Open Newswire

“NO!” means “NO!” EDU response to Tentative Agreement
2 years 11 weeks ago
Workers Action

Workers Action Introduction

The following statement was produced by Educators for a Democratic Union (EDU), a progressive caucus in the San Francisco teachers union, United Educators of San Francisco (UESF).

After enumerating a series of concessions recently negotiated by UESF in bargaining a tentative agreement, the EDU caucus statement correctly urges all UESF members to vote NO on the tentative agreement. In the wake of almost all unions accepting concessions without a struggle, the following statement presents an inspiring counterexample to this trend.

As is typical across the country, state and local funding for education has been reduced, and administrations are implementing cuts and demanding concessions from teachers. Meanwhile budget deficits are depicted as if they were acts of god, entirely out of the control of humans.

In reality, however, the situation is quite different thanks to endemic political corruption. For example, in 2011 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors awarded Twitter a $22 million tax break over a period of six years. Then the Board outdid itself in corporate largess by awarding Zynga a tax break that was worth “$30 million to $50 million in local taxes in the first year alone…” (The New York Times, “Lobbyists Play Outsize Role as Political Fund-Raisers in San Francisco, June 12, 2011).

How do these quite profitable corporations fare so well while education is slashed and hacked to pieces, and the public good is desecrated? The lobbyists for these corporations help almost all the members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, including the most progressive member, John Avalos, raise money for their election campaigns (see The New York Times, “Lobbyists Play Outsize Role as Political Fund-Raisers in San Francisco, June 12, 2011).

The Dark Heart of the Libor Scandal
2 years 11 weeks ago
Workers Action

Though, for most, the London Inter-Bank Offer Rate (Libor) interest rate fixing scandal appears to be distant and far too complex to understand, its potential consequences may be as economically devastating as a world war.

The Libor is used to set payments on $800 trillion worth of financial instruments. It sets the prices that people and corporations pay for loans and receive for savings. Given that the fraud impacted $10 trillion in consumer loans, the Libor scandal will likely leave a long list of previous financial scandals that contributed to the Great Recession look like child's play.

It also pulls back the curtain on the mechanisms behind the world economy, its anti-social priorities, its willingness to gamble away the future of billions of people, and the government's collusion in these operations. The Libor scandal reveals that the "invisible hand" Adam Smith spoke of in explaining how a capitalist economy regulates itself has been transformed into the trained hand of a swindler.

The Libor and its Problems

The Libor sets interest rates that banks charge one another to borrow on a daily basis. Sixteen (now eighteen) large banks submit their assessment of what they anticipate credit would cost them. The four lowest and four highest calculations are thrown out, and the interest rate is determined as the middle figure among the remaining assessments.

While the method that the banks use to determine the figure they report to Libor is largely arbitrary, it is, nevertheless, assumed that they won't take advantage of the process to game the system. This is a rather remarkable leap of faith since there are billions of dollars of profit if the banks can find a clever way to sidestep the rules. In contrast to popular knowledge, the Libor expects honor among thieves.

Syria’s “Liberated” Future: Ethnic-Religious Cleansing and Genocide
2 years 11 weeks ago
Workers Action

A fascinating shift has happened in the U.S. mainstream media: After a year of anti-Syria war propaganda and lies, glimmers of truth are making their way into the public’s view. This may be too little too late: the country is being torn at the seams into the nightmare of ethnic-religious cleansing and massacres.

 

After non-stop war mongering, The New York Times took a second to wipe the blood off its hands to report the true state of things in Syria. Apparently, the previous, ongoing reports about the Syrian army indiscriminately massacring citizens in the city of Homs was simply a lie, repeated over and over.

It now turns out that the exact opposite was true.

In actuality, many of the refugees fleeing Homs were persecuted Christians, attacked by members of the Free Syrian Army, who have been killing religious minorities in an attempt to recruit hard-line Sunnis in Syria as they wage a religious war against the Syrian secular state.

The Background

Because the Free Syrian Army did not emerge from a popular revolution — but instead the pocketbooks and arsenal
of Saudi Arabia — the war to destroy the Syrian government had to be waged as an ethnic-religious war. Saudi Arabia has a long history of exporting its rare extremist form of Sunni Islam, Wahhabism, as a political tool to help overthrow unfriendly governments.

The U.S. has a long-standing alliance with Saudi Arabia in this effort, a dynamic that, over the years, has given birth to both the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The U.S. refuses to stop using this strategy because it’s incredibly effective at overthrowing “unfriendly” governments, while keeping large sections of the Middle East stalled in the formative years of Islam, which keeps a good check on any political activity from working people, since in Saudi Arabia protests, labor unions, and civil rights are illegal.

Inequalities, Taxes, and More Inequalities
2 years 11 weeks ago
Workers Action

Thanks to Occupy, most working people are well aware of the growing inequalities in wealth. But for those who lack the specifics, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich provides a useful overview:
“…the rich have been getting a larger and larger portion of total income. From 9 percent in 1980, the top 1 percent's take increased to 23.5 percent by 2007. CEOs who in the 1970s took home 40 times the compensation of average workers now rake in 350 times.” (“Confessions of a Class Warrior,” August 22, 2010).
 

During roughly the same period, however, hourly wages declined by more than 7 percent. (Robert Frank, “Income Inequality: Too Big to Ignore,” The New York Times, October 16, 2010).

In other words, not only are the rich getting richer, the rest of us are getting poorer.

What has Contributed to Increased Inequality?

Many factors have converged to produce these trends. Good-paying manufacturing jobs have migrated overseas. Technology has replaced many other good-paying jobs. More importantly, across the country many unions have demonstrated an overwhelming willingness to accept concessions without waging a struggle, thereby contributing to the growing inequalities. This willingness to give up hard won gains in turn has resulted in the continuing decline of union membership, which now stands at 8 percent. Who would want to join a union and pay dues only to make concessions? (In contrast, in the 1930s when unions were staging all-out fights for better pay and working conditions, and winning, union membership surged.) The decline of unions signifies the loss of a powerful weapon that can be used to defend the standard of living of the working class.

The Next Stage in the Destruction of Syria
2 years 12 weeks ago
Workers Action

The U.S. media has made its intentions clear: the 'rebels' attacking Syria's government must have more support to advance Syria's "revolution.” This was the result of the much-hyped advance of Syria's rebels into the country’s two largest cities, which the western media portrayed as a defining moment in global democracy. But "journalists" like these have blood on their hands, with much more in the works.

The systematic dismantling of Syria has more to do with western media lies and geo-politics than "revolution;” and the more that the U.S. media cheers on this bloodletting, the more politicians feel enabled to spill it.

Victory Around the Corner?

The rebel attacks on the cities of Damascus and Aleppo were, in actuality, meant to convince the western media that the rebels are near victory, with the hopes of attracting more direct military support from abroad. In reality, however, the attacks in Damascus were instantly crushed by the Syrian government, but the U.S. media predicted "victory just around the corner" for the rebels.

Suddenly Syria is becoming a U.S. presidential topic of debate. Republicans have accused Obama of "outsourcing" the Syrian conflict, refusing to be involved when the rebels deserve extra support (guns mainly). But Obama is the principal cause of this humanitarian catastrophe. Middle East expert Robert Fisk explains:

"While Qatar and Saudi Arabia arm and fund the rebels of Syria...Washington mutters not a word of criticism against them. President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, say they want a democracy in Syria. But Qatar is an autocracy and Saudi Arabia is among the most pernicious of caliphate-kingly-dictatorships in the Arab world."

Taxing the Rich and Its “Left” Critics
2 years 12 weeks ago
Workers Action

In a recent article published on the website of Socialist Viewpoint, Chris Kinder criticized those on the left who call for raising taxes on the rich. Identifying himself as a Trotskyist, Mr. Kinder displayed particular displeasure with Trotskyists who embrace this demand. Yet, as we will argue, his arguments fundamentally deviate from the political-strategic framework established by Marx and Engels and developed by Lenin and Trotsky.

“‘Tax the rich’ is far from a transitional demand,” Mr. Kinder argued and added: “Demanding taxation of the rich presumes the continued existence of the rich! But revolutionists seek to expropriate the rich capitalists as a precursor to creating an egalitarian, socialist society.”

This argument was further developed when he added: “Furthermore, ‘tax the rich,’ by presuming the continued existence of the exploiter class, cuts off any avenue to being a ‘bridge’ to a revolutionary program. As Trotsky explained in The Death Agony of Capitalism..., a transitional demand should help the masses to ‘find the bridge between present demands and the socialist program of the revolution.’”

Mr. Kinder continues his critique by noting that taxing the rich has been promoted by liberals, and, unlike transitional demands, can be won within the framework of capitalism. By improving the lot of the working class it can then defuse their revolutionary impulses.

He also argues that “it’s not a particularly internationalist demand,” since it would only benefit the workers of a particular country.

Houston Janitors Strike for Economic Justice
2 years 12 weeks ago
Workers Action

Echoing the story of David vs. Goliath, janitors in Houston are on strike and taking on such corporate giants as JPMorganChase and Exxon Mobile in an effort to pressure the janitorial companies they employ to agree to the workers' modest demands. It is these big business behemoths that are the real powers behind cleaning contractors such as ABM, GCA, ISS etc. By striking against these contractors, and publicly targeting these contractors' employers, the janitors are using their collective power in a showdown that has great significance for not only the Labor Movement but all workers.

The janitors are members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1, which has a membership of 3,200 in Houston. Currently, these workers' wages top out at $8.35 per hour. On average, they make under $9,000 a year. The government defines the poverty line as an income of $22,314 for a family of four and $11,139 for an individual.

The janitors are asking for a $10.00 per hour starting wage. In response, the contractors offered a combined 50 cents an hour raise over the course of a five-year contract. With the growing cost of living over this time, these workers would sink even further into poverty if they accepted this. The contractors' proposal was nothing more than an insult.

Not content with merely insulting their employees, the contractors began to back up their position with injury. The janitors were subject to captive audience meetings where their jobs were threatened if they participated in union activity. Management warned that they would call for an immigration audit if the employees didn't quiet down. In addition, they also withheld paychecks of some union supporters. In all, 13 Unfair Labor Practices have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board.

PHILIPPINES: Akbayan calls on Sandiganbayan to issue warrant of arrest against Arroyo
2 years 12 weeks ago
spamsucks


AKBAYAN (Citizens Action Party)

Akbayan Chairperson Risa Hontiveros called on the Sandiganbayan today to issue a warrant of arrest against former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) in connection with the plunder charge filed against her and several others before the anti-graft court by the Office of the ombudsman.

Hontiveros said the Sandiganbayan has original jurisdiction over cases for plunder, while the Ombudsman acts as the prosecutor.

“Since the Rules of Criminal Procedure applies suppletorily to cases filed with the Sandiganbayan, Section 5, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court can be applied which states that within ten (10) days from the filing of the information for plunder, the Sandiganbayan justice shall personally evaluate the resolution of the Ombudsman and its supporting evidence. If the court finds probably cause, it shall issue a warrant of arrest,” Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros said the Sandiganbayan already deemed the case has probable cause when it issued a hold departure order against Arroyo.

“The plunder case has probable cause. It is rock-solid. It won’t take long for Arroyo to realize that she has simply jumped from the frying pan and into the fire. The Sandiganbayan has no reason not to issue a warrant of arrest against Arroyo. We look forward that the anti-graft body will swiftly act on this issue,” Hontiveros added.

Recently, Akbayan called on the Sandiganbayan to expedite the plunder charge against her, which they said will land Arroyo in jail.

Grassroots to Aveda: ’Safe Fracking’ Won’t Fly: You can’t Put Lipstick on a Pig
2 years 13 weeks ago
spamsucks

On Thursday at rush hour at five New York State store locations of the cosmetics
giant, Aveda, customers were greeted by more than the smiling make-up-caked faces
of customer service representatives. On that summer day, environmentalists rallied to
challenge the corporation’s support of Environmental Advocates of New York (EANY),
an Albany-tied organization that has taken an increasingly prominent role in the widely
disparaged industrial practice of fracking. Activists drew attention to EANY’s support for
regulated fracking (or ‘safe fracking’, as the industry has called it). EANY’s Washington,
D.C.-based parent organization, the National Wildlife Federation, also came in for some
bruising criticism for their support of this polluting practice.

“Aveda should know that consumers of its goods are being informed about their
partnering non-profit, Environmental Advocates of New York. EANY sits on Governor
Cuomo’s Hydrofracking Advisory Panel,” said Robert Jereski, an environmental
activist handing out literature outside Aveda’s swanky Flatiron District salon in New
York City. “This panel includes other promoters of ‘safe fracking’ such as the Natural
Resources Defense Council and Riverkeeper. It does not represent the vast majority of
environmentalists who oppose fracking and want it banned and criminalized.”

Environmental activists rallied outside of Aveda stores in 5 locations across New York
State including in New York City and issued the following demands to Aveda:

Demand that EANY resign from and publicly denounce Governor Cuomo’s ‘safe
fracking’ Advisory Panel, which is tasked with “developing proper regulations”
(for ‘safe fracking’);

Profane Sass arrested for inciting in Park City Utah
2 years 13 weeks ago
spamsucks

Portland based conscious hip hop artist Jeremy, and the band Profane sass, had an encounter with the park city, utah police. While playing their set on the street, the police arrived and ordered them to stop. The band finished up the song they were on, and this enraged the po-pos, who called in for an additional 8 officers. The crowd booed and chanted free speech slogans. The police singled out Jeremy, and Tomas, who were both snatched away, and are charged with inciting a riot. Bail was set for $5,700 for each, an exhorbitant fee that they need help with. The judge will not be in for arraignment until next tuesday! The popular underground band has a lengthy tour schedule that they are on, and this majorly disrupts and jeopardizes their remaining dates, several of which are in Colorado. If you can help with bail,please do so by calling Eric or Roger at 970-245-3720. Jeremy and Tomas are prisoners because their rights to free speech and assembly have been grossly violated. Any probono lawyers are especially sought after. This is a clear case of judicial overreach, and cannot stand. More information will follow as we get it.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYEMRyqrXSc

Call to action against Newmont Mining Co. / Solidarity with Cajamarca
2 years 15 weeks ago
spamsucks

Four people are dead and many more injured following protests over a proposed gold mine in Peru. A series of anti-mining  protests has seen the government impose a state of emergency three times in the last year.  A state of emergency has been declared in northern Peru's Cajamarca province and two neighboring provinces. The protests, which surround the US-based company Newmont Mining Co.'s gold mining project, have left four dead and many more injured.
Newmont Mining has a history of corruption in peru.  Freedom fighters in Cajamarca are being tortured and murdered in defense of their communities and mother earth. They need and deserve our immediate solidarity.

Newmont Mining corporation's head quarters is located at:
6363 South Fiddler's Green Circle
Suite 800
Greenwood Village, CO 80111
T: 303.863.7414
Wiki Newmont Mining, shit is fucked up.

 

From,

  An Oakland Anarchist

Urgent Request -- Help Hire Lawyer for the Cleveland 5!
2 years 18 weeks ago
spamsucks

We are friends and family members of the "Cleveland 5," the five guys here who are on trial, accused of trying to demolish an area bridge. We are working to support these young activists, in whatever ways they need. Thus far, what stands out as the most pivotal thing is that the boys need a good lawyer, who cares about the case, has relevant experience and goes the extra mile for it. As it stands, they're all being represented by public defenders, with varying degrees of apparent interest in the case. We have been in communication with a local attorney with an inspiring record of civil rights work, but to hire him, we need to raise $20,000 immediately.
We're not going to lie -- this is a desperate situation. The trial date is set for this September, only three months from now. This time frame will make building the case (reviewing evidence, making investigations, filing motions) incredibly challenging. The deadline for filing motions for their trial is June 30th, we need a lawyer, and investigative team working around the clock. Every day that we're not able to hire a lawyer is a day closer to that deadline. These boys entire future hinges on what happens right now. Worse yet, they are being held in solitary confinement, which aside from being brutal treatment in itself, also means that they are severly limited in how much they can speak with their lawyers and supporters -- less than one hour a day. Quick action is essential. We are all putting our personal savings on the line, and we ask that you help us support these guys by chipping in as well.
Any amount is helpful. If you don't have money to contribute, get in touch with us at cleveland5justice@gmail.com to discuss other ways you can help support the five.

Homestead Media and Black Apple Media Announce Delayed Colorado Independent Film Production of “Dutchman’s Run”
2 years 18 weeks ago
Dutchmans Run Team

Homestead Media in partnership with Black Apple Media announce that they will be pushing the start date of principal photography for their independent film: “Dutchman’s Run”.

After much consideration, principal photography has been delayed for “Dutchman’s Run”, in order to allow for better potential filming opportunities in the summer of 2013 or other, not yet determined, production dates. Producer Angie Gaffney, had the following to say about the team’s decision:

“The development of “Dutchaman’s Run” has been a consistent independent film venture since its conception and launch in 2011. Although it was a difficult decision to alter our production timeframe, it is in our best interest to take the time we need to ensure a successful production, develop new relationships, and incorporate the schedules of interested parties.” – Angie Gaffney, Producer

All casting applicants will be contacted regarding the adjusted timeframe and their resumes and headshots will be deferred to summer 2013 or a potentially later date. Once future production dates are determined, all applicants will be contacted with audition details and submission processes directly.

Immediate updates regarding newly announced production scheduling can be found online at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/dutchmansrun
Twitter: @dutchmansrun

For more information, or to inquire about interview availability, please contact Nikki Williams at: ColoradoFilms@gmail.com.


About Homestead Media:
Formed in 2010, Homestead Media emphasizes collaboration and seeks to strengthen a tight knit community of artists with a focus on independent, entertaining, and thoughtful narrative filmmaking.

Brazil: great President, Congress bad.
2 years 22 weeks ago
spamsucks


While Dilma Roussef hits each day more, "pulling" the leveling of interest of the Brazilian public debt to international levels and begins to devise an industrial policy firmly grounded in a serious exchange rate policy and in science and technology, in addition to important tax cuts, Congress is the scene of successive corruption scandals, all them originated in the corporate funding of campaigns and in "not very corporate" funding of campaigns, and approves, with a rapporteur funded by the agro-business, apocalyptic Forest Code: A million square KM to the devastation.
*1 mile = 1,6 KM
About five Brazilian states such as Paraná, is what the Chamber of Deputies booked to destruction, sonn, approving the new and regrettable Forest Code.
The Legal Amazon is about 5.2 million square km big, almost 62% of Brazilian territory, and the new law reserves 20% of the properties to general cultures, as soy or cattle.
As the soil of the Amazon is very thin, brought by the waters and built by the forest with rotting logs, leaves, carcasses, feces, seeds and other natural features, the felling of trees stops soil fixing and the multimilenar reconstruction of the ground and exports the soil in the form of soy, or disaggregates it with the weight of thousands of heads of cattle livestock.
The only acceptable form of cultivation in the Amazon are Agroforestry Regenerative Analog Systems, of Ernst Götsch, that exploit the forest sustainably, its active pharmacological principles and make a policultural agriculture inside and around the forest, with economic results far superior, usable by much more people, eternal and without bequeath a desert to our children and grandchildren. The work of Götsch is easy to find on the web, including YouTube and numerous masters and doctoral theses (coming in english soon).

A War on the Poor
2 years 22 weeks ago
spamsucks

Joe's home now. After spending 8 years in the Marine Corps, several of those years on the ground in Iraq, he doesn't like the government much. I guess he's earned that right Joe's home now, but some 6,000 young men and women won't be coming home again. Some of those men were Joe's friends. I beleive he watched some of them die. Eight years is a long time. So I'm not too surprised that Joe is a little different from most folks. He's not a drunk, though he raises a glass sometimes. He's not on drugs. Sometimes he smokes a joint, but far as I know he doesn't do hard drugs. But for some reason he can't really hold on to a job. I'm not to sure why, his service record was good. He did his job over there well enough. Guess it's different being back after all that. He tried school for while. Don't really know why he stopped doing that. His grades were fine. Joe's not stupid, actually he's real smart. But after a couple of semesters he dropped out. Maybe he's just that way. Maybe he was like that before the war. I didn't know him back then so I can't say for sure, but I suspect not. Can't say I really know what happened to him over there. He doesn't talk about it and I don't ask. But he's a real good guy as far as I can tell. He's homeless now. Been that way a couple years now, going city to city, sleeping in brush, occasionally getting some day labor to get a pack of smokes. He got real involved with that Occupy protest while he was on the coast I hear. The other young people, made him one of their spokespeople, had him writing their press releases and giving interviews to all the radio, TV, and newspaper people that come wanting to know what they were protesting about. Everyone liked him. But then the cops came and shut down their camp out there. Joe come out here after that.