Saturday, May 13, 2017
Boston Common 11:00 am, 13 May 2017
The Antifa demonstrators were assembled at a monument on a hill, the highest point in Boston Common. Leftist were on the hill waving red flags and black flags and carrying signs. The hill faced the bandstand were the Alt Right was rallying. The crowd was about 200 people with maybe 40 Black Block activists out front halfway down the hill. The police had a line of about ten cops on the walkway at the bottom of the hill. The police faced the Antifa crowd.
Liberals who had endorsed the demonstration had wanted to move the rally to Copley Square - about a mile away. When the more militant sponsors refused - the Liberals pulled out and did not come. The International Socialist Organization endorsed the demonstration, but none of them were seen at the rally. WWP was not at the rally at all.
There were no American flags at the counter rally.
At the bandstand the Alt Right had dozens and dozens of American flags along with a Japanese Rising Sun flag, a Nazi looking flag, a Don't Treat on Me flag, an Italian fascist flag with SPQR, and a Betsy Ross circle star flag. In the early hours the Alt Right had about 300 people but eventually grew to 400 or so. A number of them had shields and heavy wooden sticks. Stickman is one of their mascots.
There were numerous times when the Alt Right were taunting on their megaphone and the Antifa people with bullhorns taunted back. The Alt Right shouted out "Commie Fags!" The Antifa and Leftists shouted "Fuck You." Husbands and wives with children between them strolled by on the park's walkway. Lots of tourists took pictures with their phones.
One Alt Righter crossed over the walkway and got into a fight with an Antifa and they both were arrested. Latter there was another incident were a fight broke out but I'm not sure if either fighter was taken away. The police had about a dozen people on the line separating the crowds and civilians were walking along the pathway between the two groups. The bandstand where the Alt Right were gathered is about 50 yards back from the walkway, and the Antifa crowd was mostly at the top of the hill while the Black Block were in the middle of the hill and down at the walkway taunting the Alt Righters facing them.
At one point a line of about ten motorcycle police officers arrived at the far side of the bandstand, but they left after five or ten minutes. Others said there where a number of cops further away with lots of plastic handcuffs on their belts. Four bicycle cops were to the left of the Antifa demo half way up the hill.
Some of the signs the Antifa carried were: "Liberty and Justice for All," "No In the name of Humanity we refuse to accept fascism," "Punching Richard Spencer," "Trump is a Fucking Moron," "Racist Get the Fuck Out of Boston."
Some of the chants from the Antifa crowd were "The people united will never be defeated," "No war but class war," "Nazis Out," and as a reply to some taunt from the Rightists "Your Shit's Weak," and because the Antifa crowd sounded louder than the Alt Right and there were about three bullhorns in the crowd - "Buy a better bullhorn." The Rightists were hard to hear but had lots to say about Communism and denounced Black Lives Matter. The Alt Rightist demo security were in battle fatigues and seemed to have some kind of body armor on. Most of the time the police were facing the Antifa side, but occasionally they pushed back the thirty or so Rightists who came to the walkway to taunt the Antifa on the other side.
Someone pointed out that the Rightists did not have one female speaker over the course of three hours. Sometimes when their speakers were talking the Alt Right crowd turned around and look toward the confrontations near the walkway. When the Antifa crowd had speakers at the top of the hill - the same thing happened as the crowd turned around and watched what was happening below. Two Alt Right men came up the to the hill from a different direction, one in a maroon tri-corner hat with gilt edging and odd beige suit, and as they approached a few people confronted them and told them to leave. A couple of marshals confronted him, and one marshall came in with the police in tow and they told the Rightist to go back to their side.
At one o'clock the lead organizers of the Antifa crowd announced that the marshals and many people would be leaving. Almost all of the crowd stayed. One or two of the marshals took off their bright reflective vests and stayed at the demonstration. The Leftist crowd was about 250 people, perhaps half of them women.
At about 2:45 the Alt Right ended their rally at the bandstand and lined up thirty feet away from the walkway to face the Antifa crowd and chant "USA." The Antifa crowd chanted "America Was Never Great." The Alt Right looked to be about 400 or 500 people - twice as many as the Leftists.
At that point some wondered if there would be a surge from the Rightist and they would sweep past the police - but they mostly marched off in a different direction and had said they were going to walk the Freedom Trail, a foot tour of significant Boston Revolutionary sites. Perhaps the motorcycle and bike police were to escort the Alt Right throught the streets.. About a dozen Rightists stood behind the police and continued to hurl insults as the Antifa crowd returned the taunts.
At about 3:10pm the Antifa crowd dispersed. The Alt Right held a rally in Boston and they were confronted by organized Leftist determined to oppose them.
Friday, May 5, 2017
Thursday, May 4, 2017
By Mark Gruenberg
Among the companies the Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) identifies as this year’s Dirty Dozen are a Boston contractor whose indifference to safety led to the deaths of two workers in a trench collapse and a Lansing, Illinois, tanker cleaning service that did nothing to prevent fumes from filling a tank car and killing an employee.
COSH, is a coalition of labor unions, health and technical professionals, and others that advocates for worker health and safety. National COSH released its report in advance of Workers Memorial Day, this past April 28, unveiling it at a press conference April 26.
At the press conference, Jordan Barab, a deputy assistant OSHA director during the Obama administration, said “The Dirty Dozen shows the need for more enforcement” by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and by federally approved state OSHAs.
Dedicated TCS, an Illinois-based tank cleaning firm made the list because it did not check the air quality in a rail tank car located in New Orleans before the work began. As a result, Armond Stack died and his two co-workers almost did.
The three lacked harnesses, and the confined space lacked oxygen, the New Orleans coroner said. OSHA proposed fining Dedicated TCS $226,310. The firm had prior repeated confined space violations in other locations, including in Lansing and Channahon, Illinois.
The Boston trench collapse occurred when a nearby water main broke, throwing dirt, mud, gravel and water on top of trench diggers Robert Higgins and Kelvin Mattocks.
Mattocks and Higgins were killed because their employer, Atlantic Drain, did not follow basic safety rules. The Boston district attorney indicted both the firm and its owner on two counts of manslaughter and other charges.
Furthermore, the Boston City Council passed an ordinance barring construction firms with a history of serious and repeated OSHA violations – like Atlantic Drain – from getting city permits. Now the state senate is considering similar legislation. And the city council is considering amending a 200-year-old law that now limits fines in such cases to $1,000. The bill under consideration would raise fines to $250,000.
Along with Atlantic Drain and Dedicated TCS, the Dirty Dozen include:
California Cartage of Long Beach, California: Because the company did not provide machine safeguards, and because there were faulty brakes on its trucks, driver William Vasquez was killed.
Speakers at the COSH press conference said that the firm treats its drivers as “independent contractors” unprotected by workplace laws, including labor laws.
Dollar General in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. The Dirty Dozen report calls all the chain’s stores “a fire disaster waiting to happen” because exits were blocked. OSHA cited the chain more than 100 times and fined it more than $1 million combined for that violation alone in its stores nationwide.
Environmental Enterprises, Inc., of Spring Grove, Ohio, where a chemical explosion killed employee Zachary Henzerling. An OSHA report describes the company as having a “complete disregard for employees’ safety.” The firm was indicted for involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide.
Fuyao Glass America of Dayton, Ohio. The firm operates the world’s largest auto glass plant but doesn’t provide its workers with gloves. Workers were exposed to broken glass and risked amputation. OSHA cited it for 23 serious violations.
The Nissan USA auto plant in Franklin, Tennessee: Four workers died over a four-year period. Safety violations are rampant, one speaker at the press conference said, because workers fear losing their jobs if they complain, despite the fact that federal law bans retaliation against whistleblowers. OSHA has fined Nissan $99,000.
The Pilgrim’s Pride poultry processing plant in Greeley, Colorado: One worker died and another lost fingers in a machine “because management did nothing” to address amputation risk, the Dirty Dozen report says. Workers are also exposed to toxic ammonia.
PrimeFlight of Nashville, Tennessee exposes its workers to blood-borne pathogens. OSHA said PrimeFlight had 22 violations in the last three years. Conditions there are “likely to cause death or serious harm.”
TransAm Trucking of Olathe, Kansas: In minus 37 degree weather, after reporting that his cab had frozen brakes and receiving no help, driver Alphonse Maddin left the vehicle on the side of a road to seek assistance. OSHA and its appeals board ruled for him after TransAm fired him for protecting his own life. The case went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Every member of that court upheld OSHA’s ruling except Judge Neil Gorsuch, the newest U.S. Supreme Court justice.
Valley Garlic and X-Treme AG of California: Four migrant workers died in the crash of an illegal transport van. Following a lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Labor, the contractor was enjoined from transporting agricultural workers.
The Dirty Dozen report also cites one foreign firm: the South Korean computer/phone chip maker Samsung.
The report says that more than 200 Samsung workers became seriously ill, and 76 died, from fumes released while making the chips. The firm also retaliates by a secret plan to “dominate employees” and “punish leaders,” the report says. Samsung’s CEO is now awaiting trial in South Korea’s wide-ranging presidential bribery scandal.
When: Saturday, May 6, 2017, 8:45 am to 5:00 pm Where: MIT • 50 Vassar St. • room 34-101 • Cambridge Room 34-101, 50 Vassar St., Cambridge, MA 02139
Sponsored by Massachusetts Peace Action.
Responding to the continuing risk of nuclear war or accident, this conference is intended to advocate and organize toward reducing the danger of nuclear war. It is not an academic conference, but rather one that addresses the political and economic realities of the new Trump administration, and attempts to stimulate and inform the kinds of social movement needed to change national policy. This year we mark the 50thanniversary of MLK Jr.’s historic “Beyond Vietnam” speech at Riverside Church.
8:45 am. Registration and Coffee
9:15 am. Welcome from City of Cambridge: Mayor Denise Simmons
9:30 am. Program for the Day: Prof. Jonathan King (MIT, Mass. Peace Action)
9:45 am. Session I. The Need for Nuclear Disarmament
Costs and Profits from Nuclear Weapons Manufacture - William Hartung (Center for International Policy)
Reasons to Reject the Trillion Dollar Nuclear Weapons Escalation- Joseph Cirincione(Ploughshares Fund)
Nuclear Weapons Undermine Democracy - Prof. Elaine Scarry (Harvard University)
10:45 am. II. Destabilizing Factors
Chair: Hon. John Tierney (former US Representative, Council for a Livable World)
Dangers of Hair Trigger Alert - Lisbeth Gronlund (Union of Concerned Scientists).
Nuclear Modernization vs. National Security – Prof. Aron Bernstein (MIT, Council for a Livable World)
Accidents and Unexpected events – Prof. Max Tegmark (MIT, Future of Life Institute)
12:00 pm. Lunch Workshops (Listed below)
2:00 pm. Session III. Economic and Social Consequences of Excessive Weapons Spending
Chair: Prof. Melissa Nobles (MIT):
Build Housing Not Bombs - Rev. Paul Robeson Ford (Union Baptist Church) Education as a National Priority - Barbara Madeloni (Mass. Teachers Association) Invest in Minds Not Missiles - Prof. Jonathan King (MIT) Build Subways Not Submarines - Fred Salvucci (former Mass. Secretary of Transportation)
3:00 pm. Session IV. Current Prospects for Progress
Chair: Hon. John Tierney (former US Representative, Council for a Livable World)
Congressional Steps Toward Nuclear Disarmament – U. S. Representative Barbara Lee Maintaining the Iran Nuclear Agreement – Ernest Moniz, CEO, Nuclear Threat Initiative; former U.S. Secretary of Energy
4:15 pm. Session V: Organizing to Reduce the Dangers
Chair: Jim Anderson (Peace Action New York State);
Divesting from Nuclear Weapons Investments - Susi Snyder (Don’t Bank on the Bomb) Taxpayers Information and Transparency Acts – State Reps. Denise Provost/Mike Connolly Mobilizing the Scientific Community – Prof. Max Tegmark (MIT) A National Nuclear Disarmament Organizing Network 2017 -2018 – Program Committee.
5:00 pm. Adjourn. Conference Workshops (12:00 – 2:00 pm):
a) Campus Organizing - Chair: Kate Alexander (Peace Action, NY State); Caitlin Forbes (Mass. Peace Action); Remy Pontes (Brandeis Peace Action); Haleigh Copley-Cunningham (Peace Action Chapter at Tufts), Lucas Perry (Don’t Bank on the Bomb, Future of Life Institute); Matthew Hahm (Boston College Peace Action); Luisa Kenausis (MIT Nuclear Weapons Matter).
b) Bringing nuclear weapons into physics and history course curricula - Chair: Frank Davis (past President of TERC); Gary Goldstein (Tufts University); Prof. Aron Bernstein (MIT); Prof. Vincent Intondi(Montgomery College); Ray Matsumiya (Oleander/Hiroshima Peace Initiative).
c) Dangerous Conflicts - Chair, Erica Fein (WAND); Jim Walsh (MIT Security Studies program); John Tierney (former US Representative; Council for a Livable World); Subrata Ghoshroy (MIT).
d) Municipal and State Initiatives - Chair Cole Harrison (Mass. Peace Action): Denise Provost (Mass State Legislature); Councilor Dennis Carlone (Cambridge City Council); Jared Hicks (Our Revolution Massachusetts); Prof. Ceasar McDowell (MIT Urban Studies).
e) Peace with Justice: People’s Budget and Related Campaigns to Shift Federal budget Priorities – Chair, Andrea Miller (People Demanding Action); Mike Connolly (Mass State Legislature); Paul Shannon(AFSC); Madelyn Hoffman (NJPA); Richard Krushnic (Mass Peoples Budget Campaign); Arne Alpert(New Hampshire AFSC).
f) Reducing Nuclear Weapons through Treaties and Negotiation – Chair, Nazli Choucri (MIT), Kevin Martin (national Peace Action), Shelagh Foreman (Mass. Peace Action); Michel DeGraff (MIT Haiti Project).
g) Strengthening the Connection between Averting Climate Change and Averting Nuclear War – Chair,Frank Von Hippel (Princeton University); Rosalie Anders (Mass. Peace Action); Josué Lopez (Fossil Free MIT).
h) Working with Communities of Faith - Chair, Thea Keith-Lucas (MIT Radius); Rev. Herb Taylor(Harvard Epworth Methodist Church); Pat Ferrone (Pax Christi Massachusetts); Rev. Paul Robeson Ford(Union Baptist Church).
More Info on Conference Participants
Program Committee: Prof. Aron Bernstein (MIT, Council for a Livable World), Joseph Gerson (American Friends Service Committee), Subrata Ghoshroy (MIT), Prof. Gary Goldstein (Tufts University), Cole Harrison (Mass. Peace Action), Jonathan King (MIT and Mass. Peace Action), Guntram Mueller (Mass. Peace Action), State Rep. Denise Provost, John Ratliff (Mass. Peace Action, Mass Senior Action), Prof. Elaine Scarry (Harvard University), Prof. Max Tegmark (MIT, Future of Life Institute), Patricia Weinmann (MIT Radius).
Sponsored by MIT Radius (the former Technology and Culture Forum), Massachusetts Peace Action Education Fund, American Friends Service Committee, and the Future of Life
InstituteRegistration (includes lunch): $12.00 through May 1, $15.00 after. Students and low income: $5.00 through May 1, $8.00 after. If this is a hardship, firstname.lastname@example.org for waiver. Register online, or mail check payable to "Massachusetts Peace Action Education Fund" to 11 Garden St, Cambridge, MA 02138 and write "MIT Conference" on memo line. For information call 617-354-2169or email email@example.com; MIT community members may also contact Radius.
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Friday, April 28, 2017
The Qataris and Saudis were hunting with falcons in southern Iraq in December 2015 when they were seized by armed men from the the powerful Iranian-supported movement known as Ketaeb of God. What an adventure hunting with falcons in southern Iraq must have seemed like to two dozen wealthy Qataris and two Saudi Arabian friends. The hunting party got permission to hunt with their birds of prey from the government in Baghdad. The group, including several members of the Qatari royal al-Thani family, was going to be in the 'safe' part of the country far from the fighting against Isis in the north around Mosul. But there are many armed groups in many parts of Iraq that are not under the control of the Baghdad government. The armed groups are called 'militia' but they are often more like private armies that carry out the goals of religious or other leaders who are essentially war lords. When not fighting other religious groups or 'enemy' targets the militias are often engaged in criminal enterprises with the aim of self enrichment
Southern Iraq is also heavily Shia and Qatar and Saudi Arabia have backed and are backing Sunni militants in Syria and Iraq who are making war on Shia communities. That this wealthy hunting party thought they could go into the heartland of the Shia as Qatar and Saudi Arabia fund and arm Sunni fanatics who make merciless war on Shia shows how out of touch they are. The hunter became the hunted. The 24 Qataris and 2 Saudis were captured by a Shia militia.
The ransom not only involved $500,000,000 in dollars and euros in 23 x-ray proof bags sent to Baghdad airport - the trade involved the release of two surrounded Shia communities in Syria and two surrounded Sunni 'rebel' communities being allowed to evacuate to other areas under a truce. The Islamist 'rebels' showed what they thought of the truce when a suicide bomber in a truck that seemed to be loaded with supplies and treats for children drove next to the evacuation buses of the Shia civilians. As the bomber called the children off a number of buses to his vehicle he set of an explosion that killed about 170 people and wounded another 350. Qatar backs the Islamist 'rebels' who send truck bombers to specifically target Shia children. Another part of the $500,000,000 deal felt through when the Baghdad authorities tried to x-ray and scan the 23 bags that came in on an airplane from Qatar. The bags were cut open and the hundreds of millions of dollars and euros where reveal to the Iraqi authorities who seized the money. The Qatari ambassador to Iraq was on the airplane but had not asked for the bags to be given diplomatic immunity. The Qataris had apparently thought the the hostage takers where working with the Iraqi airport authorities and would pick up the money at the airport.
The Iraq government does not want to give a half billion dollars to help fund a private army that they have no control over. "Hundreds of millions for armed groups? Is this acceptable?" Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi asked later at a press conference. In a special confidential document Mr. Abadi sent on 22 April 2017 told the Dawa Party members that Qatar had requested landing permission for a plane at Baghdad International Airport on 15 April 2017 so that freed hostages from the hunting party could fly home. When the aircraft landed and was routinely inspected airport officials "were surprised that there were 23 large heavy bags that appeared without prior notice or approval." Going through the x-ray machine "the image appeared black," meaning the contents were in some kind of lead lined bag to avoid detection.
Strangely the Qatari ambassador to Iraq and a special envoy sent by the Qatari Emir Tamimbin Hamad al-Thani got off the plane but did not ask for diplomatic immunity for the bags of money. Apparently the Qataris thought the kidnappers and militia had their own operatives at the airport who would take the bags upon arrival as the hostages came to the plane.
Even before the bags were opened the airport officials could hear the Qataris talking as if the 23 bags contained money. But opening the bags revealed a great deal of money, "hundreds of millions of dollars and euros."
The Iraq government confiscated the money even as the Qatar government informed them that it was a ransom payment. The Iraq government had not been informed, and the Iraq government did not want to see a private army get a half a billion in funding.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Workers Vanguard No. 1110 21 April 2017
Students Battle Colonial Austerity
For the Right of Independence!
Since March 28, students have been on strike at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), the island’s main public university system with a total of 70,000 students. UPR has been the target of $348 million in budget cuts over the past three years and it faces more austerity demanded by the American colonial masters. The students’ main demands are no budget cuts and no tuition increases. The strike is being actively supported by the unions of teachers and campus workers, who have themselves experienced union-busting attacks, wage reductions and shrinking pensions over the past decade. The students’ battle gives voice to the anguish and anger of Puerto Ricans enduring a desperate economic situation—a direct consequence of imperialist colonial domination. Victory to the student strike!
Many strikers today remember the two-month student strike at UPR in 2010, when the students fought against attempts by the bourgeoisie and campus administration to implement tuition hikes and budget cuts. That strike was met with bloody police repression, but it successfully beat back the worst of the government’s and UPR administration’s attacks.
We stand for free, quality public education for all, including open admissions and a state-paid living stipend for all students! But under capitalism, the provision of education and other social services is subordinated to the ruling class’s drive for profit. Our Marxist perspective is for a free, egalitarian society based on material abundance, where education is an actual right. This can only be achieved through a socialist revolution that sweeps away the decaying capitalist system and establishes workers rule in the oppressed colonies and neocolonies as well as in the U.S.
In 2016, the Obama administration imposed a Financial Oversight and Management Board, known as the “junta,” to ensure that Puerto Rico’s debt of over $70 billion is paid to the hedge fund parasites and financial institutions. The capitalist investors claim that Puerto Ricans, almost half of whom subsist below the poverty line, have been living “beyond their means” and must pay. These vultures sucked the blood of Puerto Rico’s economy and for decades enjoyed a tax haven with low-wage labor. The junta’s task is to oversee implementation by the island’s government of the bipartisan bill passed by the U.S. Congress, grotesquely dubbed PROMESA (“promise,” Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act). This law demands budget cuts of $450 million to education alone—in addition to more taxes, the sale of $4 billion worth of public buildings and the slashing of government spending. The governor, Ricardo Roselló, is a union-busting lackey of the imperialists, who is faithfully imposing their austerity.
The Puerto Rican masses are threatened with the destruction of public education, health care, pensions and the privatization of the government-owned public utility company, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. The teachers’ pension fund is so depleted that contributions by working teachers flow straight out to retirees. The New York Times (8 March) reported that “none of Puerto Rico’s current teachers can expect to get their money back, because the fund is due to run out of money in 2018.” Since 2008, more than 350 schools in Puerto Rico have closed and today many hospitals have no funding to provide essential services. Workers in the U.S. should take a side with the workers and oppressed of Puerto Rico who are being ground down by colonial oppression and demand: Cancel the debt!
A century ago, Puerto Ricans were given limited American citizenship rights, but they are unable to vote in federal elections and have no voting representation in Congress. When Puerto Rico came under the rule of the U.S. in 1898, as a result of the Spanish-American War, the population was forced to receive their education in English. In 1909, Spanish was banned in all public schools. This was an assault on four hundred years of language and culture under the guise of “civilizing a savage people.” It wasn’t until 1949 that Spanish became the language of public education.
As forthright opponents of national oppression and U.S. imperialism, we favor Puerto Rican independence. Puerto Ricans hate their second-class status as residents of a U.S. commonwealth, but their feelings about independence are mixed. On the one hand, people on the island have a very strong sense of nationhood; on the other, many are fearful of losing the ability to live and work on the mainland and of sinking to the level of poverty of their independent Caribbean neighbors. We oppose any attempts to forcibly impose independence against the will of the population. Thus, we emphasize the right of independence.
The fight against colonial oppression in Puerto Rico would necessarily be directed at the local agents of imperialism and could therefore act as a lever for socialist revolution. Such struggles would also reverberate throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and on the U.S. mainland.
About five million Puerto Ricans live in the United States (the population on the island is 3.5 million), where they are a component of the multiracial U.S. working class in many urban centers. These workers can be a link for class unity of workers in Puerto Rico and the United States against both the imperialists and their local enforcers. Our perspective is to build Leninist parties in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico whose goal is to establish workers rule.
As we said in our article “U.S. Colonialism Chokes Puerto Rico” (WV No. 1075, 2 October 2015):
“A victorious workers revolution in the U.S., in which class-conscious Puerto Rican workers can play a vanguard role, would immediately grant Puerto Rico independence and massive amounts of economic aid, establishing relations on the basis of its freedom to exercise national self-determination. But the spark of revolution could also come from the colonial or neocolonial countries. Workers struggle in Puerto Rico against U.S. colonial domination could inspire the multiracial working class on the mainland in the revolutionary overthrow of U.S. imperialism.”