The Spark

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

Issue no. 977 — December 8, 2014 - January 5, 2015

As Protests Spread, Politicians Defend the System

Dec 8, 2014

Protests swept across the country in the wake of a New York Grand Jury’s failure to indict Daniel Pantaleo, a white police officer, in the death of Eric Garner. Thousands demonstrated, shouting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” and “I Can’t Breathe!”, two slogans associated with the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the earlier police killing of Garner. Taking over downtown streets and blocking roadways and bridges, in New York City, Cleveland, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Miami, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, New Orleans and in many other cities, demonstrators raised their voices and their fists in protests over these killings by police.

In one month’s time, back to back, two grand juries failed to return any indictment in the cases of Brown and Garner. To add insult to injury, in this same period of time Akai Gurley was killed by police in the stairwell of a Brooklyn building and a 12-year-old, Tamir Rice, was shot to death in Cleveland for pulling a toy gun on a policeman who shot him two seconds after arriving on the scene.

Clearly, the horrified reaction of the population of Ferguson, followed by wave after wave of demonstrations over other police killings has forced even those at the top of the political system to speak.

One day after the Garner verdict, the headlines announced that police were being cited for abuse in Cleveland. The U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appeared on the scene to reassure the population, speaking out on the “tragic losses” of Brown, Garner and Rice and about “the sense of trust that must exist between law enforcement and the communities they serve and protect.” Meanwhile, politicians began to speak about the Garner murder; headlines reported that even the conservatives had a problem with the grand jury verdict. Hillary Clinton, presidential hopeful, actually acknowledged that African-American men are more likely to be detained, searched and charged with crimes than whites – and praised Obama ... for setting up a task force.

This carefully couched “concern” from Holder and Clinton is a clear sign that the demonstrations have created a problem for the politicians who administer the system and, finally, for the Obama administration and the upper class it represents. Since the film of Garner’s choking death was viewed by millions, it is harder to ignore. But now are we supposed to believe that we have a glimmer of hope for justice?!

The killings of unarmed citizens in Cleveland that prompted this investigation occurred back in 2012! Two black people were gunned down by officers firing 137 rounds at close range after a 20-mile chase by 62 patrol cars. It took more than two years for the Feds to figure out that this was excessive?? Please! And in the meantime, how many more have died?

After an interview with Obama about the killings, rap artist and community activist Tef Poe said, “What comes from that? I don’t know. I don’t expect much from the same system that has its boot on our throats.”

In a society that defends profit over human life, with its huge inequalities, divided into the haves and the have-nots, violence is used to keep the population in check. This will not go away or even diminish as the economic crisis gets worse for the population. And the horrible reality of racism will continue as well; it is a longstanding tool of the U.S. ruling class to divide the working class.

The calls for calm, the urging to look to the Justice Department for help, the politicians calling for reform are all a shell game, pretending that all of this systematic violence is going to be addressed.

They look to control the population’s reaction only, to move demonstrators off streets, to stop any potential challenge to property, to continue the status quo – a status quo that buries the truth with the dead, victims of a system that is racist to the core.

The hope for a stop to the violence, the racism, the killing lies in the continued protests by the population. Finally, what is needed is to challenge the capitalist system that nurtures inequalities, where the rich and super rich are held harmless for their crimes, while those who sell a “loosie,” a single cigarette, to get something to eat are executed.

The police that serve this system will never be reformed because this unfair system needs their violence to defend itself. But demonstrators are right to expose them and to demand justice until such time as a fight can begin to build a new system to wipe this rottenness off the face of the earth.

Pages 2-3

Suburban Maryland:
Water System Crumbling

Dec 8, 2014

More than half of the large valves on high-volume water mains are unusable in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., according to the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC).

These valves are important in emergencies when water mains break. Workers must close the valves to shut water off to the area near the broken main. If a valve doesn’t work, the workers have to close a valve shutting off water to a much bigger area, affecting more customers.

But to work, the valves need to be maintained and exercised regularly or they corrode and rust. Hundreds of these valves date between 1920 and 1960. WSSC didn’t maintain the valves for 10 years as budget cuts “gutted” the maintenance crews in the early 2000s.

When infrastructure isn’t maintained, it WILL collapse!

D.C. Soccer Stadium Scam

Dec 8, 2014

Washington, D.C. plans to spend well more than 180 million dollars to subsidize a new stadium for the D.C. United soccer team.

Every detail of this scheme is a rip-off. The city will borrow 62 million dollars to buy the land for the stadium – and then “rent” that land to the team for one dollar a year. The team will build the stadium, but the city will pay 134 million dollars of the construction costs. And the city will give D.C. United's owners 43 million dollars in tax cuts.

That’s money that could be used to keep the population educated and housed. But instead, it’s a gift to the rich!

Fixing the Roads:
The Fix Is In!

Dec 8, 2014

Governor Snyder of Michigan recently stood near a big hole in the freeway and asked state legislators to pass a fuel tax increase. He said new revenue would be used to fund more than a billion dollars in road repairs.

What he “forgot” to mention was how big road holes grew out of big budget holes the governor dug in 2011. That was when roughly 1.8 billion dollars a year in business tax cuts were pushed through.

In order to fix the roads, politicians of both parties propose to make the population pay. Two different ways of doing that are being debated.

One plan promises not to raise taxes. This plan would snatch gasoline sales tax money away from schools and local government and transfer that revenue to roads.

Under this plan, by 2020, the school aide fund and local government are projected to lose almost one billion dollars annually – yet another budget hole! A former head of the Michigan House Fiscal Agency said: “It’s just a shift from one hand to the other.”

The other plan, backed by the governor, raises gasoline prices. This could make Michigan the state with the highest fuel taxes in the nation. Workers, who must pay at the pump to get to and from their jobs, would be hit hard.

Of course the roads need to be fixed! But instead of politicians holding crumbling roads hostage to strong arm a false choice between more taxes or more cuts, there is another answer. All that construction could be paid for – with room to spare – if corporations and the wealthy were not given a free ride.

Chicago Minimum Wage “Hike”:
Emanuel’s Political Ploy

Dec 8, 2014

Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel has closed dozens of schools and mental health clinics. He funnels huge amounts of tax money from poorer areas to development projects in rich areas like a sports arena and Marriott hotel. He has been privatizing whatever he can, including custodial services in the schools, and he’s pushed to cut city workers’ wages, pensions, and staffing levels.

But now that he’s up for reelection, he pretends to be the friend of Chicago’s workers by pushing through an increase in the city’s minimum wage to $13 an hour.

The reality is that the city minimum wage would only hit $13 an hour in 2019. It would go up to $10 in July of 2015, then $10.50 in 2016. Meanwhile, the pay for workers getting tips, like servers at restaurants or people who push wheelchairs at the airports, would only go up to $5.95 an hour.

Emanuel claims that “A higher minimum wage ensures that nobody who works in the City of Chicago will ever struggle to reach the middle class or be forced to raise their child in poverty.” But even at today’s prices, living on $13 an hour in Chicago MEANS living in poverty! How much will rent, gas, health care, clothes, and food go up by 2019?

No, if workers are ever going to stop the slide in our standard of living, we’ll have to rely on our own forces, not on slimy capitalist politicians like Rahm Emanuel.

Health Care Crisis Continues for Working People

Dec 8, 2014

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) provides unaffordable “care” for millions. Before this law went into effect, working people faced a real crisis in health care. Millions were without insurance, and even for those with insurance, the cost of healthcare was out of control. By 2013, the average worker was spending $380 a month for family coverage, up almost 40 percent since 2007, for a plan that covered less than it had six years earlier.

With the Affordable Care Act, working people still face the same crisis in health care because that law, and in fact the whole health care system, is designed to give profits to big corporations, not health care to the population. As a result, the decent plans are unaffordable, and the affordable plans are almost worthless.

The cheapest “bronze plans” are still not cheap: in the Chicago area the average 40-year old buying a bronze plan will pay $243 a month. And these plans are barely worth having. In Illinois, the average bronze plan had a deductible of $5,600. This means someone with this plan would have to spend $5,600 out of pocket before the insurance kicks in. And bronze plans generally only pay 60 percent of medical bills after that.

This means that even with health insurance, many people skip medical care because they still can’t afford it. One study found that 40 percent of people with high deductible plans said they had delayed needed care in the last year because they couldn’t afford it.

And even the “gold” plans only pay 80 percent of health care costs, so even someone who pays the high deductibles to get a gold plan will still have huge out-of-pocket expenses if they get very sick or need an expensive operation.

It’s true that many people get government subsidies to help pay their premiums. But for most people they still don’t make health insurance in any way “affordable.” And these subsidies are just one more way to hand our tax money to these private companies.

In 2015 these plans will get worse. The average premium for low-cost plans is going up by about 6 percent. Insurers have also increased deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs, reduced the number of treatments they cover, and narrowed the list of providers in their networks.

So no, the Affordable Care Act has not made health care affordable for workers.

High quality health care could be made available for everyone in the U.S., at a much lower cost than the country spends now. But that would mean interrupting the flow of corporate profits. The politicians will never do that. It will be up to the workers to put our hands on that wealth to create a system designed to provide health care, instead of profits.

Massive Power Outage Puts Detroiters in Danger

Dec 8, 2014

The entire electrical grid of the Detroit Public Lighting system went down for a full day. Nine hundred public buildings, including fire stations and court buildings lost power, and many traffic lights stopped working.

Apparently, the outage was caused by a faulty cable that was more than 50 years old. When the lighting department tried to divert electricity through another circuit, that circuit failed too.

It’s completely barbaric in this day and age for people who live and work in a major city to have to worry that fire stations shut down and traffic lights stop running – because not enough money has been spent on maintaining the power grid. The city has had billions of dollars to pay to the banks and give out huge corporate tax breaks, but no money to maintain its infrastructure.

No worry. The media tells us to just wait; the local private electric company, DTE Energy, is coming to the rescue. All we have to do is wait four years for them to replace the system’s electrical cables. And then, supposedly, this company that will take profits for providing electricity to public buildings will make everything all right.

Don’t bet on it – and in the meantime, expect more outages.

Corporate Tax Breaks:
Whining Works for Some

Dec 8, 2014

The biggest corporate lobbyists whispering in the ears of their congressional representatives complain that taxes are too high.

Oh really? What is too high for them?

A new report on corporate taxes in the U.S. shows that on average, the corporations pay about half the so-called corporate tax rate of 35%. But wait, that figure doesn’t show what happens to the super tax-avoiders at the top of the corporate pyramid!

The 30 largest corporations in the U.S. not only paid NO federal taxes; they got back two billion dollars in tax refunds. Citigroup, for example, collected 260 million dollars in tax refunds last year. Such big corporations as Boeing, Ford, GM, Verizon and JPMorgan not only paid NO tax to Uncle Sam on their billions of dollars of profits, they got back millions in refunds. And Ford’s top executive gets more in salary and compensation than the entire company paid to the IRS for Ford’s nice profits last year!

Does anyone wonder if corporate tax breaks will be renewed by Congress? Santa will deliver – bucks, not coal for corporate Christmas gifts.

Pages 4-5

25 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Dec 8, 2014

The following is translated from Das Rote Tuch (Red Flag), a publication of the German organization Revolutionary Workers Union.

Those who experienced the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago still remember the awe, the enthusiasm, and the wave of hope unleashed by that event. A wall, which had looked so solid and invincible as the regime that had erected it, was suddenly reduced to a harmless pile of stones!

To many, the fall of the Wall seemed to be the beginning of a new era: freedom instead of barbed wires and border posts; peace instead of Cold War; democracy instead of fear and oppression – and in the whole world. But 25 years later, no one can even imagine these things any longer – that’s how little these hopes have been fulfilled.

The fall of the Berlin Wall was the beginning of the end of the regime of the DDR (German Democratic Republic) – the end of the dictatorship of the ruling party in East Germany. But what followed it was another dictatorship.

Instead of party chiefs, it’s now corporate bosses who make decisions over people’s lives – corporate bosses whom no one has elected nor can control. Corporate bosses who, at a desk 300 miles away, simply decide to destroy companies in the old DDR, close down factories and lay off all their workers.

In this fashion, more than one million workers in the old DDR were thrown into unemployment within a few years. To this day, it is this unemployment that determines life in East Germany, and it has rendered many democratic rights meaningless. Can you call it “freedom of speech” when, under extremely high unemployment, workers have to think twice before they talk about work – for fear of risking their jobs?

Can you call it “freedom to travel” when workers are forced to leave East Germany to look for work somewhere else? Or, when people simply can’t afford a vacation abroad? Just like they can’t afford many of the goods that are now available in abundance – if you have the money to buy them.

In the past 25 years, this situation has not changed. How could it? Workers have found themselves in a capitalist economy stuck in deep crisis. Nowhere do corporations and their governments build or develop anything significant anymore – they are only concerned about short-term profits. And for those profits, they squeeze everything they can out of existing companies and workers, as well as public treasuries, so that there is “no money” for anything else.

Western politicians thumbed their noses over the decrepit, morbid buildings in the old DDR. How telling it is that today some streets and school buildings in the Ruhr region of West Germany are in worse shape than those in the old DDR!

How telling it is also that, in the past 25 years, capitalist society has found no answer to its crisis but to build new walls!

For one border wall that was torn down in 1989, dozens of new ones – more insurmountable and more deadly – have been erected. Just think of the outer borders of the European Union. More refugees die trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea every week than the number of people who died trying to flee the DDR in 40 years!

And how many new borders have been created, dividing populations in Europe and pitting them against each other, from Yugoslavia to Ukraine? How many reactionary political forces have been strengthened, calling for higher walls and more borders, demanding even the separation of small regions such as Flanders in Belgium or Catalonia in Spain, or the dismantling of the European Union?

Not to mention that capitalism, in its crisis, creates one war after another, from Ukraine to Afghanistan, and lets entire continents sink into an endless state of war.

This is the balance sheet of 25 years of capitalism – a balance sheet that they can no longer hide behind nice, nostalgic pictures of the fall of the Berlin Wall and grandiose speeches about “Western freedom and democracy.”

If capitalism has shown us its true face more openly in the last quarter century, it’s because it is a fossil that has no future to offer to humanity.

Like every regime that is morbid and without perspectives, capitalism will have to be overthrown – even if it may still seem so invincible. And that’s perhaps the most significant lesson of 1989.

The Call to Jihad Reflects a Society at a Dead End

Dec 8, 2014

This article is from the November 28th issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Once again we have seen the Islamic State executing an American hostage and several Syrian soldiers. Among the executioners were young Westerners, which reminds us how much what happens thousands of miles away concerns everyone.

One of the executioners was from France, and only 22 years old. One neighbor interviewed back in France, struggling to understand, called the young man “a super guy.” A young man like this had no ties to the Middle East or the Arab countries. Yet here he was.

The French government, claiming to fight terrorism, put in place very harsh laws. A young French man of 28 years, returning from Syria where he had volunteered with an Islamic militia, although he had never participated in combat, was condemned to seven years in prison – for the supposed crime of having “terrorist intentions.”

This verdict is a case of the French government posturing in front of public opinion, but it isn’t likely to convince any jihad volunteer to give up.

The attraction of jihadi ideas, some of the most reactionary ideas in the world, shows that some young people are profoundly disoriented. In part this is the fruit of the economic crisis and a lack of any future prospects for many young people. Capitalist society as it falls apart has nothing to offer except unemployment and misery on the one hand or, on the other hand, individualism and the illusion that one’s human worth is measured by a big bank account.

All the fundamentalist religious views, made worse by nationalism, play on the despair that the economic and political situation engenders. They set one part of society against the others, pushing forward every kind of reactionary idea.

The continuation of the capitalist system blocks the future for all society even though it has created enormous methods for production and advanced scientific capacities that could open a golden age for all of humanity at the level of the entire planet.

To fight for a communist future in which values are not based on having a lot of money or on the power to dominate and exploit others – that is the only perspective that deserves the attention of the world’s young people.

India, 30 Years Ago:
Capitalism Kills at Bhopal

Dec 8, 2014

In December 1984, a deadly leak spewed out of the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India. The toxic cloud spread through a nearby neighborhood, killing thousands immediately. A half million people faced contamination, some shouting through the streets of Bhopal that “Union Carbide kills.”

Union Carbide had built the plant four years earlier to produce the poisonous insecticide Sevin. The company expected to find a huge market for its product in India.

Three enormous tanks held the materials used in the production of Sevin. One of the most dangerous chemicals used was methyl isocyanate. Moisture may have caused the deadly chemical reaction in the tanks that led to an uncontrollable reaction. Phosgene is another chemical used in the production of Sevin. It is a gas that was employed in the deadly trench warfare of World War I. To put such deadly substances in the middle of a city of a million, close to three neighborhoods crammed up against the plant fences, placed them at terrible risk.

The plant had seen fatal accidents that showed the population how dangerous the substances were in Union Carbide’s tanks. Union militants there had begun to alert the population to the dangers. These militants who worked at the plant were laid off. The plant bosses even burned down a tent that the union had built there.

A Factory Run Down

The engineers of Union Carbide worked out three kinds of security for the dangerous substances at the Bhopal plant. First was refrigeration to 32 degrees, a temperature at which the methyl isocyanate supposedly would not react. The tanks were also surrounded by a tower more than 100 feet high, filled with caustic soda, which was supposed to neutralize any escaping gases. Finally there was a flaming torch to burn off escaping gas. Everything was foreseen – except the law of profit.

The Indian market turned out to be much less profitable than the company expected. Union Carbide began cutting costs, laying off workers. Employment dropped from 1000 to 650, cutting a group of workers who really knew the ropes at the plant. Needed equipment did not get replaced, or was replaced less often than necessary. At the moment of the gas leak, Union Carbide had plans to close the plant and move production to Venezuela or Indonesia. While production of Sevin had stopped, the tanks still contained 50 tons of methyl isocyanate.

On the evening of December 2, 1984, water punctured one of the tanks holding methyl isocyanate, which was no longer being cooled, no longer protected by a tower of soda or a burning torch, and was at high pressure – so geysers of toxic gas erupted into the air in Bhopal. Within hours, thousands of people died in atrocious suffering. It would have been worse if not for the bravery of doctors, nursing students, and residents who risked their lives carrying those poisoned to tents around the central hospital where workers did what they could despite the fact that Union Carbide had provided neither information on the chemicals nor antidotes.

Union Carbide Does NOT Take Responsibility

After the explosion, Warren Anderson, CEO of Union Carbide, arrived in Bhopal. He had to be protected by police from the hatred of the population, despite promises that victims would receive compensation. But what was offered was a ridiculously small amount of money, not only for the families of those who lost their lives but for the thousands who remained invalids, poisoned by the chemicals, facing cancers and tuberculosis.

Despite any promises made, Union Carbide entered into a long legal battle, intending to prove it was the victim of deliberate sabotage.

It was five more years before Union Carbide and the Indian government worked out a deal to drop the legal proceedings and pay 470 million dollars – much of which went into the pockets of Indian politicians. And the amount was considerably less than Union Carbide would have paid had the victims been at a plant in the U.S. Union Carbide bragged that the Bhopal accident only “cost the shareholders 43 cents apiece.”

Warren Anderson died at age 92. He certainly never faced the charge of involuntary manslaughter in front of the Indian judicial system, despite outstanding international warrants for his arrest. Union Carbide became part of Dow Chemical, going forward with no further responsibility for the Bhopal disaster.

Thirty years later, people in Bhopal continue to die from consequences of this tragedy; the Bhopal area sees seven times more birth defects in babies born there than in the rest of India.

It’s not just Union Carbide that kills. Capitalism kills. It’s a system in which human life is always worth less than corporate profit.

U.S. Drones:
Targeting One, Murdering Dozens

Dec 8, 2014

U.S. drones kill on average 28 unidentified people for every intended target, according to a report published by Reprieve, a group that represents civilian victims of drone strikes.

The CIA launched two drone attacks, claiming it was trying to kill al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Instead, these two attacks killed 105 other people, 76 of them children. The study also found that more than 1,000 people, including 142 children, were killed in drone strikes that supposedly targeted 41 individuals in Pakistan and Yemen.

Whether those 41 so-called “high-value” targets were actually terrorists or not, one thing is clear: the biggest source of terrorism in this world is the U.S. killing machine.

Pages 6-7

Wages of Manufacturing Workers Decline

Dec 8, 2014

According to a study done by the National Employment Law Project, many factory jobs nowadays pay far less than what workers in almost identical positions earned in the past. Real wages for manufacturing workers fell by 4.4 percent from 2003 to 2013.

According to the report, this drop in real wages is accounted for by the fact that companies more and more have outsourced their parts operations where workers are paid about one third less than assembly line workers. And parts jobs account for 72 percent of all auto sector employment. Companies have also more and more increased their use of temporary workers.

The auto industry’s “impressive recovery” has been on the backs of the people who do all the work. Because not only are parts plant and temporary workers making less, their lower pay has been used against the rest of us to hold our wages down.

UPS Finally Learns Biology

Dec 8, 2014

UPS driver Peggy Young requested a light duty job when she was pregnant eight years ago. Her midwife wrote her a note saying she should not lift more than 20 pounds for the first half of her pregnancy, and not more than 10 pounds for the second half – far less than the 70 pound packages she normally lifted on her job. The company refused and instead put her on unpaid leave, during which she lost her health benefits and pension.

Young filed a lawsuit – and lost. Then she lost again on appeal. Now she’s taken the case to the Supreme Court. But because of the bad publicity she created for the company, UPS finally announced that it will provide “light duty” jobs to pregnant workers.

Most women in this country have to work to live, many in heavy jobs. And if humanity is to continue, some women have to get pregnant, during which time they can’t do as much heavy work! Every human society, starting hundreds of thousands of years ago, recognized this basic fact, as does everyone who sees a pregnant woman in the grocery store or in line at the post office. But it takes raising a stink and a lot of determination by a woman like Peggy Young to get a corporation like UPS to recognize that pregnant women need special accommodations.

And we have to yet to see if the Supreme Court is that smart.

Page 8

Another Grand Jury Lets a Killer Cop Skate

Dec 8, 2014

A grand jury refused to indict New York cop Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold killing of Eric Garner.

To any rational person, it’s completely outrageous. This should have been an open-and-shut case of murder. It took place in broad daylight, with many eyewitnesses at the scene, and was caught in full on a video that has been seen by millions via TV and the internet.

As can be seen from the video, two NYPD cops prepared to arrest Garner after a fight took place. He told them, and others confirmed, that he only helped break up the fight. Still, they told him he was going to be arrested for selling untaxed individual cigarettes, otherwise known as “loosies.” He complained that he had done nothing and that they harass him every time they see him. He actually had the nerve to tell them enough was enough and that it had to stop.

Shortly thereafter police reinforcements arrived to help the cops take Garner down. Pantaleo, in the presence of at least ten other cops, put Garner in a chokehold, took him to ground, and pushed his face into the sidewalk. During all of this, Garner repeatedly told them “I can’t breathe,” yet even after they had him in cuffs, face down on the ground, they continued to sit on him until he stopped breathing.

For more than seven minutes, not one of the cops attempted to resuscitate Garner, despite numerous pleas by onlookers for them to do so. Even the EMTs that arrived on the scene did nothing to revive him for at least four minutes. By that time, Garner was dead.

Not only should Pantaleo be charged with murder, but all the other cops who were at the scene and did nothing to stop it should be charged as accomplices!

A spokesman for the NYPD actually had the nerve to say that Garner did not die of the chokehold, inferring that he died because he had asthma and heart problems! What a joke!

Unfortunately, none of this is unusual. Across the country, just as in the Garner case, many police forces act like street gangs whose uniforms and badges give them free rein to harass, arrest, imprison, and even kill working class and poor people – especially the black population.

Eric Garner’s murder, videotaped for all to see, provides an abject lesson that cops are there only to “protect and serve” the wealthy class and to enforce their class rule over the rest of the population.

Business as Usual:
College Football and Concussions

Dec 8, 2014

A class action lawsuit brought against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) over concussions was settled in November. “Who will get paid what” was the only concern of the trial. The NCAA is to pay 75 million dollars – not to players, but to lawyers and research into head injuries, according to the news.

However, medical research has already shown again and again that concussions can lead to memory impairment, Alzheimer's disease, depression and suicide. And the NCAA has long known that there are two major contributors to concussions: the number of times a person is hit and how soon a player returns to play. It’s ironic – the NCAA was established 100 years ago to prevent football injuries and deaths.

But, the NCAA did nothing when Michigan quarterback Shane Morris suffered a strong blow to the head during a game, a concussion that was obvious even to spectators. Michigan’s coaching staff and medical personnel put Morris back into the game minutes after he was hit.

Both management of the college teams and the NCAA know very well that a young person’s brain can be damaged permanently due to hits during practices and games. But their aim seems to be to avoid doing anything about it.

This is because college football is a lucrative business. The NCAA, a so-called non-profit, makes huge sums of money from TV revenues and ticket sales. The big college teams are each worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2010, college teams pocketed more than one billion dollars in profits.

The NCAA and the college teams don’t like this bonanza interrupted for any reason, even death. In 2011, Derek Sheely, 22, collapsed during a practice at Frostburg State in Maryland after complaining of a headache to his coaches. He died six days later.

Recently, an Ohio State football player disappeared before a game, and was found dead, an apparent suicide. He left a note to his family referring to not being able to stand excruciating headaches.

Sheely’s father summed it up, “I think there’s a big gap in what [college officials] care about. It’s pretty obvious. They haven’t even been very subtle about what they care about. They will protect the safety of their pocketbook.”

Wages up, Unemployment down?
Not Hardly!

Dec 8, 2014

The Labor Department proclaimed that the November figures show things are getting better for workers, with the economy creating more jobs and pay going up.

In fact, their numbers show that these “big gains” are not very real. While the economy supposedly added 321,000 jobs, the share of people working remained the lowest it’s been for many decades. The “rising pay” in the report is a whopping 0.4%. That means someone making $100 a day is now making $100.40 a day.

The reality is that workers’ standard of living continues to fall rapidly. Since 2007, the bottom 80 percent of Americans have spent much less on entertainment, eating out, appliances, furniture, and clothing. They have spent more on health care, rent, utilities, and food to eat at home. In other words, ordinary people can’t afford to shop – they can barely make ends meet.

Meanwhile, the super-rich continue to get richer. The stock market goes up and up. Corporate profits reach for the sky.