Monday, February 26, 2018

West Virginia teachers take a stand – SEP Newsletter

From WSWS:

West Virginia teachers take a stand

By Joseph Kishore
More than 20,000 teachers and public school employees in West Virginia are taking a courageous stand in defense of their interests and those of the entire working class. On Friday, teachers completed the second day of a strike that has shut down schools in all 55 counties in the state. The teachers have defied threats of injunctions, fines and even imprisonment from government officials, who have declared any strike action illegal.
The American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia (AFT-WV) and the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) announced on Friday that what was originally announced as a two-day strike will be extended by at least one day, to Monday.
The decision of the unions to continue the strike reflects their nervousness over the prospect of the teachers’ anger erupting outside of their control, connecting with the opposition of teachers throughout the country and developing into a political movement against both the Democratic and Republican parties. The walkouts began largely spontaneously, with local strikes centered in the southern coal mining counties, culminating in a mass demonstration in Charleston last weekend. It was then that the unions announced the two-day strike as a means of letting off steam while they continued discussions with lawmakers. Read more »
Trump uses Australian PM’s visit to threaten North Korea
By Peter Symonds
US President Donald Trump on Friday exploited a joint press conference at the White House with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to once again menace North Korea with crippling economic sanctions and a military onslaught. Trump’s comments come as the Winter Olympics in South Korea are about to close and the US and South Korea prepare for massive joint war games in April.
Speaking just hours after the announcement of tough new sanctions on North Korea, Trump warned: “If the sanctions don’t work we’ll have to go to phase two, and phase two may be a very rough thing.” While not specifying what “phase two” might involve, he said it could be “very, very unfortunate for the world.”
Trump and his top officials have repeatedly warned that military action will be necessary if North Korea does not capitulate to US demands to abandon its nuclear arsenal and submit to an intrusive inspection regime. CIA director Mike Pompeo declared, in late January, that North Korea was “a handful of months” away from having a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile—something Washington has indicated is a red line for war. Read more »
The Parkland shooting: Why are mass killings so common in the United States?
By Eric London
On February 14, an American horror story played out in southeastern Florida when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 people, including 14 students.
In April 1999, the country was stunned by the mass killing of 13 students and teachers at Columbine High School in Colorado by two students, who then committed suicide. In the course of the past 20 years, eruptions of homicidal violence have become almost commonplace, and the death tolls resulting from such incidents have in many cases far exceeded the terrible loss of life at Columbine. The 2017 attack in Las Vegas resulted in 58 deaths. The 2016 attack at the Pulse nightclub in Florida left 49 dead. The 2014 shooting in San Bernardino cost the lives of 14 people. The 2012 assault at Sandy Hook Elementary School claimed 28 lives. The attack on an audience at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, also in 2012, took 12 lives. The shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in 2009 resulted in 13 deaths.
The killings are not only deadlier than in 1999. Such incidents occur much more frequently. Mass killings involving more than four deaths take place every 16 days in the US, 10 times more frequently than in the period between 1982 and 2011, when the average time between mass killings was 200 days. Read more »

Four months since the death of a young Ford worker

Still no serious investigation into death of Jacoby Hennings
By Jerry White
Last Tuesday marked four months since the death of Jacoby Marquis Hennings, a 21-year-old temporary part-time worker who police say took his own life at Ford’s Woodhaven Stamping Plant, just outside Detroit, on the morning of October 20, 2017.
There are growing calls from family, friends and autoworkers throughout the Detroit area for a serious investigation of the still unknown circumstances surrounding the tragedy. Jacoby was a well-loved and popular young man, who had, as his parents described, an infectious optimism. Why would such a young worker kill himself?
The Woodhaven Police Department closed its investigation less than 24 hours after the shooting, declaring it a suicide. However, the official report from the Woodhaven Police Department, obtained by the World Socialist Web Site, leaves many critical questions unanswered. Read more »
The Russian meddling fraud: Weapons of mass destruction revisited
By Andre Damon and Joseph Kishore
Fifteen years ago, on February 5, 2003, against the backdrop of worldwide mass demonstrations in opposition to the impending invasion of Iraq, then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell argued before the United Nations that the government of Saddam Hussein was rapidly stockpiling “weapons of mass destruction,” which Iraq, together with Al Qaeda, was planning to use against the United States.
The editorial board of the New York Times—whose reporter Judith Miller was at the center of the Bush administration’s campaign of lies—declared one week later that there “is ample evidence that Iraq has produced highly toxic VX nerve gas and anthrax and has the capacity to produce a lot more. It has concealed these materials, lied about them, and more recently failed to account for them to the current inspectors.”
Subsequent developments would prove who was lying. The Bush administration and its media accomplices conspired to drag the US into a war that led to the deaths of more than one million people—a colossal crime for which no one has yet been held accountable.
Fifteen years later, the script has been pulled from the closet and dusted off. This time, instead of “weapons of mass destruction,” it is “Russian meddling in the US elections.” Once again, assertions by US intelligence agencies and operatives are treated as fact. Once again, the media is braying for war. Once again, the cynicism and hypocrisy of the American government—which intervenes in the domestic politics of every state on the planet and has been relentlessly expanding its operations in Eastern Europe—are ignored. Read more »
Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: A hollow “defining moment” cloaked in identity politics
By Nick Barrickman
Audiences worldwide have been subjected to yet another installment in the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” superhero film series. The latest film is Black Panther (directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o), based on Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s 1966 comic book character of the same name.
The film has been overwhelmingly hailed as a “defining moment” in African American and movie history for featuring an almost entirely all-black cast, directed by an African American director, with a screenplay by black writers (Coogler and Joe Robert Cole). Such praise, however, only testifies to the general degradation of art, culture and film criticism in contemporary America. The film’s supposed achievements do not save it from being a vacuous work, which does not withstand a moment of serious reflection. Read more »
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