The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

Issue no. 989 — June 8 - 22, 2015

Editorial:
Government Spying:
Watchdog of the Capitalist Class

Jun 8, 2015

In early June, Congress passed the “USA Freedom Act,” and President Obama signed it. It is supposed to stop the government from collecting the population’s private communications. No less than the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) praised it as a “milestone ... the most important surveillance reform bill since 1978....

It’s nothing but a shell game – this supposed “new” law. The totality of every single person’s private communications will still be collected – phone, e-mail and Internet. But instead of the government doing it, the government will pay giant private companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast to do it for the government.

The politicians went through this huge charade because of the scandal raised by Edward Snowden’s revelations. Two years ago, Snowden, a former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA) leaked secret documents to newspapers around the world. At risk to his own life, Snowden lifted the veil on U.S. government programs to spy on the entire U.S. population. He was supported by Daniel Ellsberg, who during the Viet Nam War was prosecuted by the government for releasing the secret Pentagon Papers, which exposed the U.S. role in the war.

Snowden showed that the government collects every single conversation that every person has by telephone, e-mail, or through the Internet. It keeps track of what we look at on the Internet, as well as everyone’s movements, through cell phones, traffic cameras, and license plate recorders. In other words, the U.S. government treats every person as a potential enemy of the state. In other words, it acts like every other dictatorship.

U.S. officials couldn’t deny it, given the release of massive amounts of their own official documents. They tried to reassure the public, pretending this gigantic amount of spying was aimed only at preventing terrorist attacks, another 9/11. In the news media, champions of the government asked why would anyone have anything to fear if they were doing nothing wrong, anyway.

But as Snowden made clear, everyone does have reason to fear. Any of that spying can be used in the future against anyone who opposes government policies. Government officials can twist and distort recorded conversations for their own purposes.

Anyone who doubts this can just look at what the government has done in the past – when it had much less technology at its disposal. During the McCarthy period, the government spied on union militants, communists and socialists, spreading lies about them in order to purge the workforce and strike fear and intimidation in the population. During the mobilization of the black population, government spying as well as assassinations were used against the main leaders, from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Malcolm X to the Black Panthers, as well as against countless masses of lesser known activists. During the Viet Nam War, the government carried out rampant spying on leaders and activists.

No one should be surprised by any of this. The U.S. government defends the rule of a tiny minority – the capitalist class – over the rest of society.

Today, the capitalists and their government officials know full well where their policies are leading. Protecting their profits and wealth at the expense of everyone else in the midst of the growing crisis will only cause greater hardships, more unemployment and suffering. Sooner or later this can provoke new social movements and struggles by people to defend their own interests, their own survival. The capitalists and their government are preparing today for the struggles that can break out tomorrow.

One thing history shows is how much people can accomplish once they begin to move. The working masses have enormous strengths and power, which come out of not only their vast numbers, but their key role in making society run.

Mass movements of the working masses shook this society during the 1930s and the 1960s. But those struggles were not taken to their conclusion, by overthrowing the capitalist class’s power structure and government.

The spying going on today shows that working people will confront that power structure once again.

Pages 2-3

California Oil Spill:
An Age of Endless Pollution

Jun 8, 2015

An underground oil pipeline ruptured near the ocean in Santa Barbara County, California on May 19. By the time firefighters stopped the flow several hours later, more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil had spilled out, about 21,000 gallons of it into the ocean.

People living in the area reported large globs of oil in the ocean and on the beach, and these were also spotted many miles to the south of the spill in the following days. Fishing is banned indefinitely in a 138-square-mile zone in the ocean.

In recent years, oil leaks have increased dramatically in the U.S. According to federal government data, the annual number of “significant accidents” on oil pipelines has increased by almost 60 per cent since 2009, reaching 120 in each of the past two years. In other words, millions of gallons of oil have been leaking into the soil and water.

It’s not surprising. While oil companies have been drilling more in recent years, they have been relying on aging and corroded pipeline networks to transport the oil. Even the simplest safety and maintenance measures are “costs” that can be cut to increase profits.

The pipeline that recently ruptured in California didn’t have an automatic shut-off valve and thus didn’t meet local safety standards. But Plains Pipeline was allowed to operate it anyway. Courts ruled that, being part of an interstate network, the pipeline would fall under federal jurisdiction – and federal regulations do not require automatic shut-off valves!

But even if the rules were stricter, companies don’t get punished when they break them. For example, the federal government has cited Plains Pipeline 175 times for safety and maintenance violations since 2006. But the total amount of fines Plains paid in that time was only about 116 thousand dollars. That’s actually an encouragement for the company to break the safety rules, considering that in 2014 alone, Plains reported a profit of 878 million dollars – more than 7,500 times the fines it paid in 10 years!

It’s a sure-fire recipe for endless pollution and a more and more poisoned world.

Israeli Soldiers Denounce Massacre of Civilians in Gaza

Jun 8, 2015

An organization of Israeli vets called Breaking the Silence recently published written and video testimonies from 60 soldiers who took part in last summer’s Operation “Protective Edge” against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Their testimonials point to a policy of the Israeli hierarchy that encouraged the massacre of Palestinian civilians. One reported, “The battalion commander gathered us for a briefing: There’s an imaginary circle 200 meters around our forces. If you see anything inside that circle, you have the right to shoot.” The soldier said, “I was the only one who found that odd.” Another soldier said, “The instructions were very clear. Anyone you see with your own eyes in this sector, pull the trigger. Shoot to kill.”

Another soldier mentioned a murderous game soldiers played, shooting at anyone in a vehicle, with their commander telling them, “Make me proud.”

The soldier mentioned a bicyclist. He shot this bicyclist, and the others all laughed. “This is an episode of which I’m ashamed.... I aimed at civilian targets, sometimes just for fun.”

Some 2200 Palestinians are known to have died during Operation “Protective Edge,” of whom at least 1,500 were civilians, according to UN figures.

These testimonials from Israeli soldiers confirm that the massacre was deliberate.

Shortage of Generic Drugs
– Why?

Jun 8, 2015

Medicinal drugs are in short supply in the U.S. And this drug shortage worsened over the years. In 2007, 154 drugs were in short supply or no longer available, according a list compiled by the Food and Drug Administration. Today there are more than 300 drugs on this list.

These drugs include antibiotics like Zosyn, pain killers like ketorolac, cancer treatment drugs, and even commodity items such as saline. All these drugs are vital for the survival of humans suffering from illnesses.

Generally, “generic” drugs are on this list. The generic drugs are drugs that are not under a monopoly by a single corporation through a patent. For this reason, in principle, more than one company can manufacture the same drug, which substantially decreases the prices. Thus, the generic drugs have lower profitability margins as compared to that of the brand name drugs.

For example, BCG is a generic drug used to treat bladder cancer. This drug is 25 years old and no longer monopolized through a patent. A vial of generic BCG is priced at 145 dollars. Such drugs cost less than 10 dollars per dose to manufacture, so the generic BCG is still very profitable – but not enough for the big pharmaceutical companies.

On the other hand, since a single company holds a monopoly over a “brand name” drug through a patent, it can charge sky high prices. For example, a vial of Avastin, a brand name drug similar to BCG, fetches about $2,700, because it has a patent. So, its manufacturer, Genentech/Roche, makes HUGE profits by selling this drug.

So, the generics don’t get made!

These drug shortages are harmful to people. The deaths of 15 patients in 2011 are linked with the shortages.

This is capitalism at its best. For the companies, mega profits take precedence over the health of human beings.

Tax Increases ARE a Problem

Jun 8, 2015

It is normal to feel empathy with people whose lives are similar to your own. It is solidarity at its most basic level.

That is why a feeling of horror was the reaction earlier this year when NBC news showed video of a Ford Rouge auto worker being beaten by an Inkster police officer, blood pouring from his face.

This video, along with community protests, resulted in the City of Inkster agreeing to settle a civil lawsuit for 1.4 million dollars in compensation.

Ever since this settlement was announced, though, the media has gone on a divisive propaganda campaign. They decry the one-time increase in property taxes levied on Inkster homeowners to pay for the settlement. They are blaming the worker who was beaten for the taxes the city is demanding!

Similarly, retirees from Wayne County recently caught a break when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in workers’ favor. The court ordered a one-time payment of more than 49 million dollars into the Wayne County Pension Fund to reimburse for a skipped payment in 2010. The county is about to demand a one-time increase in property taxes on homeowners to pay for that.

This news barrage about property tax increases seems aimed at convincing the general public that we should have no sense of solidarity with retirees from the county or with a worker who was brutalized by police.

Where is the wall-to-wall coverage about how little “developers” and corporations are paying in property taxes – shifting an ever increasing burden on home owners?

Yes, media outlets, it IS unfair to ask the poorest homeowners to pay more in property taxes. So, how about this? Get on your high horse and demand that wealthy “developers” – the main ones who drain municipal budgets in the first place – “pony up” and pay for these settlements. THAT would be FAIR!

Fight over the Trans Pacific Partnership

Jun 8, 2015

In the Congress, Democratic President Obama and the Republicans are pushing for a proposed trade agreement called the Trans Pacific Partnership between the U.S. and 14 other countries. The unions are calling on the Democrats to block it.

Richard Trumka, the head of the AFL-CIO, says the agreement would “cost jobs and lower wages.” He points to NAFTA (the North American Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico), passed in 1993, which he says shows the danger of a trade agreement like this.

After NAFTA passed, manufacturing jobs continued to decline – but not because of NAFTA. By far the most important reason for the job loss was that productivity increased a lot faster than the sales of the products made, so fewer workers were needed to do the work. Workers were speeded up and overworked.

The capitalists have stepped up their exploitation of the working class, and the leaders of the unions did nothing to mobilize fights to stop it. They blamed NAFTA, pushing the idea that nothing could be done to stop the job loss once that treaty was in place. Now they are focusing their efforts, once more, on Congress, instead of leading a real fight to protect jobs and raise wages.

The problem of jobs and low pay facing the working class in this country is not caused by treaties, but by the bosses here that would lay off, cut pay and worsen working conditions. Our fight needs to be made against them at home.

Pages 4-5

Student Loans:
Students Bamboozled, Banks and Investors Profit

Jun 8, 2015

The following is part of the presentation given at a Spark public meeting in Chicago about student loans, exposing how brutal this debt is while shining a light on what could be possible.

It’s no wonder why young people want to go to college today. What are the options without a degree? Take a stream of low wage jobs without prospects of being self-sufficient? Enlist in the armed forces, giving up your freedom and risking your life fighting for U.S. imperialism? Sell drugs or run some other hustle, which often leads to prison?

Young people today are constantly told that college is the way to do better, to prepare for a higher paying job, to make connections. Of course, many want the education to learn, to satisfy their intellectual curiosity, or to prove what they are capable of.

The Crushing Price Tag for College

But how much does this education cost? At Morton Community College, in Cicero, Illinois, tuition is $3,200 to go full-time for a semester. On top of that, the college estimates $1,400 a semester for books, and $3,200 for “other expenses.” So tuition and books for a two-year associates degree comes to about $16,000.

If you want a bachelor’s degree, tack on two more years at somewhere like the University of Illinois Chicago. The total bill will come to about $40,000. That’s if things go according to plan. Of course there are all sorts of ways the plan can get set back. Often, universities don’t accept all of a community college’s credits. Or students find themselves too busy working to take a full course load.

At DePaul, a private Catholic school on the North Side, just the tuition for four years comes to around $140,000. At the University of Chicago, those four years cost $184,000.

For a working family, even the community college expense is a burden, especially if they have more than one child. Grants and scholarships may provide some relief, but not enough.

It’s why students coming from the working and middle classes have to work while they go to school. They take jobs, usually for relatively low wages, just to support themselves with living expenses. But this makes it that much harder to focus on school. Students who are free to study and free from the burdens of working have the liberty to get much more out of college.

The Student Loan Trap

Working through school used to be more possible, but now the pay is too low and the cost too high. So now students and families are pushed into taking student loans to pay the cost. But the cost of the loans is enormous.

Take a student who has $40,000 in loans, which is not unusual. At interest of around 4 percent, that means an additional $1600 a year, on top of the principal. Say our new graduate finds the only jobs available are paying $10 an hour. If they pay $200 a month on their loans, it will take 27 years to pay off. And more than $20,000 additional dollars in interest will go to the lender. And that assumes the student never misses a payment, or suffers a penalty, which banks love to tack on money for. As college tuition continues to climb – these numbers will only get worse. The debt may follow a student for decades – whether they graduate or not. It’s a millstone around the neck.

A millstone they can’t take off. Because student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. It wasn’t always like this but the laws were changed to protect the banks. So there is almost no way to get out from under that crushing debt. Moreover, banks garnish wages – taking the money directly out of a person’s check, before they ever get it. They can take money out of any kind of benefit – including unemployment or social security.

The banks push the idea of using the loan money for living expenses. Here is a quote from Wells Fargo, a big bank that offers private loans:

“Wells Fargo private student loans may be able to help you pay for your education … including all education related expenses such as ... housing, books, lab fees and more…. Students make no payments until 6 months after leaving school.”

Fargo then adds: “Interest continues to accrue during any deferment periods. . . .”

It sounds so innocent, when they say it like that! This is the only circumstance where a bank will give a young person without an income a huge loan. Because they know the loan will follow the student for life – that they can get their money. They bait people into what is a trap.

The banks often will lure parents into the same trap. If a student is borrowing a lot, the bank asks parents to sign onto some of the loans. They present it as a formality. Of course, if the student isn’t able to get a good job, then the parent is on the hook too. The federal government also has a type of loan directed at parents. That’s why many older people are finding their social security checks garnished today.

Modern Day Indentured Servants

Without being warned up front that THIS is the arrangement, working class students are more and more turned into indentured servants. In colonial times, indentured servants gave themselves as slaves for a number of years to landowners. Sometimes, they learned a trade. In exchange, they received their fare to come to this country and after so many years, if they survived, they gained their freedom.

Today, in exchange for an education, students find themselves working to pay off their loans for decades before they are free. For all practical purposes, they are indentured to their lender!

While this education was held out as a step into a better life, many workers find that the only jobs available even with a degree are still low paid.

Students of the upper middle class and higher graduate from college debt free. They do not need to work while in college – they have the freedom to study (or to “play”). And after they graduate, they have family connections that allow them to get good paying jobs in banking, politics, law, business or finance – a job that will pay and allow them to live.

In other words, education doesn’t allow workers to escape their social class, it reinforces it. This is how social class is expressed in our system of college education.

Student Loans: A Movement Diverted

The modern student loan system was introduced in the 1960's, as a response to the black movement’s demand for “open enrollment” and education available to all. Many countries have had free college education for a long time. But the Johnson administration came up with a program of “guaranteed” loans for students into which working class and poor families were funneled, under the heading of “Financial Aid.” So education was made “available,” but not affordable, and certainly not free. Students and their families still paid for their education themselves and the government arranged for banks to profit off the money they were guaranteed to be able to borrow!

This society certainly has the means to provide an education to everyone who wants one. But the capitalist class in this country has no interest in this. One recent estimate said that making college free would require about 60 billion dollars more than what is currently spent.

Instead, what does this country spend money on? This country spends 70 billion dollars a year to imprison 2.5 million people. A big proportion are held on minor drug charges. Every prisoner they lock up costs $28,000 per year.

Why? This society has no place for more people to have more education. The number of unemployed college graduates is proof. But imagine if this society did educate many more doctors, engineers, computer programmers? Everyone could have access to a doctor, perhaps bringing down spiraling medical costs. We’d have many more engineers and technicians, who could work on solving society’s problems – like our crumbling infrastructure. But they have no interest in that. They only put in the money for the professionals they need, in work that allows them to make a profit.

Students as Cash Cows for the Banks

When the federal government set up the student loan system, it did not guarantee an education for anyone, but they DID guarantee that the banks profited from these loans no matter what. If the former student defaulted, the government reimbursed the lenders for all of the unpaid principal and interest, making the student loans 100 percent risk-free for the banks. Of course, if the feds take over the loan, they still hunt down the student to the ends of the earth to make them pay.

When the student loan system was set up, the cost of an education was still low – especially at public colleges. Less than one per cent of all student loans taken out in the 1970's were defaulted on. Today that number is close to 14 percent, with over half having missed at least one payment. It’s a function of the rise in college and university tuition.

During the 1980’s, funding for all kinds of public services was cut. These cuts hit public colleges, universities, and community colleges. To make up for cuts, tuition at all these schools has risen steadily, much faster than the rate of inflation.

The financial crisis of 2008 exacerbated the situation. The price of a college education has risen even faster ever since. As a result, dependence on loans has grown rapidly. The average college graduate in 2011 came out with $26,600 in debt. By 2013 it was up to $28,400; last year it was over $30,000 in some states. And for many working class students, the figures are higher.

Like With Mortgages, a Student Loan “Bubble”

The cuts left a gap in public education. A profitable solution was to start for-profit colleges, which fill some of the demand for technical or general education.

For-profit colleges and universities often provide an inferior education at inflated prices. Their “financial aid” departments are often in cahoots with the banks, pushing loans on students in a way similar to how overpriced mortgages were pushed on home owners before the 2008 economic collapse.

In this case, students pay dearly for courses of study that often do not lead to a job. Many graduates default on these loans. So the government basically shovels money to the for-profit schools’ bottom line, with nothing socially useful coming out of it.

Some investigative reporters have found for-profit schools going to homeless shelters, getting residents there to take out federal student loans to attend school. Few of the people saddled with this debt could ever pay it back, but since the federal government guaranteed the loans, the schools stood to profit.

One of these for-profit schools, Corinthian Colleges, just went bankrupt. It shows how crazy this system is.

Free Education: A Basic Human Right

Our system denies what should be free as a basic human need: education. Instead, education is provided on condition that people indenture themselves to the banks. Or the education provided is an inferior one, with much of the money going to “investors,” as in the case of for-profit schools.

Student loans, at 1.2 trillion dollars, are now the largest form of debt for ordinary people besides home mortgages. One out of every five households is paying on student loans.

Hedge funds now buy up student loan debt in the same way banks and hedge funds previously bought up, bundled and resold mortgages. Trading mortgage debts led to the collapse in 2008. The expansion of student loan debt could itself lead to a collapse in a similar way.

One hedge fund, or set of funds, National Collegiate Trust, has been buying up private student loans left and right. The trust is a subsidiary set up by a bank: First Marblehead. It has been aggressive about taking former students to court. Sometimes it has sued to collect on loans after the student has died. Sometime funds like National Collegiate Trust will try to sue without even being able to prove they own the student’s loan.

Young working people have every right to demand an education. It’s a symptom of the disease of the current system, that it doesn’t provide the education for free that people need.

Access to higher education came out of the last big wave of working class struggle. In the next wave of struggle, young people have every right to demand free education for all and the right to a job that allows for living comfortably.

Pages 6-7

UAW Retirements under Attack

Jun 8, 2015

On May 14, UAW present and future retirees took another hit to their health benefits fund. A federal appeals court ruled 3-0 that GM could escape a payment of $450 million for the workers’ VEBA. The VEBA account is used to pay for their health care. The court used a technicality from the GM bankruptcy-and-bailout deal, to duck this payment owed to retirees of GM’s former parts unit, Delphi.

A GM spokesman said, “We’re pleased.”

Yes, GM is pleased to stiff the workers once again, pleased to break its promises again. It’s all so easy when they use bankruptcy, plus a federal bailout of 49.5 billion dollars!

On the UAW side, this is just one more setback for one of the union’s bad ideas. From 2006 to 2009, the auto companies deliberately ran up big deficits in their health care funds. Then they pressured the UAW to take over the funds saying otherwise, the companies would go bankrupt.

The UAW agreed to take over. They set up a new VEBA fund with several billion dollars of corporate seed money – roughly half of the companies’ true obligation! They let the companies off the hook.

Why?! Just look at recent U.S. auto profits. Just since 2011, U.S. auto makers have racked up 73 BILLION dollars in combined operating profits. Under the previous contracts, these profits would have paid for health care claims for retirees.

But when the UAW took over the plans, there was no more profit stream. Instead, the fund has to be managed like a savings account. Now UAW retirees have $450 million less in their healthcare account.

And whether the fault lies with the UAW for not continuing to include this specific amount in the recent GM contracts, or with GM or the court system itself, it is an inexcusable “oversight.”

It is one more proof of a failed union policy that counsels the workers to depend on a partnership with the bosses, and to give concessions at every turn. The same policy that calls on workers to depend on the court system for justice when the companies screw them.

It’s plain to see that today’s union leaders are not interested in making a fight to restore benefits like company-paid health care for retirees. But the retirees, and the workers who want to be retirees, should adopt a different policy and should prepare to make a fight to protect these hard won benefits now and into the future.

Turkey:
A Wave of Strikes

Jun 8, 2015

This article was translated from the June 5 edition of Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the French revolutionary workers group of that name.

The victorious strike of 5700 workers at Oyak Renault in Bursa, along with the movements at Tofas-Fiat and the auto parts subcontractors, continue to reverberate all over Turkey. The news that comes from the big industrial centers in the west of the country shows that the strikes are progressively spreading to other industrial sectors and other cities.

The strike movement first spread to Ford in three factories in different cities, and to Turk Traktor in Ankara. There, strikers overcame a series of threats. The bosses sent text messages to the workers threatening layoffs if they didn’t return to work the next day, and they made a show of having the worker transport buses pick up a few workers to pretend that the factory had restarted. But the fighting workers didn’t give in, encouraged by the support of workers in the nearby factories.

The movement found an echo in Izmir where the 1900 workers at the Petkim refineries refused the meager 5% raise proposed by the boss, and gained most of what they wanted after occupying their workplace for a week. Not only were they supported by other workers in the region, but even better, the workers in the four industrial zones in the city started to fight for the same things. Also in Izmir, 3,500 workers from Izenerji, the municipal electricity and gas company, started to demonstrate for immediate pay raises: they had been in stalled contract negotiations for two years.

Workers at IDC and Ege Celik in Izmir had a great surprise when their bosses deposited 1000 Turkish lira (350 dollars) in each of their bank accounts in response to the threat of the movement spreading to these companies.

The victorious strike at Oyak Renault, which workers had spent months organizing and preparing for, was a great example. The fifteen million workers of the country all have the same problem: an increase in the cost of living by more than 20 percent. And the Renault strike showed that they all have the same solution ... to such an extent that in some factories the bosses can smell which way the wind is blowing and have been giving raises in fear of seeing workers stop production.

As the June 7 elections approach, the workers of Turkey have shown that they don’t have to wait for the results at the polls to answer their problems. They made their answer with the weapons of their class.

What a Trillion Dollars Could Do

Jun 8, 2015

Analysts project that the dividends and cash from stock buy-backs paid to U.S. shareholders this year will set a new record, topping $1 trillion.

Instead of going to these mostly wealthy shareholders, if this trillion dollars were split evenly among the 35 million U.S. workers earning less than $12 dollars an hour, each of them would get a pay raise of nearly $30,000 or about $15 an hour – more than doubling their rate of pay.

Sounds like a much better use of this money!

Haiti:
A Strike in Port-au-Prince

Jun 8, 2015

This article was translated from the May 15 edition of La Voix des Travailleurs (The Workers’ Voice), the newspaper of the Organization of Revolutionary Workers of Haiti (OTR). It is about a movement of workers at GMC, one of the factories of the Apaid family of Port-a-Prince, one of the rich bourgeois families that own 80 percent of the country’s wealth. They got their money above all through the exploitation of workers in the sub-contracted textile industry.

At the end of April and the beginning of May, the workers at GMC started to fight against their boss’s attempt to avoid paying end-of-contract penalties he owed them for almost ten years of work. For the workers, this represented a chance to see between 15 and 20,000 gourds (three months salary, or between 300 and 400 dollars) at one time.

But the boss didn’t want to pay the penalties – for him, the new contract erased his responsibility to pay. He began to call together groups of workers to pressure them into signing a new contract. During lunch breaks, during work, and at quitting time, this was the main topic of conversation among the workers. They increasingly saw that they had to organize together against the boss. Every afternoon after work, they met to discuss together the best ways of fighting.... The number of participants in these meetings grew from 50 to 100, 200, and one day almost 1,000 workers. In these meetings, they voted for a 24-hour warning strike on April 23.

This was a historic day for these workers but also for the working class, showing that through their fights and their determination they could impose a right that the bosses had stomped on for ages: the right to strike.

Soon, the bosses went on the offensive. Two days after the strike, April 25, the news broke that the head of the factory had brought the president of the union to his office and had interrogated him for hours about the movement. Immediately in response, the workers left their machines to meet in the middle of the workplace. The head of the union explained what had happened to him in the boss’s office. The atmosphere in the factory was electric, and the workers stayed mobilized, away from their machines, until 4:00, the usual quitting time.

On Monday, April 27, the boss attached a note to the door announcing that the factory was closed.

This started a week of struggle and mobilization of the workers. They stayed in front of the factory and stopped strike breakers from entering.

Finally, at the end of the week, the boss retreated. Though he continued to threaten the active workers, he abandoned the idea of pressuring the workers to sign the new contract and agreed to take them all back to work.

Page 8

Baltimore:
Lies to Support Murdering Cops

Jun 8, 2015

Ever since President Obama and Baltimore mayor Rawlings-Blake called the people rioting in the streets of Baltimore “thugs”, all kinds of lies have spewed forth as reinforcement. In fact, the police, the media, and the politicians are carrying out a propaganda campaign to justify the actions of the police.

Several experts have already pointed out the fallacies in their arguments. The cops say crime rose in May. But Tracey Meares, a Yale professor, points out the crime statistics claiming the rate of crime is increasing, are bogus. “This time last year” comparisons are meaningless and especially so when the numbers are small. Crime always increases in May when the weather starts to get warm. For better accuracy, the comparison needs to be extended over time. She also pointed out that the claim that crime is rising because cops are backing off from their jobs is based on anecdotes and not any real evidence.

Then there is the matter of the 175,000 prescriptions stolen from the CVS and other pharmacies. The cops say the looted drugs could be the cause for the surge in violent crime, as if people are getting high from stolen prescription drugs. Since when does CVS only sell narcotics? The most prescribed drug in the U.S. is levothyroxine, used to treat hypothyroid disease. After that is cholesterol-lowering and anti-heart burn drugs. Not the best drugs to get high on!

Lies on top of lies. All this because states attorney Mosby was forced to charge six cops in the murder of Freddie Gray by the young people of Baltimore who fearlessly went out into the streets and challenged the police.

People have seen murders of young black men by police on T.V. over and over. This campaign means to get people to doubt what they have seen and what they know. It means to convince people to support the police, to want them in their neighborhoods.

They are actually trying to convince us that it was wrong to protest and denounce their murderous ways!

Cleveland Cop’s Acquittal:
A License to Kill

Jun 8, 2015

A judge acquitted a white Cleveland police officer, Michael Brelo, of manslaughter in the shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Russell and Williams, both unarmed, were killed in 2012 after a car chase involving 13 cops, which started when Russell’s car backfired outside a police precinct and the cops mistakenly took it for the sound of gunfire.

Brelo and the other cops fired more than 100 shots into Russell’s car, and then, even after it was clear the car was stopped and the other cops had stopped firing, Brelo reloaded, jumped on the hood of the vehicle and fired 15 more shots through the windshield.

The judge ruled that the prosecutors couldn’t prove it was Brelo’s shots that killed the pair even though some of the shots definitely came from Brelo’s gun. He also ruled Brelo and the other cops had reason to believe they were at risk because other officers at some point along the way had said Russell and Williams had weapons.

Cops are trained to know the difference between a car backfiring and the sound of a gun. These cops simply used the car backfiring as a pretext to carry out a chase and murder. They were like a street gang, and once the chase got going it reinforced itself. They acted just like the KKK out to hang someone.

The judge’s ruling is a statement that any cop can kill anyone at any time so long as he can say he “feared for his life.”

Since the ruling, an arbitrator also overturned the suspensions of four police supervisors and another ruled a supervisor who was fired had to be rehired.

These decisions are an official answer to what the young people in Baltimore did when they went into to streets and forced prosecutors to put the cops on trial for the murder of Freddie Gray. In this situation, the court’s decisions mean the judicial system has declared it’s open season for the cops.

Don’t believe the cops have no license to kill.

The Cleveland decision reinforces what Obama said when he called the young people of Baltimore “thugs.”

If the young people of Baltimore are thugs, then we all better be thugs. It’s the only way to face down the REAL thugs, the cops. Otherwise, we’ll all have to lie down in front of the cops, even when they assassinate us.

Individual Health Insurance Rates Skyrocketing

Jun 8, 2015

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan requested permission to raise its rates on individual policies by almost 12 per cent. They already were allowed to raise their rates by nearly 10% last year. If they get anything near what they're asking for, rates will have gone up by around 20% in two years!

Whose incomes have gone up by 20% in the last two years? Certainly not anyone stuck buying individual health insurance. And that doesn't even account for increasing costs associated with high deductibles and co-pays connected to most individual plans.

Blue Cross is hardly alone in jacking up rates. HealthPlus of Michigan, Consumers Mutual of Michigan, and United Healthcare requested 35.8%, 20.5% and 15.2% jumps, respectively. Insurers around the country are requesting similar or larger rate hikes, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The so-called "Affordable Care Act" looks like a blank check for the insurance companies to gouge individual customers. That should be no surprise, since the insurance industry wrote the bill!

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