Jul 23, 2018
Every day, Trump hogs the spot light. He uses summits to attack U.S. allies, like Canada and NATO. He takes aim at women leaders, insulting British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He walks in front of the elderly Queen of England, almost tripping her up.
Then he rubs it in. He pretends to be best buddies with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
The news media goes crazy. “This is not a normal president,” they say. “We’ve never had a president like this before,” they add.
That’s music to Trump’s ears. Trump is playing a game to keep his base behind him. He doesn’t mind shocking the others to do that. It reinforces his play to look “tough.”
Trump poses as the champion of the blue collar worker. He blames imports for taking manufacturing jobs from workers here. He pretends to rip up trade agreements, such as NAFTA. He pretends to impose big tariffs on everything Chinese and drop the hammer on everything from Mexico.
A few tariffs go up. Everything else stays the same. It’s business as usual.
It’s another scam aimed at covering up the fact that jobs are being stolen by the bosses right here every single day. Throughout the economy, bosses force one worker to do the work of two or three. They push workers to literally work ourselves out of our own jobs.
By blaming imports, Trump makes it easier for bosses here to steal our jobs.
Trump says his motto is “America First.” He has made immigration a focus of his attacks. He says he wants to stop immigrants from coming in the country. Treating immigrants like criminals, separating children and infants from their parents, is supposed to discourage more immigrants from coming.
In fact, those attacks only make it easier for bosses to increase their profits by treating an entire part of the workforce like slaves.
Under the guise of “America First,” Trump is trying to pick off one part of the working class after another. He targets hundreds of thousands of federal workers. He says that in order to make the government more efficient, he has to take away most of their union rights. He tells local police chiefs to get tough on those they arrest, knock their heads. Thus, Trump publicly endorses police violence and the legal lynching of black men in order to impose the worst poverty and unemployment on black workers. He targets the health care of the poorest sections of the working class. He slashes housing aid for the poorest and sets his sights on food stamp recipients.
All this, in order to increase the exploitation of the working class, to take more wealth that we produce and hand it over to the capitalist class. That’s who Trump serves.
What to do? The Democrats say to vote Trump out, get the Republicans out. But the Democrats serve the capitalists, too. In fact, changing parties and politicians is fairly easy. The Democrats and Republicans have been trading offices every four or eight years for the last 150 years! That’s just a way to keep everything the same.
Trump needs to go, but what about everyone behind him? Workers can’t vote Wall Street out. We can’t vote out all those multi-billionaires, the big corporations and banks that are robbing working people of all the wealth we produce.
There is only one way to get rid of Trump and all those he and the Democrats serve. The workers have to do it through our own organization and struggle. And in the process, we can deal with all those behind Trump, all those capitalist parasites and slave drivers feeding off of our work.
Jul 23, 2018
A large area of D.C. was under a boil water alert, impacting about 100,000 residents. Utility officials said they discovered that a broken valve at the Bryant Street Pumping Station had caused pressure in some pipes to drop. Low pressure creates a risk that contaminated groundwater can seep into the pipes.
It wasn’t until five hours after they made this discovery that the utility updated their website and notified journalists. D.C. Water admits that robo-calls to customers didn’t start until 10 hours after the discovery was made and a D.C. water spokesman made excuses to the Washington Post regarding delayed notifications. Some residents reported not getting the call until 16 hours later. “I don’t know the exact number of hours, but it would take a long time,” according to the D.C. Water spokesman. “It’s not a perfect system.”
Many residents were angry about the “untimely” notification, as D.C. Council member Mary Cheh described it. Is it any wonder that there are residents who don’t believe anything D.C. Water says?
Jul 23, 2018
Faced with protests from angry residents, California state authorities announced they would dissolve the Sativa water district, which had been delivering brown, smelly water to 1600 homes in a working-class area near Los Angeles. Residents in Willowbrook and some parts of Compton had been complaining for years that, on and off, the water from their faucets ran brown, and smelled of rust and chlorine.
The board of Sativa had said that, with its small revenue (currently about $1.3 million a year), they lacked the means to replace the aged, corroded water pipes. County and state authorities, who are supposed to oversee utilities, refused to take responsibility either. Twice before, since 2005, they told protesters they did not have a way to make sure Sativa’s 1600 customers got clean water.
County and state officials actually told residents of the area that the brown, smelly water running out of their faucets was safe to drink, even though they acknowledged that the water contained high levels of manganese, a toxin known to cause neurological disorders such as muscle spasms and shaking.
The residents knew better. They pushed their protests forward, demanding clean water, as well as compensation for the bottled water they had been forced to buy.
The state’s announcement of shutting down Sativa is one battle won by the residents; but their struggle is certainly not over. Whatever “option” authorities will now offer, this working-class community will likely have to continue to fight – not only for their water to be clean and safe, but also affordable.
Jul 23, 2018
It has been five years since Detroit’s bankruptcy filing. And at that time, city retirees found that even though they were promised full retiree health care coverage when they retired, the bankruptcy ruling meant that retirees who were too young for Medicare now found themselves in the situation where they had to find insurance elsewhere.
$940 a month for health care coverage when your pension is also reduced by 4.5 percent! When your pension is about $22,000 a year that means that HALF OF YOUR PENSION is going to cover health care costs.
You work all your life, expecting that when you retire, you can have a decent standard of living. After all, you put in years of your labor and contributed to pension and retirement funds so that you would have something when you retire.
But nothing is sacred. In this time period of slash and burn when it comes to wages, pensions, and health care coverage, many retirees face the fact that they have to go back to work, or cut back on their health care, in order to make ends meet.
Jul 23, 2018
D.C. voters approved Initiative 77. This measure increases the minimum wage for servers, bartenders and other tipped employees. It will mean tipped workers no longer have to depend so much on tips for their income.
Restaurant owners and other businesses made a huge fuss. They paraded their most well-paid, highest-tipped “wait staff” out and pitted them against lower-paid waitresses and waiters. They used these workers to urge voters to vote “No” for Initiative 77, claiming it would hurt workers.
D.C., like most states and the federal government, has a two-tier minimum-wage system. The standard minimum wage in D.C. is $12.50 an hour. But restaurants, bars and other businesses pay tipped workers only $3.33 an hour, not counting tips. If tips fall short of the $12.50 minimum, the bosses are supposed to make up the difference.
Initiative 77 slowly phases out the $3.33 “tipped wage” over eight years until employers pay the same standard minimum wage by 2025. The standard minimum wage in D.C. is already set to increase to $15 an hour by 2020 and automatically rise with inflation every following year.
All the bosses’ propaganda made it seem that voting “yes” would be catastrophic for tipped workers. In fact, the experience of workers in the seven states without this sub-minimum “tipped wage” (also known as “One Fair Wage” states) shows the opposite is true.
Analysis of data shows that tipped workers in states with a tip sub-minimum wage, experience poverty at twice the rate of non-tipped workers. In “One Fair Wage” states, tipped workers experience poverty rates closer to non-tipped workers.
No surprise the restaurant bosses lied. The real problem with this measure is that it will take eight long years to bring the wages up.
Jul 23, 2018
Medicaid was NOT broke, so why did Lansing pass a new law to “fix it?” Why did the Michigan Chamber of Commerce fight so hard for “work requirements” to be added to Medicaid in Michigan?
Republican Mike Shirkey, who sponsored the law, said he wanted to help companies fill job openings. “Every business owner I know is seeking and searching for workers.”
From a working class point of view, business owners can just raise wages—THAT attracts workers!
Big business—in Michigan and nationally—has a different plan. Legislation is being pushed, state by state, to tie Medicaid health insurance to employment. That way, underpaid workers will feel less able to quit. When abused at work, the lowest paid workers would feel squeezed to stay, for fear of losing Medicaid health insurance.
This legislation was about helping big business pressure workers!
Jul 23, 2018
On July 18, Tyrone West’s sister, Tawanda Jones, and some supporters organized a rally on the 5th anniversary of West’s killing by the cops. At least 70 people attended.
West was a 44-year-old black artist with three children and two grandchildren when he was murdered in 2013. On every Wednesday since West’s murder, West’s sister and supporters have organized a rally to protest the murder of Tyrone and all others killed by the police throughout this country. That’s a total of 260 rallies in all ... so far. Tawanda says she will not stop until the cops who killed her brother are charged and convicted of murdering him.
Five years ago, on the evening of July 18, 2013, two white Baltimore City cops in an unmarked police car pulled West and a female friend over in a traffic stop in a residential neighborhood in Baltimore.
There was an altercation. West – who was handcuffed – was beaten and crushed to death by the cops.
The medical examiner who did West’s autopsy claimed he died from a heart attack brought on by his struggle with police and dehydration during his restraint. But not because of the injuries received from the six cops who directly beat him. The examiner was so fearful of the public reaction to his autopsy findings that he refused to release them until six months after West was killed. Later two other autopsies performed by independent examiners at the request of West’s family found he had been suffocated by the cops.
When the cocaine that the police claimed they found on West and in his car was subpoenaed by an attorney representing West’s family, the police said they couldn’t find it.
Two Baltimore City State’s Attorneys have refused to bring any charges against any of the cops involved in West’s killing. But his siblings and children were awarded a million dollars in a 2017 settlement of the family’s civil law suit. West’s sister Tawanda refused to accept her share of this money because it would have required her to cease any further efforts to force prosecution of the cops who murdered her brother.
So the weekly protests will continue.
Jul 23, 2018
Haiti’s prime minister Jack Guy Lafontant agreed to step down on July 14, after four days of rebellion in the streets.
He had proposed price increases of 30 percent for gas, 47 percent for diesel, and 51 percent for the oil poor people use to light their homes because they don’t have electricity. Poor people and workers weren’t having it! They took to the streets to protest.
The movement was so forceful the government thought it best to step back temporarily. But that didn’t calm the anger of the demonstrators. They kept blocking the capital Port-au-Prince, even with barricades.
Faced with a situation threatening to sharpen – and insistent legislators threatening to vote down his administration – the prime minister accepted to take blame and announce he would step down.
Haiti being one of the world’s poorest countries, the only way the population can avoid being strangled by the wealthy and their political servants is to respond massively and violently in the streets.
New administrations will know that proposing the same price increases will provoke violent reactions. So they will have to try to delay. But in the end, big business, the IMF, and the U.S. will demand the poor pay higher prices. Haitian politicians are unable to defy these demands. Current president Jovenel Moise is no different.
The workers and the poor of Haiti have shown they are capable of pushing the government back. They have ways to defend their interests. But they can’t let themselves be misled by the maneuvers of politicians who seek to use mass movements to advance their own careers.
Jul 23, 2018
In Afghanistan, 1,700 civilians have been killed so far this year. More than twice that many have been injured. It’s the deadliest first half-year in a decade, according to the U.N.
Although militias identifying themselves with ISIS or the Taliban claimed responsibility for attacks with civilian deaths, air attacks have also gone up significantly since last year. And only two forces carry out air attacks: the U.S. – responsible for almost half of the 149 civilians killed and 204 injured – and the government of Afghanistan.
War continues in Afghanistan 17 years after 9-11, which gave the U.S. an excuse to put together a coalition force and invade.
Trump continues to deploy thousands of American combat soldiers, just as Obama did even after promising otherwise. The U.S. props up the government and provides 90 percent of its military budget.
The population is under fire from competing military machines. The U.S. is not able to restore order. It is only throwing fuel on the fire, feeding terrorism and condemning the population to war without end.
Jul 23, 2018
Early in July, the U.S. Government, with a strong arm-bending attitude, aimed to block the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly from issuing a resolution that says that mother's milk is healthiest for children, and that countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes, according to the New York Times. This was unprecedented.
The resolution that promotes breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered in Geneva. After all, more than 40 years of research has demonstrated that mother's milk is the best way to protect her infant's and young child's health. Consensus was that the breast milk provides essential nutrients, hormones and antibodies that protect newborns against diseases, infectious or otherwise. A 2016 scientific study found that breast-feeding would prevent 800,000 child deaths a year worldwide and save $300 billion by reducing health care costs.
Nobody was disagreeing with this consensus, except the U.S. Government. First, the U.S. officials sought to water down the resolution by changing its language. When that failed, they resorted to threats. These officials blackmailed dozens of countries with trade sanctions. Such bullying attempts failed and the resolution was passed.
The baby-food and formula industry is huge, worth $70 billion worldwide. A handful of American and European companies, like Heinz and Nestle, dominate this lucrative business. But, sales of baby food have not been increasing in wealthy countries as fast as these companies were expecting. Less wealthy and poor countries could be targets of these companies' marketing efforts to increase their sales.
Apparently this resolution advocating the use of breast milk to replace baby food was going against the money making interests of these companies. In Geneva, the U.S. Government was acting as a henchman for these companies in promoting their profits over babies’ health.
Jul 23, 2018
Donald Trump cozying up to Vladimir Putin during the July summit appeared to completely contradict U.S. policy.
U.S. policy toward Russia over the last quarter century has been extremely aggressive. The U.S. has pushed to increase its domination in the region, often at the expense of Russia. As well, the U.S. has greatly reduced the Russian sphere of influence by integrating the countries of the former Eastern Bloc (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, etc.) into NATO. The U.S. brought many former Soviet states into the U.S. sphere of influence. In this last period, this aggressive U.S. policy helped to provoke the civil war that has been raging in Ukraine between two sides, one backed by the U.S. and the other backed by Russia, a murderous war that has already resulted in terrible casualties and destruction.
So, when Trump tried to play nice with Putin, his own administration, including the State Department, Pentagon and CIA, made clear that they disagreed. When Trump announced that he would have another summit with Putin, Trump’s own head of intelligence, Dan Coats, made a point in a news interview to let it be known that he was caught by surprise.
For quite a long time, Putin and Russian oligarchs have tried to counter-balance the aggressive U.S. policy by forming ties inside the U.S. extreme right-wing and among some religious fundamentalists. Way before their seeming friend, Donald Trump, got elected president, other prominent extreme right- wingers in the U.S. openly praised Putin and other Russian oligarchs. Many commentators on Fox News, including Rush Limbaugh and Rudy Giuliani, have treated Putin as a hero, a model of what a strong leader should be. So have lots of religious fundamentalist leaders in this country, such as Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son, as well as some prominent extreme-right wing Republican politicians, such as Congressman Dana Rohrbacher of California. Obviously, these extreme-right wing leaders in this country find kindred spirits in Russia, openly fomenting the worst racism and prejudices, while hiding behind religious fundamentalist gibberish.
But so far, these ties linking the extreme- right wing to Russia have not changed U.S. policy. That policy is made by the U.S. state apparatus, that is the State Department, Pentagon, CIA. This apparatus, which is permanent, serves the general interests of the capitalist class, that is, the owners of the big U.S. banks, military contractors, oil companies, etc.
And, in the end, even Donald Trump has been forced to go along with this policy. That’s why last year he signed a harsher sanctions law against Russia enacted by the Republican-led Congress, sanctions that the law specified that the president could not change, that only Congress could change. So, despite all of Trump’s theatrics, U.S. policy against Russia is at least just as aggressive as it was before.
Of course, the U.S. is doing this not because Putin is a terrible dictator, since the U.S. imposes and maintains dictatorships all over the world. No, for U.S. policy, Putin is the head of a large country that the U.S. cannot completely control – it is capable of carrying out a slightly independent policy and therefore it is not totally trustworthy for U.S. imperial interests.
Jul 23, 2018
On July 1, Mexico elected a new president, the candidate of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), Andres Manuel López Obrador.
López Obrador has been running for president for almost twenty years – this is his fourth try. In 2006, many people thought he won, but a seemingly corrupt election gave the victory to his opponent. This time, people across classes and regions in Mexico were so fed up with the corruption, violence, poverty, unemployment, and lack of opportunities that they decided to support someone like López Obrador, who seems to stand for a change.
At the end of the election day, when it had become clear that López Obrador was the winner, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to celebrate. People were so happy because they expected that the new president would be different.
Right after López Obrador was declared winner, he gave a powerful speech promising to create big opportunities for young people, programs for elderly people and for single mothers, and that no one would have to emigrate from the country to have a decent life. He also said that he would help the indigenous people of Mexico, many of whom live in isolated poverty, and who have been long forgotten by previous governments.
He said he would get resources for people by fighting corruption, the impunity of officials, and the drug gangs. But as much as the corrupt officials steal, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the wealth the giant companies and banks, many of them from the United States, exploit from the Mexican population.
And on election night, he said that there wouldn’t be expropriations or confiscations of business property of any kind. He made it clear to the propertied class that he would not touch their wealth. But then how will the money be available to meet his promises? If rich people are not forced to give up some of their wealth, where are all the good things López Obrador promised supposed to come from?
It is understandable that after decades of rule by politicians who were obviously in the pockets of the rich, ordinary people in Mexico would be hopeful about this new president. But to actually deal with the problems faced by poor people in Mexico would require going up against the rich, against the corporations, and against the U.S., which has dominated the Mexican economy for more than a century. That can only come from the working class mobilizing, organizing, and fighting to put forward a policy in its interests.
López Obrador has never been a leader of the working class. He is a lifelong politician, starting out in the PRI, the longtime ruling party of Mexico. Since then, he has made coalitions with many different groups, including, in this election, a right-wing Christian party opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage. He is squarely in the camp of the ruling class. To make their own fight, workers will need their own leaders, and will have to throw off their illusions that politicians like López Obrador, can make the changes for them.
Jul 23, 2018
In June, the California State Legislature approved spending $755 million to renovate their own office building, according to the Sacramento Bee and $420 million to build another state building that would temporarily house lawmakers' offices. To upgrade their offices, these politicians approved, in no time, spending of close to $1.2 billion with no debate.
At the same time, after lengthy debate, Governor Brown and the State politicians declared with big fanfare that California will allocate only $600 million to support homelessness prevention efforts in a state that has one of the highest homelessness rates in the U.S.
The homeless and the politicians should trade spaces.
Jul 23, 2018
Trump is constantly tweeting about the trade deficit with China. And for many workers it does seem like everything is made in China. But what does that really mean?
The iPhone that Trump tweets with shows that “Made in China” means much less than Trump or other politicians would have us think. The display is made in South Korea. The memory chip is made in Japan. The design and many other components come from the United States. Other parts come from Europe and Taiwan, and materials come from Africa. Only the final assembly is done in China. And that final assembly accounts for only 3 to 6 percent of the cost to make an iPhone! But current trade statistics count most of the manufacturing cost in China’s export numbers, greatly overstating the trade deficit with China.
The big politicians and corporations know all this perfectly well. But they still love to complain about China “stealing our jobs.” That’s because they want workers here to blame foreign workers for our problems!
Jul 23, 2018
On June 29th, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that had been filed on behalf of Detroit students who attended some of the lowest performing schools in Detroit while the city’s school system was under the control of state-appointed emergency managers. This lawsuit sought to hold a dozen state officials, including the governor, accountable for what the students said were systemic failures that deprived Detroit children of their right to literacy.
The lawsuit documented the low reading and math proficiency rates of Detroit students, as well as classes without teachers, and outdated or insufficient classroom materials. It noted poor conditions in school buildings, including rodents and other problems.
In his ruling, the judge asserted that while literacy is “of incalculable importance,” the state is not obligated to provide a minimal level of education by which students can obtain the ability to learn how to read. He said that while the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized the importance of a good or service, this “does not determine whether it must be regarded as fundamental.”
One Detroit student had this reaction: “Recently a court ruled that I do not have the right to read. If you had any question about whether or not the government or the courts cared about education for working class and poor students, I think you have your answer!”
Jul 23, 2018
To justify its demand that those receiving Medicaid must work, the Trump administration presented statistics that appear to show that those who do work are healthier and live longer lives. Really! But in order to work you have to be healthy enough to do so. You also need regular affordable care for health problems.
Around 60 percent of Medicaid recipients already work. These government bureaucrats want to squeeze blood from a rock.
Jul 23, 2018
A federal judge has ordered the federal government to reunite children who were separated from their undocumented migrant parents when they entered the U.S. The July 26th deadline for reuniting 2,900 older children is just a few days away. The July 10th deadline for the younger children came and went. The Justice Department justified the government’s failure to meet this deadline. “Any children not being reunified by the July 10 deadline are not being reunified because of legitimate, logistical impediments that render timely compliance impossible or excusable, and so defendants are complying with the court’s order.”
Lies and more lies. Authorities separated families and took their documents that proved their relationships. On top of that, they took their kids away from them without so much as a receipt of some kind. Nothing.
Now the government expects the families to pay the $700 cost for DNA testing! Most don’t have it.
Many migrants were also told they could get their children back immediately, if they agree to be “voluntarily” deported. It isn’t voluntary when your children are being held hostage. It’s a threat. It’s blackmail.
The government’s stated solution to the barbarism of arresting and separating children from their parents is also barbaric. Reuniting families so they can all be in jail together! For seeking asylum in the U.S.!
The courts made up these deadlines for reunification to take the public eye off of what they are doing. They want to make us believe that they are on it, fixing the problem with these court orders.
The Justice Department’s ruling on the first deadline only confirms what most workers in this country already know about court orders. They are just pieces of paper. These children are real. Their families are real. And they are getting Zero Justice.
Jul 23, 2018
Hundreds demonstrated in the Columbia Heights neighborhood on Monday after there had been several deportations.
In one instance, ICE agents tricked a woman into turning over her husband from Guatemala. She said she was approached by two men claiming to be D.C. police officers. Her husband had recently been assaulted and had filed a claim with the D.C. police. So she thought that’s what these men were investigating. In fact, the two men were ICE agents.
D.C. is a sanctuary city, meaning the police don’t ask about immigration status. That’s why the husband felt safe to report the assault. The ICE agents took advantage of this and used it to pick up her husband and his brother.
This is so disgusting, of course people should protest.
Jul 23, 2018
On July 14th, Chicago police killed Harith Augustus, better known as “Snoop,” just steps from the South Shore barber shop where he worked. He was 37 years old, known for being a quiet, thoughtful man and a proud father.
To justify the murder, the police released a ten-second video trying to show Augustus was armed and that his hand went close to his gun.
But people in the neighborhood insisted he was no threat to anyone. He worked “more than 50 hours a week,” according to the owner of the barber shop. Everyone in the neighborhood knew him by sight at least. They say that if the cops had any kind of connection to the neighborhood, they would have known who he was. Instead, the cops approached this black man the way they usually approach black men – as if he were a criminal. They were ready to shoot at a moment’s notice. They started a confrontation and escalated it into an execution.
Within minutes of the shooting, a crowd of about a hundred gathered at the site to confront police. People chanted “Murderers!” and “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?” Angry neighborhood residents threw bottles and rocks and the police attacked protestors with batons.
The cops’ own video makes it clear – if a group of police had not surrounded Augustus and accosted him without reason, he would be living today. And for many South Shore residents, this was a last straw after so much police brutality toward black Chicagoans.
Jul 23, 2018
Two years ago, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) “reformed” special education services. A state investigation this spring revealed that those reforms were illegally designed to make it very difficult for students to get those services, all in order to save money.
But activist special education teachers, parents, and advocates for the disabled did not let children’s education disappear quietly. They put these attacks in front of the press, revealing how the system worked. They organized trainings all over the city, and got teachers and parents to testify before the City Council, state legislators, and the State Board of Education.
Finally, all their hard work paid off: CPS announced that the district will hire 160 social workers and 94 Special Education Case Managers. Case Managers will oversee special education in the schools, work which has up to now always been done as an “extra” by overworked teachers.
The social workers will be assigned to specific school buildings with high needs, a big improvement in a system where almost no school had a full-time social worker. But CPS still has about 1200 students for each social worker, even though that ratio is 250 to 1 in the better-off suburbs.
These hires are nowhere near enough, yet. But by making some noise, these teachers and parents got their children much more than the district wanted to give them.