Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Trump Uses Kids as Bargaining Chips as Immigration Fightback Grows

On June 30, protesters defied dangerously hot temperatures and took to the streets in over 750 cities in the United States and abroad to protest Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies. The marches and rallies focused on his administration’s practice of separating immigrant families and imprisoning their children.

Over 30,000 participated in the Families Belong Together march in Washington, D.C., and tens of thousands more came out in other cities. Common demands included “Abolish ICE,” “No human being is illegal,” and “End deportations.”

America’s Dairy Farmers are Struggling and Unsupported

When Lorraine Lewandrowski drives from her Herkimer County dairy farm to her law office each day, she notices the changes happening across rural upstate New York. “When I grew up here, we had 30 or 40 farms in our neighborhood,” she says. “We had a local hardware store, machinery dealers, two dentists, two doctors. We had a vibrant rural town. Now we don’t have that.”

Today, she says, roadsides are dotted with “for sale” signs. Farms sit vacant, their owners having relocated to urban areas in search of work. Once-pristine barns have become dilapidated after years of low prices left farmers without money for infrastructure upkeep. The closest city, Utica, is the sixth-most distressed city in the country, with about half of the adults unemployed and more than a quarter of the population living in poverty.

Where is Mexico Heading with Lopez Obrador?

Two days after the elections in which he had tied a sweeping victory with more than 50 percent of the total vote, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) announced that he will back the government of Enrique Peña Nieto during the transition period prior to the rise of the new government. This declaration culminated months of negotiations and agreements that allowed election day, July 1, to unfold relatively free of any upsets.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Janus v. AFSCME and the Future of Unions

On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. That decision said that making non-union members pay for the union’s political activities violated the First Amendment, but that it was constitutional to require non-members to help pay for a union’s collective bargaining and contract administration costs. The ruling added that this would ensure “labor peace.”

Now, in the Janus v. AFSCME case, the Supreme Court has ruled by a 5 to 4 margin that non-members should not be required to pay “agency fees” or “fair share.” Doing so, the Court majority agreed, would violate those workers’ rights to free speech and free association.

What's Behind the Anti-Vaccine Movement?

Routine childhood vaccination is one of the cornerstones of modern public health. Evidence points to its major role in improving health by a dramatic reduction in the incidence of infectious diseases that formerly caused significant illness and death.

Yet, as any nurse or physician delivering primary care can tell you, there is a small but significant number of parents who refuse vaccines for their children. Vaccines are suspect because they are not “natural.” Scientific and medical authority have been eroded. There is widespread criticism of the pharmaceutical industry that produces the vaccines. The claim of a link between the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism has frightened many people even if the claim has been de-bunked.

No to Hydrogen Fluoride in Superior!

On April 26, around 10 a.m., on the same day as the anniversary of the explosion at Chernobyl, the Husky Refinery here exploded and caught fire. For nine hours, toxic fumes blew 30 miles to the south. Eleven workers were injured but soon recovered. Most of this city along the shore of Lake Superior had to be evacuated.

Without having yet learned the details about the damage, Superior’s Democratic Mayor Jim Paine said that the air was unpolluted after the fire was put out. Right away, however, community member began to express their fears about the quality of the water, air, and soil.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Teacher Strikes: New Beginning for Labor?

North Carolina teachers capped off two months of unprecedented national teacher militancy as they rallied 20,000 strong at the state capitol on May 16. During their one-day “sick leave” strike, the teachers closed down 40 local school districts with one million students.

As with the previous five statewide teacher strikes in 2018, beginning with West Virginia in March and continuing in Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado, and Oklahoma, North Carolina teachers struck in defiance of a state law banning strikes.

The Food Stamp Work Requirement Is a Scheme to Punish Hungry Americans

Growing up in Boonville, California in the 1990s, a friend of mine would sometimes jokingly use the phrase "the beatings will continue until morale improves." If people are feeling bad, what better incentive to change their mood than getting repeatedly whacked with a stick?

The recent proposal by Congress to add work requirements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) reminded me of that phrase. In the 2018 Farm Bill currently under consideration in the House, Republicans have proposed new conditions for SNAP that would block many people from receiving food assistance if they are unemployed. While at first glance this may appear like a policy to encourage greater employment, it would actually make it harder for people to find a job, while taking away crucial support from more than one million hungry Americans.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Duluth Workers Win 'Earned Safe & Sick Time'

On May 29, by a vote of 7 to 1, the Duluth City Council passed into an Earned Safe and Sick Time ordinance. The new law mandates that all business owners in the city give their workers time off when they are sick and need time off for other pressing personal matters. The law was passed after a long and hard fought battle, spearheaded by a coalition of union and community activists.

Frustrated by stagnant wages and the rising cost of living, working people across the country are demanding change. Yet our country’s “leaders” continue to concern themselves with nothing but the enrichment of the wealthy elites. Out of desperation, some activists are turning to local initiatives, like municipal minimum wage laws, earned safe and sick time mandates, and other similar projects. However, wherever these local initiatives have been attempted, they have been met by fierce opposition, including some states passing laws banning municipalities right to even take up these kind of issues.

Working People Have No Stakes in a Trade War

A joint statement by Socialist Action (U.S.) and Socialist Action/Ligue pour l’action socialiste in the Canadian state.

The recent imposition of a 25% tariff on steel imports to the United States and a 10% tariff on aluminum from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union follow the earlier imposition of these tariffs on the rest of the world, and even earlier tariffs on solar panels and washing machines aimed at China and South Korea—all by the U.S. Donald Trump administration.
Trump has also threatened to place heavy tariffs on automobiles and parts imported from abroad, and on numerous industrial and technological products from China. He has also re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran, and put new sanctions on Russia.

A Look at the Immigration Crackdown

Trump’s views on immigrants are well known. Over the past year and some months that he has been president, Trump has attempted to bully Congress into enacting ever more draconian measures targeting undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. He has threatened to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. He has threatened to beef up the Border Patrol and other security measures at the U.S.-Mexico border. He has threatened to renegotiate the NAFTA trade deal. He has called Mexican immigrants dangerous drug dealers and rapists.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Like Fracking, Factory Farms Are Profitable and Ecologically Insane

In 2008, Cabot Oil and Gas started fracking operations in Dimock, Penn. It was around that time the community started noticing their water was turning brown and making people and animals sick. One woman’s water well exploded. Fracking had come to town.

It’s a familiar story in other rural communities—from Pennsylvania to Montana and Texas—where fracking has contaminated drinking water resources and emitted toxic air pollution associated with higher rates of asthma, birth defects and cancer.

Buy One, Get One Free: On Capitalist Propaganda

The more pervasive and unchallenged propaganda is, the more effective it becomes. As a salesman by trade, I handle a lot of promotional materials for the products we sell at my workplace (booklets and product samples). These range from decking, to fasteners, all the way to kitchen faucets. I have a front-row seat to the construction industry’s view of itself. For the purposes of this article, I will focus on one example: door slabs.

DACA and the Dreamers From EL Salvador

The total number of the world’s displaced people is at an all-time high. Fear of persecution caused by war, race, religion, or political affiliation is a force that drives these people from their homelands.

El Salvador, a country that lost about 25 percent of its population to migration during its civil war, is one of those countries whose name has popped up regarding U.S. immigration and our DACA program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA involves the future of about 700,000 young “dreamers,” and El Salvadorans make up the largest number.

Global Debt Hits $164 Trillion

The world’s debt load has ballooned to a record $164 trillion, a trend that could make it harder for countries to cope with the next capitalist recession and pay off debts if financing conditions tighten, the International Monetary Fund said in April. Global public and private debt swelled to 225 per cent of global gross domestic product in 2016, the latest year for IMF figures, according to its semi-annual Fiscal Monitor report.  The previous debt peak was in 2009.