Los Angeles activists plan car caravan for low-wage workers

first_imgLos Angeles activists, April 12.WW photo: Scott SchefferA “Low-Wage Campaign” community speakout was held April 12 in Los Angeles at the Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice, which houses the International Action Center.In spite at least two other compelling and competing events, the speakout was well attended, with calls for solidarity with low-wage workers and to raise the minimum wage to $15.Organizations represented at the meeting included the Union of Progressive Iranians, BAYAN-USA and a taxi drivers organization representing many immigrant workers.The program began with conga-playing poet Julio Rodriguez, who once performed with the Last Poets. There were updates on the “Our Walmart” victories by IAC organizer Maggie Vascassenno, a skit answering the usual questions against raising the minimum wage by IAC organizers Jefferson Azevedo and Ashley Sammy, a solidarity statement from the Southern California coordinator of BAYAN-USA, Theresa Jaranilla, and the setting of an action plan for a car caravan on May 10. Jaranilla announced that BAYAN-USA is working on a campaign targeting wage theft by employers of low-wage workers in the southern California city of Long Beach.Almost everyone participated and took the mike to either testify to their own challenges trying to survive on low wages and/or suggest action proposals to fight back. In addition to those in attendance, the office received a higher than average response in building for this event with numerous phone call inquiries and participation from many individuals who first heard about the speakout at a street meeting prior to the April 12 event.Everyone at the speakout was enthusiastic about working on this campaign and the action plan that came out of the meeting: to build a car caravan (including bikes) to protest on May 10 demanding a $15 minimum wage and respect, dignity and the right to a union for fast-food and retail workers. The caravan plans to make stops at various fast-food restaurants in Los Angeles, where quick protest rallies will be held, as well as stops organized by community block clubs in the South Central neighborhood.The next community speakout is being organized by the Harvard Boulevard Block Club and the International Action Center at a local church — The Ray of Light Baptist Church in South Central — also in May.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

A celebration of Chelsea Manning’s courage

first_imgFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this WW photo: Gloria VerdieuSan Diego, Calif., activists marked the one-year anniversary of Chelsea Manning’s coming out as a transperson with a gathering in Hillcrest, Calif., on Aug. 22. There, they celebrated Manning’s courage and raised awareness about transgender issues and the imprisoned hero’s campaign for freedom.Manning, a U.S. Army private, was sentenced last summer to 35 years imprisonment for releasing documents about U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.The rally was facilitated by Gabriel Conaway, from San Diego Coalition to Free Manning, which organized the event, and Sean Bohac, of the San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality. The local artists’ band NEMO Beats led off the program with a performance. They also read a statement from Manning.Speakers included Gloria Cruz, of the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties, who spoke of a pending lawsuit calling for proper medical treatment for Manning. Patricia Gracian read Amnesty International’s statement demanding clemency and the immediate release of Manning.Gloria Verdieu, of the San Diego Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, read a solidarity statement by Mumia Abu-Jamal, written in June 2013. Another message of support for Manning was given by Veterans for Peace.There were also speakers from Canvass for a Cause, a rights organization for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people; Women Occupy San Diego; and San Diego Peace and Justice Coalition.Signs, chanting, street theater and a special cake to celebrate Manning’s courage were part of the program.last_img read more

Boston homeless lead march

first_imgWW photo: Gerry ScoppettuoloBoston’s organized homeless people continued their fightback against oppressive conditions in city shelters by mounting an unprecedented March of the Homeless on April 23. The march through city streets culminated in a united rally with the immigrant community at the Massachusetts State House.The march and rally continued the ongoing resistance to Boston’s Long Island shelter disaster of Oct. 8, when the city’s largest shelter was suddenly closed. With just four hours’ notice, 750 homeless residents, 300 of whom were residing in long- and short-term recovery programs, were ousted from the shelter.Marchers walked a three-mile route past major city shelters — Rosie’s Place, Woods-Mullen, Pine Street Inn, Bridge Over Troubled Waters and St. Francis — picking up homeless people along the way and from the streets. The march followed weeks of intensive outreach by the Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee, an organization of the homeless and their supporters.Chants included “Housing is a human right, we have just begun to fight!” Jewel Crutchfield, a homeless African-American woman, heard the chants and rolled herself in her wheelchair out of the St. Francis Shelter. She addressed the crowd: “I lost my housing when rent control was repealed 14 years ago and have been homeless ever since, mostly sleeping on the streets. This struggle is not just about me. It’s about all of us.”Along the way, organizers Cherai Mills, Cleve Rae and Jesse Maxwell — all currently homeless — made stirring speeches at each shelter the march passed.When marchers arrived at the State House steps, they united with a rally called by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. MIRA was demonstrating against a proposed state law that would bar all so-called undocumented people from applying for public housing.The March of the Homeless was organized by the Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee with support from the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants, the Women’s Fightback Network, the National People’s Power Assembly, Boston University medical students and many others.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

World Bank report highlights poverty in Africa

first_imgDespite reports for the last several years that there have been significant declines in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, a recently released World Bank study indicates that, despite “growth,” the actual number of people living in poverty has increased by 100 million over the last 15 years.In an attempt to reinforce the view of poverty decline, figures are presented that the proportion of people living in severe economic deprivation has declined. But with rising populations, those who are in distress are in fact numerically increasing.The World Bank presented its report on “End Poverty Day” in Ghana, the first country south of the Sahara to gain national independence from Britain in 1957. Ghana is now often championed by Western financial publications as a “success story” in the broader effort to ameliorate poverty and underdevelopment in Africa.A World Bank press release states: “The report finds that progress in ending poverty in all its forms has varied greatly across countries and population groups, with the levels of achievement remaining challengingly low. Africa posted the slowest rate of poverty reduction of all major developing regions, with the share of people living in extreme poverty (less than US$1.90 a day) declining only slightly, from 56% in 1990 to 43% in 2012. But since 2012, extreme poverty fell to a projected 35 percent in 2015 in the region, based on the World Bank’s new poverty line of $1.90 a day. Globally, according to Bank estimates released earlier this month, the percentage of people living in extreme poverty will likely fall to under 10 percent for the first time, to 9.6 percent this year.” (Oct. 16)These figures are plagued by conjecture due to the lack of credible measurement tools and, moreover, whether reliable data was collected on these subjects. In rural areas the number of people living without adequate supplies of water, fuel, food and communications technology often goes overlooked.The report itself acknowledges this fact: “Gauging Africa’s human well-being remains tremendously difficult. The report shows that in 2012, just 25 of the region’s 48 countries had conducted at least two household surveys over the past decade to track poverty. The authors urge action across Africa in improving the availability and access to regular and reliable data on income poverty and other dimensions of well-being. They also stress that national support for adhering to methodological and operational standards is essential.”How is growth, development measured in Africa?The World Bank report reveals the contradictions between foreign direct investment growth and actual income levels, quality of life improvements and socioeconomic development. Setting an extreme poverty level at below $1.90 for individuals and households is problematic.Many of the advances made in Africa involve the availability of mobile phones and other consumer goods. These goods have enhanced the standard of living in many states by facilitating communications and therefore economic, political and social interactions. Nonetheless, these products come at a price, whether they are manufactured outside the country, as is the case more often than not, or domestically.Consequently the cost of living is increasing, creating hardship despite the rising household income generated through increased production and trade. Recent strikes in Ghana by private, public and educational workers have largely centered on the decline in the value of the cedi (national currency), requiring larger amounts of money to cover expenses.In Nigeria, proclaimed in 2014 by the Western-based financial publications as having the largest economy in Africa, many strikes involve workers who are more skilled and have higher incomes. Work stoppages in the medical, educational and oil sectors demand not only higher wages and better employment conditions, but also that employees actually receive their salaries on a regular basis.In various state departments in Nigeria, public sector workers have gone months without salaries. This has also been a major issue in Ghana among junior physicians and educators.The distribution of national wealth is the most important factor in determining actual development. Africa has produced billionaires in Nigeria, South Africa and other states. However, the existence of abject poverty remains. Class structures inherited from colonialism have not been eliminated. Those who are in a position to benefit from the continuing integration of Africa into the world capitalist and imperialist system stand to advance their social positions in society.In Nigeria and South Africa, the largest and most advanced states on the continent, both labor unions and community organizations have demanded that the mining and other extractive multinational corporations reinvest in the environmental and social well-being of the areas where they derive their wealth. Although the workers may earn more than people living in and confined to the rural areas, if resources are not reinvested into creating schools, improving education, cleaning up chemical and industrial waste, and constructing roads and health care facilities, it is not possible to define such a set of circumstances as genuine development.Wealth must be equitably distributed to foster developmentThe issues of wealth distribution and production relations must be addressed before there is real qualitative development in Africa and other geopolitical regions. Of course, the World Bank cannot address these issues due to the inherent class bias of its approach to economic growth.Both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were founded by the U.S. capitalist class at the conclusion of World War II to facilitate its dominant position in the imperialist world. In the earlier phase of this development, tremendous resources were poured into Western Europe to rebuild industry and infrastructure destroyed from 1939 to 1945.However, after the emergence of independent African states during the 1950s and 1960s, IMF-World Bank officials arrived, ready to restructure the postcolonial political economy, emphasizing a neoliberal approach to development by shrinking the size of the public sectors and lowering the value of currencies. Rather than establish import-substitution industries, a path to growth was engineered to emphasize Western foreign investment.With fluctuations of energy and commodity prices, such a set of international relations leaves the postcolonial states dependent upon the strength of the economies in the former colonial and still imperialist countries. This vulnerability of the oppressed nations, largely located in Africa, the Asia-Pacific and Latin America, stifles and even obliterates the capacity to engage in long-term planning for the benefit of the broad populations in these states.The constraints placed on making major advancements in agricultural, industrial, educational and social service industries and sectors requires alternative approaches. Socialist economic planning could channel earnings from worker productivity and trade into those aspects of the economy that would produce the most desirable outcomes.Internal conflict is cited in the World Bank report as a major factor in preventing economic growth. However, the World Bank cannot acknowledge the imperialist destabilization of Africa through military operations and covert activity, since it would directly challenge the foreign policy imperatives of the ruling classes in North America and Western Europe.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Mass struggle in France defends workers

first_imgA half-million workers and students took to the streets in more than 200 separate protests throughout France on March 9 to demand that the government withdraw its proposal to modify the labor code. Many of the workers struck for the whole day, exercising their constitutional right to strike.Over 1 million people have signed an online petition requesting the government withdraw its bill.Many protections French workers won after hard struggles in the last century would be weakened if this bill is adopted. Benefits provided in other countries by union contracts are enshrined in the national French labor code that applies to all workers.That means almost all workers qualify for five weeks of vacation, plus 10 holidays and something called RTT, similar to comp time, which reimburses them with paid time off if they work more than 35 hours a week. Their statutory benefits include health coverage, unemployment allowances, retirement/pension funds and time off for life changes like the birth of a child or a death in the family.There is a special labor court in charge of administering and enforcing these rights and also rules on layoffs and firings. That court makes legally enforceable decisions generally much quicker than arbitrations in the U.S.Youth turnout significantWhile the militant trade unions like Force Ouvrière (FO) and the General Confederation of Workers (CGT) had a major presence in the protests, along with left parties like the New Anti-capitalist Party and the French Communist Party, what was remarkable was the high proportion of youth who came out. Some oppositional members of the governing party also participated.While the party running the French government calls itself “Socialist,” it firmly defends the interests of the French bourgeoisie. Under this party, French imperialism actively intervenes alongside U.S. imperialism in the Middle East and Africa.The reformist unions, like the Confederation of Democratic French Labor (CFDT), only called for the government’s proposal to be “modified.” This slogan only brought out a few hundred protesters in Paris on March 12 and scattered handfuls in some of the largest French cities. (FranceTV.info, March 13)The unions representing workers for both the long-distance railroad lines and the regional lines also struck on March 9 to protest proposed changes in their working conditions. While the government and the companies tried to downplay the number of railroad employees who struck, Belgian television reported that there were 190 miles of traffic jams in the Paris metropolitan area on the morning of March 9. (BFMTV.com)Though the participation of university students, along with  student unions, is fairly common in broad social movements in France, the extent of the participation of high school students was unusual. French TV showed a number of high schools whose entrances were blocked by piles of trash cans and construction barriers. The students who should have been in the building held a “general assembly” outside on the street to decide how they were going to participate in the protest.French television on March 13 reported that French President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls intend to meet with the leaders of the union confederations and the student unions to see if they can reach an agreement on the government’s proposed changes.The FO and the CGT, along with their allies in the militant student unions, have made it clear that they want the government proposal withdrawn, not reworked. They have said they will organize a truly massive protest on March 31 if the bill is still on the table.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Find out latest on travel to Cuba

first_imgIt seems like everyone is going to Cuba or wants to. Some want to go before U.S. “tourists” spoil Cuba. But wait a minute, isn’t “tourism” still formally prohibited by U.S law? What is ethical travel to Cuba anyway?Help spread the word and register to discuss Cuba issues. Questions will be taken on Sunday, July 10 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Eastern time during a webinar, or can be asked on Facebook event page bit.ly/1WWUMob, Twitter #AskAboutCubaTravel or via email to [email protected] The webinar is free, but registration is required at bit.ly/1YzgvBN.During the webinar, Art Heitzer from the National Lawyers Guild and its Cuba Subcommittee and Bob Guild from Marazul Charters will provide up-to-date information about the changing landscape of Cuba travel. They are both well prepared and experienced in Cuba travel since 1959.Working with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Heitzer on behalf of the NLG helped train and establish a network of over 50 lawyers in the U.S. to assist travelers who had visited or wanted to visit Cuba. He also assisted in the defense of all the “Trials for Travel,” approximately one dozen administrative prosecutions under the administration of George W. Bush, as well as directly representing dozens of Cuba travelers. This included the Methodist Three, in which the government settled their case with no penalty after Heitzer filed unprecedented counterclaims alleging racial profiling and interference with religious practices. In the last 25 years, he has counseled over 1,000 Cuba travelers, usually pro bono, and continues to do so.Guild has been sending groups to Cuba since 1977. He worked with the Venceremos Brigade for many years and is currently vice president of Marazul Charters.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Left groups commemorate Bolshevik Revolution

first_imgLarry HolmesAbout 250 people gathered in Manhattan on Nov. 7 to celebrate, commemorate and analyze the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.  The meeting was held at the Center for Workers Education in Manhattan’s financial district, steps away from where the bronze Wall Street bull proclaims the power of finance capital.Speakers from a large number of left groups helped organize the event.  There were written greetings from 14 nationalities and Skype messages from Russia, India and Ukraine. The event was live-streamed through Facebook.While the speakers had their own views, common themes ran through the salutes to the Russian Revolution, including the need to struggle for unity and to respond to the national oppression of Black and Brown people.A partial list of the organizations involved in the meeting included BAYAN, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Workers World Party, Marxism Leninism Today, Harlem Coalition Against War, Party of Communists USA, Party for Socialism and Liberation, United National Antiwar Coalition, International Action Center, U.S. Friends of Soviet Peoples and the International League of Peoples Struggles.Several nonaffiliated Marxist academics spoke and chaired, including Anthony Gronowicz and Manny Ness. Dr. Anthony Monteiro stressed the revolution’s impact on the colonized world.The meeting was opened by Kirbie Joseph, an organizer of the Justice for Akai Gurley campaign and struggles against police brutality.Michela Martinazzi of Freedom Road Socialist Organization raised Lenin’s contribution on national oppression and building a party.Ray Laforest of the Haiti Solidarity Network connected events to the impact of the Haitian Revolution.Brian Becker of Party for Socialism and Liberation described the impact of the loss of the USSR and the contradictions and limitations of imperialism.Angelo D’Angelo of U.S. Friends of Soviet Peoples explained how as a teenager seeing a society without bosses, the Soviet Union affected his whole life.Larry Holmes, first secretary of Workers World Party, described how the Russian Revolution lifted consciousness of the oppressed globally. He raised defending the most oppressed workers — precarious workers, prisoners, LGBTQ people — as part of the struggle for a higher level of unity, while keeping focused on socialist revolution as “our endgame.”Vijou Bryant provided a rousing revolutionary ending. The evening concluded with signing of “The International.”FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Protesters demand children be reunited

first_imgMore than 200 protesters gathered at Washington Square Park in blistering heat in Rochester, N.Y., on June 30 to protest the actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the federal government. With signs and songs they demanded that immigrant children forcibly separated from their parents be immediately reunited with them. The rally was supported by more than 10 local groups, including the International Action Center, whose banner attracted much favorable attention.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img

ISA Visits the Hill on Issues Important to Hoosier Soybean Farmers

first_img Facebook Twitter By Andy Eubank – Jul 20, 2014 Members of Indiana Soybean Alliance’s Policy Committee visited Washington, D.C. earlier this month to meet with Indiana’s Congressional delegation about issues important to Indiana soybean farmers.“Sending farmers to Washington, D.C. is valuable because it gives our elected officials a chance to hear the grassroots concerns for policies that impact soybean farmers,” said Levi Huffman, chair of ISA policy committee and a farmer from Lafayette, Ind. “Farmers should engage with their legislators and explain how national issues impact Indiana farms, and this is the motivation for the ISA policy committee trip to Washington, D.C.”Joining Huffman on the visits were Indiana farmers Alan Kemper of Lafayette; Joe Steinkamp of Evansville; David Lowe of Dunkirk; Jim Schriver of Bluffton; and Don Wyss of Ossian. While in Washington, D.C., the group visited with a number of House Offices, including personal meetings with Hoosier Senators Joe Donnelly and Dan Coats and Representatives Todd Young, Luke Messer, and Todd Rokita. They also met with the staffs of Representatives Susan Brooks, Marlin Stutzman and Larry Bucshon.“Our senators and representatives are working to the best of their ability to serve us.  But the only way for them to effectively work for us is for them to know what we need, said Joe Steinkamp, who also serves on the American Soybean Association board. “The ISA Policy Committee trip to Washington D.C. provides an opportunity for us to meet with our senators and representatives and talk with them about what’s going on.”During their time in Washington D.C., ISA committee members met with representatives to encourage action on the passage of Trade Promotion Authority and support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, thank them for the passage of the Water Resources Reform Development Act and encourage the signing of legislation to establish standard Federal labeling of biotech foods.ISA directors also attended the American Soybean Association meeting to discuss national legislative and regulatory priorities, which include trade expansion, biotech regulation, aquaculture and biodiesel demand.This trip to Washington D.C. was sponsored through Indiana Soybean Alliance’s membership and policy committee, which has the goal to encourage sound agricultural policy to keep Indiana soybean farms viable. For more information, visit www.indianasoybean.com/membership. Source: ISA(Pictured with Senator Donnelly from left, Jim Schriver of Bluffton; Alan Kemper of Lafayette; Senator Joe Donnelly; Joe Steinkamp of Evansville; David Lowe of Dunkirk; Levi Huffman of Lafayette; and Don Wyss of Ossian.Pictured with Senator Coats from left, Alan and Janet Kemper of Lafayette; Joe Steinkamp of Evansville; Senator Dan Coats; Don Wyss of Ossian; Levi Huffman of Lafayette; David Lowe of Dunkirk; and Jim Schriver of Bluffton.) SHARE SHARE Previous articleDonnelly and McKinney to Address National Soil Health ForumNext articleGrowers Reporting Increased Yields, Revenues with Stover Harvest Andy Eubank ISA Visits the Hill on Issues Important to Hoosier Soybean Farmers Facebook Twitter Home Indiana Agriculture News ISA Visits the Hill on Issues Important to Hoosier Soybean Farmerslast_img read more

Bovine TB Found in Indiana Wild, White-tailed Deer

first_imgHome Indiana Agriculture News Bovine TB Found in Indiana Wild, White-tailed Deer Previous articleClosing CommentsNext articleObama Administration Releases Carbon-Emission Standards for Big Trucks Gary Truitt By Gary Truitt – Aug 16, 2016 SHARE Facebook Twitter Bovine tuberculosis (TB) has been diagnosed in a white-tailed deer in Franklin County, Ind. This marks the first time the disease (more formally known as Mycobacterium bovis) has been found in a wild animal in Indiana. This finding means significant changes in disease monitoring requirements for cattle owners and deer hunters in the area.The Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) has been working with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to test wildlife on a Franklin County cattle farm where TB was diagnosed in April. The 2-year-old doe that tested positive for TB was culled as part of the surveillance effort on the cattle farm.Under federal requirements, finding TB in a free-ranging wild animal means testing of all cattle must expand from 3 miles to 10 miles and surveillance in hunter-harvested deer will intensify.For cattle owners in Franklin County and portions of some adjoining counties, BOAH staff will be reaching out to determine if cattle in the 10-mile circle are test-eligible and, if so, schedule herd testing. BOAH’s premises registration program has approximately 400 farms registered in the 10-mile testing zone.For deer hunters in the region, that means whitetails harvested in a specific zone must be sampled for laboratory testing. DNR will be providing more information to hunters in the coming weeks.“This is an enormous undertaking that cannot be completed overnight,” said Indiana State Veterinarian Bret D. Marsh, DVM. “Farmers and hunters in this area have been extremely cooperative and supportive of our efforts over the years. We need their help now more than ever as we widen our surveillance efforts. If this disease is out there—either on farms or in the wild—we need to find it. Our status as a TB-free state is critical to our growing and thriving cattle and dairy industries in this state.”Indiana has officially held a bovine tuberculosis-free status since 1984 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Under federal guidelines, that status remains. BOAH has found four individual cases of TB in three cattle herds and a cervid farm in this region between 2008 and 2016.About Bovine TBBovine tuberculosis is a chronic bacterial disease that affects primarily cattle, but can be transmitted to any warm-blooded animal. TB is difficult to diagnose through clinical signs alone. In the early stages of the disease, clinical signs are not visible. Later, signs may include:  emaciation, lethargy, weakness, anorexia, low-grade fever and pneumonia with a chronic, moist cough. Lymph node enlargement may also be present. Cattle owners who notice these signs in their livestock should contact their private veterinarian.Hunters should take precautions to protect themselves, including wearing gloves when field dressing animals and fully cooking all meat. Deer can be infected without noticeable signs of disease, like the positive 2-year-old doe. Hunters who notice signs of TB in wildlife should contact the DNR at 812-334-3795. Bovine TB Found in Indiana Wild, White-tailed Deer SHARE Facebook Twitterlast_img read more