Enter the Brownshirts

With GOP presidential candidates amping up the xenophobia, it was only a matter of time until bigots with firearms began to organize. Saturday saw armed protestors assemble at a Mosque in Irving, Texas.

The Dallas Morning News spoke to organizer David Wright.

“They’re mostly for self-defense or protection,” Wright said, eyeing his 12-gauge. “But I’m not going to lie. We do want to show force. … It would be ridiculous to protest Islam without defending ourselves.”

A protester with a bandana over his face showed off his AR-15 to traffic. A 20-year-old who wants to join the Army and ban Islam in the United States carried a Remington hunting rifle…

Read the Report: Armed protesters gather outside Islamic Center of Irving | | Dallas Morning News

More Than A Quarter of Republicans Would Close All Mosques

With the news that GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump is in favor of establishing a national database of Muslims in America drawing comparisons to Hitler, a new poll released by Public Policy Polling shows that Republicans are right in step with him.

Donald Trump floated the idea this week of shutting down all the mosques in the United States. 27% of Republican primary voters support that concept with 38% opposed, and 35% unsure on the issue. Among the top GOP hopefuls supporters of both Cruz (41/27) and Trump (37/27) support shutting down the mosques while backers of Carson (17/43), Rubio (25/37), and Bush (12/45) oppose doing so.

The latest poll confirms broad support in the GOP nationally for extreme views noted in a poll of Iowa two months ago.

Only 49% of Republicans think the religion of Islam should even be legal in the United States with 30% saying it shouldn’t be and 21% not sure. Among Trump voters there is almost even division with 38% thinking Islam should be allowed and 36% that it should not.

Decent Americans must stand up now, while there is still a Constitution to defend.

Sanders and the Second Bill of Rights

In September of 2012, I wrote about FDR’s 1944 State of the Union Address which proposed a “Second Bill of Rights.”

I wonder what might happen if President Obama were to make these rights the foundation of his bid for re-election. Would the American people rally to such a program? Would we recognize that political rights alone cannot ensure liberty and justice for all? Would we recognize that today our freedom is most threatened, not by the government, but by the tyranny of the marketplace? Would we recognize, at long last, that there is no democracy without economic democracy?

Today, at Georgetown University, Bernie Sanders appears to have taken up the challenge, putting Roosevelt’s speech at the center of his own campaign.

Sander’s speech begins about one hour and eight minutes into the video.

You can read the full text of the speech here.

I can’t say that I agree with everything Senator Sanders said in this speech, but it is certainly refreshing, even heartening, to hear a presidential candidate make such a vigorous defense of Social Democracy in this era where political discourse in the United States seems limited to the range between Neoliberalism and Fascism.

I wonder what will happen next.

Pope Francis’ Historic Speech to America

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Pope Francis made history today by becoming the first Pope ever to address a joint session of the United States Congress. He mentioned four great Americans from the past, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton, saying that each of them helped build a better future for the people of the U.S.

The full text of the Holy Father’s speech to Congress is available at the link below. There’s also an audio version available on the site.

Read and Listen: Pope Francis makes historic address to U.S. Congress | Vatican Radio

The High Cost of Low Wages

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The Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California at Berkeley has produced the first report to examine the cost to the 50 states of public assistance programs for working families. It turns out that we spend nearly $153 billion dollars a year to subsidize the low wages at McDonald’s, Wal-Mart and the like.

Read More: The High Public Cost of Low Wages | UC Berkeley Labor Center

Download a PDF of the Briefing.

 

Chicago May Day 2015

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May Day Celebration – Noon to 1: 30 PM Haymarket Memorial, Corner of DesPlaines & Randolph

May Day 2015 March, Rally, and Noise Demonstration – 2:30 PM Union Park

Illinois Labor History Society Annual Membership Meeting – 5 to 7 PM Chicago Federation of Musicians, 656 Randolph Street, Haymarket Square

The Joe Hill Roadshow – 9 PM Hideout, 1354 West Wabansia Avenue, Chicago

Solidarity with our ILWU Brothers and Sisters

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.

We Tortured People

Today the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the Forward, Findings and Conclusions, and Executive Summary of their study on the Central Intelligence Agency’s “enhanced interrogation” program. Prior to its release, it has been a source of contention within the ruling class. The CIA actually was caught spying on the Senate Committee during the process of the investigation.

Here’s a link to the report.

Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program

For those who would like a three sentence summary, here it is.

We tortured people.

We lied about it.

The torture yielded no useful information.

Industrial Worker September 2012

The September 2012 issue of Industrial Worker from the IWW is now available.

The Industrial Worker is the official (English language) newspaper of the Industrial Workers of the World. It is published ten times a year, and printed by GCIU/Teamsters union labor. The editor is elected by the membership via a rank and file vote for a two year term of office.

I’ll be posting a link to the online version of each new issue as if becomes available. You can always find the most recent issue by clicking on the image of the newspaper in the right sidebar of this Weblog.

Industrial Worker July and August 2012

The July/August 2012 issue of Industrial Worker from the IWW is now available.

The Industrial Worker is the official (English language) newspaper of the Industrial Workers of the World. It is published ten times a year, and printed by GCIU/Teamsters union labor. The editor is elected by the membership via a rank and file vote for a two year term of office.

I’ll be posting a link to the online version of each new issue as if becomes available. You can always find the most recent issue by clicking on the image of the newspaper in the right sidebar of this Weblog.

Industrial Worker June 2012

The June 2012 issue of Industrial Worker from the IWW is now available.

The Industrial Worker is the official (English language) newspaper of the Industrial Workers of the World. It is published ten times a year, and printed by GCIU/Teamsters union labor. The editor is elected by the membership via a rank and file vote for a two year term of office.

I’ll be posting a link to the online version of each new issue as if becomes available. You can always find the most recent issue by clicking on the image of the newspaper in the right sidebar of this Weblog.

2012 Living Planet Report

2012 Living Planet Report. [World Wildlife Fund] – The 2012 edition of the Living Planet Report highlights the tremendous pressure that humanity is putting on our planet. We are currently using 50 per cent more resources than the Earth can provide. By 2030, even two planets will not be enough. Rising consumption trends in high-income groups around the world (and also in Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China and South Africa), combined with growing population numbers, provide warning signs of the potential for even larger footprints in the future.

The United States ranks 5th among per-capita consumption (behind Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Denmark). If the entire world consumed as we Americans do, it would currently take 4 planets just like ours to sustain us.

Download the full report here or the summary here.