From the BBC’s History of Ideas, here’s an animated clip on Marx’s ideas about alienation that is well worth the two minutes it will take you to watch.
A dispute between the International Longshore & Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association has drawn the attention of President Obama, who has now sent Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to meet with the sides. It is not yet known what specific message was conveyed to the negotiators. Some have speculated that the Obama Administration is threatening to invoke the Taft-Hartley Act to reopen the ports in the event of either a strike or a lockout.
A Department of Labor press release on the matter stated the following. “On behalf of President Obama, Secretary Perez made clear that the dispute has led to a very negative impact on the U.S. economy, and further delay risks tens of thousands of jobs and will cost American businesses hundreds of millions of dollars.” It also said that the two sides must come to “immediate agreement to prevent further damage to our economy and further pain for American workers and their employers.”
This sort of talk seems a far cry from Obama’s campaign rhetoric, where he pledged to “put on a comfortable pair of shoes” himself and “walk on that picket line with you, as President of the United States of America.”
The PMA, an association of the owners of the 29 ports on the West Coast, has stepped up a media campaign to draw attention to the harm that the dispute may be doing to the larger U.S. economy. The President of the ILWU, Robert McEllrath, fired back two weeks ago, accusing the PMA of distorting the facts, threatening to close the ports and bargaining in the media instead of at the table.
“What the ILWU heard yesterday is a man who makes about one million dollars a year telling the working class that we have more than our share,” said McEllrath. “Intensifying the rhetoric at this stage of bargaining, when we are just a few issues from reaching an agreement, is totally unnecessary and counterproductive.”
The PMA on Wednesday distributed letters directly to workers at major ports from Los Angeles to Washington state that detailed what they called their last, best and final contract offer, apparently in hopes that the rank-and-file will pressure union negotiators to make concessions.
As the situation unfolds, we may get an opportunity to see whether or not the Obama Administration truly stands with the workers.
For nearly a century, the West Coast longshore and warehouse workers have stood, time and again, on the front lines of the struggle for freedom and justice. They deserve our attention, our respect and our support.
Nafeez Ahmed writes on Motherboard about the current research priorities of the U.S. Department of Defense.
A major factor for study is how “resource scarcity or imbalance, including food and water insecurity” can lead to state instability. This could cover availability of resources, who owns them, and who can access them; the way in which energy consumption is rising worldwide and how it relates to health and wealth in different countries.
The Pentagon also wants to see modeling of the interplay between demographic trends and population growth, as well as wider economic issues like “wealth distribution.” This raises questions about whether the US military anticipates a risk of civil unrest at home or in other Western countries allied to the US, where some economists are predicting another economic crash.
As if peak oil theory isn’t scary enough, Gwynne Dyer posts the following.
During the latter part of the 20th century, food production grew at around 3.5 percent per year, comfortably ahead of population growth, but the dramatic rise in crop yields was due to new inputs of fertilisers and pesticides, much more irrigation, and new “green revolution” crop varieties. Now those one-time improvements have largely run their course, and global food production is rising at only 1.5 percent a year.
Population growth has slowed too, so we’re still more or less keeping up with demand, but there are signs that food production in many areas is running up against what researchers at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in a report last year called “a biophysical yield ceiling for the crop in question.” Production of the food in question stops rising, then may even fall – and extra investment often doesn’t help.
The “peak” in this context is an early warning that there will eventually be a complete cessation of growth, possibly followed by an absolute decline. Peak maize happened in 1985, peak rice and wild fish in 1988, peak dairy in 1989, peak eggs in 1993, and peak meat in 1996.
Read More: Peak Everything | Gwynne Dyer.
Benjamin L. Corey writes about the early Christians, and how they might be viewed by American Fundies today.
“If those entrenched in American Christianity could transport back in time to experience Christianity as it originally was, they’d be uncomfortable at best, and at worst, would probably have declined the invitation to join Christianity at all.”
Read the full essay: 5 Reasons Why Many American Christians Wouldn’t Like The First Ones.
Glenn Greenwald reports: “Each year, Reporters Without Borders issues a worldwide ranking of nations based on the extent to which they protect or abridge press freedom. The group’s 2015 ranking was released this morning, and the United States is ranked 49th. That is the lowest ranking ever during the Obama presidency, and the second-lowest ranking for the U.S. since the rankings began in 2002 (in 2006, under Bush, the U.S. was ranked 53rd). The countries immediately ahead of the U.S. are Malta, Niger, Burkino Faso, El Salvador, Tonga, Chile and Botswana.”
Greenwald quotes former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie, Jr.
“The administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate. The 30 experienced Washington journalists at a variety of news organizations whom I interviewed for this report could not remember any precedent.”
If you are poor, ill or addicted, don’t worry. We can warehouse you almost indefinitely and you’ll never have to worry.
From a new report by the Vera Institute of Justice:
“Local jails, which exist in nearly every town and city in America, are built to hold people deemed too dangerous to release pending trial or at high risk of flight. This, however, is no longer primarily what jails do or whom they hold, as people too poor to post bail languish there and racial disparities disproportionately impact communities of color. This report reviews existing research and data to take a deeper look at our nation’s misuse of local jails and to determine how we arrived at this point.”