The Spark

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

Issue no. 978 — January 5 - 19, 2015

Don’t Let the Cops Intimidate Protest

Jan 5, 2015

Just before the Christmas holiday, two New York City police officers sitting in their vehicle were shot to death by a young black man from Baltimore who fired multiple rounds directly into the car, into their heads and torsos. Mr. Brinsley, who was 28 years old, had allegedly previously shot his former girlfriend. He committed suicide immediately after the police shootings.

Apparently, in a post he made on the internet, Brinsley declared he intended his action as “revenge” for the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island. Whatever was in Brinsley’s mind, the fact is that individual terrorism has never provided a way for the oppressed to stand up to their oppressors. It has only disorganized them. And revenge solves nothing for masses of people.

But the statements made by the police and the politicians about Brinsley’s act are dripping with hypocrisy.

The fact is, Brinsley acted within the violent framework that the police and those they defend have erected. The police shoot down unarmed men for no reason other than the fact that their skin color creates suspicions in racist minds. Don’t let the police dare bemoan the fact of violence. They are the ones who use it every day.

It would have been bad enough to be confronted with all the hypocrisy that flooded out through the media. Bad enough, but that was only the beginning. The police jumped to use the assassination as a call to arms, a justification for their violence. They rushed to create a climate of intimidation, directed against anyone who would dare protest the next murder by a cop.

The head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association in New York said, “There’s blood on many hands tonight - those who incited violence on the street under the guise of protests...”

What followed was a litany of praise for the police and all they do, with New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton saying, “... you put that blue uniform on and you become part of the thin blue line between us and anarchy.” The Mayor quoted scripture, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” in relationship to the police.

Peacemakers? Protectors against anarchy? Hardly. In fact, these words serve as an attempt to divide the population against itself. As old as racism itself, they solicit more fortunate workers and the middle class, predominately white and with some few means and possessions, to support the police and their brutal repression of those without. They imply that repression by the police is the only way to “hold on to yours.”

Descending into anarchy? As a matter of fact, working people are being thrown into it every day. Already we have families in the streets; tens of thousands are on their way to losing jobs and homes, in neighborhoods falling down, with electricity, gas and water cutoffs. As the gap between the super rich and everyone else widens, whole sections of the working class are being pulled down.

Less violence? There will be more violence as poverty deepens. First of all, against young black men. But there will be, and there is, violence against the population at large. What about hunger and poor health and increased infant mortality caused by unemployment and poverty? What about the rising death count among the elderly as heat is shut off and health care made unaffordable?

The obviously inflammatory statements made by the authorities might appear ridiculous, but their intent is clear. They enable the authorities to move away from the nation-wide discussion of police killing of unarmed black men by demanding unequivocal support for the police. Blame for the deaths of these two police officers is being transferred onto the recent protest movement; a movement that was questioning police authority to routinely repress a section of the population.

Today, the police are used as an occupying army against the most severely deprived sections of the population; and indiscriminately against the black population as racism rears its ugly head.

But those in control are preparing us to accept the use of police violence against anyone who rebels. That includes the unemployed, war resisters, strikers and neighborhood organizers and the retired.

Fortunately, we can forge a different path. After all, those who serve as police and in the military are from the working class and have an interest to support their communities and families. Today, they serve the wealthy and the politicians employed by them to keep a miserable “social order.” But some of them can be pulled to our side when the working class mobilizes in workplaces and communities to fight for a transfer of wealth away from the bosses and bankers who stole it and back to the population that produced it in the first place – the working class.

Pages 2-3

Drug Testing:
Blaming the Poor for Wasting Taxes

Jan 5, 2015

The Michigan Department of Human Services will soon start a three-county “pilot program” to test adult welfare recipients for drugs.

Only families with children are able to receive welfare or cash assistance. A campaign that targets adults struggling with addiction will hit innocent children with every welfare case closed.

Under this new law, caseworkers will question welfare applicants. Certain answers are considered “reasonable suspicion,” forcing a drug test prior to approval of benefits. Anyone over age 18 who tests positive can cause the family to lose their meager benefits for six months.

The justification of money savings is a bunch of BS. In Florida, where drug testing of welfare applicants was briefly implemented, researchers learned that the huge cost of drug testing was much higher than any money “saved” by benefit cuts.

In Utah, a study of suspicion-based drug testing discovered only nine applicants state-wide who tested positive for drugs!

A Republican legislator who sponsored Michigan’s proposed law essentially said he was aware of this, but people are “tired of giving their tax dollars to people that waste it....

Let’s talk about how tax dollars are really wasted.

In Michigan, roughly 21,000 adults (with children) are receiving cash assistance of less than 500 dollars a month.

Compare that to the 95,000 Michigan businesses – about two-thirds of all businesses – who no longer pay business income tax since 2012. These freeloading corporations benefit from state spending, but don’t pay. If politicians don’t want to “give tax dollars to people who waste it,” then every one of these CEOs should be drug tested or lose their tax break “welfare benefits!”

And why stop there? Next, drug test all politicians whose salaries are paid by taxpayers!

But that won’t happen. The real purpose of this legislation is to drive a wedge between working people and the poor, laying groundwork for the next round of attacks on the social safety net. Justified working class anger over high taxes is to be misdirected toward the poor.

This law serves the interests of the wealthy by drawing attention away from the real drain on taxpayers – corporate welfare.

In an economy without enough good paying jobs, this law smears the unemployed with children as probable drug addicts simply because they need welfare to avoid starvation.

The only welfare that IS a waste of money is corporate welfare for the yacht-buying, undeserving rich!

Bankruptcy Consultants Take Their Pound of Flesh

Jan 5, 2015

Lawyers and financial consultants made out like bandits from the Detroit bankruptcy, charging over 170 million dollars in bankruptcy-related fees to the city of Detroit. That’s as much as 15 per cent of the city’s current annual budget. It’s more than the entire budget for the Department of Public Works or the Fire Department. It comes to twice what the city spends on public lighting, recreation, and general services combined.

The biggest amount was almost 58 million dollars to the law firm Jones Day, which happens to be the former employer of the city’s Emergency Manager, Kevyn Orr. Another 60 million dollars went to banking and consulting firms.

The judge overseeing the bankruptcy, Steven Rhodes, is supposed to rule on the “reasonableness of the fees.” So far, Rhodes basically has given Orr everything he’s asked for.

City retirees who have given up retiree health care coverage and between 4 and 20 percent of their pension payments as part of the “grand bargain” bankruptcy settlement, could spare Rhodes the agonizing decision. The fees are not only unreasonable, they’re OUTRAGEOUS!

Housing out of Reach

Jan 5, 2015

Housing in Baltimore keeps getting more expensive, and over 24,000 affordable housing units are needed. But the 2007 law that promised to produce more affordable housing did everything but.

At the time, the city council said developers getting special tax breaks for new apartment buildings would have to make 10 to 20 percent of the units affordable. The city even agreed to pay out more than two million dollars to developers in exchange for affordable apartments.

When the cameras went away, the city council amended the law nearly 100 times to make exemptions for almost all new developments. Now the two million dollars is spent; and how many affordable apartments were built, among the thousands of expensive new units?

Just 32!

Supreme Court Votes Against Workers … 9-0!

Jan 5, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that companies don’t have to pay their workers for the time they force workers to wait for security screening after work.

The lawsuit was brought by warehouse workers in Nevada who are hired by a temp agency to fill orders for Amazon. The workers said that the wait often takes close to half an hour, amounting to two and a half hours a week. There have been similar class-action lawsuits – 13 against Amazon alone, but against other big companies as well, including Apple, CVS, TJX and Ross – involving more than 400,000 warehouse workers.

That’s hundreds of millions of dollars in wages – stolen from workers whose pay is already low, and adding to the already obscene profits these big companies are making. And the greedy bosses could definitely count on the Supreme Court justices, ALL of them – the ruling was 9-0.

Commentators may argue until day breaks about these judges’ voting patterns; whether they are conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat. There is one pattern that never changes: when it comes down to company profits versus workers’ interests, these judges side with the companies. One hundred percent!

Don’t Vote to Tax Yourself!
It’s Extortion!

Jan 5, 2015

The Michigan legislature found a way to escape the blame for two different proposals for fixing the state’s crumbling roads that would both have hit the pockets of the working class: It decided to put the decision in front of voters through a referendum on the May ballot.

The referendum offers working class voters no good choices. A “Yes” vote would increase the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, require some internet companies to collect sales tax from Michigan residents for the first time, add on a wholesale gasoline tax amounting to three cents a gallon, and raise vehicle registration fees.

The money raised – they say – would provide 1.3 billion dollars for road construction and other transportation expenses, provide 300 million dollars for school funding, 100 million dollars for revenue sharing to cities, and 260 million dollars for restoring the Earned Income Tax credit that would benefit some low income taxpayers.

Of course, the politicians have promised money would be spent one way before, only to divert money to other areas later.

If the referendum fails, the bill offers no alternative funding for road construction, schools or the other expenditures.

The taxes in the bill are ones that hit the working class the hardest. The sales tax increase, unlike an increase in the state’s income tax, would hit even people who have no income. Rich and poor alike pay the same amount for vehicle registration fees, which is a much larger percentage of their income for lower income drivers.

Both Democrat and Republican legislators are banking on state residents’ frustration with roads that have been deteriorating for years to get a “Yes” vote. Recently a pedestrian bridge over a freeway in Detroit collapsed just before the heaviest morning traffic. Three bridges over the Rouge River coming into Detroit from the south are closed, with no funding planned for repairing them, leaving drivers only one route into the city. Freeways have flooded numerous times due to lack of maintenance to freeway drainage systems. And potholes from last year’s record cold and snowy winter still have not been fixed, leading to car repair bills – and worse – for many drivers.

It’s a no-win situation for working people. But one thing is certain. If workers vote to impose this tax on themselves, a year or two from now the politicians will say it wasn’t enough, and come back with a proposal to raise the sales tax from 7 to 8 percent, plus other tax increases on the population.

In this situation there are no good choices to vote FOR. Though voting against the proposal provides no guarantees the roads will get fixed, this proposal amounts to extortion. What the cops always say is, don’t give in to extortionists. We need to take their advice in this situation and not vote in favor of extortion.

Pages 4-5

Book Review:
The Nazis Next Door

Jan 5, 2015

After World War II ended, more than ten thousand Nazis immigrated to the U.S., according to U.S. Justice Department prosecutors. Eric Lichtblau’s recent book The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men is about how and why government agencies such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, INS and NASA helped these Nazis to immigrate to the U.S., and then fed, employed, protected and used them for decades after the war.

These Nazis were participants in massacres and the genocide, concentration camp guards, SS officers, top Third Reich policymakers, leaders of Nazi puppet states, and other Third Reich collaborators. Some were scientists, like Wernher von Braun, so-called "father” of NASA's Saturn rockets, and Hubertus Strughold, so-called "father” of space medicine, who carried out experiments on humans and, by using slave labor, constructed missiles that killed countless humans.

When these Nazis were exposed, the U.S. government actively blocked their prosecution. When they were finally convicted many decades after their exposure, the U.S. government only deported them, instead of imprisoning them. Finding a country willing to take the Nazis was also a problem, though. As one German official ironically asked a U.S. government official, “Who would want to take back America’s Nazi war criminals?”

While the U.S. government helped the Nazis, their victims were left to languish. Lichtblau writes: "These were the ‘lucky’ ones: hundreds of thousands of Jews, Catholics, gays, Jehovah's Witnesses, Communists, Roma, and other ‘parasites’ enslaved in Nazi concentration camps who, somehow, had managed to survive Hitler's genocidal killing machine. Yet even after Germany's defeat, the survivors remained imprisoned for months in the same camps where the Nazis had first put them to rot."

"Many thousands of the survivors did not leave the Allied camps; some not for months, some not for years, some not at all. Thousands died from disease and malnourishment even after Hitler's defeat.”

“We appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them,” wrote President Truman’s special emissary Earl Harrison. When the “hero,” General Patton learned about the report he was fuming: “Harrison and his ilk believe that the Displaced Person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews, who are lower than animals.”

So, the U.S. government and the Nazis were like-minded. And after the war was over, the U.S. used the Nazis to help IT loot the world.

Big Surprise:
The USA Tortures!

Jan 5, 2015

On December 9, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee finally issued the de-classified 524-page executive summary of its 6,000-page classified report on the use of torture in CIA interrogations of “terror suspects.” The summary describes – sometimes in grisly detail – some of the disgustingly inhuman crimes the CIA carried out against its prisoners.

It then repeats what many intelligence experts, government officials and politicians have said for years about this torture program: through torture, the CIA gained no new useful information about terrorist activities – and specifically, no new information in its hunt for Osama Bin Laden. The report also says the CIA systematically lied to Congress, the president and the news media about the value of what torture victims told their interrogators.

This report was five years in the making. The Senate Intelligence Committee started its investigation of the CIA after Obama issued an order supposedly ending the torture program shortly after taking office. CIA officials resisted releasing information to the Senate committee, and even hacked into the committee members’ computers a few months ago in a last ditch attempt to stop release of any part of the report.

The CIA clearly wanted to torture prisoners, even after it became clear that the information it obtained had no real value in fighting terrorism. In fact, the CIA torture has been a campaign of terror against anyone who resists the U.S. and the regimes it supports.

The Senate Intelligence Committee clearly decided to release the summary of its investigation before Republicans take over the committee later this month, so that Democrats could deny any responsibility for what the CIA did. Yet it is impossible to believe that the members of this committee – both Democrats and Republicans – did not know all along that the CIA was torturing, and that the use of torture was accomplishing nothing other than terrorizing people resisting U.S. domination.

The U.S. may pretend to be a beacon of democracy for the world – but this report shows otherwise. And both the parties have blood on their hands.

Is the Blockade Over?
Cuba Didn’t Submit to the U.S.

Jan 5, 2015

On October 17th, President Obama and Raul Castro, the head of Cuba, announced an agreement between the two countries. Obama said, “isolation hasn’t worked.” Very true. After trying to get the Cuban people to submit for 55 years, he admitted that the strong-arm methods the U.S. had used against Cuba had failed.

This announcement was the result of secret negotiations begun a year and half ago. For now, it only means the establishment of diplomatic relations. Prisoners found guilty of spying will be exchanged, and embassies will be set up. Several measures will facilitate trade. On the other hand, the embargo won’t end completely until the U.S. Congress repeals the Helms-Burton Act, and there are opponents of that change among both Republicans and Democrats. But many U.S. companies want to profit off the Cuban market.

Embargo: Attempt to Break the Cuban Revolution

President Kennedy established the embargo in 1962 in response to the Castro regime nationalizing U.S. businesses on the island. The Cubans had done this in response to the U.S. cutting diplomatic relations and economic ties with the new regime. The U.S. intended to break all those who questioned its hold over the Americas.

While the embargo continued for over fifty years, the U.S. made many attempts to overthrow the Castro regime, beginning right after the Cuban revolution of 1959. This included hiring the Mafia to assassinate Fidel Castro and landing right-wing opponents of Castro in an invasion of the island at the Bay of Pigs in 1961. U.S. intransigence led the Castro regime to establish links with the USSR and call itself “Communist.”

The interests of U.S. imperialism were the only basis for bad relations with Cuba. They could not stand that, so close to the U.S., a popularly-supported revolution would have overthrown a U.S.-backed dictator who had allowed U.S. corporations to drain wealth from the population. The U.S. could not stand for Cuba to serve as an example to the rest of the world.

And it has served as an example, despite the best attempts of the U.S. to crush it, despite its poverty, despite its isolation. The fact that wealth was not being drained from the island meant that Cuba could build health care and literacy rates far beyond any other country in the hemisphere – including the U.S.

After the end of the USSR in 1991, the U.S. again hardened the embargo. Soviet aid to Cuba stopped and the Cuban economy was stifled, forcing the Cuban people to suffer many hardships. The U.S. hoped to get rid of the Castro regime, but the Cubans held out. After the year 2000, Cuba got aid from the Hugo Chavez regime in Venezuela, which gave it oil and permitted it to reestablish relations with all of Latin America.

Although the embargo never ended, it went through various phases. During the 1990s it was strict, but it was relaxed after 2000, permitting U.S. multinational companies to trade with Cuba. The giant Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland sold Cuba wheat, and Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride sold it frozen chickens. Other companies want to do the same: Coca Cola, Pepsi, Marriott Hotels, cell phone companies, John Deere, Caterpillar, food and alcohol companies. They want to block the advance of Chinese capitalist companies that are already on the island. The pressure of big capitalists will likely get Congress to decide to end the embargo.

A Return of “America for the Americans”?

When announcing the deal with Cuba, Obama said in Spanish, “We are all Americans.” This was his way of bringing up to date the old orientation of U.S. imperialism formulated in 1823 by Democratic President James Monroe, which added up to “America for the Americans.” For decades, acting on this principle, the U.S. intervened, sometimes directly and militarily, to maintain the hold of its corporations over Latin America. The U.S.-imposed Cuban constitution of 1901 authorized the U.S. to intervene in the island to defend its interests.

Beyond the increase in trade and tourism, this change could facilitate U.S. relations with the rest of Latin America. Next April will be the Summit of the Americas. Some countries threatened to not attend if Cuba wasn’t invited. Furthermore, the U.S., Mexico and Cuba need to renegotiate their maritime borders, with the exploitation of offshore oil at stake. By coming to an understanding with Cuba, Obama hopes to immediately benefit in these negotiations. On the domestic scene, it could increase his standing among Latino voters, many of whom showed their distrust of him during the recent Congressional elections.

Raul Castro said Cuba wanted “national independence and self-determination.” The fact is that the U.S. failed in its attempt to bring down the Castro regime and now has to acknowledge this. Over fifty years later, Obama has done this. Unfortunately, most likely those who will be the first to benefit from this will be U.S. corporations.

The Cuban population risks exchanging a situation of poverty for the situation of people under the yoke of imperialism. There is the serious risk that the progress the Castro revolution brought the population in health care and education will be submerged and disappear under the push of the “Made in the USA” market economy.

When Oil Prices Drop

Jan 5, 2015

The news media has trumpeted the 80 cents a gallon drop in gasoline prices over the last six months as a real savings for consumers.

This drop in gasoline prices reflects a huge global oil glut. Oil production is up, especially right here in the U.S., where production has risen from five million barrels a day in 2008 to an average of about nine million, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That four million barrel increase is more than either Iraq or Iran, the second and third largest OPEC producers after Saudi Arabia, produces each day. Today, the U.S. accounts for 10 per cent of the world’s oil production, more than any other country, even more than such big oil exporters as Saudi Arabia and Russia.

On the other hand, even in the U.S., with its supposedly “strong recovery,” gasoline consumption is still lower than it was in 2007. And no, the main reason for that drop is not more fuel efficient cars and trucks. According to the U.S. government, the number of miles that people in the U.S. drive is still lower than it was in 2007, despite the fact that the population is increasing at a rate of about 1 percent a year. Working people just don’t have the money. A smaller percentage of the population has jobs, and those with jobs are earning less. The job situation is so bad, many more young adults can’t even afford a car.

With demand down and production way up, the U.S. economy has been importing much less oil from countries like Angola and Nigeria. So, those producers have been compelled to sell their oil to China and other Asian markets at steep discounts, compounding the impact of American production on world markets and driving down crude oil prices faster.

Today, the average price of crude oil is about half what it was just six months ago. This depressed price has deepened the crisis on economies that depend on oil exports, such as Russia, Iran and Venezuela – causing worsening unemployment and galloping inflation in those countries. But big cuts are also expected in parts of the U.S., such as Texas and North Dakota, that depend on oil production for both jobs and state and local government budgets.

The big drop in oil prices could also be amplified by the financial system. Back in the early 1980s, when an oil glut led to steep crude oil price drops, some banks went bankrupt, including the sixth largest, Continental Illinois, as vast loans to oil producers were not paid back. The same could happen again – but much worse – because of massive speculative holdings in the oil industry by big Wall Street financial companies, which have quietly and stealthily, through shell companies, gained ownership of a stunning amount of oil capacity.

Because all of this activity is carried out in secret, no one knows how big the financial losses will be. But one thing is clear: the fall in crude and gasoline prices does not mark in any way a step in economic recovery, but merely another stage in a very long economic crisis and depression.

Pages 6-7

Cell Phones:
Made of Sweat and Blood

Jan 5, 2015

The profits of the cell phone giants Nokia, Alcatel, Samsung, and Apple are built on the blood of workers. This was what a French program called “Cash Investigation,” that aired on Tuesday, November 4 showed about the conditions of production of three cell phone elements.

In a factory at the center of China where cell phone screens are made, half the workforce is children as young as 12 years old. They are subjected to days and nights of ten hours of work, for ridiculously low wages. The factory bosses use this workforce because it’s less costly, but also more docile than the men and women employed previously.

To make cell phone capacitors, tantalum is extracted from the mines of Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In one of these mines, or rather these holes, in Rubaya, 3,000 people work day and night. At the bottom of the mineshafts the heat is suffocating, 110 degrees, and there is a not enough oxygen. Numerous miners die in collapses. One miner who escaped explained that in this case, the collapse blocked off the only exit. “The mine is their tomb,” he said.

The magnets for the vibrators or the micro-cameras are made of neodyne, the most magnetic chemical element. In the principal mine in the world for this mineral, in Baotou in China, a lake of acid has formed. The radioactivity is unbearable, and dangerous compounds like arsenic are present everywhere. Cancer has multiplied and the neighboring city has been wiped off the map.

All this happens by way of a filter of multiple shell companies, which permit the big companies to wash their hands. This murderous exploitation isn’t just reserved for cell phones, but is in the very nature of a system thirsty for profits.

Trucker Safety in the Can

Jan 5, 2015

Congress sneaked cuts in safety regulations to help the profits of trucking companies. The change allows them to get rid of a four-hour rest between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. In other words, Congress made an already unsafe safety rule worse. What can you expect when profit is king?

Pension Cuts

Jan 5, 2015

The Democrats and Republicans in Congress sneaked a big attack on retiree pension benefits into the massive 1.1 trillion dollar federal spending bill. Under this so-called “reform,” huge companies will be able to slash pension benefits for about one million current retirees. UPS is expected to slash its contributions to the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund by about two billion dollars, with retirees suffering big cuts in benefits.

These cuts quickly followed on the heels of the attack on the benefits of retirees who had worked for the city of Detroit. And those attacks on retirees following attacks by airline and steel companies that claimed they were bankrupt, slashed retiree benefits, and then emerged from bankruptcy more profitable than ever.

With this new law, Congress is not only continuing these attacks, but accelerating them. It shows that no one who is retired should consider their benefits supposedly “safe and secure.”

The only rights workers have are what we are ready to fight for and defend!

U.S. Makes Excuses to Attack North Korea

Jan 5, 2015

When cyberattacks against Sony turned into anonymous threats against screenings of the movie, The Interview, the FBI declared that North Korea was responsible for the attacks and the threats. The movie depicts, as a so-called “comedy,” the assassination of Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea.

No matter that the threats seemed crazy – many theater chains decided not to carry the movie, and Sony canceled its opening.

President Obama declared that this was a serious attack against freedom of speech, and that the U.S. would respond. The next day, North Korea’s internet access was shut down from the outside. The U.S. has gone on to impose economic sanctions against North Korea.

Cybersecurity experts, across the board, are convinced that it’s far more likely that disgruntled ex-employees at Sony were responsible for the hacking attacks and the leaks. They say that the means of attack depended on inside knowledge of Sony’s system. The hacking and the leaks of emails and other information started a full month before the threats against The Interview screenings. The only “evidence” linking North Korea to the attacks – is the fact that the North Korean government was outraged by the movie and called it an “act of war.”

And who could blame it, really? Imagine if North Korea had made a movie about the assassination of a sitting U.S. president. How would the U.S. respond? A lot more harshly than a strongly worded denunciation! The U.S. certainly would not say North Korea has a free speech right to say what it wants in movies!

And now the U.S. has latched onto this improbable scenario to ramp up its continued attacks against North Korea.

And Sony? Sony got a lot of free publicity. It even went on to release the movie in 300 theaters (without incident), and as an online streaming rental. It was the biggest online rental of the holiday weekend, with many probably watching out of sheer curiosity – and others to “make a stand about freedom of speech.”

Anybody who watched the movie for that reason, though, are being used by Sony and the U.S. government.

Page 8

LAPD Releases Ezell Ford Autopsy Report … After Four Months

Jan 5, 2015

On December 29, the LAPD finally released the autopsy report of Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old black man, who was shot and killed by two cops in South Los Angeles on August 11.

For months, LAPD brass had refused to release the report, claiming it would influence the testimony of new witnesses – witnesses who might supposedly still come out, as late as four months after the shooting.

Whether there are new witnesses or not, the report sure influenced the LAPD’s own account of what happened. The autopsy showed that Ford was shot in the back at very close range – so close that the wound had a muzzle imprint around it. So now LAPD higher-ups had some explaining to do for not charging the two cops who shot Ford. According to the LAPD, when the cops chased Ford, who was unarmed, he attacked one of them. He then supposedly grabbed the cop’s gun, and the cop pulled his second gun, and somehow reached around him and shot him in the back!

Complicated story? Well, compare that with existing witness accounts (yes, there have already been witnesses the whole time, talking to journalists). One witness said that Ford was shot in the back while he was lying on the ground. Another witness said she saw no struggle between the two cops and Ford. People also said that neighbors knew Ezell Ford, and many knew he had mental problems. Ford’s parents, who are suing the LAPD, said the two cops who went after Ford on August 11 knew him also.

But instead of bringing charges against the two cops, the higher-ups have been trying hard to protect them – like the higher-ups in Ferguson, Missouri and New York, who have been protecting the cops who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner last summer.

And like in Ferguson and New York, it was the pressure of protests from the community that forced authorities in L.A. to make a move – in this case to release the autopsy report.

But the report is not the end of the story. It’s only a beginning, for it certainly makes the shooting of Ezell Ford look like an execution. And that deserves a whole new round of protests.

NYPD “On Strike.” Population Says, Great!

Jan 5, 2015

Angry at Mayor Bill de Blasio for pointing out that it maybe shouldn’t be killing unarmed black men in the street, the New York City Police Department has called for a slow-down in its arrests and ticketing. Arrests and tickets for minor “quality of life” offenses have dropped by 94 percent! Overall, arrests are down by 66 percent.

The New York Post says the police have decided to make arrests “only when they have to.”

Really! So, the NYPD has admitted that two thirds of all of its arrests are completely unnecessary! They just admitted that the big majority of what they do amounts to harassment of the population for no good reason.

That’s something the population has known for a long, long time!

A Working Class Campaign in Chicago

Jan 5, 2015

On December 3rd, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners announced that Ed Hershey will appear on the ballot for alderman of Chicago’s 25th ward.

Chicago is holding city-wide elections on February 24, including elections for mayor and for fifty aldermen, representing different parts of the city on the city council.

He turned in over a thousand validated signatures, over twice what was required. In fact, his supporters had collected quite a few more than that. Some couldn’t be validated because of illegible signatures, some may have moved, some may never have registered. Some maybe were afraid to put their name down. In any case, the campaigners talked to several thousands of people in their efforts to put Ed on the ballot.

The following is the statement his campaign released about his candidacy:

A Teacher for 25th Ward Alderman

Ed Hershey has taught in Chicago schools for nine years. He watched Mayors Daley and Emanuel take money from the schools in poor neighborhoods, funneling millions into corporate profit. He is outraged that young working class people are being deprived of a future and a decent education.

He was a leader at his school in the 2012 teachers strike. And he has been active with parents and students trying to stop school closings.

No one person alone can change these disastrous policies. The attacks in Chicago on working people and their children are part of a bigger attack carried out around the country against the whole working class.

But the working people of Chicago could get a fight going against these policies that could spread to other cities. And there is money enough in Chicago to deal immediately with many of our problems. But that money is hoarded by some of the biggest capitalists in the world, the wealthy class the mayor and aldermen serve.

Ed wants to see the wealth that working people produce be spent on the needs of the whole population: for jobs and a comfortable income for everyone, for public services that serve everyone, and for public spending to solve housing shortages and for schools that educate every child. He knows it will take a fight of the whole working class to get those things.

That Is Why He Stands for a Working Class Fight Based on a Working Class Policy!

For more information on Ed Hershey’s candidacy, you can check out the independent website,

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