Tuesday, November 21, 2017

PBS Goes to Vietnam

If for no other reason, it could be worth watching the PBS Ken Burns extravaganza on the US war on Viet Nam just to see how many hours and how much video imagery can be spent rehashing what establishment accounts have already been foisting on the public for decades.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Enbridge to Nowhere

How Fossil Fuel Interests Funded, Influenced, and Promoted the University of Minnesota Duluth's Line 3 Pipeline Study

A recent study released by the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) on the economic benefits of Enbridge’s controversial Line 3 replacement pipeline is deeply compromised by major conflicts of interest, many of which are undisclosed, as well as serious methodological problems. The Duluth News Tribune, the Duluth area’s leading newspaper, also has major undisclosed conflicts surrounding its coverage of the UMD study.

The UMD study is a prime example of a wider tactic used by the fossil fuel industry, which we’ve reported on before, whereby the industry and industry-backed groups fund studies that bear a legitimizing university imprimatur but are in fact deeply influenced and/or supported by the very oil and gas companies that have a vested interest in the results of the studies. The findings of these industry-financed studies are then spread by backers as fact in op-eds, editorials, letters to editors, public hearings, and other mediums, all while being referred to as a given university’s study — with the authority and trust that confers — rather than an industry study.

How Capitalism Uses Gender Oppression to Rule

Usually, when I begin a talk about Marxism and feminism, I pick one of the latest outrages to the dignity of women and gender non-conforming people to stand in for all that capitalism has meant in the past and has in store for us in the future. This time, I had a lot of trouble choosing. In the last several weeks, we watched a strong 17-year-old without papers, sequestered in a refugee center, forced to stand up to the entire arsenal of the state of the most powerful capitalist nation on earth in order to be allowed to buy an abortion for herself.

Her story was punctuated by Trump’s racist and sexist denunciation of “welfare queens” stealing from the public, just as he was driving forward on a tax bill designed to utterly demolish any survival of the social pact made by the capitalist class in the wake of the rebellious Thirties. Within days, his administration threatened transgender soldiers with the kind of discharges that could condemn them to a life of joblessness, ostracism, and poverty.

New Tax Plan: Rob the Poor to Help the Rich

In the last month, the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have begun preparing a tax cut bill that would be a huge benefit to rich people and corporations. The details are still being negotiated among the representatives of the bourgeoisie, but the basic goals are clear.

The bill would cut income taxes by $1.5 trillion over a decade, with massive tax cuts for the wealthy, while shifting the tax burden further onto the working class. The few small crumbs that it has for working people will mostly be phased out after several years—often ending up with people paying higher taxes than they do now—while tax cuts for the wealthy are immediate or phased in and permanent.

UMD Has Sold Its Credibility to Enbridge

by Derek Seidman

Enbridge is proposing the Line 3 replacement pipeline, its biggest pipeline project ever, which will pump Tar Sands crude oil over a thousand miles through Canada and into the US. The pipeline will cut 337 miles through Minnesota, where it still needs state approval.

Line 3 is facing intense opposition from environmentalists, landowners, native communities, and even the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

It’s no wonder, then, that pro-Line 3 corporate forces are trying to manufacture public support for the pipeline. And they’re doing it by resorting to a common tactic used by the fossil fuel industry: financing and influencing a “study” that touts the economic impact that a pipeline will produce.

Bonn Talks Underway; Scientists See Grim Future for Climate

At the same time that Donald Trump was gallivanting around Asia, with objectives that included arming Japan with U.S. missiles and cajoling China into the plan to isolate North Korea, other heads of state were in Bonn, Germany, for the 23rd annual “Conference of the Parties” (COP23) UN-sponsored climate talks. The two weeks of discussions, Nov. 6-17, were aimed at negotiating ways to implement the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.

As the conference opened, the World Meteorological Organization released data showing that 2017 is apparently the hottest non-Niño year on record, and is expected to join the two previous years as the three hottest in modern history.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

UWS Suspends Dozens of Academic Programs

The University of Wisconsin-Superior became the latest college to try out an education fad while slashing their budget. With such a high-profile notice, it’s clear their administrators were looking to get credit for starting a national trend, which might catch on in the South. Yet in the end, it’s the students who lose out when universities like this school loses sight of what their mission, while hundreds of millions of state dollars are spent on pro sports in the state.

In the Chronicle of Higher Education article “Plan to Phase Out 2 Dozen Programs Stuns Faculty at Wisconsin-Superior,” by Katherine Managan, the administration announced they would suspend more than two dozen programs at their college, ranging from the arts (Theater) to the sciences (Chemistry: Forensic, Earth Science, Physics), Social Science (Political Science, Geography Sociology), and a variety of fields that would produce teachers in science, psychology, and computer science.

AFL-CIO Must Shine Light on Past Foreign Policy

As the AFL-CIO held its national convention this week in St. Louis, passing resolutions in support of worker rights and condemning fascism, union members in Minnesota called on the labor federation to shine a light on its past foreign policy practices.

Specifically, they want the federation to open up the files on AIFLD, a branch of the AFL-CIO founded in the Cold War era that often worked against workers’ interests in other countries.

How Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Hate Is Galvanizing Hotel Workers to Fight Back

No friend of labor or working-class immigrants, President Donald Trump is nevertheless providing a back-handed boost to the hotel workers’ union UNITE HERE by helping it sign up new members at its union locals around the country. Trump’s threats to punish immigrants has prompted more and more workers to look to the union as a way to protect themselves in an uncertain political climate, UNITE HERE leaders say.  

The boost is powerful enough that 2017 is proving to be a banner year for new organizing at the union. Spokesperson Rachel Gumpert says UNITE HERE is leading the field among big unions, with major recruiting efforts underway. Some 12,000 new members have been signed up since the beginning of the year, she tells In These Times, making 2017 the best year for new organizing in recent memory.

Joe Ricketts Is a Walking Case for a $1 Million Maximum Income

Late Thursday afternoon, multi-billionaire Trump donor Joe Ricketts shuttered the Gothamist and DNAinfo media empire he conglomerated in March. Ricketts closed the sites a week after staffers voted to unionize. In the process, he also made a stellar case for a $1 million maximum income.

What is a maximum income? Taxing every penny someone makes over a million dollars by 100 percent and putting it back into public coffers.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Native Women Target European Banks to Block Big Oil

Last December, calls to defund the Dakota Access pipeline and “Stand with Standing Rock” led individuals to divest millions of dollars from banks extending credit to that project. As cities and tribes got involved, that amount increased to now more than $4 billion.

Seattle was the first, then more cities followed, and the movement to defund Big Oil is still growing. In May, Indigenous leaders launched a new campaign, the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, targeting four proposed tar sands pipelines. The strategy is to stop banks’ financial commitment before ground is broken. One of these projects—TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline—was terminated earlier this month.

Stop the Ethnic Cleansing of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims!

Capitalism has reached a new level of barbarism in Myanmar. So far, over 500,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have been driven out of their homes in the Northern Rakhine State and into unsanitary, crowded camps in Bangladesh, without adequate food and water. Soldiers and Buddhist fascist-like gangs have torched thousands of Rohingya homes; they have beaten, stabbed, gang raped and killed hundreds of defenseless Rohingya.

Those fleeing violence, mostly women and children, face land mines planted on the Bangladesh border, resulting in horrific injuries and death. Refugees tell of Rohingya being shot and thrown out of army helicopters. Helicopter guns mow them down in their own fields.

The Relevance of the Russian Revolution Today

Leon Trotsky, co-leader with Vladimir Lenin of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia, famously argued that the “Russian Question” was key to the standing of every party on earth that claimed allegiance to the heritage of revolutionary socialist politics.

To this day, 100 years after Lenin’s Bolshevik Party led the world’s first socialist revolution, no party has matched its record of social, political, theoretical, organizational, military, cultural, and moral contributions to the advancement of the interests of the working-class masses.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Water Protectors Protest Wells Fargo for Funding Enbridge

On October 23, 2017 Water Protectors from Camp Makwa Front Line Camp blockaded a Wells Fargo Bank branch to oppose the bank’s massive investments in the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline and their parasitic relationship to Native American communities.

Wells Fargo currently has $743 million dollars in corporate lending to Enbridge LLC. Enbridge has proposed to build the so-called Line 3 “expansion” project. The new route of this new pipeline would cross the wild rice beds and pristine lakes in northern Minnesota and the Anishinaabe people. The camps denounce the pipeline as an act of continued genocide.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

AFL-CIO Passes Anti-War Resolution

Resolution 50: War Is Not the Answer
October 25, 2017

WHEREAS, in 2005, the AFL-CIO Convention passed a historic resolution calling for the rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and an end to the country’s occupation; and

WHEREAS, in 2011, the AFL-CIO Executive Council declared that American troops must be brought home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the militarization of our foreign policy has proven to be a costly mistake; it is time to invest at home; and