Thursday, August 04, 2005

Indymedia roundup

Before writing long, tedious tomes of pop economics like this one, it is useful to know something at least halfway true about history. Here is a historical fact that is very hard for serious economists to ignore: In 200 years of capitalist economic history, there have never been enough jobs for the people who need them. Not in the long term. Have you ever noticed that when unemployment dips below 5 percent in our Homeland, the stock market falls? Whenever a worker shortage begins to materialize and bid wages up, capital starts to invent technology that either eliminates simple jobs or simplifies complex jobs into cheaper and more mobile units. A computer programmer or systems analyst in the 1970s could support a family; an IT specialist in the ’00s cannot. Why is that? Because our system is structured to invent technology that lowers wages and raises profits. But Friedman writes as if the Web, the Internet, and informatics were gifts from God that fell from the sky. He does not locate the motivation that developed them, other than to refer in google-eyed wonder to the ingenuity and inventiveness of smart people--all over the world!
Nor does Friedman seem to know anything whatsoever about trade unions, which are also a worldwide phenomenon that pops up to protect and raise wages whenever urban employment hits a critical mass. They appeared in the United States, Europe, Brazil, and Mexico, for example, as well as India now. So manufacturing capital flees to China, where they are not allowed. As he discusses the miracle of Chinese industrialization, Friedman makes only glancing references to the nastiness of the repressive government, which systematically disallows any autonomous organization that protects workers from exploitation.
Like many of these books, this one is more interesting for what it does not say than for what it does. Let's have a look at Mr. Friedman's interviewees, shall we? Nandan Nilekani, CEO of Infosys Technologies; General Richard Meyers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Jim Barksdale, former Netscape CEO; Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft; Rajesh Rao, CEO of Dhruva Interactive; Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico… Larry Summers. We all know who he is.
You get the picture. Nowhere is there an interview with Andy Stern, for example, the President of the Service Employees International Union, or with John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, or anyone who represents unions in India. Certainly, workers' organizations in China could not be interviewed because they must operate clandestinely. Workers themselves are not interviewed, except for the aforementioned Dolly, who surely knew that her boss was also on the line.

The above was sent in by Billie. It's from Gabriela Bocagrande's "My Head is Flat" (The Texas Observer), a review of the simple minded The World is Flat written by Betty's "husband" Thomas Friedman. Billie notes that this is The Texas Observer's Summer Books issue.

Charlie e-mails to note R. Scott Moxley's "Same Cox, New Box!" (OC Weekly):

After Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) introduced him at the July 26 hearing, Cox promised that "the focus" of the SEC under his direction will be "vigorous enforcement" of regulations. "The Commission must be vigilant in behalf of investors and stalwart against fraud and unfair dealings," he said. "I unqualifiedly welcome the opportunity to continue to work with each of you for the protection of investors."
Working to protect investors, of course, would be altogether new for the Newport Beach Republican. Before entering politics, he served as legal counsel to William E. Cooper, an Orange County swindler who stole $136 million, mostly from the elderly. In the nine terms he has served in Congress, Cox has repeatedly championed the narrow interests of corporations over their investors; his critics reasonably charge that he helped shape the regulatory environment in which Enron scandals ultimately flourished: in just one case, he politicked against a law that would have required accounting firms to disclose their financial interests in the corporations they audit. In 1994, he angrily predicted on the floor of the House that the Clinton presidency would produce a Great Depression; few men can claim to have predicted with more precision the opposite of what came to pass. In 1996, he backed an energy deregulation plan that cost Californians tens of billions of dollars--and then worked with Republican activists to pin the blame on Gray Davis, the state's Democratic governor.

Jonah e-mails to note Matt Taibbi's "On The Ropes: Don't expect much noise from the Democrats over Ohio" (New York Press):

Things have gotten so crazy in this Congress, and in this political environment in general, that the Democrats now have to watch their backs 24 hours a day, just to make sure they're not being cheated out of something.
In the abovementioned judiciary committee, there was an incident recently that underscored the problem. During the debate over the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (also known as CIANA; this was a bill designed to prevent minors from traveling across state lines to circumvent parental-notification regulations for abortions in their own states), representative Nadler introduced a series of proposed amendments. But Sensenbrenner, in the official committee report, took it upon himself to rewrite the amendments in his own language. Nadler's amendments had to do with exempting from prosecution certain people (relatives, taxi drivers, etc.) who may have assisted the minors in crossing state lines; Sensenbrenner rewrote them in a way that implies that these people were all sexual predators. An example of the rewrites:
a Nadler amendment allows an adult who could be prosecuted under the bill to go to a Federal district court and seek a waiver to the state's parental notice laws if this remedy is not available in the state court.
Mr. Nadler offered an amendment that would have created an additional layer of Federal court review that could be used by sexual predators to escape conviction under the bill.
The bill had nothing to do with sexual predators.
I bring this up because ideology is increasingly not the defining characteristic of this Republican party. What distinguishes this party is its cheating. In CAFTA, in defiance of House rules, they hold the floor open for as long as it takes to get their vote. They not only do this, they proudly announce that they're doing this. In the House, they have made a habit out of disallowing Democratic witnesses, shutting off debate, conveniently miscounting votes and committing brazen acts of slander and libel, like this Sensenbrenner business.
The party routinely refuses compliance with FOIA requests, as well as requests from the Inspector General and the General Accounting Office. It lied and continues to lie outrageously with regard to the Iraq war. It has convinced the country and even themselves that there is something immensely clever, and even principled, about the way that it lies, cheats and bends laws and rules to get what it wants.
[. . .]
That is why we in the media need to reexamine the 2004 election. If they really did steal it, we can't just let it slide. Because they'll do it again. And forget about the Democrats being able to do anything about it. They have their own problems.

Marcia e-mails to note (warning: link will take you to strong language) Erik Wemple's "Dear Prude" (Washington City Paper):

In recent weeks, the [Washington] Post's Metro section has covered the extraordinary story of the Rev. Willie F. Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church, in Anacostia. Wilson is in the news because he made some inflammatory remarks about lesbians in a recorded July 3 sermon. The Washington Blade first detailed Wilson's preachings, but the Post has carefully chronicled the controversies that they have generated.
And in each iteration, the Post has taken choice excerpts from Wilson's remarks. For example: "We live in a time now brothers have been so put down, can't get a job. Lot of the sisters making more money than brothers, and it’s created problems in families. That's one of the reasons our families [are] breaking up and that's one of the reasons many of our women are becoming lesbians" ("Activists Condemn 'Lesbians' Sermon," 7/16).
And this classic: "Lesbianism is about to take over our community. I'm talking about young girls. My son in high school last year tried to go to the prom. He said: 'Dad, I ain't got nobody to take to the prom because all the girls in my class are gay. Ain't but two of 'em straight, and both of them ugly'" ("Million Man Follow-up Struggles for Unity," 7/24).
Wilson's sermon, believe it or not, reached even greater extremes of outrage. Yet the Post took a pass on those parts. Readers got only the cryptic shorthand, as executed in a July 18 item: "He then discussed a gay sexual encounter in graphic and derogatory terms."
That clicking sound you heard was thousands of Post readers summoning Google to tell them what the Post wouldn't.

Shirley e-mails to note Vince's "Critical Mass Ends via Police Brutality" (Milwaukee Indymedia):

Friday. July 29th. It was a great day for a Critical Mass. Good weather, good turn out, and even more exciting -- this was my first Critical Mass. Starting at Riverside Park, we made our way South. Starting at about roughly The 3rd Ward, cops were wailing their sirens and telling us to get into a single lane. Which we did.
We made our way up 2nd St. approaching National. Considering there were squad cars to our right on national, and a squad behind us, we didn't want to violate traffic violations. Half the group was able to turn left on to national, heading west, before a yellow light stopped me and the rest of the cyclists.
The light had turned green, but to our right, a squad car was parked on the corner of National and 2nd, and two cops got out, screaming and swearing. "Get the f**k off the bikes! Sit your f**king asses on the curb! Get off your f**king bikes!" etc. etc. Slowly we were complying. Despite the fact that we had all legally went into the left turn lane, the cops were still acting like we were common criminals. I was in the front of this group, located just before the beginning of the intersection, and on the right side of the left hand lane (i.e.: I was super, super close to the cops).
Immediately to my right, a father was cycling and he had a carriage which carried his infant boy attached to his bike. It was one of those very typical carriages you see, the kind that are completely obviously used for carrying a child. Coming from the back of the crowd, and seeing a green light, he assumed that it was just fine if he took a left hand turn. Wouldn't you?
However, seeing the cops approaching him aggressively, and screaming at him to stop he began a gradual descent in speed. The cops must have taken this gradual descent as some kind of escape attempt because one of the cops pushed the man over and halfway off his bike. Trying his hardest to swing his leg off of his bike, the officer pushed him further, and then another police officer ran closer to the man and his partner and completely took the bike out of the mans grasp, slammed it to the ground, and then, for "good measure", or something like that, he tipped over the baby-carriage, and he did so aggressively. And I was there. And so were about a jillion other people. We saw this happen.
In all fairness, the officer was not aware that a child was in the carriage. After my peers and myself had screamed about 4 times "What the f**k are you doing?! There's a f**king child in there!" the officer mumbled "There's a kid in there?" and then proceeded to pick up the carriage, briefly glance at the baby, and said in a voice dryer than a desert, "Sorry, buddy"
All of this occurred while the father was being wrestled to the ground by 4 cops. One of his tickets was for resisting arrest. The tickets fail to mention that he was resisting arrest because his child had just been assaulted. What needs no explanation, but I will articulate anyway, is that the actions these police officers took to stop a man from riding his damn bicycle were reckless and negligent. Had the police behaved rationally and according to how a sane human being would behave, they would not have almost severely injured a child. Fortunately, the carriage the baby was in seemed to be of such high quality that it could even withstand being assaulted by a full grown man--the baby was not hurt, but simply scared, which was fortunate and wonderful.
As the man was dragged off, a personal friend of mine picked up the baby and attempted to calm it down, which after a few minutes the baby seemed pretty peaceful. As we were instructed to "sit your ass down on the f**king curb" my friend was still standing, holding the baby, while the rest of us gave out information to the police.
The officer who had knocked over the baby carriage asked my friend, as if she had no right to nurture a scared child, what she was doing with the baby. She more or less snapped, demanding to know why he wouldn't assume a baby was in the carriage and that she wasn't just going to leave the kid in the sun, like the cops had. When asked if she knew the father, and saying she didn't have the right to carry someone else's child she brought up the painfully true fact that he had just arrested the man who would be, if he could be, taking care of his kid.

Zach e-mails to note Kimberly Miller's "Latino Poultry Workers Rally for Union in Morristown" (Tennesse Independent Media Center):

Seven Hundred and Fifty Poultry workers at two Koch Foods Plants have filed a petition for a Union Election in Morristown, Tennessee. Workers have been organizing for over a month despite intimidation and racism within the community. Most of the poultry workers in this area are Latino. On Sunday, local residents rallied in support of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Over 200 workers and community members stood in solidarity. Poultry Plants are notorious for violating workers’ rights. In January, the organization Human Rights Watch, issued a report on the dangers of working in the poultry industry. The report says Poultry plants exploit the vulnerabilities of a predominantly immigrant labor force and are Rife with unfair labor practices.
In November of 2004, The Morristown Poultry workers brought formal complaints before the Tennessee Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Workers complained of a lack of bathroom facilities and breaks and cited the company¹s failure to properly guard and lock-down dangerous equipment. In addition, workers were not trained in the safe use of the equipment.
Marta, a poultry worker from Hidalgo Mexico, believes that standing together is the only way conditions in the plant will improve :
“We¹re here because we have a big problem at Koch Foods & more than anything we¹re demanding our rights² - ³We Want Support & We want to Support Others. We can¹t do this alone.”
The Latino community has recently faced opposition from the Vigilante Group the minutemen, and two County Commissioners. Many Morristown citizens are not pleased with the growing Latino population and believe immigrants are having a negative impact on the local economy.
Jobs with Justice, Interfaith Worker Justice, and other community groups were in attendance on Sunday to show the workers they were not alone in their struggle.Bill Troy, a member of Jobs with Justice, disagrees with local views of immigrants. He says A Latino presence can improve the local economy.

Brenda e-mails to note Muna RVA IMC's "Hiroshima: Never Again -- Commemorative of the 60th Anniversay of the Bombing of Hiroshima" (Richmond Indymedia):

Sixty years ago, the US military dropped the first atomic bomb to be used in combat on Hiroshima, Japan. The plane that dropped the first nuclear bomb, the Enola Gay, is on exhibit at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy National Air and Space Museum (near Dulles Airport).
Sadako Sazaki was a child who contracted leukemia from exposure to the bomb's radiation. Practicing the tradition of folding 1,000 cranes to be granted a wish she sought to be cured of her illness but died before completing the task.
Her friends and thousands of sympathizers continued folding cranes as a wish to stop the production and use of nuclear weapons. The peace crane has become an international symbol of peace and resistance to warmaking.
On Saturday, August 6, 10:30-11:30 am, join us at the Enola Gay in presenting peace cranes to NASM as a sign of hope that we will learn from our past and demand an end to nuclear weapons. We will gather inside the museum at the exhibit at 10:30 for an hour of remembrance. We act in solidarity with the people gathered at nuclear weapons research, production and testing sites all over the world.
August 6 2005 10:30-11:30 am

Hiroshima: Never Again
Commemorative the 60th Anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima
Join Us @ the Enola Gay
The plane that dropped the first nuclear bomb, the Enola Gay, is on exhibit at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy National Air and Space Museum (near Dulles Airport).We will gather inside the museum at the exhibit at 10:30 for an hour of remembrance. Bring Peace Cranes.
For more information, housing and car pool options ($8 parking/car), call Brian Buckley at 646/246-6088 or the Little Flower Catholic Worker at 540/967-5574.

Markus e-mails to note that it's "getting ugly on the haters are turning on each other." Markus is referring to grace hood's "Christian jihad: An in-depth look at Operation Save America" (Boulder Weekly):

I catch up with Rev. Benham via cell phone as he's traveling from a Denver Planned Parenthood to the Ramada Inn Continental, OSA's designated hotel for the conference.
While my objective is to talk to Benham about the strategy and goals for the organization, the conversation moves off track to the Boulder protests.
"I don't think I've ever seen that kind of venom and vituperation. It's the most uncivilized place that I have ever been in my entire life, and I have been all over the world," he says. "I have been in Israel, and Israel is incredibly arrogant--but it's nothing like this."
Benham goes on to discuss OSA's unique strategy within the Christian right. OSA shares the same goals as organizations like Focus on the Family and the American Family Association, Benham says, but his organization accomplishes goals through grassroots organizing—not legislative avenues.
"I'm telling you there's a grassroots fire all over this country," he says. "You just don't see it yet."
Benham believes that many in the anti-abortion movement are becoming frustrated with what little Bush and the Republicans have accomplished.
"Republicans have become our greatest enemies," he says. "If you would look at my brochure 'Conservatism Is Pretend Salt' you would understand that."
The outcome of the Terri Schiavo debate brought the failed strategy into the national spotlight. Bush and the Republicans failed to save Schiavo's life after several legislative attempts and an appeal to the Supreme Court--much to the ire of anti-abortion groups like OSA.
The event motivated Bob Enyart, OSA follower and pastor of the Denver Bible Church, to publish an open letter in the Colorado Springs Gazette to Focus on the Family. Published in the May 3 edition, the letter calls attention to Focus' 25-year strategy of working to elect Republicans who share their viewpoint. Enyart notes that in the Schiavo case, six justices nominated by Republican presidents voted against the Christian position on end-of-life issues.

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