Sunday, February 18, 2018

Union Group Argues for Public Ownership of Energy Systems

As Bill McKibben and other climate leaders keep reminding us, the cost of solar and wind energy keeps dropping. They assure us that if government continues to incentivize private investment with guarantees of profitable it would make these renewable sources competitive with fossil fuels and lead to a green capitalism.

This thinking is based on a seminal 2006 paper by Nicholas Stern, former chief economist at the World Bank. However, “Working Paper No. 10” (http://unionsforenergydemocracy.org/resources/tued-publications/tued-working-paper-10/), recently released by the Trade Unionists for Energy Democracy (TUED), proves that the “Stern Review” was a pipe dream and urges labor organizations to fight like the devil for an alternative course—public ownership of energy systems run under democratic control.

A New Look at the Wartime History of Pesticides

When I entered the Office of Pesticide Programs of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1979, I knew practically nothing about pesticides. Though I had taken classes in chemistry in college and had even written my first book about industrialized agriculture, nothing prepared me for the secrets I uncovered during 25 years of work in a bureaucracy designed and brought up to keep secrets.

My colleagues opened my eyes to the secret world of chemical sprays deceptively known as pesticides. They kept answering my questions and, more than that, they started giving me their memos, briefings and scientific papers. They did not see much controversy in the “regulation” of pesticides. Most thought pesticides were necessary for farming.

5 Ways the Olympics Are Undermining Democracy and Exploiting Workers

We’re almost halfway through 17 frigid days of Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, and U.S. media coverage has been banal, predictable and full of holes. American press outlets, largely ignorant of Korean history and politics, have demonized North Korea and Russia while pumping out trivial stories about the number of condoms at the Olympic Village.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Love & Socialism

Alexandra Kollontai was one of the most prolific Bolshevik writers on the issues of gender, love, and marriage. Like any good Marxist, Kollontai saw love not as an eternal and immutable feeling, but rather as a historical construct — one that has changed drastically over time. Love has a history, and throughout history, it has been used to organize society in the interests of a small ruling class. As Kollontai argues in her text Make Way for the Winged Eros, in “all stages of historical development, society has established norms defining when and under what conditions love is ‘legal (i.e. corresponds to the interests of the given social collective) and when and under what conditions love is sinful and criminal (i.e. contradicts the tasks of the given society).”

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Are You Sick? Blame Poverty

The United States faces some of the worst income inequality in the industrialized world, with the GOP tax bill poised to widen the divide and send more people below the poverty line. Now, there is mounting evidence that those on the losing end of this economic divide face a multitude of negative health impacts caused by poverty-related stress.

The link between stress and illness is not new information: The Greek physician and philosopher Galen wrote about the connection in 200 A.D.

Defend the 1st Amendment and Prisoners’ Rights to Read Critical Ideas

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is attempting to ban the Workers World(WW) newspaper for its coverage of the Florida prison strike. According to WW, “The immediate reason given in the DOC’s Jan. 29 letter is that ‘information contained on pages 1 and 6 calls for action that may advocate criminal activity within the correctional facility.’ The title of the offending article by J. White in the Jan. 18 Workers World issue was ‘Fla. prisoners launch strike against slave labor.’”

Socialist Action rejects this egregious act of censorship and urges all of our readers to act to defend the First Amendment and the right of prisoners to read ideas that are critical of state repression and the capitalist system. Prisoners have the right to know how this system, which is based on white supremacy, functions. They have the right to know that millions of people are struggling to end police brutality, mass incarceration, and racism.

The Case for Nationalizing Elon Musk

On Tuesday, Elon Musk launched some stuff into space. The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket was shot into the Solar System, tailed by a Tesla Roadster blasting David Bowie songs, reportedly the fastest car ever to be released into orbit. Each Falcon launch is only expected to cost around $90 million—a bargain in the world of extraterrestrial exploration. 

Scientific American gawked, “Elon Musk Does It Again,” praising the “bold technological innovations and newfound operational efficiencies that allow SpaceX to not only build its rockets for less money, but also reuse them.” That view—shared by several other outlets—fits comfortably with the Tony Stark-like image Musk has crafted for himself over the years: a quirky and slightly off-kilter playboy genius inventor capable of conquering everything from outer space to the climate crisis with the sheer force of his imagination.

Why People Across the Country Are Raising Money to Bail Strangers Out of Jail

The premise of Mariame Kaba’s idea, which she tweeted on New Year’s Eve with the hashtag #FreeThePeople, was simple — donate the price of one drink to a local bail fund, organizations that raise money and post bail for people who would otherwise languish in jail until their day in court.

Organizers took up the call to #FreethePeople. Chicago organizer Kelly Hayes reached out to others to create memes to circulate and keep momentum going. She and Kaba also compiled fact sheets about cash bail and its consequences. “We wanted to use this as an opportunity for education, not just to raise money,” Kaba explained.

Haitians Denounce Trump’s ‘Shithole’ Remark

As if 200 years of U.S. racism and imperialism weren’t enough, Haitians must contend with the idiotic rantings of the U.S. commander in chief, Donald Trump. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” asked Trump at a Jan. 11 immigration meeting.

Trump was referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and African states, provoking worldwide outrage. During the meeting he asked, “Why do we need more Haitians?” “Take them out.” according to sources cited in a Jan. 12 Washington Post article. And that wasn’t enough for Trump, who added, “Put me down for wanting more Europeans to come to this country. Why don’t we get more people from Norway?”

Sunday, February 4, 2018

For Wall and War: What’s Revealed by Trump’s SOTU?

Like most State of the Union addresses, much of Trump’s speech on Tuesday night was focused on empty platitudes (we share the same flag, veterans are heroes) designed to get Congress members from both parties on their feet and create a fanciful image of national unity. And as usual, there was the spectacle in which victims of official US enemies — gangs or North Korea — were trotted out to elicit maximum sympathy for the president’s agenda. However, Trump is still far from being able to unite even his own party, let alone the establishment as a whole, despite his attempts in Tuesday’s speech.

The U.S. Cares More About Keeping South Korea Under its Thumb Than Peace With North Korea

In the bleak world of North Korea news, optimism is in short supply. But the ongoing inter-Korean talks regarding the DPRK’s participation in the Olympics are genuinely heartening because they have thrown a monkey wrench into the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign and slowed the march toward war. It remains to be seen whether this Olympic detente will expand into something larger, potentially even talks with the United States, but for the time being, the world can breathe a sigh of relief.

Twin Cities Unions Shine Super Bowl Spotlight on Corporate Exploitation

One million visitors. One hundred million television viewers. Ten thousand hospitality volunteers posted at hotels, light rail stations, and the airport. And an $800,000 ice palace. Super Bowl LII this February will undoubtedly make an economic impact on the Twin Cities. But a coalition of unions and community organizations is asking, “At what cost to our communities?”

In the months leading up to it, and culminating in a series of actions that will take place just before the Big Game, these groups are taking advantage of the temporary national media spotlight that’s trained on the Minneapolis-St. Paul area—not only to win campaigns, but also to change the conversation about public priorities.

St. Paul Immigrant Rights Marchers Aay, ‘Stop All Deportations Now!’

On Saturday, Jan. 20, close to 1000 people marched in 30-degree weather here to commemorate one year of struggle against the Trump administration. Responding to the call, “No Human Being is Illegal,” the marchers gathered outside of the Ramsey County Detention Center, which houses immigrants awaiting deportation.

The detention center has been a target for local activists for years, especially after a 30-year-old Ecuadorian woman died in detention there in 2006. Just one day earlier, an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the Ramsey County Detention Center will stop housing immigrants in the jail at the end of January, due to low reimbursement rates from ICE.

Labor and Climate Groups Support Transit Equity Day

On Feb. 5, civil rights, trade union, student, church, and environmental activists in communities across North America will come together in a variety of events to call attention to a looming crisis in public transit.

The diversity of these groups indicates that they recognize not only the urgent need to save what we have but also the potential crucial role transit expansion can play in providing affordable transportation that is accessible to all, that can reduce traffic fatalities and congestion—and that can curtail greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Women's March in Duluth

Several hundred marched through downtown Duluth on Jan. 20 in a Women’s March. Organized by the Feminist Action Collective, and endorsed by a wide range of groups, including Socialist Action, the event represented a mass outpouring of support for feminism, and in opposition to the reactionary policies coming out of Washington D.C. The Northern Worker blog salutes the participants, organizers and speakers of this powerful, diverse statement of resistance!