AP: Protesters flood Wis. Capitol over anti-union vote

March 10, 2011) Protesters use furniture to block access to the Assembly chamber.

Thousands of protesters pushed past security, climbed through windows and flooded the Wisconsin Capitol on Wednesday night after Senate Republicans pushed through a plan to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights.
Within an hour and a half of the vote, the protesters had seized the building’s lower floors, creating an ear-splitting free-for-all of pounding drums, screaming chants, horns and whistles. Police gave up guarding the building entrances and retreated to the third floor.

The state Department of Administration, which operates the building, estimated the crowd at about 7,000 people. There were no reports of violence as of late Wednesday evening. DOA spokesman Tim Donovan said no one had been arrested as of late Wednesday evening. By midnight dozens of protesters had bedded down in the building’s corridors and alcoves. Some slept in front of the office of Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon. Continue reading

US economics: One big Ponzi scheme

Wall Street traders represent the elite of the global financial world, but after the collapse of the economy those behind the world’s depression still seem to be doing just fine [GALLO/GETTY]

While Bernie Madoff languishes in jail, bankers continue to profit as the poor lose their homes and hope.

by Danny Schechter

Thank you, Bernie, for breaking your silence – even if you are still clinging to that cover-up mode you adopted since you took the entirety of the blame for your crimes.

What is clear is that ripping off the rich is punished far more severely than ripping off the poor. The lengthy sentence you were given spared countless other greedsters and goniffs from facing the music – what music there is.

In an interview – with a reporter from The New York Times who is writing a book to cash in on a man who has already cashed out – we learn, in the vaguest terms, that Mr M believes the banks he did his crooked business with “should have known” his figures did not figure. Keeping with the deceit that has served him well over the years, he names no names.

That said, how right he may be. There were many who should have known and done something about it. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulators for one. Perhaps The New York Times for another. Remember, it was Madoff’s confession to his sons that started him on his way to his new 12′ x 12′ home from home – in a federal correctional institute, where he may dream of his seized penthouse, homes and yachts – rather than any press expose.

For years, he went undetected by business journalists, who knew – or should have known – what he was up to. There are even questions about the speed with which he was sentenced, preventing him from being tried – a process which, through diligent cross-examination, would have brought us more information on the details of his dirty deals. Continue reading

Wall Street Journal: “Egypt’s Regime on the Brink; Mubarak Digs In as Mobs Battle Police”

[The Wall Street Journal is US imperialism’s journalistic watchdog of the bottom line–i.e., how world events affect imperialist financial affairs.  Here, the WSJ examines the events in Egypt as they unfold, with an eye on how well the “mobs” (as they call the people) are being managed and how new power alignments are being manipulated for imperialist interests . — Frontlines ed.]

The Wall Street Journal, JANUARY 29, 2011

by CHARLES LEVINSON And MATT BRADLEY

A protestor gestures to riot policeman in front of the l-Istiqama Mosque in Giza, Cairo. Thousands of police are on the streets of the capital and hundreds of arrests have been made in an attempt to quell anti-government demonstrations.

CAIRO—President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year grip on power hung in the balance as protesters massed around Egypt and overpowered the police, prompting the army to deploy on the streets of the nation for the first time in 25 years.

The protesters returned to Cairo’s central Tahrir Square Saturday, chanting slogans against Mr. Mubarak after Egyptian television broadcast a speech in which the president signaled he would stay but dismiss his government.

“There is no turning back from the path of reform that we chose,” he said. “We seek more democracy and freedoms.”

His address appeared to only heighten the gulf between Mr. Mubarak and the tens of thousands of protesters who took part in Friday’s planned “Day of Wrath” against what they characterized as the regime’s oppression, stagnation and lack of opportunity.

The words also highlighted the divide between Mr. Mubarak and his longtime ally, the U.S., which threatened to withdraw more than $1 billion in military aid. President Barack Obama said Friday evening he spoke with Mr. Mubarak and told him to refrain from violence and take “concrete steps” to advance the rights of Egyptians. “This moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise,” he said. Continue reading

The US Left and Obama-Trauma

The Left and Obama-Trauma

 

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Now that self-proclaimed progressives have passed the point of disenchantment with Barack Obama and entered the stage of active anger at their once-imagined ally, they should quickly take the next step and acknowledge that he is what we at Black Agenda Report have been saying for six years: a right-wing Democrat who has long been aligned with the corporate Democratic Leadership Conference, and whose mission is to expand U.S. empire and put the American state at the service of Wall Street. He has been remarkably successful in both endeavors.

Of necessity, these strategic goals require Obama to wage war against the left hemisphere of his own Party, the main obstacle, in the absence of effective grassroots progressive movements, to forging a grand coalition with Republicans. The president, whom deluded Progressives for Obama hallucinated might become the kind of “transformative” leader that would galvanize Left constituencies into a ready-mix, shake-and-bake “movement,” also sees himself as a transformative figure, but of the opposite kind.

He presented his candidacy as the antidote to what he described during the Nevada presidential primary as the “excesses” of the Sixties and Seventies. His reverence for Ronald Reagan is genuine. Indeed, if Obama were not Black, and if his supporters had not been busy getting drunk in a wishing-well, he would have been widely recognized as a stylistically updated Reagan Democrat.

As soon as Obama’s candidacy was pronounced “viable” by the high priests of corporate media he became a figure of historical significance, a walking, talking racial “breakthrough.” African Americans saw the possibility of a brand new day – and so did Obama, although his vision was much closer to that of those whites who have tired of – or, more likely, always resented – Black demands for redress of grievances, past and present.

Anyone that listened to Obama’s actual words (rather than the voices in their own heads) would have quickly realized that he is ideologically opposed to all manifestations of independent Black politics, much less notions of Black self-determination. The Black Agenda Report team understood instantly, halfway through Obama’s coming-out speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, that the words “there is no Black America…there is only the United States of America” meant that Obama was the Anti-Black whose ascent would bring about the worst political crisis in Black America since at least the days of Booker T. Washington. Continue reading

Black Friday: Shop Till You Drop or Buy Nothing Day

[They say that Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the day the US retail capitalists move their balance sheets into the black–i.e., into the realm of profits.  But for a number of years, consumer activists have focused on the bloated consumption of the US vis-a-vis the rest of the world, and have urged  consumers, in the spirit of internationalism, to cut the greed.–Frontlines ed.]

Here is the call for Buy Nothing Day, 2007

Here are the posters for Buy Nothing Day 2010

University of California: Students Protest Yet Another Tuition Fee Hike


The Daily Californian Online: Regents’ Meeting Marred by Unrest

By Nina Brown and Javier Panzar,Contributing Writers
Thursday, November 18, 2010 

 

Protesters and police Officers clash outside of the Regents’ meeting Wednesday. The meeting sparked these demonstrations because the Regents considered implementing an 8 percent fee hike.

Police used tear gas against student protest

SAN FRANCISCO – As the UC Board of Regents met at UC San Francisco Wednesday, violent skirmishes broke out between police officers and students protesting an impending 8 percent fee increase, resulting in 13 arrests throughout the day. Continue reading

Inter-imperialist rivalry in Asia heats up between US and China

Obama and Hu Jintao make nice for public consumption

 

[This article provides a useful overview of the current state of economic, political and military contention between the US and China in Asia. However, it does not not identify China as an imperialist power in its own right, and it one-sidely portrays the US imperialists as “encircling” China. This makes it impossible to understand the capitalist/imperialist nature of China’s growing economic investments in Asia, as well as China’s development of military ties with Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. This not a “defensive” reaction to pressure from US imperialism, but is a calculated strategy of a newly emerged imperialist power that is trying to break into the US’ traditional spheres of influence in Asia, and elsewhere in the world.–Frontlines ed]

World Socialist Web Site, 13 November 2010

US diplomatic offensive tightens strategic encirclement of China

Washington’s aggressive diplomatic campaign in Asia over the past two weeks has amounted, in the words of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to “a full court press” against China, with the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean emerging as potential future theatres of war.

President Barack Obama’s visits to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan, and Clinton’s trips to Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia, sought to either strengthen existing alliances or create new partnerships for a US-led strategic encirclement of China.

Obama fervently courted India, China’s regional nuclear-armed rival. He urged New Delhi to become a “world power” and backed its bid to become a UN Security Council permanent member. Clinton twice reiterated that Washington could invoke the US-Japan Security Treaty to militarily support Japan against China in the conflict over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea. Vietnam announced it was ready to hire out its strategic Cam Ranh Bay port in the South China Sea “to naval ships from all countries”—with Washington the most likely client. Canberra agreed to provide greater US access to its military facilities, especially those in northern Australia. Continue reading

India: Demonstration called in Delhi to protest Obama’s visit

Obama speaking to US occupation forces in Afghanistan

Leader of War Mongers Looters and Exploiter of World People, US President Obama Go Back!

 

Join Demonstration at Jantar Mantar at 2 PM on 8 November, 2010

At a time when US imperialism has escalated the war against Afghanistan and is even extending this war by assaults by NATO forces led by it against northern districts of Pakistan, leader of warmongers, looters and exploiters of the world people, President of USA, Barack Obama, is visiting India from 6th Nov. 2010.

Since Obama came to power, US forces have increased their numbers several times over in Afghanistan. There are innumerable proven instances of deliberate targeting of innocent civilians by these forces in the name of “targeted” attacks on “enemy”.  In essence, US imperialism under Obama administration is continuing the Bush era attempt of a permanent base in Afghanistan from where it will interfere in central Asia. India should be in the forefront of opposing the US move. Let us use the opportunity of Obama’s visit to strongly demand that US and NATO forces immediately withdrawn from Afghanistan.

It was 2001 that US imperialism under Bush had launched its current war, which the world people were told was against ‘terrorism’. War was launched first against Afghanistan and later against Iraq. In reality wars were launched to further the quest of US imperialism for hegemony over the world’s oil resources and also to establish military dominance over the world.

In essence, the Obama administration is continuing the aims of Bush era but it has only changed rhetoric. US under Obama has made a mockery of his promises of withdrawal of forces from Iraq, keeping a huge army stationed there in the name of ‘aid’ to local troops. While Afghanistan is the main theatre of war, US continues a sharply aggressive stance on West Asia and Central Asia. On Palestine, Obama has no policy different from the earlier one and continues backing Israel against the just fight of the Palestinian people. Continue reading

In the US, the rich grow richer, everyone else poorer

Socialism? The Rich Are Winning The US Class War: Facts Show Rich Getting Richer, Everyone Else Poorer

By Bill Quigley

25 October, 2010,  Countercurrents.org

The rich and their paid false prophets are doing a bang up job deceiving the poor and middle class. They have convinced many that an evil socialism is alive in the land and it is taking their fair share. But the deception cannot last – facts say otherwise.

Yes, there is a class war – the war of the rich on the poor and the middle class – and the rich are winning. That war has been going on for years. Look at the facts – facts the rich and their false paid prophets do not want people to know.

Let Glen Beck go on about socialists descending on Washington. Allow Rush Limbaugh to rail about “class warfare for a leftist agenda that will destroy our society.” They are well compensated false prophets for the rich.  The truth is that for the several decades the rich in the US have been getting richer and the poor and middle class have been getting poorer. Look at the facts then make up your own mind.

Poor Getting Poorer: Facts

The official US poverty numbers show we now have the highest number of poor people in 51 years. The official US poverty rate is 14.3 percent or 43.6 million people in poverty. One in five children in the US is poor; one in ten senior citizens is poor. Source: US Census Bureau. Continue reading

Race and Wealth in the US: The Widening Gap

http://www.kasamaproject.org

Introduction by John Steele

It’s no news that the decades of “neo-liberal” capitalism (the last 30 years) have produced huge and widening disparities between the richest and everyone else, especially those at bottom. (Although it’s often helpful to remind ourselves of just how much that disparity has widened: see the rocketing upper line on the graph at right — and this understates the case since “high-income” households refer to the top 20%; look at figures for the top 1% and the top .5% to see some really staggering, and steeply ascending, figures, and disparities, in wealth.) But what’s also been striking, and less commonly realized, is the way in which the ever-present dynamic of race — let’s just say the steep penalty for being black — plays into this economic picture in this country.

As this study (by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University) shows, the racial effect is very sharp indeed. Three things to keep in mind: the figures here are from the period before the current extended economic crisis; doubtless the reality is worse now. Second, note that home equity is excluded from these calculations (so these figures abstract from the effects of the home equity bubble and crash). And finally, what is measured here is wealth (which includes savings, investments, etc.) rather than simply income.

U.S. Racial Wealth Gap Quadrupled Since Mid-1980s

Science Daily (May 17, 2010) — The wealth gap between white and African-American families increased more than four times between 1984-2007, and middle-income white households now own far more wealth than high-income African Americans, according to an analysis by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) at Brandeis University.

IASP, in a research brief, also reported that many African Americans hold more debt than assets and at least 25 percent of African-American families had no assets to turn to in times of economic hardship. The fourfold increase in the wealth gap, it said, reflects public policies, such as tax cuts on investment income and inheritances, which benefit the wealthiest and persistent discrimination in housing, credit and labor markets. Continue reading

New York Times: The Crisis is much worse than we thought (and said)

[A thousand scapegoats have been whipped; arguments about whether to call it a “recession” or “depression” have been made;  disingenuous hopes have been floated; but “at the end of the day” the capitalist crisis deepens, with no credible capitalist solution at hand. Sometimes, even the New York Times, the leading propagandist/analyst of US imperialism, spills the beans.–ed.]

October 12, 2010

By MICHAEL POWELL and MOTOKO RICH

This is not what a recovery is supposed to look like.

In Atlanta, the Bank of America tower, the tallest in the Southeast, is nearly a fifth vacant, and bank officials just wrestled a rent cut from the developer. In Cherry Hill, N.J., 10 percent of the houses on the market are so-called short sales, in which sellers ask for less than they owe lenders. And in Arizona, in sun-blasted desert subdivisions, owners speak of hours cut, jobs lost and meals at soup kitchens.

Less than a month before November elections, the United States is mired in a grim New Normal that could last for years. That has policy makers, particularly the Federal Reserve, considering a range of ever more extreme measures, as noted in the minutes of its last meeting, released Tuesday. Call it recession or recovery, for tens of millions of Americans, there’s little difference.

Born of a record financial collapse, this recession has been more severe than any since the Great Depression and has left an enormous oversupply of houses and office buildings and crippling debt. The decision last week by leading mortgage lenders to freeze foreclosures, and calls for a national moratorium, could cast a long shadow of uncertainty over banks and the housing market. Put simply, the national economy has fallen so far that it could take years to climb back. Continue reading

America’s war on free food distribution

[Anything that undermines the corporate market economy, such as the alternative voluntarist Food Not Bombs, is considered by the state to be a serious threat.  Accordingly, Food Not Bombs has been the subject of FBI infiltration, entrapment and mass arrests.  This story reveals  some of the government’s thinking in what it calls the “war on terror.”–ed.]

October 9, 2010

By Stephen Lendman

Food Not Bombs (FNB) is “one of the fastest growing revolutionary movements and is gaining momentum throughout the world.” Access its story on: http://www.foodnotbombs.net

Through hundreds of autonomous chapters globally, it shares free vegetarian food to relieve hunger besides protesting against war, poverty, and social injustice. FNB isn’t a charity. Through grassroots activism, it advocates peace and liberation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. In addition, for 30 years, it’s worked to end hunger and backs efforts against globalization, free movement restrictions, exploitation, and environmental destruction.

Co-founded in 1980 by Keith McHenry and other anti-nuclear activists in Cambridge MA, its autonomous, all volunteer groups advocate nonviolent social change. Among other activities, they recover edible, safe to eat food that would otherwise be discarded, using it to make “fresh hot vegan and vegetarian meals that are served in outside public spaces to anyone without restriction.” They also serve it at protests, other events and in disaster areas, but not free from disruptive government harassment. Continue reading

UC Berkeley: Hundreds Protest on Day of Action

The Daily Californian Online

October 8, 2010

Protesters staged a sit-in within Doe Library's North Reading Room as they waited for Chancellor Birgeneau's response to their demands. (Evan Walbridge/Staff)

Thursday’s national day of protest in defense of affordable public higher education began in small numbers but escalated throughout the day as UC Berkeley students, faculty, staff and community members came out to show their support through teach-outs, sit-ins and a noon rally in front of Sproul Hall that at one point drew a crowd of over 700 people, as estimated by UCPD.

Oct. 7 began with less than 10 picketers at the intersection of Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue at about 7:00 a.m., chanting and distributing flyers and red arm bands to passersby. Protesters later delivered a list of demands for Chancellor Robert Birgeneau at about 10 a.m., accepted by Associate Chancellor Linda Williams at California Hall.

The demands included the democratization of the UC Board of Regents, free public education and full funding for ethnic studies on the campus.

The number of protesters grew steadily throughout the day. Professors and graduate student instructors in front of California Hall and around Moffitt Library held regular class sessions as well as discussions on the state of public higher education. Ashley Ferro-Murray, a graduate student instructor of theater, dance and performance studies, said she hoped the protests would foster a discussion between the administration and students regarding higher education. Continue reading

Racial Predatory Loans Fueled U.S. Housing Crisis

A neighborhood in Denton, Texas

By Nick Carey

Oct 4, 2010

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Predatory lending aimed at racially segregated minority neighborhoods led to mass foreclosures that fueled the U.S. housing crisis, according to a new study published in the American Sociological Review.

Predatory lending typically refers to loans that carry unreasonable fees, interest rates and payment requirements.

Poorer minority areas became a focus of these practices in the 1990s with the growth of mortgage-backed securities, which enabled lenders to pool low- and high-risk loans to sell on the secondary market, Professor Douglas Massey of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and PhD candidate Jacob Rugh, said in their study.

The financial institutions likely to be found in minority areas tended to be predatory — pawn shops, payday lenders and check cashing services that “charge high fees and usurious rates of interest,” they said in the study. Continue reading

Chicago: Warehouse sweatshops, no!

By Gavrielle Gemma

Joliet, Ill.

There are 150,000 workers toiling 365 days a year in sweatshop warehouses in the Chicago region. With dockworkers and truck drivers, they load and distribute most of the products we wear, eat or use. The gigantic, concrete, windowless warehouses hide the brutal and unsafe conditions inside.

Warehouse Workers for Justice are exposing this and fighting back.

In the warehouse or “logistics” industry, high-tech restructuring has meant fewer workers move mountains of goods to megafirms like Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Target. This has created super-profits for them.

With unemployment high in Illinois, corporations are using this to drive down wages. While manufacturing plants with good union wages are closed, the warehouse industry is expanding; it pays minimum wage and denies benefits like sick or vacation pay to workers.

WWJ says 63 percent of warehouse workers are hired through temporary agencies, which often pay piece rates. A worker might make 90 cents a piece for each refrigerator loaded off a truck; sometimes that 90 cents is split between two workers doing the job together. Continue reading