Saturday, July 22, 2017

Minneapolis: Black Muslim Cop Recklessly Shoots A White Woman - Racist Murder?



Minneapolis: Black Muslim Cop Recklessly Shoots A White Woman - Racist Murder?

I honestly don't think it was a racial thing. I also think some of the police shootings were not explicitly racial. White people are the majority of shootings by white cops. But some play everything as 'white racism.' Philandro Castile, a black man, was shot by a Mexican-American cop - many labelled that 'white racism.' Yet when Mexican Americans are shot by cops the Mexicans become 'brown' and that's a racist shooting. '

I think the real issue of Mohamed Noor shooting a white woman was his fitness to be an American police officer. He is an out loud and proud Muslim and he comes from Somalia. The failed state of Somalia fell apart in part because of their horrendously corrupt and brutal police forces. Affirmative action was the reason to push an unqualified person through the police academy. The same sort of situation happened in Seattle. An unqualified Somali was put on the force and simply acted like someone in a tin horn African dictatorship. After a year or so of coddling the inept and clueless 'police officer' he was fired.

What is also notable is the chief of police, a Native American Indian, was on vacation when one of her officers carried out the street execution of the woman. She didn't return from vacation as the biggest international story about her department played out. The mayor of the town instantly sprang into action - to reassure the Somali community that Islamophobia would not be tolerated. Her Facebook page gave an several phone numbers that Somalis could call for help.

When a black person is shot under these kinds of circumstances - its the black community that is comforted. The mayor wouldn't dream of comforting the 'white community.'

In Minneapolis a month ago a crowd of 30 young Somali Muslims drove through a predominately wealthy white neighborhood threatening women who were dressed 'immodestly' and taunting men to fight with the mob. The city leaders sprang into action - to defend Muslims and point out that the vast majority of Somalis did not go through the neighborhood.

The same trend can be seen in the UK. The Muslim mayor of London told people after several Islamic commando attacks that 'terrorist attacks are just a part of life in a big city.' But then a Englishman attacked a group of Muslims and one died. Outrage! This is unacceptable was the response.

There is a double standard. Someone seems to want Muslim populations all over the US and EU. The media labels people who are intellectually opposed the the Islamic system 'racists.' Yet when an unarmed woman who happens to be white calls the police for help and is instantly shot down by a careless poorly disciplined black Muslim cop - silence about the racial aspect.

The media simply wants to make the issue about body cameras. We know what happened. No one thinks the woman was threatening the police with a weapon. That woman made a fatal mistake - she called the police when she thought there was danger. Brendan Behan, and Irish writer, said: "I have never seen a situation so miserable that it could not be made worse by the presence of a policeman."

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Boston Common - Leftist Confront Alt Right Trump Supporters (13 May 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.

http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/index.php

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Worker safety group names the most dangerous employers



http://coshnetwork.org/dirty-dozen-report-and-infographics#overlay-context=user

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.

http://www.peoplesworld.org/article/worker-safety-group-names-the-most-dangerous-employers/

http://shauntrain.blogspot.com/2017/05/worker-safety-group-names-most.html

Reducing the Threat of Nuclear War Conference MIT 6 May 2017



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 РChair,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, contactweinmann@mit.edu 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 info@masspeaceaction.org; MIT community members may also contact Radius.

http://justicewithpeace.org/node/6683

Friday, April 28, 2017

Qatar Pays the Largest Ransom in History - $500,000,000



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

Puerto Rico Students Battle Colonial Austerity For the Right of Independence!



https://archive.is/f7bXt

Workers Vanguard No. 1110 21 April 2017

Puerto Rico

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 Rosell√≥, 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.”

http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1110/puerto_rico.html

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

'Wake Them Up!' - Making Videos About Ken Russell



When UK movie maker Ken Russell died in 2011 I made a number of videos using obituaries and summations of the man's work with a slide show as the visual. At one point the man had three first run films playing in London simultaneously. Yet he was treated as an eccentric joke by much of the British media for most of his working life. Ken Russell took chances, and he sure made mistakes, but his work is notable and striking.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGEEe5PB9js https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGEEe5PB9js

Monday, April 24, 2017

Russia and China Should Fear the X37-B Space Plane



The Strategist 19 Oct 2016 by Malcolm Davis

A transformation in military space capabilities is occurring hundreds of kilometers above the Earth’s surface as the US Air Force X-37B Space Plane logs over 500 days in orbit in its latest mission.

The unmanned X-37B Space Plane is designed for long-endurance missions that are highly classified. It’s officially referred to as the ‘Orbital Test Vehicle’, and is described as a platform for testing “reusable spacecraft technologies for America’s future in space and operating experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth.” A total of four missions have been flown since April 2010, with the fourth in progress since 20th May 2015. It’s designed to be launched on an expendable Atlas V booster, and there are currently two operational X-37Bs in the USAF’s inventory.

The current mission is testing a new type of ion-engine called a ‘Hall-effect thruster’. It was the Hall thrusters on the first USAF Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite that saved the satellite when a rocket motor failed to raise it to the correct orbit. Hall thrusters provide higher thrust than traditional ion propulsion, with sustained thrust allowing a spacecraft to reach about 50km per second—much faster than even NASA’s Voyager 1 space probe now travelling out of the solar system at mere 17km per second. For satellites they provide a much more cost effective way of remaining in the right location within an orbit.

The laws of orbital dynamics and the fact that rockets use fuel at an alarming rate means satellites and spacecraft are not maneuverable like fighter aircraft within Earth’s atmosphere. Minimizing fuel use also demands the use of Hohmann transfer trajectories to move between orbits, reducing their orbital agility even further. Rocket engines and the need to carry large amounts of fuel adds mass and complexity to spacecraft design, blowing out cost and extending development time. Once the rocket fuel is used up, the spacecraft or satellite is useless.

The X-37B potentially changes this situation, as not only can the spacecraft be recovered and reused, but it uses a small amount of Xenon gas that is far lighter than traditional rocket fuel like hydrazine, though it has a high storage density to allow greater useful fuel. Maneuvering with Hall thrusters is slow compared to rockets (even though prolonged acceleration over time produces much higher velocities), but far more cost effective in terms of fuel. So the X-37B can stay up longer, maneuver at far lower cost in terms of fuel than a similar vehicle with traditional rockets, and enjoy a greater ability to maneuver within and between orbits. This flexibility would allow it to do more in space, including close surveillance of an adversary’s satellites in orbit, both in terms of optical imaging, and electronic intelligence and signals intelligence gathering. It can also fill a gap if satellites are badly positioned to respond to short notice events like a nuclear test in North Korea. The X-37B suggests a new generation of space capabilities beyond traditional satellites.

The Obama administration’s space policy eschews the weapons in space option. It instead emphasizes efforts towards ensuring space resilience and Space Situational Awareness (SSA) as a key aspects of space policy to deter adversary counter-space threats like anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons. Reconstitution of space capabilities after an adversary ASAT attack is also an essential aspect of space resilience, and DARPA is developing a vehicle similar to the X-37B, the XS-1 Spaceplane, which is designed to launch payloads at low cost in a responsive manner. Matching this responsive space launch capability with low-cost Cubesats means the US can rapidly replace lost capability after an attack.

Furthermore an ability to temporarily operate in a degraded space environment may also mitigate the effects of losing access to space capabilities. Yet the X-37B would give the next Administration an option to quickly develop a very advanced ASAT capability if it were needed. That’s going to be an important issue for the next occupant of the White House to consider, given that both Russia and China are continuing to ignore US efforts to prevent the weaponization of space, and are developing a broad range of ASAT capabilities that will allow them to threaten the vital satellites depended upon by the US and its allies. SSA only permits the monitoring of space activities, and real space resilience may need to include defending critical high-end satellites such as missile early warning, GPS or strategic communications satellites.

An expanded X-37B capability may be an answer to defending these vital assets through providing close-in escorting capabilities that can respond to an approaching threat before it can close within range of its target. For the US to take a step towards the weaponization of space is a policy dilemma for Washington and has implications on space security, both of which will considered in a subsequent article. https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/spaceplanes-high-frontier/

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Why this scientist is marching



"Science is real" and "Objective reality exists" read the signs that covered Jessie Square in San Francisco last December. "Immigrants make science great" read some at Boston's Copley Square in February.

An unlikely sector of the populace has begun to respond to the threat that the Trump agenda represents. Earth Day, April 22, has been called as a day of action for all of us who want to defend academic freedom, public health and the human habitability of the planet itself.

A few scientists were inspired by the January 21 women's marches that drew millions out in cities across the U.S. and began posting messages on Facebook that maybe those protesting were onto something. Maybe protest was the best way to defend ourselves against the anti-science agenda rolling out of D.C. And on January 22, scientists weren't merely onlookers. A contingent of hundreds of women and men in lab coats (some carrying their lab equipment) produced some of the loudest chants that day in Washington, D.C.

Why are science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) advocates so mad? What could possibly make us leave our microscopes and spectrometers en mass to engage in the political sphere?

Setting aside the fact that "STEMinist" T-shirts are selling like hotcakes and a huge proportion of STEM professionals are women, immigrants and LGBTQ people, scientists are mad because of, essentially, workplace grievances. In theory, the purpose of science is to understand the world so we can make positive change, but scientists cannot do this if we are unable to communicate our findings. And the current administration is not a fan of evidence-based peer-reviewed information being "leaked" to the public.

According to the Associated Press, political appointees of the current administration have been directed to review all studies and data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prior to public release. "Review," in this case, will mean censorship. The current EPA scientific integrity statement reads that actions be "grounded, at a most fundamental level, in sound, high-quality science" that is "free from political interference." Clearly, this integrity can no longer be maintained without threat to one's career.

Even an agency as innocuous as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may be subject to political pressure. The FDA is the agency that ensures that our pills aren't going to make the cure worse than the disease. Before some federal oversight of our medications, drugs could have deadly side effects or be tainted with dangerous additives. Scott Gottlieb, Trump's candidate to head up the FDA, has suggested that rigorous clinical trials shouldn't be required for placing a drug on the market. Let the consumer decide if it is deadly--or, at least, their living relatives.

I AM marching on April 22 because, like other scientists, I'm mad about this. Like other scientists, I'm scared about this. And, like other scientists, I am determined to fight back.

I want to be counted among the people who are trying to send a message to the Trump administration that it should not cut public funding for science censor or restrict the communication of scientific findings or; ignore the scientific consensus in making policy.

But I also have other, more specific, reasons to march.

I am a teacher. Anyone who has ever taught, or even had a favorite teacher, knows the way teachers can care about their students. You become invested in how they feel, how well you help them get what they want in life. My task is to give them information, but much more importantly, to give them motivation and a method for exploring the natural world (I'm a biologist). And now, the same students I most inspired are the ones who won't have jobs--the students who wanted to study public health, the students who wanted to preserve endangered species, the students who wanted clean water. I work in the classroom to help them achieve this goal, why not also in the streets?

I am an anti-racist. Cuts to programs that protect the environment don't just affect all people equally. The lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, is the most recent well-known example, but the list goes on and on. It includes coal ash in Uniontown, Alabama; lead in West Dallas, Texas; and toxic polychlorinated biphenyls in Warren County, North Carolina. Environmental destruction disproportionately impacts communities of color.

The beginning of any struggle against environmental racism is to prove that the damage is happening. With severe cuts to the EPA, the routine monitoring will not happen. Say you smell oil as you walk by a creek on your way home from school. You call the city to report it, and they tell you to call the EPA. But no one is there to pick up the phone--they were all fired by the Trump administration.

There are also likely to be cuts in federal health-monitoring programs. Those who work on those programs study things like why, unlike the global trend, more and more mothers are dying during childbirth in the U.S. Just like many other health disparities, these women are disproportionately low-income and Black. The Trump administration doesn't want to fund the studies that help us know this, much less the programs to help us stop it.

I am a socialist. I believe that mass social movements can win big reforms. Scientists were an important part of the original mobilizations that led Richard Nixon to create the EPA in the first place. And the experience of fighting for something well beyond laboratory funding made a more healthy, left-wing science.

When scientists sit back and let the "experts" handle the politics, we are in trouble. Ordinary people mobilizing--that's what can win.

I expect that very few scientists voted for Trump. I imagine that almost all of the participants in the upcoming March for Science think we wouldn't need to march if Hillary Clinton had won.

But as scientists, we also call for evidenced-based policy--and there's not a lot of evidence that the Democrats in power have responded seriously to things like the life-or-death situation around climate change. Bernie Sanders called out the inaction, why can't we?

So I'm marching as part of an argument both for science and with science. We should have a grassroots movement that is independent and self-reliant. Only then will we be able to pressure any and all politicians to enact the immediate change that's so badly needed.

https://archive.is/6HcFT

'March for Science' Worldwide Rallies - 22 April 2017



By Bryan Dyne

22 April 2017

Hundreds of thousands of scientists, researchers, workers and youth are poised to participate in today’s “March for Science.” The main rally will take place in Washington, DC, with sister demonstrations and marches taking place in more than 600 locations across the world, involving people in at least 130 countries and encompassing six continents. It is slated to be the world’s largest pro-science demonstration to date.

The initial impulse for the march arose when the Trump administration deleted all references to climate change from the official White House web site minutes after Trump’s inauguration. Scientists across the United States saw this as the opening salvo in a much broader attack on science generally, leading to the creation of the March for Science Facebook group calling for a demonstration in Washington, DC, mirroring the protests against the Trump administration before, during and in the weeks following Trump’s first days as president.

More broadly, the March for Science reflects the general anti-Trump sentiment in the majority of the US and world’s population. The fact that the Facebook group has attracted more than 830,000 members shows just how many people, both scientists and non-scientists from all corners of the globe, are seeking an avenue to oppose the Trump administration and its reactionary policies.

One measure of this is the fact that the march has been endorsed by virtually every US organization with an orientation towards science and several international scientific institutions, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Planetary Society, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. The notable exceptions are endorsements from the official scientific agencies of various governments, such as ESA or NASA, though no doubt individuals from these organizations support and will be participating in the marches.

The event is being led by three honorary co-chairs, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Bill Nye “the Science Guy” and Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff, all of whom have been involved on some level as advocates for science in the political arena. Dr. Hanna-Attisha fought to expose lead poisoning in Flint, Bill Nye has repeatedly spoken out against climate change deniers and Dr. Villa-Komaroff pioneered the field of biotechnology.

Despite this, however, and despite the anti-Trump origins of the March for Science, the organizers have taken great pains to avoid any discussions of the anti-science policies of various Trump administration officials, from EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to Trump himself. No mention has been made of the policies that allow for the destruction of the environment, attacks on public education or various forms of censorship that scientists in the US and internationally often face, much less the increasing danger of nuclear war and the existential threat that this poses to all life on Earth.

These limitations are summed up in the declaration that attacks on science “are not a partisan issue.” While the mission statement for the March for Science correctly notes that science has been attacked by both Republicans and Democrats, it does not fully explain the inherently political nature of this question.

This is particularly striking when one considers that one of the three honorary co-chairs for the event is Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of the Flint Hurley Medical Center’s pediatric residency program, and the person who first revealed the doubling and tripling of lead in the blood of Flint children since April 2014. The science behind lead poisoning has been understood for decades, particularly the potentially deadly effect it has, especially on children.

This has become an intensely political issue for the residents of Flint, who are outraged over the fact that this problem was known to city and state officials but ignored by state appointed Emergency Manager Darnell Earley to slash city operating costs in order to pay city debts to Wall Street banks. Dr. Hanna-Attisha herself was attacked by city and state officials for tampering with the data even as residents were becoming ill and dying.

The forces that suppressed the lead poisoning data in Flint can trace their political heritage to those that have denied the dangers of nuclear winter for nearly four decades, those that attacked the theory of evolution during the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925, and even as far back as the reactionary methods used to suppress Copernicus’ idea that the Earth revolves around the Sun. In every one of these cases, the scientists threatened material and political interests and were forcefully attacked.

The challenge for those participating in today’s march is not merely the “celebration of science,” but of connecting the attacks on science to the broader attacks on all progressive aspects of modern society by capitalism, a social and economic system in which all human activity is subordinated to the profit motive. As such, scientists and their supporters must connect the defense of science to the struggle of the most progressive social force in society, the working class, against the corporate elite.

https://archive.is/NOSc5

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Louisiana's Governor Declares State Of Emergency Over Disappearing Coastline



20 April 2017 by Merrit Kennedy Instagram

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency over the state's rapidly eroding coastline.

It's an effort to bring nationwide attention to the issue and speed up the federal permitting process for coastal restoration projects.

"Decades of saltwater intrusion, subsidence and rising sea levels have made the Louisiana coast the nation's most rapidly deteriorating shoreline," WWNO's Travis Lux tells our Newscast unit. "It loses the equivalent of one football field of land every hour."

More than half of the state's population lives on the coast, the declaration states. It adds that the pace of erosion is getting faster: "more than 1,800 square miles of land between 1932 and 2010, including 300 square miles of marshland between 2004 and 2008 alone."

The governor estimates that if no further action is taken, "2,250 square miles of coastal Louisiana is expected to be lost" in the next 50 years. He emphasized the importance of the land to industries such as energy, maritime transportation and trade.

Lux says the governor hopes this will pave the way to move ahead with coastal projects:

"The state has a plan to implement more than 100 restoration and protection projects — like rebuilding marshes and barrier islands — but some of those projects are getting slowed down by federal environmental permits."

Those projects are part of a 50-year, $50 billion master plan that was unanimously approved by a state panel on Wednesday, according to The Times-Picayune. The newspaper says the plan "relies largely on money from settlement of the 2010 BP oil spill litigation to speed restoration of coastal land and wetlands and protect them from hurricanes."

Now Edwards is asking President Trump to declare the erosion of Louisiana's coast a national emergency and "provide appropriate federal attention and cooperation" to assist the state. The emergency declaration also asks for Congress to "consider legislation to provide for means by which to expedite all federal permitting and environmental review."

The New Orleans Advocate newspaper points out that Wednesday's emergency declaration and master plan are designed to work hand in hand:

"The juxtaposition of urgency and long-term planning is necessary when it comes to the coast, state officials have said. Projects to help stave off land loss will take years to design and build, but an emergency declaration could cut years off the permitting process for those projects."

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/04/20/524896256/louisianas-governor-declares-state-of-emergency-over-disappearing-coastline

BBC Report: “A Spy in the IRA” reveals British collusion in Irish Republican Army internal discipline murders

By Steve James 21 April 2017

The BBC’s April 11 flagship documentary Panorama, “The Spy in the IRA” by veteran journalist John Ware, highlighted the decades-long British state infiltration of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Ware centred on Alfredo Scappaticci, who became infamous 14 years ago, in 2003, when he was named as the alleged British agent “Stakeknife.”

Scappaticci, notorious as the alleged one time head of the IRA’s Internal Security, responsible for identifying and dealing with informers, denied everything.

In the intervening period, such material that has emerged into the public domain has tended to confirm the role of “Stakeknife” in the extended and murderous British military intelligence operation, which for many years hopelessly compromised the security of the IRA.

Three years after Scappaticci was named, in 2006, Denis Donaldson, the former head of the IRA’s international relations, was exposed as a long-term British agent.

Donaldson was assassinated later the same year. No one has ever been charged with the killing.

In 2008, Roy McShane, also formerly of IRA Internal Security, was taken into “protective custody” for fear his role as a British agent was about to be revealed.

Scappaticci, Donaldson, and McShane are only a few of the most prominent figures thus far identified, in what is now assumed to be a list of agents that runs into many hundreds.

The role of “Stakeknife” and Scappaticci’s name only became known because of the efforts of a former British military intelligence officer, Ian Hurst. Hurst was a member of the British Army’s Force Research Unit (FRU), one of whose tasks was running spies in both loyalist and republican paramilitary organisations. Hurst appears to be primarily motivated by anger over the fact that British agents’ lives were sacrificed to maintain “Stakeknife’s” cover within the IRA. This was chiefly the angle taken by Ware, although the broadcast shed light on how Scappaticci came to be recruited.

Former IRA volunteer, now historian and writer, Anthony McIntyre, told Ware that Scappaticci was an admired and feared republican figure in the Markets area of Belfast. Scappaticci was detained in 1971, when, during the early years of “the Troubles” the British government introduced mass internment without trial, and was only released four years later.

Sometime after this, according to Ware, Scappaticci, who was a building worker, appears to have become tangled up in a VAT fraud. He was arrested by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), was recruited as a police informer and avoided prosecution. At some later stage, responsibility for handling him was transferred to the FRU. He was given number 6126, and a codename, “Stakeknife.” By this time, he already appears to have been placed in the IRA’s Internal Security section, which he came to lead during the 1980s.

McIntyre described Internal Security as “like an electrical junction box through which every wire must flow.”

Scappaticci was able to inform his handlers on many operations the IRA was planning and on threats to other perceived or real British agents within the organisation. Some of these, like Vincent Robinson, were innocent. According to Ware, Robinson was killed by the IRA after he was tortured by the police into revealing the location of an arms dump.

Others, such as Frank Hegarty, were spies. Hegarty was a republican who dropped out of the movement, then rejoined as an FRU agent. Having passed on the whereabouts of a stash of Libyan-supplied arms, he was shot in the head in 1986. According to Ware, Scappaticci knew Hegarty was going to be killed and told his handlers as much.

Ware has also recently brought out another aspect of Scappaticci’s activities, although this was not covered by Panorama.

Writing in the Irish Times April 15, Ware noted that Scappaticci was also responsible for the IRA’s “Civil Administration” in nationalist areas. According to Ware, Civil Administration was responsible for the vile practice of shooting working class youth in the knees, elbows and ankles for petty misdemeanours such as car theft and drug dealing. One mother described Scappaticci as warning her, “The next time we hear he’s been at it, or of any complaints against him, I will personally blow the head off him.”

The man in question was shot dead a few years later.

In 2016, after years of delay, the British police opened Operation Kenova, a £35 million police investigation involving as many as 50 detectives from across the UK with a remit to establish whether there is evidence of crimes that may have been committed by “Stakeknife” or “by members of the British Army, the Security Services or other Government agencies.”

Head of Operation Kenova, Jon Boutcher was distinctly non-committal to Panorama, but Ware outlined the circumstances surrounding two of the cases with which Kenova is likely to be dealing.

One was the murder of Joe Fenton, a Belfast estate agent who was manipulated into serving as an agent for the Special Branch of the then Northern Ireland police, the RUC. According to Ware, Fenton set up safe houses for the IRA, which were then bugged by Special Branch and information gathered used to compromise their operations. As head of IRA Internal Security, Fenton came to Scappaticci’s attention, as did a succession of failed operations. Scappaticci is said to have warned his handlers that an investigation into Fenton was imminent. Nothing was done, so Fenton was interrogated and shot.

As many as 50 murders are alleged to have been carried out by Internal Security, 30 under Scappaticci. By contrast, another agent, Sandy Lynch, who was facing the same fate under Scappaticci’s supervision, was rescued at the last moment by the RUC.

The entire sordid affair is a testimony to the brutal and oppressive character of the British and Northern Ireland military, intelligence and police operations against the IRA during the decades-long “dirty war.” But Sinn Fein have also colluded with the British state in preventing exposure of the infiltration and subversion of their own ranks and leading bodies. This is consistent with the party’s key goal of securing a working agreement with British imperialism. Following the 1999 Good Friday Agreement, and 2006 St Andrews Agreement, Sinn Fein has functioned as a loyal government partner with the hard-right Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland and currently promotes itself as a prospective coalition partner with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fail in the Irish Republic.

Sinn Fein are currently embroiled in protracted negotiations with the British government and the DUP over the terms on which it might be possible for the Northern Ireland Assembly to be revived after an indecisive election in March left the DUP with just one more seat than Sinn Fein. Items under dispute include the impact of Brexit, the status of the Northern Ireland border, the Irish language, and the continued leadership of the DUP by Arlene Foster.

Also under discussion are the so-called “legacy” cases of “the Troubles.” However, while historical cases are the subject of immense tension between the talks’ participants, none of them, including Sinn Fein, have any interest in a full exposure of what took place since all are compromised and implicated.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/04/21/scap-a21.html

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Boston's Revolutionary Doctor - Antoinette Konikow: A Trotskyist To The End

by John G. Wright

From The Militant, Vol. 10, No. 28, July 13 1946, p. 3.

Antoinette Konikow was a revolutionary socialist to the last day of her life. A striking incident the night before she died indicates her spirit.

One of her friends in the medical profession, a leading Boston psychiatrist, visited her. Antoinette has long been famous in the medical world. But the conversation quickly turned to questions far more important than shop talk. Antoinette raised the question of dialectical materialism. The doctor responded with an attack on the dialect method claiming that it has not been borne out by latest developments in science.

Antoinette did not spend much time on the defensive. Almost 60 years as a Marxist had taught her the extraordinary importance of the dialectic method, and all her experiences in the medical field as well as study in other sciences had only confirmed what she had learned from the great Marxist teachers. She opened up with a counter-attack that quickly won her the upper hand. And then to pursue her advantage she persuaded her foe in dialectics to continue the subject the following night.

Antoinette wanted to pass on to the younger generation the lessons and truths gleaned in a long lifetime of hard experience. Three years ago, she retired from active practice, intending to devote the remainder of her life entirely to recording the most important things she had learned.

She assembled the great mass of notes she had jotted down from time to time and began putting them in order. First on the agenda was her memoirs. After writing about her childhood and youth in Czarist Russia and Germany as a background, she took up her political recollections. These begin with her impressions of George Plekhanov, the founder of Russian Marxism and teacher of Lenin.

Still Learning—At 76!

To facilitate her work she decided last winter to learn touch typing—at the age of 76! Her letters to the Political Committee changed all at once from the long-familiar, diffieult-to-de- cipher handwriting to neatly typed communications.

But she did not succeed in finishing her memoirs. The considerable body of material she leaves will have to be assorted and woven together by someone else.

Her main objective in this work was to leave the younger generation with a true impression of more than a half century of revolutionary socialism. She had seen what damage opportunism can do. With her own eyes she saw the Second International brought to ruin and betrayal. In the light of this experience she understood to the full the need for battling Stalinism tooth and nail, for the Stalinist regime not only spreads the same poison-of opportunism as the Second International, but wields totalitarian state power with utter ruthlesness. Consequently she devoted a great deal of her last days to analyzing the revolutionary period of the Communist International in order to show what the Bolsheviks under Lenin and Trotsky really set out to do. The task of her gener- action, she felt, was to hand on the program of revolutionary socialism as Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky had shaped it. Her study of the First Four Congresses of the Communist International resulted in an outline for class use and much additional unpublished material.

She wanted especially to write down her impressions of the Bolshevik generation that led the October 1917 revolution. Many of them she knew personally. They were the men cruelly slandered by Stalin as fascist “dogs gone mad.” She knew them to be victims of Stalin, framed- up in the Moscow trials organized by the Kremlin dictator.

In 1940 she visited Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalia at Coyoacan. There the friendship with the great revolutionary couple, already many years old,: was still more firmly cemented. The assassination of Trotsky by a GPU agent was a terrible personal blow to Antoinette. Despite her age, Antoinette followed the press very closely. She intervened actively in political events, following the Militant and Fourth International and sending in her criticisms and opinions.

Recently she pointed out the necessity for the European Trotskyist movement to start up a paper in the Russian language. She mentioned the hundreds of thousands of Russian-speaking refugees now in various countries. The paper, she thought, should be popularly written, and even if her own Russian wasn’t “classical” she was willing to become a contributor.

Antoinette spent her last days in the kind of surroundings she loved most, a cottage on the shores of Morse Pond, a beautiful lake at Wellesley, Massachusetts. The green surroundings reminded her of the Black Forest country of Germany where she one lived. She particularly admired a great pine tree standing between the porch and the lake. Some time ago a bolt of lightning ripped through the branches of this tree. After every storm Antoinette came out to see hour it had weathered the ordeal. But it always stood, sturdy and strong, ruggedly beautfiul despite the scars of time, wind and lightning.

Busy With Party Tasks

It was here that Antoinette Konikow died, busy with party tasks up to the very end.

Antoinette was not only a great teacher and leader of the Trotskyist movement. She was an Integral part of the Boston branch of the Socialist Workers Party. The members counted her as their closest friend and advisor. Most of them she had nurtured as budding revolutionary socialist politicians of the working class, and she took great personal interest in the development of each one. Her classes in speaking, in the principles of Marxism, and in the history of the movement gave most of the Boston comrades their first insight into Trotskyism.

No one saw through sham and pretense quicker than Antoinette. No one had more contempt for the traitors, the liars and the tyrants who occupy the high places. No one was more revolted than she over the medals showered by Stalin on his sycophants. But that did not prevent her from seeing the value of genuine leaders and of appreciation well earned. In fact she probably understood the pricelessness of these things all the more because she was a real iconoclast. One of the most moving incidents in her political life was her reaction to an autographed photograph and letter from Leon Trotsky on her Fiftieth Anniversary in the Marxist movement. In response to the tribute paid her by those present on the occasion, she responded:

Trotsky’s Warm Tribute

“The comrades have received me with warmth and friendship. It gives me tremendous happiness. The kind words written by Comrade Trotsky on his picture presented to me remind me of the greatest honor—the honor that was! —given to comrades in Russia, the Order of Lenin pinned upon their breasts. I feel as if Comrade Trotsky has pinned the Order of Trotsky on my breast! Not that I am a hero- worshipper—for I have helped to pull down too many heroes from their pedestals, But in the last ten years of darkness, of despair, the words of Leon Trotsky have been like a bell for a ship in distress, leading it to safe harbor.”

https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/wright/1946/trotskyist-to-the-end.htm#top

How to Trap a Wild Squirrel



In US eastern cities, before the Civil War, squirrels had been hunted to extinction. Cities with large populations like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were free of squirrels because people had hunted and eaten then since colonial times.

Around 1870 nature boosters began to release birds and squirrels into newly constructed urban parks. The animals were seen as a way to bring wild creatures back into the city for all to experience a bit of nature.



Now, squirrels are everywhere in cities across the US and spend a lot of their time chewing on things. As rodents squirrels have sharp teeth that grow continuously. Squirrels have to chew on hard things to keep their teeth the right length and sharpness. So, they chew on trees and houses and power lines and telephone poles and....anything. They get in people's houses or businesses and chew, chew, chew.

So...people want to get rid of the squirrels in their homes or property. If they are inside a building one can leave out cubes of rat poison stuck in peanut butter. Large spring rat traps can be baited with peanut butter and peanuts to attract a squirrel. There are many brands of catch and release traps available for about $30 or $40 and up.



If one catches or traps a rodent or squirrel inside a home or property one can kill it. Some removal experts say that they have put color code marks on squirrels fur and released them ten miles away and then caught the same animal later. So putting a squirrel down is perhaps the best way to stop squirrel problems in a home or business. One way is to fill a barrel with water and put the trapped animals cage into the water for a quick death. Squirrels cause millions of dollars of damage and untold numbers of fires and danger to humans.

Trapping a squirrel outdoors is a different story. One can not release a capture squirrel onto a public park or woods. If one catches a squirrel on their city property the only legal way to release the animal is to buy property in the country and release the animal there. Check local rules and regulations.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Syrian rebels massacre at least 126 civilians in suicide bomb blast



17 April 2017

A convoy of buses evacuating residents from the government-held towns of Foua and Kefraya in Syria’s Idlib province was targeted by a suicide bomber Saturday, claiming the lives of at least 126 civilians. The attack occurred west of Aleppo as the buses made their way to government-controlled areas.

The evacuation of the residents of the two towns began Friday morning and was part of a swap deal agreed between the government of Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces. In exchange for allowing the evacuation of residents from Foua and Kefraya, rebels agreed to resettle the populations of Madaya and Zabadani, two towns they control near Damascus. In total, around 7,250 people were evacuated from the four towns. It was part of a broader plan brokered by Iran and Qatar to move up to 30,000 people over a 60-day period.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is linked to the rebels, 68 children were killed in the blast. Other sources have put the figure as high as 80.

The observatory confirmed the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device carried in a vehicle, backing up an earlier report on Syrian state TV which said the attackers used a van meant for delivering aid to gain access to the area.

An al-Jazeera reporter at the scene described how many of the buses were completely destroyed and dead bodies littered the ground. Ambulances rushed those from the scene who had been injured.

Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, it occurred in a rebel-controlled area. Ahrar al-Sham, a conservative Islamist militia, condemned the bombing and called for an international investigation to determine who was to blame.

In stark contrast to the moral outrage expressed by politicians and the media in the wake of the alleged gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun earlier this month, which the Trump administration seized upon to launch an illegal missile strike on a Syrian air base, the death of over 100 Syrians in a suicide bombing—substantially more than the number who died in the alleged gas attack—prompted virtually no condemnation from the Western powers.

The US State Department released a weasel-worded statement which, while condemning the killings, sought to strike a pose of impartiality and refused even to identify the rebel Islamist militias as being responsible. “We deplore any act that sustains or empowers extremists on all sides including today’s attack,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

At a comparable stage in the aftermath of the Khan Sheikhoun incident, just hours after the alleged attack, US government officials had already acted as judge, jury and executioner, and were proclaiming the guilt of the Assad regime without presenting any evidence.

President Donald Trump, who invoked the deaths of “beautiful babies” and the need to defend the “civilized world” in justifying his April 6 cruise missile strike, which killed nine civilians, did not even comment on the bloodbath carried out by forces linked to the American CIA.

For their part, the servile corporate-controlled media reported on the incident, if at all, in a largely routine manner.

The New York Times published a lengthy front-page report concentrating almost exclusively on the crimes committed by Assad during the war, alleging that “the largest number of violations by far has been by the Syrian government.” It criticized the failure to bring government officials before the International Criminal Court in the Hague and blamed Russia for blocking any action by the UN Security Council.

The general indifference shown by the political and media establishment to the victims of this brutal massacre exposes once again the hypocrisy of the crusaders for “human rights” in the United States and the European imperialist powers. It demonstrates the fraudulent character of the propaganda campaign in the wake of the alleged gas attack, designed to conceal the real aims of US imperialist intervention in Syria: regime change in Damascus and the consolidation of Washington’s hegemonic position in the energy-rich Middle East against any challenge from its geopolitical rivals.

The reason for the lack of reaction is not hard to find. While it remains unclear precisely which faction of the rebels carried out the mass slaughter, Washington and its Gulf allies have the main responsibility for arming the collection of right-wing Islamist militias fighting the Assad dictatorship and enabling them to continue the civil war. The opposition is now dominated by the al-Nusra Front, which was formerly affiliated to Al Qaeda.

If any journalist were honest enough to follow the evidence, they would have to apportion a significant part of the blame for the bus convoy bombing to the criminal and reckless policies of US imperialism. More than six years after instigating the Syrian civil war, Washington has the blood of an estimated 500,000 Syrians on its hands.

This does not even take into account the upwards of 1 million people killed as a result of the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, the hundreds of thousands of deaths due to wars either led or sponsored by Washington in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and the millions throughout the region forced to flee their homes as a consequence of conflict and societal breakdown.

The highly selective concern shown for “human rights” issues by the representatives of US imperialism is nothing new. Saturday’s bombing came less than a month after a single US air strike launched as part of the ruthless onslaught against Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, claimed the lives of as many as 300 civilians sheltering in a basement. This horrific war crime, coming on top of the thousands of civilian deaths that have occurred since the US-backed offensive was launched last October, was largely buried by the media.

The ruling class considers the deaths of civilians to be collateral damage—a price worth paying in their ruthless struggle to uphold US imperialist interests in the Middle East and around the globe. Barely 24 hours after the bus bombing, Trump’s National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster vowed in an ABC News interview that Washington was ready to escalate tensions with Russia still further, not only over Syria, but over Europe as well.

McMaster said of Russia’s alliance with Assad, “So Russia’s support for that kind of horrible regime, that is a party to that kind of a conflict, is something that has to be drawn into question as well as Russia’s subversive actions in Europe. And so I think it’s time though, now, to have those tough discussions with Russia.”

https://archive.is/lpV1C

Friday, April 14, 2017

Verizon Strike 2016 - One Year Anniversary - Challenged a Giant and Won

https://archive.is/7sv1W April 13, 2017

April 13 marks the one-year anniversary of the start of a nationwide strike at Verizon that won important gains for Verizon workers. Danny Katch talked to Dominic Renda, a call center worker and member of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1105, and Amy Muldoon, a technician and shop steward in CWA Local 1106, about their memories of the strike, and some of the lessons it can hold for workers and others fighting to defend their rights under the Trump presidency.

..............

WHAT WERE you striking for?

Dom: Verizon wanted to eliminate our job security. We had known they wanted to lay us off by the thousands since 2002, when they did lay us off by the thousands and the union took the company to court, won that battle and those thousands of employees got their jobs back. So Verizon has wanted to lay us off since then, and they need to eliminate our job security language to be able to do that.

Amy: They wanted to reorganize their workforce to be more "flexible." They wanted to be able to transfer us, lay us off and basically be able to change everything in the contract: vacation days, personal days, overtime regulation, right of transfer. Then they wanted to change all our benefits and protections as well. So it was kind of from the bottom up that they wanted to rewrite the whole thing.

WHAT WAS the result of the strike?

Dom: We beat them back on their attempt to eliminate job security. We won restrictions on outsourcing--there was quite a bit of our work that we got back, which was pretty much unprecedented. How often do you hear of outsourced work coming back anywhere, whether it be a union location or a non-union location?

We won the creation of 1,000 new jobs, and that was also something that pleasantly surprised me because I think a lot of us didn't see that coming. We had lost about half our membership over the years as a result of people quitting, getting fired or passing away, and Verizon hadn't replaced the people that had left. So this was the first time that we got new people hired in a long time.

Amy: People talk about the couple of years in the run-up to the contract expiration as the worst years in their careers at Verizon. Morale was incredibly low, attendance was terrible. In the last six months before the strike, there was the imposition of a disciplinary program called the Quality Assurance Review (QAR), which meant that you could be questioned about literally every minute of your day.

It was used to fish for any violation that a technician might have incurred in the course of their workday. And even if they didn't find anything, these interviews would go on for six hours--some people were repeatedly interviewed. In Manhattan they racked up 700 days of suspension while the QAR was in effect. It was just horribly demoralizing and people felt harassed and insulted.

So I think dignity on the job was one of the things that people felt they were fighting for and that fueled a lot of anger on the picket lines. And QAR was gotten rid of in the course of the strike.

They haven't gotten rid of all the jerk managers, that's for sure. But I think that upper management has realized that they want to stick with the wire line side of the business because wireless is not the cash cow that it was two years ago. So they want peace, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we won the strike.

They could have had peace on their terms, which was a terrified, disorganized workforce. But now we're seeing peace on our terms, which means less mandatory Saturdays and less harassment. And the QAR has been eliminated and been replaced by something called Performance Plus--we don't fully know what that means yet, but we do know that we haven't seen people being called in week after week and their entire day being gone over with a fine toothed comb.

We've also seen more leniency on disciplinary cases. Where before managers might have felt entitled to just send someone home for 30 days, we've now seen cases in my own garage where that hasn't happened. So even though the strike was a real hardship, it did have positive benefits for our working lives.

Dom: Also, the most inspirational part of this contract victory was Verizon Wireless workers in Brooklyn winning their first contract--they had been negotiating for two years prior to that. That was huge because now we can use that to organize and mobilize other wireless workers.

DID WINNING the strike make a difference in the daily quality of your life?

Dom: Absolutely it did. Before our strike happened I felt like the union was going to be in a perpetual decline until it didn't exist anymore, and our jobs were just going to be eliminated somehow. I remember talking to my family and saying I might have to move into your basement again because I don't know how much longer I'm going to have a job.

So I went from concerned about whether I'm even going to work for Verizon in the future to having a sense of security that we can reverse this tide of decline that's been going on for years with our union.

CAN YOU give me one particularly strong memory from the strike that still sticks with you to this day?

Dom: Just a lot of uncertainty. You don't know you're going to win the strike when it's happening; you don't know how long it's going to go on. So it's just the uncertainty, but also the inspiration, because so many other workers--janitors and random members of the public--were coming out to support us. So even though there was a lot of uncertainty, there was a lot of cause for hope.

Amy: The two things--I'm going to cheat--were being in my doctor's office and getting a phone call that the police had just escorted scab vehicles through an active picket line, which just inflamed people to no end. The company was bringing out-of-state contractors up with their own equipment and putting them up in the outer borough hotels and a mass picket went to greet them in the morning. It was one of those expressions of people's pent-up rage finally boiling over. You could see all the forces in society that wanted us to lose lined up on one side, and to know that we triumphed against that is pretty incredible.

The other thing I remember was being part of a solidarity event the day that the contract was settled, and just the feeling of excitement that we didn't know what was in the contract, but we were pretty certain that we had won. And it was a different feeling than any of us had had before. Because it was really our victory: we knew we fought for it and we earned every letter of that contract.

YOU'VE BOTH been on strike before. What was different this time among the members?

Dom: I really was impressed with a lot of members' eagerness to picket at Verizon Wireless store locations, where we were organizing a boycott. I was also impressed with our membership--that we didn't fall into management's traps. Management had sent us all letters on how to scab. People literally burned those letters and got creative on how to destroy them.

Amy: We had a terrible strike in 2011 that was floundering and then cut short. There was a resentment and distrust in the union, and then there was a change in the leadership, and I think they really won the respect and trust of the membership. Part of the way they did that was they gave people the room to fight and organize on their own terms. That experience for some individuals was transformative, and I think it healed our union in a lot of ways. People feel much more confident and less cynical post-strike than they did pre-strike.

THE STRIKE happened in the spring of 2016, at the same time as Trump was running for president on the theme of the decline of blue collar America. But while the strike made news while it was happening, why do you think it didn't have more of an affect on the national conversation about how to defend decent working-class jobs?

Dom: Even while our strike was going on, it didn't get the media attention that we deserved. Our strike was the largest strike in the United States for five years prior. There was a You Tube channel called Redacted Tonight that said our strike got less coverage than Donald Trump's tweet about a taco bowl.

Working people don't necessarily have confidence in their own self-activity. So even though our strike beat back a huge corporate behemoth, it doesn't translate into the entire working class realizing that they have power again. And that's why I feel like it's important to remember the strike one year later to remember that working people do have power and that they can take on huge corporate forces that make over a billion dollars in profit every month and we can win.

Amy: Who would remind people of the lessons of our strike? Trump? Clinton? It's up to people like us to keep that memory alive. Too many people still think that change is going to come from above. So until the working class movement in this country has more of its own institutions and more of its own voice, it's going to feel like these things happen in isolation from each other. But I was on a picket line today at Spectrum and the people there remember our strike very well. So I think that for people who are forced to be in a situation of fighting for their jobs, it is a relevant lesson.

My favorite strike action of the Trump presidency thus far was the strike of the taxi workers who refused to go to JFK during the first go attempt at the Muslim travel ban. I don't think we can take credit for that action, but these things provide reference points for people who are trying to figure out what's the most powerful way you can push back.

WHAT LESSONS can we take from the strike for the Trump era?

Dom: I hope that people learn from our strike and use the strike weapon to their advantage, whether it be at their workplace or for whatever cause their fighting for like LGBTQ rights or immigrant rights or against war. I just hope the strike weapon is used more because it is effective.

Amy: One lesson is, don't drink management's Kool-Aid. Donald Trump thinks that he's utterly unbeatable, to the point that he doesn't recognize losing when it happens. Verizon thought they could replace a skilled workforce with people who they trained for a week who never worked on fiber, and look how that turned out. It was a combination of overreach on the part of management--and every time we turn on the news we see overreach on the part of the administration--and then when people take it in their own hands to push back, it's possible to win.

https://archive.is/7sv1W

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Charlie Hebdo Does Trump



http://i.imgur.com/B6PKOTW.png

Children prefer to read books on paper rather than screens



There is a common perception that children are more likely to read if it is on a device such as an iPad or Kindles. But new research shows that this is not necessarily the case.

In a study of children in Year 4 and 6, those who had regular access to devices with eReading capability (such as Kindles, iPads and mobile phones) did not tend to use their devices for reading - and this was the case even when they were daily book readers.

Research also found that the more devices a child had access to, the less they read in general.

It suggests that providing children with eReading devices can actually inhibit their reading, and that paper books are often still preferred by young people.

These findings match previous research which looked at how teenagers prefer to read. This research found that while some students enjoyed reading books on devices, the majority of students with access to these technologies did not use them regularly for this purpose. Importantly, the most avid book readers did not frequently read books on screens. Why do we think children prefer to read on screens?

There is a popular assumption that young people prefer to read on screens. This was mainly driven by education writer Marc Prensky who in 2001 coined the term "digital natives". This term characterises young people as having high digital literacy and a uniform preference for screen-based reading.

But young people do not have a uniform set of skills, and the contention that screens are preferred is not backed up by research.

Despite this, the myth has already had an impact on book resourcing decisions at school and public libraries, both in Australia and in the US, with some libraries choosing to remove all paper books in response to a perceived greater preference for eBooks.

But by doing this, libraries are actually limiting young people's access to their preferred reading mode, which in turn could have a detrimental impact on how often they choose to read.

Young people are gaining increasing access to devices through school-promoted programs, and parents face aggressive marketing to stay abreast of educational technologies at home.

Schools are motivated to increase device use, with Information and Communication Technology being marked as a general capability to be demonstrated across every subject area in the Australian Curriculum.

The drivers toward screen-based recreational book reading are strong, but they are not well-founded. Why are students more likely to prefer paper books?

Reading on devices through an application leaves more room to be distracted, allowing the user to switch between applications.

For students who already experience difficulty with attention, the immediate rewards of playing a game may easily outweigh the potentially longer-term benefits of reading.

Digital literacy could also be an issue. In order to use a device to read books, children need to know how to use their devices for the purpose of reading books.

They need to know how to access free reading material legally through applications such as Overdrive or websites such as Project Gutenburg. Tips for encouraging your child to read

Research shows that reading books is a more effective way to both improve and retain literacy skills, as opposed to simply reading other types of text. Yet international research suggests that young people are reading fewer and fewer books.

While equipping children with devices that have eReading capability is unlikely to encourage them to read, there are a number of strategies, supported by research, that can help encourage children to pick up a book. These include:

Be seen to enjoy reading. This study found that a number of students did not know if their literacy teachers actually liked reading. Teachers who were keen readers inspired some students to read more often and take an interest in a broader range of books.

Create (and regularly access) reading-friendly spaces at home and at school. Loud noises, poor lighting and numerous distractions will not help provide an enjoyable reading experience, and are likely to lead to frustration.

Encourage regular silent reading of books at school and at home. Giving children time to read at school not only encourages a routine of reading, but it also may be the only opportunity a child has to read self-selected books for pleasure.

Teachers and parents should talk about books, sharing ideas and recommendations.

Continue to encourage your child and students to read for pleasure. While we know that children tend to become disengaged with books over time, in some cases this can be due to withdrawal of encouragement once children can read on their own. This leads children to falsely assume that reading is no longer important for them. Yet reading remains important for both children an adults to build and retain literacy skills.

Find out what your child enjoys reading, and support their access to books at school and at home.

https://archive.is/bCnLx