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Gender: Female
Hometown: Wisconsin
Current location: Tejas
Member since: Thu Jan 17, 2008, 12:44 PM
Number of posts: 31,869

About Me

The most violent element in society is ignorance. Emma Goldman

Journal Archives

Students at the Barricades

by Christy Thornton ~ 8.28.14
Around the country, graduate students aren’t just unionizing — they are reforming the conservative, top-down unions they’ve joined.

Last December, NYU graduate student employees won recognition for our union, GSOC-UAW, from the university administration. With an overwhelming 98.4% of votes cast in favor of the union, NYU became — for the second time — the first private university in the country to recognize the rights of its graduate student employees to collective representation.

After more than fifteen years of organizing, NYU’s graduate student workers had won a major victory, and the voluntary recognition of the union by the administration had the potential to set a new kind of precedent for other graduate student organizing campaigns around the country. But recognition was the start of a new round of struggle: one around what kind of a contract we could win, and what kind of union GSOC would be.

In July, a group of bargaining committee members — graduate students elected by their peers to represent us in our negotiations with the NYU administration — released a statement highlighting the “concessionary strategy, demobilization of our membership, and opacity of the bargaining process” on the part of UAW staff that they had witnessed over the course of the previous semester ...

More here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/08/students-at-the-barricades/

Immigrants reshape Houston, America’s most diverse metropolis

Oil men give way to imams in this hot urban sprawl of 6 million – black, white, Hispanic and Asian

August 27, 2014 6:00AM ET
by E. Tammy Kim @etammykim

HOUSTON — On Wright Road, near the cellphone parking lot at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, sits an enormous rectangular warehouse and parking lot stippled taxicab yellow. Sedans and SUVs imprinted with the blocky names of car companies line up headlight to taillight in countless rows. Drivers of every nationality, age and background — nearly all men — wait hours to be dispatched to the airport terminal with the promise of a $53 fare.

They huddle around TVs, lift weights, gossip, pray and eat in a rundown concrete shelter that once served as a detention facility and is now Houston’s main taxi depot. There’s a circle of North Africans watching Arabic-language news, a lively pingpong game, a chess match and a lone Pakistani leaning back in a plush armchair. In the only air-conditioned part of the structure, not far from the two food trucks parked outside, drivers nuke their lunches in microwaves stacked on the floor, and part-time students read and surf the Web.

Ebrahim Ulu, an affable, round-faced man with a broken gait, begins a sultry 14-hour shift in July. A teacher and public-health worker in Ethiopia, he went to Houston in 2007 on a diversity visa, a certain number of which go to countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. “For six months, I slept in the car in order to buy a car and bring my family from Africa,” he said. Life today is much improved: After a long day of driving and waiting for customers, he returns home to his two young children and pregnant wife. He owns the car he drives but must lease the right to operate a taxi in the form of a costly $170-per-week medallion.

The burden of having to rent the medallion from a middleman moved Ulu and his fellow drivers to form an unofficial union, the United Houstonian Taxi Drivers Association, in 2011. It’s the eighth organizing effort that Sam Arnick, a 63-year-old African-American driver, has seen in his long career as a Houston cabby. “In the past we had 10 different ethnic groups out there. They didn’t trust each other, so we got representatives,” he said ...

Much more here: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/8/26/immigrants-reshapehoustonamericasmostdiversemetropolis.html

Chris Delphin, left, a Houston native, sits with his fiancé, Roy Brooks, outside their Montrose bungalow. In recent years, Delphin said, he has “noticed a lot more interracial couples like us.” E. Tammy Kim / Al Jazeera America

N.R.A. Opposes Raising Minimum Uzi Age to Ten

Disclaimer: relax, it's satire (although admittedly it's hard to tell these days)

Andy Borowitz
Wednesday, August 27 at 5:30pm (Facebook)

N.R.A. Opposes Raising Minimum Uzi Age to Ten

WASHINGTON - The National Rifle Association came out strongly on Wednesday against calls for raising the minimum age for firing an Uzi to ten. The N.R.A. chief Wayne LaPierre said that taking Uzis out of the hands of Americans under ten was "a perilous first step" towards depriving all citizens of their constitutionally guaranteed gun rights. "History teaches us that when a government wants to take away people's guns, first they take semiautomatic weapons away from children," he said.

French Communists: “Relaunch the Counter-Offensive After the Holidays”

“Relaunch the Counter-Offensive After the Holidays”

Translated Sunday 24 August 2014, by Gene Zbikowski

The activists of the French Communist Party are seizing the initiative all summer long to prepare the ground for the counter-attack in September. Selling the Fête de l’Humanité sticker is a way to make contacts.

No break during the summer for the left in preparing for the return from holidays. “Do you know the Fête de l’Humanité?” This is the question asked by the communists, who are increasing their efforts to sell the sticker, the well-known support voucher which allows one to attend the festival. The goal is to broaden dissidence with the greatest possible number of citizens at La Courneuve on September 12, 13 and 14, and to show that it is possible to change the course of events.

In Paris on July 23, activists met at Stalingrad square to inform the people strolling to Paris-Plage. “With the law on immigration, we can see that the Fête will be a key moment for relaunching the counter-offensive after the holidays,” explains Elie. Sticker sales have their importance: “We have to send in the money as quickly as possible so that the Fête can be prepared in the best possible circumstances,” emphasizes Emilie, after a young woman buys two stickers from her. The activist hopes that in September “everyone will be rested and we’ll be able to start again on a good foundation,” referring to Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s July 22 statement.

“To be useful to all, to re-establish contact and solidarity among people” ...

More here - http://www.humaniteinenglish.com/spip.php?article2521

Inspiration - 52 Powerful Photos Of Women Who Changed History Forever

I don't know if this is "politics, issues, and current events" but the women depicted do make me feel more positive about some of the current events we are now experiencing. I hope you will all enjoy this article - it is full of inspiring photos with captions. These women have changed history forever by being strong, brave, and human, regardless of society’s expectations for them.

A Muslim woman covers the yellow star of her Jewish neighbour with her veil to protect her from prosecution. Sarajevo, former Yugoslavia. [1941]

Kathrine Switzer becomes the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, despite attempts by the marathon organizer to stop her. [1967]

Afghan women at a public library before the Taliban seized power. [c. 1950s]

Many more here: http://news.distractify.com/people/powerful-photos-of-women/?v=1

Scenes from a City in Revolt

Scenes from a city in revolt
August 19, 2014

The streets of Ferguson, Mo., are filled--with the gut-wrenching reminders of a young life ended by police; with militarized law enforcement lashing out with still more violence; with ordinary people raising their voices to demand justice for Mike Brown and all the victims of racism and the police. Here, SocialistWorker.org reporter Eric Ruder tells the story of the struggle with photos from a visit to Ferguson ...

Many powerful photos in this article: http://socialistworker.org/2014/08/19/scenes-from-a-city-in-revolt

Poverty Is Not Inevitable: What We Can Do Now to Turn Things Around

Poverty Is Not Inevitable: What We Can Do Now to Turn Things Around

Having poor people in the richest country in the world is a choice. We have the money to solve this. But do we have the will?
by Dean Paton
posted Aug 21, 2014

Inequality and poverty are suddenly hot topics, not only in the United States but also across the globe. Since the early 1980s, there has been a growing underclass in America. At the same time a much smaller class, now called the superrich, built its wealth to levels of opulence not seen since France’s Louis XVI. Despite this, the resulting inequality went mostly unnoticed. When the Great Recession of 2008 hit, and the division between the very wealthy and the rest of us came starkly into focus, various people and groups, including the Occupy movement, began insisting more publicly that we tax wealth. But still, helping the poor has been mostly a discussion on the fringes. At last, the terms of public debate have changed, because inequality and poverty now are debated regularly in the mainstream media and across the political spectrum, not solely by labor, by the left, and by others imagining a new economy.

Inserting such a controversial topic into mainstream discourse is French economist Thomas Piketty. His 700-page tome, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, shocked everyone this year when it made The New York Times bestseller list and bookstores found themselves backordering an economics book for legions of eager readers. Piketty did exhaustive searches of tax records from Great Britain, France, and the United States, going as far back as the late 18th century in France. Using sophisticated computer modeling and analyses, the professor from the Paris School of Economics debunks a long-held assumption—that income from wages will tend to grow at roughly the same rate as wealth—and instead makes a compelling case that, over time, the apparatus of capitalism grows wealth faster than wages. Result: Inequality between the wealthy and everyone else will widen faster and faster; and, without progressive taxation, his data show we’ll return to levels of inequality not seen since America’s Gilded Age.

Piketty, no Marxist, says a solution lies in a “confiscatory” tax on wealth: Tax salaries over $500,000 at 80 percent worldwide, and tax wealth at 15 percent worldwide. Every year.

Unless we can reverse the inequality trends of the past 35 years, Piketty says, the ensuing social chaos will eventually destroy democracy. Unfortunately, not even Piketty sees much chance of all nations on Earth simultaneously enacting his tax plans ...

more here: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/the-end-of-poverty/why-poverty-is-not-inevitable

Bangladeshi factory owner, out of jail, accused of more worker abuse

Garment workers earning poverty wages go on hunger strike for non-payment, then face retaliation and factory closure

August 21, 2014 4:18PM ET Updated August 22, 2014 8:13AM ET
by E. Tammy Kim

Nearly two years after a preventable fire killed 112 garment workers in Bangladesh, the owner of the Tazreen Fashion factory is out of jail, still in business and accused of cheating and retaliating against 1,600 employees at a separate five-factory complex.

Delwar Hossain spent fewer than six months in pre-trial detention before his release on bail on August 5. He and his wife, Mahmuda Akter, had surrendered to Dhaka authorities in February, having been charged with culpable homicide 13 months after the deadly fire at Tazreen. But until now, the courts have repeatedly denied Hossain’s request to be let out on bail. (Akter must report to the station every week.)
Tuba and Tazreen factory owners Delwar Hossain and his wife, Mahmuda Akter, turn themselves in to a Dhaka court in February 2014. AP

While Hossain was in custody, his wife and close associates continued to operate Tuba Fashions and four other garment factories in a large building in Dhaka’s Badda neighborhood. Garment workers' rights advocates contend that in May he instructed Tuba managers to withhold pay from some 1,600 employees and pressure them to sign a petition supporting his release. At the time, the factory was producing soccer jerseys emblazoned with the FIFA World Cup logo, say labor organizers in close contact with the workers.

By July 9 employees were still owed two months’ compensation, it was alleged. They began to protest in front of the factory, on the streets and outside the offices of the powerful Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), only to be hosed down, teargased and shot at with rubber bullets by the police. One woman reported a miscarriage to Saydia Gulrukh, a labor advocate with the Asia Floor Wage group, which supports a regional, baseline living wage ...


More on Kurdistan -

[I've posted a bit about Kurdistanbut this is a newer article that lies this out a little more. Probably no surprise to many in this group.]

Iraq and the Oil Wars
August 17, 2014

Oil has always been part of U.S. decision-making on Iraq, a key motive for the 2003 invasion and the bloody occupation that followed. Now, as President Obama returns U.S. forces to Iraq, the issue of oil has bubbled back to the surface, as oil analyst Antonia Juhasz explained to Dennis J Bernstein.

By Dennis J Bernstein

President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq gave U.S. and other Western oil companies a major stake in the country’s giant oil fields, a foothold now threatened by the offensive launched by the Islamic State and offering at least a partial explanation for President Barack Obama’s decision to return the U.S. military to the conflict.

Another complicating factor is Kurdistan’s control of some giant oil fields and its push for independence. As oil industry analyst and investigative journalist Antonia Juhasz says: “Western oil companies and the Obama administration will not permit ISIL to control Kurdistan and are willing to engage militarily to achieve this goal.”

Juhasz has written extensively on the oil industry and the multiple wars in Iraq, including two books, The Bush Agenda and The Tyranny of Oil. Juhasz spoke with Dennis J Bernstein in a recent Flashpoints interview about the situation unfolding in Iraq.

DB: Why are the Kurds and Kurdistan of great interest to the U.S.? What does that relationship look like? What is pushing the U.S.?

AJ: We are clearly engaged in a military action for oil. But the Obama administration is not the Bush administration. It is clear to me that if the only thing at stake in Kurdistan right now was protecting oil interests, we would not be engaging militarily. If the Bush administration were in power now, we would be. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was about many things, but one of the most dominant was oil and the desire to get western oil corporations on the ground in Iraq. That goal was achieved by the Bush administration. Today we have Exxon producing from some of the largest oil fields in the world. Other western companies like BP and Shell – all of the major western companies – are operating in Iraq and doing quite well.

From the very beginning of the invasion, however, there was a strong issue in the area of Iraq known as Kurdistan that wanted independence from the rest of Iraq, with the Kurds trying to garner western favor to achieve that goal. One of the things the Kurds have to their benefit is they have a tremendous amount of oil ...

Much more here: http://consortiumnews.com/2014/08/17/iraq-and-the-oil-wars/

Progressive tax reforms approved in El Salvador

August 13, 2014.

On July 31, El Salvador’s National Legislative Assembly passed a package of tax reforms aimed at shifting the fiscal burden from the nation’s poor majority to the wealthy elite and easing the country’s dependence on international loans to finance important social investment. The bill was approved despite a fierce campaign against it in the nation’s conservative media.

The measures were drafted by the current leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) administration, and passed with the votes of legislators of the FMLN and the conservative Grand National Alliance (GANA) party. The package includes a tax on non-productive properties valued at over $350,000; a minimum 1% tax on companies’ net assets; a tax on financial transactions over $750, with exemptions for remittances sent from families living abroad, cash withdrawals, credit card payments, social security, salary or loan payments; and the elimination of the exemption of newspaper owners from income tax payment ...

More here: http://www.cispes.org/blog/progressive-tax-reforms-approved-el-salvador/

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