and January, SSI, Caparo, and Tata Steel laid off more than 6,100 workers. If this new round of closures goes ahead, there will only be about 9,000 steelworkers left.

Real Causes and Red Herrings

Today, almost everyone – from Labor Party leaders to union leaders – blames the steel industry’s crisis on China, which is accused of dumping its excess steel onto the world market at bargain-basement prices.

The real cause, however, is linked to the workings of the capitalist system itself. For a long time already, there has been a worldwide overproduction of steel, partly due to massive speculation on commodities and partly due to the consequences of the banking crisis. Today, production capacity is estimated to be 600 million tons a year more than actual demand. Compared to this, China’s exports of just over 100 million tons a year are hardly decisive!

This overproduction creates cut-throat competition between the steel giants. In order to protect their profits, they cut investment to the strict minimum while cutting the wage bill to the bare bone. And when, despite this, a plant does not produce enough profits to their liking, they just close it down.

The reality is that the capitalist economy is in the middle of an on-going crisis. Being based on the permanent competition between rival capitalists, its inability to plan its production according to need is already, in and of itself, a cause of chaos. But the fact that, in addition, the capitalists are able to make huge profits by speculating on everything that can be bought and sold – thanks to the sophisticated tools made available by financial markets – only results in increasing this chaos on a colossal scale.

Beware of Blind Alleys

The response of the steel unions was to present a plan to make the steel industry “viable.” They demand that “the government must invest in our steel industry to give it a future.”

As if it was in the steelworkers’ interests to make this industry “viable” – that is, profitable for the capitalists! As if offering to make an industry “viable” wasn’t volunteering to be more exploited!

If the Tata Steel workers lose their jobs, it will be a disaster for them – and a devastating blow for their communities. But does this mean that the only prospect they can be offered is to hang on, at all costs, to their dangerous jobs?

Instead of begging the government to bail out Tata, as the union leaders do, why shouldn’t Tata pay its debt to the workers who made its profits? And, with more than seven billion dollars in profits on assets worth 119 billion, it could easily pay all its workers their full wages for as long as it takes for them to find another job or retire on a generous pension!

Page 8

Muhammad Ali Has Died

Jun 6, 2016

With the death of Muhammad Ali, at the age of 74, the media have been filled with paeans about Ali’s “humanity,” his “courage,” his style, even his well-known lip.

The bitter irony is that the people praising him today are the same kind who attempted to put him in prison in 1967 and did strip him of his boxing title.

In early 1964, a brash young boxer named Cassius Clay burst on the public scene when he challenged champion Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship.

Despite 8-1 odds against him, Clay controlled the bout. With a graceful boxing finesse, he danced at a distance, causing Liston to swing wildly and miss. At the start of Round 7, Liston was not able to answer the bell, and Clay, who appeared to be unmarked, declared himself the winner.

Clay already had rubbed many reporters the wrong way with his outspoken and confident style outside the ring. But right after his crushing victory, he announced, with Malcolm X by his side, that he had joined the Nation of Islam. Soon he announced he had changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

The racists in and out of the press attacked him.

But Ali became a hero to black people, and to others moved by the struggles of the black population.

Unlike other sport figures who made a name for themselves, Ali used his fame to champion black people’s cause. When in 1966 he refused to be drafted into the Army in opposition to the Vietnam War, he spoke to a whole generation. Many never forgot his statement that “I ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet Cong. No Viet Cong ever called me Nigger.”

The following year he added, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”

Ali’s refusal to be drafted reinforced the young working class soldiers already resisting the war from within the military. It also encouraged other athletes to take a stand, particularly basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title in April 1967 for refusing the draft. On June 20, he was convicted of a felony. For taking his stand, Ali was banned from boxing during his prime.

And he paid this price: when he came back three and a half years older, he had lost some of his edge. After three more years, he won back the title, then kept it in one of the most punishing fights ever seen, the one in Manila.

Ali famously had referred to his own boxing style as “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” He was to discover that “floating like a butterfly” did not protect him from punishment in the ring. As with many other boxers, accumulated punishment led to the form of Parkinson’s disease he was afflicted with – and which eventually silenced his voice.

Even before he stopped boxing, his speech had become a little slurred. Eventually, he was unable to express his own thoughts and others often spoke for him.

After 9/11, he denounced those who had carried out the attacks as unfitting to be Muslims, saying “Islam is not a killer religion.” He added, “Whatever decision, they [i.e., the U.S. government] decide, I’m behind 100 per cent.”

It was a statement dredged up and rebroadcast to support wars carried out in the Middle East.

He became officially rehabilitated, turned into a global ambassador for the U.S., a sad end for someone who had once stood up for those in other countries who struggled against U.S. domination.

Nonetheless, Muhammad Ali will hold a special place in the memories of several generations who decided the only reasonable choice was to fight against racism and war.

Legal Lynching in California

Jun 6, 2016

Jasmine Richards has been convicted of “felony attempted lynching” and faces prison time between six months and four years.

Richards was part of a group of Black Lives Matter activists who intervened to stop Pasadena police from roughing up a young woman accused of not paying for her meal at a restaurant in August 2015.

The bitter irony of this “criminal” case against Richards is that she is being sent to prison under a law that was originally written against racist mobs grabbing a black person away from the police in order to lynch him or her. What Richards and the other protesters did that day matches none of the requirements of this law: there was no riot by a mob; and the purpose of the protesters was obviously not to lynch the detainee.

Clearly, the felony charge was brought against Richards not because of anything she did on that day – and the police themselves did not arrest her at the time. Richards was targeted by authorities because she had been speaking out against police brutality – in particular, against the killing of Kendrec McDade, an unarmed 19-year-old black man who was shot by two Pasadena cops while running away from them in 2012.

There is a lynching – a legal lynching: exactly what this racist, unjust “justice system” is trying to do to Jasmine Richards.