Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Just Transition to Sustainable Jobs

The Trump administration wasted no time before launching a veritable blitzkrieg on all fronts in pursuit of an “alt-right” America First agenda. But resistance has been swift and massive.

In addition to various movements mobilizing we also heard from scientists. Agence France Presse (AFP) reported: “Comments by U.S. President Donald Trump on nuclear weapons and climate change have helped make the world less safe, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists warned … moving its symbolic ‘Doomsday Clock’ 30 seconds closer to midnight.”

The Record of U.S. Intervention Against Other Countries

If there is a training manual for the sons and daughters of the 1% on how to govern, a kind of “How To Fool and Rule The Masses For Dummies”—it’s easy enough to imagine the need for such a guide—then surely the deluxe edition would include links to what on “The Sopranos” was called “G1.” Recall the Godfather (Marlon Brando) warning his impetuous eldest son: “Never tell anyone outside the Family what you’re thinking again.”

Enter President Donald Trump, who brushed aside the findings of U.S. intelligence services that suggest Russia hacked into Democratic Party files to discredit candidate Hillary Clinton and influence the elections in favor of Trump. These allegations, Trump said, were “ridiculous.”

Trump Okays Oil Pipelines

In a move that surprised no one for its greed and arrogance, on Jan. 24 President Donald Trump reversed President Obama’s Executive Order impeding construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The route of the pipeline goes across sacred Sioux land and under the Missouri River near Standing Rock, North Dakota.

Delivering on a promised one-two punch against climate sanity and Native American rights, climate change denier Trump also approved restarting the Keystone XL oil pipeline project, halted in November 2015 and stretching all the way from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

In Rural America, the Right to Choose is Only Half the Battle

If the culture wars drove the 2016 election and its outcome, one of the most obvious wedge issues deployed by the right was abortion. The question of whether people who are pregnant should be allowed to exercise the right to make a private medical decision should have been settled in 1973 with Roe v. Wade, but in fact, the landmark Supreme Court decision just served to mobilize the right and politicize the subject of abortion to an extreme degree.

On one side: People like President Donald Trump, who remarked in a 2016 town hall that he believed women should be “punished” for getting abortions and vowed to appoint an anti-choice Supreme Court justice. On the other: The 79 percent of Americans who have affirmed that they believe patients should have the right to choose in all or some circumstances.

Somewhere in the silent middle: rural America. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Anti-Trump Resistance Is Starting to Win. Here’s How.

On New Year’s Eve, as then President-elect Donald Trump was hosting a cadre of wealthy elites at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, activist and filmmaker Valarie Kaur took to the pulpit at the historic Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C., to offer words of hope in what to many Americans seemed the most hopeless of moments.

Just two months before, the country had witnessed millions upon millions of its citizens vote for an openly xenophobic and sexist bigot who ran as an authoritarian strongman, vaulting him to become the next U.S. president.

How Today’s White Middle Class Was Made Possible By Welfare

Whites, angered at blacks and immigrants receiving “government handouts,” forget they were lifted out of poverty through racially exclusive welfare programs in the 1930s. 

Between 2001 and 2010, Westmoreland County, Pa., lost at least 8,000 manufacturing jobs. That’s one explanation for why this once-blue region gave more votes to Donald Trump than did any other Pennsylvania county, helping swing the state in his favor and propelling him to a surprise victory.

We want our jobs back,” John Golomb, a retired steelworker in Westmoreland County and lifelong Democrat who voted for Trump, told the Wall Street Journal, adding that previous presidents from both parties “forgot us.”

Dueling Corporate Interests Await Updates to Organic Animal Welfare Standards

One of the pending regulations released in the final days of the Obama administration, and put on hold by the Trump White House, was an already controversial rule that pits legitimate family-scale organic farmers against the operators of “factory farms”—industrial-scale operations accused of violating existing organic animal welfare standards. A newly released analysis by The Cornucopia Institute, an organic industry watchdog, explains what is at stake and why economically powerful forces in organics are squawking, principally over new space requirements proposed for chickens.

The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 19, and amends current organic livestock and poultry production requirements. The new rule adds provisions for livestock handling, avian living conditions, transport for slaughter and expands and clarifies existing requirements covering livestock care and production practices. It includes mandates for the care of cattle, hogs, and poultry.

The Deadly Reality of Construction Work

Construction worker deaths are rising in New York and Latinos are especially at risk.

That’s according to a new report, released last month, by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH). Between 2006-2015, at least 464 construction workers died while on the job in New York. The study also found safety violations at more than 68 percent of construction site inspections. The penalties for such infractions are small.

Released in the shadow of Donald Trump’s controversial executive orders on immigration, the report identifies the specific vulnerabilities of being a Latino construction worker. While Latinos made up just 30 percent of the construction workforce in 2015, they accounted for 57 percent of the fatalities due to falls.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Veterans Confront a System That Ignores Them

Veterans are tired. They are tired of a system that no longer listens to them, tired of longer deployments, tired of a medical system that takes days or months to respond. I have buried more friends to drug overdoses, drunk driving, and suicide than during my deployment to Iraq.

In 2012 military suicides surpassed military combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. We hear stories about how even after Congress made a law to stop the military from kicking out members with mental health issues, the Army discharged more than 22,000 soldiers suffering from TBI or PTSD. We see veterans stripped of their GI Bill benefits, stripped of their rights to use the VA, and unable to find a job if they were deprived of an honorable discharge.

Dakota Access Gets Final Approval, Standing Rock Sioux Call for March in D.C.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will grant Dakota Access, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, the final easement needed to finish construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has opposed the project from its conception, vows to challenge the decision in court.

The drinking water of millions of Americans is now at risk,” says Dave Archambault II, tribe chairman, in a statement released late Tuesday. “We are a sovereign nation and we will fight to protect our water and sacred places from the brazen private interests trying to push this pipeline through to benefit a few wealthy Americans with financial ties to the Trump administration.”

Mexico Won't Pay for the Wall

The reactionary white contingent in the United States has become braver with the recent arrival of one of their “own” in the White House. And at this point it has become clear that to underestimate Trump is an error. For Trump and his followers, Mexicans are to blame for most of the ills in the U.S. Undocumented workers are treated like the lowest of the low and the New York billionaire like an honest worker.

In these times of darkness for immigrants and refugees, undocumented workers, who are disparaged by all sides, are experiencing an extra dose of stress. Trump is clarifying the unclear future of undocumented workers by bringing the threat of deportation to the forefront. With the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump, the attacks against immigrants, Muslims, women, and minorities have just begun.

A Watershed Election for U.S. Imperialism

The 2016 presidential election concluded with the improbable election of real estate billionaire and reality show celebrity Donald Trump. In this historic 2016 election the dual parties of U.S. capitalism ended up presenting the American electorate with the choice between two individuals who were universally recognized as the most unpopular, distrusted candidates in the history of U.S. presidential politics. How did this happen? Was it just a fluke? Was it just the accidental luck of the draw?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

How to fight Trump? Defeating Democratic Party strategy is key

Donald Trump, a pompous real-estate mogul and multi-billionaire, has taken the White House while surrounded by billionaire cabinet appointees who have a combined net worth greater than one-third of the United States. An Ivy-League-educated bigot, who from childhood has become accustomed to an opulent lifestyle, including a Manhattan “grand penthouse mansion” with gold-plated furnishings, has the temerity to present himself as the voice of the downtrodden and the defender of American workers.

Trump’s inaugural address was a demagogic mixture of populist and nationalistic rhetoric. The assembled dignitaries were a “Who’s Who” of the ruling elite: nationally prominent political hacks, lobbyists, and influence peddlers intermingled among the most powerful captains of industry and finance.

Widespread protests challenge Trump’s anti-Muslim order

Protests erupted throughout the United States and the world following President Trump’s stunning order that suspended entry into the U.S. by refugees and other travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa. Thousands demonstrated at airports and federal courthouses. Chants included: “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here!”

At least 10,000 rallied against the Muslim ban in New York City’s Battery Park on Jan. 29, while taxi drivers held a one-hour strike in solidarity. On the same day, massive crowds jammed Boston’s Copley Square—more than 15,000, according to the police. Over 15,000 marched in Minneapolis on Jan. 31. The protests have continued the momentum and spirit of the massive Jan. 21 Women’s Marches in Washington and hundreds of other cities.

Mariela Castro and Cuba’s LGBT revolution

Mariela Castro’s March: Cuba’s LGBT Revolution,” directed by Jon Albert and Sual Landau. Cuban producer Roberto Chile. An HBO Documentary Production.

This just released film follows Mariela Castro and Cuban LGBT activists as they travel through rural towns to engage with Cubans about the upcoming International Day Against Homophobia on May 17, 1990.

They travel to the region of Matanzas, the small towns of San Pablo de Yao and Ciego de Avila, and a farm in the Sierra Maestra mountains. There are also more recent interviews with lesbians, gay men, and transgender Cubans and their families throughout the island. The film begins and ends with the 2013 Day Against Homophobia marches, which illustrates how far the movement has come.