AlterNet.org: Laura Flanders http://www.personals.alternet.org/authors/laura-flanders en The F Word: Pride 2016 and What's Wrong With England http://www.personals.alternet.org/culture/f-word-2016-pride-edition <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1059225'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1059225" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Journalist Paul Mason discusses post-capitalism, Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn explores ISIS, and Laura asks what’s missing from the LGBTQ Pride celebrations.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-06-29_at_12.31.55_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Many places around the world are celebrating LGBTQ pride this month. In lots of them, it had become a fairly routine part of the calendar until the deadly attack on the Orlando gay nightclub. In a tragic way, that’s that’s given this year’s event some of its old significance.</p><p>Pride in the streets wasn’t always a ho­hum thing. In my experience, early pride marches were defiant, riotous affairs, often complete with mini­riots. Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans people striding out of the closet and into the street, was a brave dramatic deal. We’d boo the bigotry of the Church and the State and risk arrest over AIDS and murder.  </p><p>And then many of us who marched in the ‘80s started to skip it. I did. The monster floats had became so large and loud and the people’s banners so few and scrawny.  Commerce seemed to have edged out community. And then there was the year that US service people led the parade, the morning after a deadly US bombing strike on Baghdad.</p><p>I didn’t feel pride that year. I felt confused. Had liberation Pride lost out to piece-­of-­the-­pie Pride such that now we were celebrating our place in war and killing?</p><p>That revolution I found hard to dance to.</p><p>I didn’t marry but I coupled up. I started missing Pride and not thinking much about it. But a few months ago a friend asked for my thoughts for a book she was compiling called Pride and Joy and I began to think.</p><p>The gifts I’ve received from Pride parades are many. They’re present in the freedom I feel holding my lover’s hand and kissing, just about  anywhere. In the image I have in my head a of a massive rainbow of lives flowing down Fifth Avenue, and the glimpse I got then, and still see from time to time, of a rambunctious grand queer festival of fun and fight that’s seductive enough to overcome haters’ fears and smart enough to embrace all our movements.  </p><p>At it’s best Pride’s a chance to meet and mourn and resurrect the parts of ourselves we keep cooped­ up, and to practice stepping off our safe private places on the pavement and into the mad helter­skelter. I marched before and maybe I’ll march again ­ to be reminded of the joy that’s in the mix of singular, special people in a cavorting, common crowd;  defiant, brave, and dancing; different, together.  There’s still plenty – plenty – to mourn and more to fight for and win – and we could all of us do with a lot more dancing. Happy pride everyone!</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/qaPOqttzMw4" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1059225'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1059225" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 09:22:00 -0700 Laura Flanders, The Laura Flanders Show 1059225 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Culture Activism Civil Liberties Culture Orlando Massacre lgbtq pride pride 2016 The F Word culture Beyond Bernie: Socialism and the Struggle Against Capitalism http://www.personals.alternet.org/election-2016/beyond-bernie-socialism-and-struggle-against-capitalism <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1059139'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1059139" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Socialist Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant discusses the radical potential of Bernie&#039;s politics, the possibilities for Socialism in America</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/kshama_sawant.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Kshama Sawant argues that the Democratic Party's anti-Trump strategy, with Hillary at the helm, is critically flawed in the long run. She is the first open socialist to be elected to Seattle City Council in over a century. She is an economics professor at Seattle Central Community College and a member of the American Federation of Teachers Local 1789. She was an activist in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and is a fighter for workers, women, LGBTQ people, and immigrants through her work in the organization Socialist Alternative.</p><p>Laura Flanders is an Air America radio host and journalist. She is the author of Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species and Real Majority, Media Minority: The Cost of Sidelining Women in Reporting. Flanders was the Founding Director of the Women's Desk at the media-watch group FAIR.</p><p>Watch:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" scrolling="no" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/pM6VI0XVHtQ" width="630"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1059139'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1059139" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 07:40:00 -0700 Laura Flanders, The Laura Flanders Show 1059139 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 Video laura flanders The F Word: Rosa Luxemburg http://www.personals.alternet.org/activism/remembering-rosa-luxemburg <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1058734'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1058734" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Remembering a forgotten feminist and 19th century leftist leader. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/6851007901_f0e09a95b3_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>As some of you may remember, I’ve been hosting an on going series with economist Rick Wolff and journalist Chris Hedges, looking at the Left’s classic texts in the contemporary context.</p><p>The text this year was Rosa Luxemburg’s Reform or Revolution. Now prodding people today to pick up old texts has its challenges. Luxemburg, didn’t tweet or Snapchat or podcast. She wrote. In German. Most famously, in response to a series of articles with tltles like this one:</p><p>Die Voraussetztungen des Soczialismus und die Aufgaben der Socialdemokratie—the 1899 edition.</p><p>But don’t let that put you off. Luxemburg was a phenomenon: a woman, a Jew, an immigrant, a person living with a disability, very young, in her twenties when she wrote her most important work.</p><p>She faced prejudice galore and still rose to become one of the outstanding revolutionary figures of the pre­- World War I generation.</p><p>In the 1890s she led the fight against the “evolutionary” as opposed to “revolutionary” socialists who argued that capitalism might not need to collapse, or the proletariat revolt but rather, that capitalism could be reformed gradually.</p><p>To set the scene imagine if you can, living in a time at the turn of a new century, in which new technologies are everywhere on the rise, but everywhere corporate cartels control not just the economic but also the political mechanisms of the State. Now imagine that wages are falling, trade unions are struggling and wars of empire seem always to be breaking out.... crazy right?</p><p>Imagine further, that a man is arguing that socialism can be advanced, not by overturning that state, but by electing a self-­described socialist president. He’s even talking about revolution.  What’s going on? Sound familiar?</p><p>I don’t know where your mind could possibly have wandered off to, but that situation is more or less the one Rosa Luxemburg found herself in.</p><p>No nibbling reformer she, Luxemburg accused the evolutionists of “proposing to change the sea of capitalist bitterness into a sea of socialist sweetness by progressively pouring into it bottles of social reformist lemonade.”</p><p>Reform or Revolution? Still think it’s an outmoded text? Take another look. And then, how about sending some support to the media that tolerates, even encourages thinking about this sort of stuff. Not in German, yet, but in Spanish, if you watch on TeleSUR. And English.</p><p>You can see my interview with  Seattle’s socialist City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant [TK] on the Laura Flanders show on KCET/LINK TV and teleSUR or listen to our podcast on ITunes or any podcast feed. More information at LauraFlanders.com.</p><p></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1058734'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1058734" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 21 Jun 2016 14:32:00 -0700 Laura Flanders, The F Word 1058734 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Activism Activism The F Word laura flanders classic texts of the left the left rosa luxumberg culture The F Word: Men Who Move and States That Shake http://www.personals.alternet.org/economy/billionaire-moves-and-state-income-taxes-drop <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1057078'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1057078" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">How hedge fund billionaires wield outsize power over state economies.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_339902468.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>One man moves and a whole state shakes? When that one man is hedge fund billionaire David Tepper, that’s just what happens. David Tepper is a multi-billion dollar hedge fund manager who’s lived in New Jersey for more than 20 years. Now he’s moving his home, and his business, to low-tax Florida. And that’ll cost New Jersey millions, probably hundreds of millions, in lost tax revenue.</p><p>New Jersey is not alone. According to one New York Times report, the top one percent of residents pay a third or more of total income taxes in half a dozen states: New Jersey, New York, California, Connecticut and Maryland. Wealth’s flowed so much from the bottom to the top in such large amounts that entire states are now dependent on a tiny powerful class.</p><p>What’s a state to do? The New York Times reports that states are doing everything they can to get their fat cats to stay. But really, is that the only way to go?</p><p>I took a look at Tepper’s wealth. First, it’s financial wealth: hedge fund managers don’t make things or sell things, they place bets. Tepper made a whole hunk of his personal wealth (some $4 billion dollars) from a 2009 investment in distressed financial stocks, including Bank of America. Buying low, he sold high when it recovered. But who helped it recover? We did. Taxpayers.</p><p>In 2008 and ‘09, Bank of America received $45 billion from the U.S. government through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Remember TARP? And a $118 billion federal guarantee against loss?</p><p>While we’re talking rich, it’s a bit darn rich, for him to fret about paying back, isn’t it? And a bit ridiculous of New Jersians to do anything but bid guys like that good riddance, and set about distributing their assets more widely. Have we forgotten everything we ever knew about the US revolution? </p><p>No aristocrats. No feudal lords welcome here.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1057078'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1057078" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 24 May 2016 10:16:00 -0700 Laura Flanders, The F Word 1057078 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Economy Economy Labor The Right Wing income taxes state taxes hedge funds economy labor David Tepper The F Word: Eat the Rich? http://www.personals.alternet.org/economy/f-word-eat-rich <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1056316'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1056316" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The Panama Papers are just one part of America&#039;s history of dodging taxes. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_401437963.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Enough time has gone by that it’s worth following up on a question raised but then rapidly dropped this spring. Remember the Panama papers? That staggering dump of 11.5 million documents leaked on fourteen thousand clients of the law firm Mossack Fonseca in Panama. Mossack Fonseca offered legal assistance to people and businesses seeking to set up shop in tax havens around the world.</p><p>A couple of hundred US addresses showed up in the Panama Papers. Not all belonged to American citizens, but some did. The Obama-connected Pritzker family name appeared, as did others, like John Michael Crim, a convicted tax-evader, and Democratic donor / movie mogul David Geffen. Still, no big American banks, no huge Americans firms. As a result, no crowds massed demanding resignations, and unlike in Iceland, no political heads rolled. But maybe they should have.</p><p>Why so few Americans? Part of the explanation is probably media bias. You should never discount the deference in our media for those with money and influence, or the disdain they have for reporting that’s done mostly elsewhere. But the most important part of the answer is: Americans don’t need Fonseca. Plenty of US law firms manage offshore assets right here. They don’t need to go to Panama because they can find those firms in the US.</p><p>There’s nothing illegal after all, about setting up an offshore trust.  What’s illegal is hiding your assets to avoid paying debts or tax.  The US is a world-class tax-haven nation, because American laws on corporate structures are so flexible, the tax breaks we offer corporations are so big, and the tax we charge on capital gains is so extra-especially low. The fact is, it is hard to find a more attractive place to make a lot of money, than right here; and states like Nevada and Delaware offer virtual anonymity for corporate clients. Who needs Panama when we have the home state of Joe Biden? Come to think of it, maybe that’s why we’ve heard the White House say so little about Fonseca.  </p><p>Scandal? What scandal? Finding legal ways to dodge your debts to the nation is the good old American way of doing business.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1056316'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1056316" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 18 May 2016 10:32:00 -0700 Laura Flanders, The F Word 1056316 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Economy Economy World panama papers laura flanders mossack-fonseca corruption world Why are Taxpayers Subsidizing Church? http://www.personals.alternet.org/belief/why-are-taxpayers-subsidizing-church <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1053063'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1053063" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">How taxpayers unwittingly subsidize churches. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/13741417064_76d16b847b_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Happy Easter everyone! Have you ever noticed how — US Constitution notwithstanding — churches occupy a pretty special place in our society?<br /><br />Just consider the upcoming holiday. If there’s a Christian church in your hood, chances are, you might see a street cleaned up or closed for a parade, or a police officer assigned to mind parishioners.<br /><br />That work’s done by public workers, by the state - which is to say, it’s paid for out of taxes. But religious institutions don’t pay taxes. They’re tax exempt, remember?<br /><br />So who pays? We do.<br /><br />We subsidize the church by paying more than our share, even if we never step foot in a place of worship.<br /><br />Churches don’t even have to apply for tax-exempt status the way the rest of us do by filling out lengthy, complex forms like other nonprofits. Places of worship get non profit status simply by virtue of declaring themselves. They get special dispensation to discriminate too, against women and fire people on moral grounds that wouldn't stand a chance in any other court.<br /><br />The Supreme Court’s currently considering a case, called Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association, which purports to turn on the question of whether public workers should have to contribute to the union that represents them if those unions engage in political activities the members don't endorse.<br /><br />But you and I subsidize churches every day, whether we like it or not. Lots of congregations provide valuable services, I understand, but we the taxpayers don’t get to choose the soup kitchens over the homophobes… We subsidize both every day.<br /><br />The point is, if you think church and state in the US are happily distinct. Think again. Oh yes, and Happy Easter. </p><p>You can watch my interview with novelist and activist Sarah Schulman on cities and why we love them, on The Laura Flanders Show on KCET/LINKtv and TeleSUR and find all my interviews and reports at LauraFlanders.com To tell me what you think, write to <a href="mailto:Laura@lauraflanders.com" target="_blank">Laura@lauraflanders.com</a>.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1053063'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1053063" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 22 Mar 2016 11:22:00 -0700 Laura Flanders, The F Word 1053063 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Belief Belief Civil Liberties Economy religion money in religion taxes laura flanders How Many of America's Decaying Public Schools Are Making Students and Teachers Sick http://www.personals.alternet.org/education/how-many-americas-decaying-public-schools-are-making-students-and-teachers-sick <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1052602'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1052602" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Broken toilet seats in student bathrooms, mushrooms on their classroom walls, leaking ceilings — all tied to a lack of funding.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_226637815.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>A picture’s worth a thousand words they say, and that was certainly the case earlier this year when public school teachers in Detroit started tweeting out pictures of the crumbling schools they work in.</p><p>After months of attempting to grab legislators attention, the teachers called in sick, en masse earlier this year, causing almost all city schools to close, and while they withdrew their labor, they flooded the social media with images of just what they were so sick of: </p><p>Broken toilet seats in the student’s bathrooms, mushrooms on their classroom walls, leaking ceilings, moldy food.</p><p>The teachers sent out pictures of something that’s had a hard time getting seen: the social cost of austerity.The teachers secured attention from at least one national candidate - Hillary Clinton who pointed out such conditions wouldn't be tolerated in more affluent places. Majority Republicans in Michigan's Legislature threatened new laws to make it easier to crack down on protesting workers. We’ll see what happens. </p><p>Meanwhile, it’s worth reviewing how the Detroit schools got into such a fix. The system wasn't always broke. According to analysis by the Citizens Research Council, a Michigan based policy group, the Detroit schools were enjoying a surplus in the 1990s.  Now, 41 cents of every dollar appropriated for students is being spent on servicing city debt.</p><p>Detroit’s very far from the only city’s that’s mortgaged its public assets to pay off private lenders. What’s the cost? It's not entirely clear. We tend to privatize our problems. What the teachers did was broadcast theirs to the world. Perhaps it's time for others to snap pictures of their public institutions: their libraries, their schools, their public colleges, their court buildings. What’s austerity look like where you live? We're way past due for a great national sick out.</p><p>You can watch my interview with Craig Willse and Imani Craig, as well as our latest short documentary on an upstate New York farm that is subverting the school-to-prison pipeline this week on <a href="http://lauraflanders.com/" target="_blank">The Laura Flanders Show at LauraFlanders.com</a> and on KCET/LinkTV, FreeSpeech TV and in English and Spanish on teleSUR.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1052602'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1052602" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 16 Mar 2016 11:38:00 -0700 Laura Flanders, The F Word 1052602 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Education Education Environment Personal Health education laura flanders The F Word school buildings The Great Corporate Buy-Up: Because of Corporations, Our Cities Are Not Our Own http://www.personals.alternet.org/economy/great-corporate-buy-because-corporations-our-cities-are-not-our-own <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1052309'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1052309" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Companies took advantage of low commercial rents to remake cities in their image.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_146152817.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Think you can tell the difference between a city and a business park? It may not be so clear. A corporate buying boom since the financial crash is gobbling up city property and leaving us with places that are literally not our town.<br /><br />Purchasing took off after 2008, when foreclosure rates were high, bank loans were drying up, and record levels of commercial properties were standing vacant. Last year, major acquisitions by corporations topped a $1 trillion in 100 large cities and by major we do mean major — in New York, that’s only counting property-buys of worth $5m or more.<br /><br />The great corporate buy-up is leaving us with more mega projects, more private space, and more people, but less of everything else, most notably, less of everything public, from parks and plazas to elected governance and with all that private space, comes more private police.<br /><br />The reliance on armed private contractors outside of the public command, is no longer only a phenomenon for our embassies in Kabul and Baghdad. It’s increasingly the norm at home. Angry about police violence? Pushing for more effective community oversight? We may get more and more of that, and less and less police.<br /><br />There are other outcomes too: all that concentration of wealth’s matched by a concentration of poverty. Last year, the Century Foundation reported that since 2000 the number of people living in high-poverty slums had nearly doubled.<br /><br />The world’s great cities have been places where the poor can make an impact, on commerce, cuisine and culture. The poor can’t do that in a business park.<br /><br />As sociologist Saskia Sassen put it recently, the corporate city is a place where “low-wage workers can work, but not “make."<br /><br />There are alternative models of development, but first we have to get to know our cities better. Just who owns what? And who’s getting tax breaks? Is the great corporate buy-up really what we want?<br /><br /><em>Watch my interview with Aaron Bartley and John Washington of Buffalo Push, about their successful fight for sustainable housing in Buffalo, New York, this week on the Laura Flanders Show on KCET/LINKtv and TeleSUR.</em></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1052309'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1052309" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 12 Mar 2016 00:00:00 -0800 Laura Flanders, The F Word 1052309 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Economy Economy Labor corporations cities urban planning commercial rents busineses Dark Money: What Might The Money Media Cover If They Weren't Covering Trump? http://www.personals.alternet.org/election-2016/dark-money-what-might-money-media-cover-if-they-werent-covering-trump-0 <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1051856'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1051856" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Dark Money, Super PACs, shady multi-millionaires buying your democracy.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/trumps_triumph_laura_fladers.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><div>When Americans were asked recently what they fear most, it wasn’t terrorists (unless you mean the sort that take over your TV at election time.) It was corruption of government officials. It’s that fear that a certain multi-millionaire megalomaniac is playing into when he says "I’m so rich I can’t be bought - so vote for me." So is voting for a billionaire to protect you from rule by billionaires a sensible way to fight money in politics? Not exactly. It just looks that way on TV.</div><div> </div><div>Is today's election auction normal or inevitable? Neither. A handful of supreme court decisions decided by a single vote - 5 to 4 unloosed this particular cash flow. It's happened mostly over the last decade. As the Brennan Center reported this January, just one justice shifting opinion could speedily restore some common sense. </div><div> </div><div>Watch: The full segment below:</div><div><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" scrolling="no" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IrDhkvfxOWY" width="630"></iframe></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1051856'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1051856" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 03 Mar 2016 10:53:00 -0800 Laura Flanders, The Laura Flanders Show 1051856 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 Media News & Politics donald trump dark money media Dark Money: What Might the Money Media Cover If They Weren't Covering Trump? http://www.personals.alternet.org/election-2016/dark-money-what-might-money-media-cover-if-they-werent-covering-trump <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1051851'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1051851" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Voting for a billionaire doesn&#039;t mean you&#039;ll become one. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/donald-trump-vine-800x430.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Dark Money, Super PACs, shady multi-millionaires buying your democracy. When Americans were asked recently what they fear most, it wasn’t terrorists (unless you mean the sort that take over your TV at election time.) It was corruption of government officials.<br /><br />It’s that fear that a certain multi-millionaire megalomaniac is playing into when he says "I’m so rich I can’t be bought - so vote for me."<br /><br />So is voting for a billionaire to protect you from rule by billionaires a sensible way to fight money in politics? Not exactly. It just looks that way on TV.<br /><br />Is today's election auction normal or inevitable? Neither. A handful of Supreme Court decisions, decided by a single vote unloosed the cash-flow. It’s happened mostly over the last ten years. As the Brennan Center reported this January, just one justice shifting opinion could speedily restore common sense limits on big spending.<br /><br />Change won't come easily. In the last quarter century, the share of political contributions traceable to the top hundredth of Americans has doubled - from 15 percent to 30 percent. Excess corporate cash rushes into every Congressional and State House office in the land.<br /><br />Concentration of wealth is the problem. Corruption is the consequence. But it’s just not true there’s nothing regular Americans can do.<br /><br />Reformers in California are gathering signatures to put a Voters Bill of Rights on the ballot next November that would require TV ads to display their top donors clearly - and overhaul the state’s campaign finance database to make tracking special interests easier.<br /><br />California’s measure could send a message - even to the justices. Similar efforts are underway in Maine and Washington and South Dakota. But paying more attention to people making change would require money media to pay just a little less attention to that billionaire.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1051851'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1051851" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 03 Mar 2016 10:47:00 -0800 Laura Flanders, The F Word 1051851 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Election 2016 Economy Election 2016 The Right Wing donald trump media Money Coverage video election 2016 Viggo Mortensen: Empires and Justice in the Middle East http://www.personals.alternet.org/video/viggo-mortensens-book-discussed-laura-flanders-show <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1049753'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049753" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Laura Flanders talks to Viggo Mortensen about politics, photography and the rerelease of his book. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-01-28_at_4.08.17_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>This week Laura and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Viggo-Mortensen/112047672145674">Viggo Mortensen</a> discuss heroes, outlaws, empires and justice in the Middle East. Academy Award-nominated actor Viggo Mortensen has appeared in scores of movies, including <a href="https://www.facebook.com/lordoftheringstrilogy/">The Lord of the Rings Trilogy</a>, one of the highest grossing film series of all time. What you may not know is he's also a poet, photographer, musician and painter. He speaks four languages, and he is the founder and publisher of an independent publishing house, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Perceval-Press/106283512736846">Perceval Press</a>. The twelfth anniversary edition of Perceval's collection of essays in response to the Iraq occupation: Twilight of Empire -- was released this winter with essays by Mike Davis, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/AmyGoodman.DemocracyNow/">Amy Goodman</a>, Jodie Evans and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/denniskucinich/">Dennis Kucinich</a>among others - and a forward by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/howardzinn/">Howard Zinn</a>. This episode also features a few words from Laura on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/hillaryclinton/">Hillary Clinton</a> - her warmth and her wars.</p><p> </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/BTvRkjgLCAM" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1049753'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049753" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 12:49:00 -0800 Laura Flanders, The Laura Flanders Show 1049753 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Video Video iraq war laura flanders celebrity Viggo Mortensen book Why the Boycott Campaign on Goods Made in Occupied Territories Is Putting Major Pressure on Israel to Change http://www.personals.alternet.org/economy/why-boycott-campaign-goods-made-occupied-territories-putting-major-pressure-israel-change <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1048906'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1048906" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Activists in North America, Europe and Israel began campaigning for a boycott of companies based in occupied territory.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_336012890.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>“Laissez faire” capitalists love to argue that the market itself is magic. You don’t need government or regulation to rein in bad companies -- consumers will do it. The principle involved is called “reputation”. It’s amazing how vigorously, then, some governments will get involved to defend bad companies from shame.<br /><br />Several years ago, activists in North America, Europe and Israel began campaigning for a boycott of companies based in occupied territory. Among those is the Ahava Corporation. In the US, women organized by CodePink started showing up at Ahava stores dressed in bikinis daubed in mud. It’s not pretty to be predatory, the women of the Stolen Beauty campaign said: while Ahava’s packages say their skin creams come from the Dead Sea, Israel, the mud actually comes from a site inside occupied territory; it’s manufactured into cosmetics in an illegal settlement deep within the occupied West Bank.<br /><br />While Ahava’s using Palestinian resources without permission or compensation, Palestinians themselves are denied access to the Dead Sea’s shores -- although one-third of the western shore of the Dead Sea lies in the occupied West Bank.<br /><br />For years, the European Union’s been considering what to do about this and as you can imagine, they’ve come under withering attack. This fall, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu went all out and accuse the Europeans of singling out Israel, invoking the holocaust and threatening to shun a series of high level meetings. The rhetorical onslaught worked to the extent that instead of a boycott, the Europeans opted for labelling.<br /><br />The tepid option, products made in occupied territory will bear labels that include the term “Israeli settlement,” while Palestinian products will be labelled “product from the West Bank (Palestinian product),” “product from Gaza,” or “product from Palestine.” The labeling will be mandatory for fruit and vegetables, wine, honey, olive oil, eggs, poultry, organic products, and cosmetics, and voluntary for industrial products and processed foods.<br /><br />It’s tepid, but better than anything the US government’s has done so far. The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign continues. Truth in labelling’s at least a start. Now if only we could get the “laissez faire” label removed from laissez faire capitalism.<br /><br /><em><a href="http://www.lauraflanders.com/?video=sLXUTVQNTJw" target="_blank">You can see my interview with reporter Antony Loewenstein on his latest book Disaster Capitalism, Making A Killing Out Of Catastrophe this week on The Laura Flanders Show on LinkTV, FreeSpeech TV and in English and Spanish on TeleSUR , and find all our archives at lauraflanders.com.</a></em></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1048906'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1048906" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 00:00:00 -0800 Laura Flanders, AlterNet 1048906 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Economy Activism Economy World palestinians Israel Boycott Divestment and Sanctions laissez faire capitalism One Way Our Prison System Is Actually Worse Than It Was in 1750 http://www.personals.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/one-way-our-prison-system-actually-worse-it-was-1750 <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1047534'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1047534" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Why our prisons are so crowded. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_79025953.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><div dir="ltr"><p>What got a person locked up – no matter what - in 1790? Piracy. Period. At the birth of the republic mandatory minimum sentences were a rare and targeted thing. Attacking and robbing ships at sea got you life, no ifs, ands or buts.</p><p>What gets you a mandatory minimum sentence today? Any one of 261 different crimes.</p><p>Princeton professor Naomi Murakawa took a look, for her book, The First Civil Right, How Liberals Built Prison America. There she chronicles how for the first two hundred years, Americans managed to get by with only a handful of mandatory minimum laws.</p><p>Those governed specific federal crimes. Refusing to testify before Congress would get you a month, bribing a federal inspector six months, forging a US seal got you a year.</p><p>It wasn’t until the 1980s, that Congress started passing mandatory minimum’s left and right, and we do mean Left and Right. Two terms of tough-on-crime Reagan and Bush Republicans added 72 new mandatory minimum statutes; Clinton’s two terms added 116.</p><p>Quoting Joe Biden in 1994, Murakawa reminds us of the liberal Democrats’ approach:</p><p>“The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is now for 60 new death penalties… 100,000 cops. The liberal wing of the Democratic party is for 124,000 new state prison cells.”</p><p>This is the period, let’s remember, that saw black-white racial ratios among the imprisoned go from three to one to eight to one. Minimums passed during those years include a mandatory 15 year term for carrying a firearm on a third offence, and a five-year mandatory minimum for possessing five grams of crack cocaine.</p><p>The number of mandatory minimum crimes tripled between 1985 and 2000, engorging the prison system, and locking up especially women, mostly women with kids. In Murakawa’s book, the list of mandatory minimum statutes on the books today runs to 20 pages.</p><p>“The perils of post-war liberal law and order are worth recalling now,” she says, when demands for reform are loud but modest in scope. It’s not rocket science why the US has the world’s biggest prison population by far. It’s our policy of imprisoning so many people. The solution’s not kindler, gentler incarceration, or better oversight, it’s an entirely different approach.</p><p><em>You can watch my interview with Naomi Murakawa, on the pro-civil rights roots of the US prison state, this week on The Laura Flanders Show on KCET/LINKtv and TeleSUR and find all my interviews and reports at  <a href="http://lauraflanders.com/" target="_blank">LauraFlanders.com</a>. To tell me what you think, write to <a href="mailto:Laura@LauraFlanders.com" target="_blank">Laura@LauraFlanders.com</a>.</em></p></div><p> </p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/237700239&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1047534'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1047534" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 17 Dec 2015 11:00:00 -0800 Laura Flanders, AlterNet 1047534 at http://www.personals.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics incarceration prison The Disturbing Racial Wealth Gap—and a Group That's Fighting It http://www.personals.alternet.org/labor/disturbing-racial-wealth-gap-and-group-thats-fighting-it <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1047024'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1047024" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Between 2007 and 2013 net worth for white families rose from roughly 5 to roughly seven times greater than Black family worth.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_148488575.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Black workers centers <a href="https://storify.com/StevenPitts/pictures-from-the-2nd-annual-national-black-worker" target="_blank">met nationally last month</a> to deepen their ties and strengthen their political power. In a sane world their agenda would be our national agenda: to build assets and access to resources, for the least wealthy Americans. After all, how strong do we want 21st Century America to be? By 2040, we’ll be a majority-minority nation, meaning the majority of us will be living firmly on the wrong side of the racial wealth gap, less wealthy, less secure and more isolated.<br /><br />What difference does wealth make? The Federal Reserve gets at it when, in their <a href="http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/2014-report-economic-well-being-us-households-201505.pdf" target="_blank">annual survey of consumer finances</a> they ask Americans how they’d handle a $400 emergency. Last year, fully 47 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t be able to cover it, or only by selling something or borrowing money.<br /><br />That’s wealth: that extra beyond your income, what’s coming in and going out, that helps you cover a crisis. Let alone invest in the future. Almost half of all Americans don’t have any of it.<br /><br />Add race to the picture and it’s even more disturbing. The Fed reports that the racial wealth gap’s barely changed over the last 25 years, except it grew following the Great Recession. Between 2007 and 2013 net worth for white families rose from roughly 5 to roughly seven times greater than Black family worth.<br /><br />In absolute terms, mean net wealth stands $134,000 for white families and just $11,000 for black.<br /><br />While incomes were only between one and two times greater for whites than for blacks, assets were roughly five times as great, for those with bachelor degrees. And the inequality doesn’t stop there. The Fed asks about inheritances – lump sum surprises that help families accrue wealth. 23% of white families compared to just 11 percent of black ones have ever received an inheritance. Only 6 % of blacks expect ever to inherit wealth as opposed to 19 percent of whites. The numbers for Hispanics are even lower.<br /><br />Suffice to say, today the top 10 % of white families hold 90 percent of the nation’s total wealth while black families hold a mere 2.7 percent. What the Black Workers Centers in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Chicago and elsewhere are doing: doubling down on securing wages, expanding access to contracts and capital, and exploring creative ways to build assets for the black working class. With, or without, but especially with a non-white future looming, isn’t that actually what we should be doing as a nation?<br /><br /><em>You can watch my interview with Lola Smallwood Cuevas of the Los Angeles Black Workers Center, this week on The Laura Flanders Show on KCET/LINKtv and TeleSUR and <a href="http://www.lauraflanders.com/?video=jlXQOjw9AH4" target="_blank">find all my interviews and reports at LauraFlanders.com</a>. To tell me what you think, write to <a href="mailto:Laura@LauraFlanders.com" target="_blank">Laura@LauraFlanders.com</a>.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/236655095&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1047024'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1047024" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 08 Dec 2015 14:05:00 -0800 Laura Flanders, AlterNet 1047024 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Labor Labor News & Politics african american workers income wealth gap inequality One Nice Meal Won't Cut It - How You Can Really Help the Hungry This Thanksgiving http://www.personals.alternet.org/food/one-nice-meal-wont-cut-it-how-you-can-really-help-hungry-thanksgiving <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1046282'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1046282" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, was clear that soup lines weren’t the answer to poverty. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_2541066.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>During his historic address to Congress, Pope Francis called out Dorothy Day. Scurrying to figure out why, reporters duly described Day as the co- founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, which feeds and houses the urban poor.</p><p>It may take her being canonized to fill in the whole picture. Day was also a pacifist, a radical journalist, a socialist, a single mom. Her life story would make for a good superhero movie. In the meantime, it’s worth pointing out that decades before the crisis of today, Day named our economy as the number one threat to the planet and people, to which she proposed alternatives: not charity but food power.</p><p>"It may be a sentimental notion," she wrote in 1925, "but I think it would be wonderful to live entirely off the land and not depend on wages for a livelihood."</p><p>Famous for shelters – she called them "houses of hospitality" -- Day was clear that soup lines weren’t the answer to poverty. The “real step,” she wrote, were farms.</p><p>In the thirties, inspired on a trip South to organize tenant farmers, Day founded Maryfarm, in northeast Pennsylvania which she hoped would become the heart of her movement. The city’s streets pulled her away, but her belief in farming stuck: "I still think that the only solution is the land," Day wrote in 1957. She remained committed to organizing and was arrested in her seventies with striking Farmworkers in California.</p><p>As Thanksgiving rolls around and many - even in the media - are struck with the urge to do do something for the poor, it's worth remembering that at least as far as Dorothy Day was concerned, it's not food pantrys that will change things. It's workers with rights, autonomy and food power.</p><p> </p><p><em><a href="http://www.lauraflanders.com/?video=wRpC9rrwhSE" target="_blank">You can watch my interview with Jalal Sabur and Ray Figueroa on food power to unearth the school to prison pipeline</a>, this week on The Laura Flanders Show on KCET/LINKtv and TeleSUR and find all my interviews and reports at LauraFlanders.com. To tell me what you think, write to<a href="mailto:Laura@LauraFlanders.com" target="_blank">Laura@LauraFlanders.com</a>.</em></p><p><em><a href="http://ncronline.org/news/peace-justice/its-time-rediscover-dorothy-days-voice-land" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">ncronline.org/news/peace-justice…hy-days-voice-land</a></em></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1046282'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1046282" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 13:01:00 -0800 Laura Flanders, AlterNet 1046282 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Food Activism Food thanksgiving farming pantries charity food power poverty For Activists, Information Is Not Free http://www.personals.alternet.org/media/activists-information-not-free <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1045995'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1045995" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Reporters were charged exorbitant fees for records that are supposed to be free. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_141007105.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Just because it’s called the Freedom of Information Act, doesn’t mean the information is free. In fact, if you’re an activist or a journalist trying to investigate the police, chances are it’s going to cost you, as reporters discovered last year when they tried to obtain documents pertaining to the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson.</p><p>In their efforts to report the story, reporters were being charging exorbitant fees for records that are supposed to be released to the media for free. Missouri has an open records law, yet according to the Associated Press, news agencies were being charged thousands of dollars, “nearly ten times the cost of a government employee's salary" to retrieve government records.<br /> <br />Price gouging is one heck of an effective way to stall and stymie public oversight.</p><p>As Hamid Khan of the LA Coalition against Spying points out, this city price gouging is going on just as surveillance is sprawling. The Intercept reported this July that the Department of Homeland Security has been monitoring Black Lives Matter activists, their Facebook, Twitter and social media accounts, and their meetings, since the first days after Brown's killing.  <br /> <br />You only need to watch Stanley Nelson’s new documentary about the government’s deadly assault on the Black Panthers to see how history could repeat.</p><p>The best antidote to heat is light. In an attempt to expose this movement surveillance—and I suspect make a point about Freedom of Information that’s not so free—the online activist group Color of Change is launching a fundraising push. Unlike the well-funded Intercept, which used FOIA requests to obtain documentation of spying, activists don’t tend to have the money to find out if they’re being spied on. You can help.</p><p><em>Watch my interview with Hamid Khan about his work with the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, this week on The Laura Flanders Show on KCET/LINKtv and TeleSUR. Find all my interviews and reports at LauraFlanders.com. To tell me what you think, write to <a href="mailto:Laura@LauraFlanders.com" target="_blank">Laura@LauraFlanders.com</a>.</em></p><a href="https://theintercept.com/2015/07/24/documents-show-department-homeland-security-monitoring-black-lives-matter-since-ferguson/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">theintercept.com/2015/07/24/docum…-since-ferguson/</a><p><a href="https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/expose-the-fbi?refcode=aliciagarzafulluniverse&amp;amount=15.00" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">secure.actblue.com/contribute/page…se&amp;amount=15.00</a></p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1045995'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1045995" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 14:04:00 -0800 Laura Flanders, AlterNet 1045995 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Media Civil Liberties Media freedom of information act records foia Is Uber Just as Exploitative of Employees as Walmart? (Video) http://www.personals.alternet.org/economy/uber-just-exploitative-employees-walmart-video <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1032319'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1032319" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Where&#039;s the media&#039;s curiousity about who&#039;s earning the lion&#039;s share of Uber&#039;s profits?</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/bhairavi_desai_.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The US media has been breathlessly reporting the spin about Uber, the new $40 billion dollar car service. This episode by Laura Flanders explores the other side, with Bhairavi Desai, co-founder and Director of the Taxi Workers Alliance.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ICSZg9EGsSE" width="560"></iframe></p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1032319'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1032319" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 12:14:00 -0800 Laura Flanders, GRITtv 1032319 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Economy Economy Video Uber taxi ridesharing bhairavi desai Taxi Workers Alliance monopoly Chomsky: America Is 'Not a Pretty Sight' http://www.personals.alternet.org/chomsky-america-not-pretty-sight <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1028715'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1028715" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">In this wide-ranging interview, the scholar explains that legacy of slavery and genocide of the indigenous are very much with us.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/2014.12.9.chomsky.main_.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>In Syria and Iraq, the "US sledgehammer" of war is having its usual effect says professor and author Noam Chomsky in his latest appearance on "The Laura Flanders Show":</p><p>"The US bombings are, in the usual and predictable way, eliciting anger from the civilians that were under attack. They don't like ISIS. They hate it, but they don't want to be attacked by American bombs."</p><p>Atrocities that US media hail as great victories; a US "war on terror" that's the best imaginable recruiting tool for terrorists. The "official" story of today's foreign policy is as upside-down as the mythology around the founding values of the United States itself.<br /> <br />From the policing of slavery, to the policing of Ferguson, Chomsky has a knack for seeing through the propaganda to turn reality back right-side up. And he asks the critical questions: like, why does it take him 90 minutes longer today to travel by train from Boston to New York than it did in 1970? What else could have been done with the money that was spent on crooked banks?</p><p>All that and a discussion of worker-owned cooperatives, some answers to viewers' questions, and Chomsky's take on the US-China emissions deal:</p><p>"Notice that this is a US-China agreement. It could turn out that this is going to undercut the international agreements, and it's not impossible that that was the purpose."</p><p>This conversation was recorded November 14 in New York City.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5meC4Z61qGg" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Laura Flanders: President Obama chose the <a href="http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/president-obama-authorises-deployment-1500-us-troops-iraq-fight-against-isis-1473763%27" target="_blank">10th anniversary</a> of the (2004) Battle of Fallujah to announce the doubling of the US troop presence in Iraq. Some of those troops are going back to Anbar Province where Fallujah is situated. People talk about the crisis posed by ISIS, and [the West's] lack of good options. Is this how you see it?</strong></p><p><strong>Noam Chomsky:</strong> It's interesting to look at it carefully. Fallujah, first of all, was one of the worst atrocities of the 21st century. The Iraq war itself was the worst crime of the 21st century, easily. Fallujah was probably the worst war crime carried out during that war.</p><p>Seven thousand Marines attacked Fallujah, probably killed everyone who was there. They called them insurgents - whatever that means. On the first day of the invasion of Fallujah, The New York Times had a front page photograph of Marines breaking into the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/08/international/middleeast/08hospital.html" target="_blank">general hospital</a>, which is a war crime, and throwing all the patients and doctors on the floor and shackling them. It was hailed as a triumph.</p><p>When the high command was asked why they broke into the hospital, they said it was a propaganda center for the insurgents. [They said that the hospital] was releasing casualty figures, and therefore it's legitimate to carry out a major war crime.</p><p>Apparently pretty exotic weapons were used there, and there's evidence, which international agencies don't want to look at, of <a href="http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26703-iraqi-doctors-call-depleted-uranium-use-genocide" target="_blank">high levels of cancer</a> and other effects of maybe depleted uranium, maybe something else.</p><p>It's a major atrocity, but it's hailed here as a victory. The only way it is referred to now is as a tragedy because the Marines fought so hard to liberate Fallujah, and now ISIS is in control of it.</p><p><strong>So what would you do if you were president?</strong></p><p>First of all ISIS is a monstrosity. There isn't a conceivable way of dealing with it. It's kind of hard to imagine following the law (I say that cautiously because it's such an outrageous idea), but there are laws, and we're bound by them. The [US] Constitution requires that we adhere to them; of course we never do.</p><p>One of them is the UN Charter. A way of dealing with ISIS following the law would be to approach the UN Security Council and request that they declare a threat to peace, which of course they would do, and organize a way to respond to it. And then follow the will of the international community. Out of that there might come a reasonable response.</p><p>The unilateral US response - mainly to hit everything with a sledgehammer - makes absolutely no sense. The correspondent who's followed this most closely and has been right all along, Patrick Cockburn, simply describes it as an Alice in Wonderland strategy.</p><p>The major ground forces that are fighting ISIS are apparently the [Kurdistan Workers' Party] <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkey%E2%80%93PKK_conflict" target="_blank">PKK</a> and its allies in Syria. They're barred because we call them a terrorist group, so they're under attack. Our ally, Turkey, attacks them and we bar them support.</p><p>But they're apparently the ones who saved the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/08/11/a-u-s-designated-terrorist-group-is-saving-yazidis-and-battling-the-islamic-state/" target="_blank">Yazidis</a> and blocked the ISIS attack on Iraqi Kurdistan. They're out. The major regional state that could confront ISIS is Iran. In fact, they could probably wipe them out. And they're influential in Iraq. In fact, [they're] the victors of the Iraq war. They're out for ideological reasons.</p><p>A more complex case, which Patrick Cockburn has actually talked about, is what to do with Assad. That has all kinds of complexities, but anyway they're out.</p><p>And the sledgehammer has its usual effect. The US bombings are, in the usual and predictable way, eliciting anger from the civilians that were under attack. They don't like ISIS. They hate it, but they don't want to be attacked by American bombs.</p><p>There was very interesting insight into this in The New York Times recently. The lead article should have had the headline: "The United States declares itself to be the world's leading terrorist state and is proud of it." That was the content of the article, but of course it didn't have that headline. But it was very revealing. Also, the lack of response to it.</p><p>The lead story was a report of a <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2014%2F10%2F15%2Fus%2Fpolitics%2Fcia-study-says-arming-rebels-seldom-works.html%3Fmodule%3DSearch%26mabReward%3Drelbias%3Aw%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A6%22%7D&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGlboNP3qsLy-_3_jhyAWyojkYg1w" target="_blank">CIA study</a> that had just come out on US intervention and the study was concerned with when they worked and when they didn't work and why. They quoted Obama saying that he commissioned some such studies. He was kind of disappointed they didn't work so much. Then you take a look at the examples, first paragraph of the story, three examples: Cuba, Angola, Nicaragua. Each one a major terrorist war carried out by the United States, not even ambiguous.</p><p>So here we take three major terrorist wars with horrible consequences; we investigate: Did they work? Didn't they work? We're disappointed that they didn't work. And the president says we have better ways. Again, the headline should be: "Yes, we declare ourselves to be the world's leading terrorist state. We're proud of it."</p><p><strong>It goes to a much bigger question. You talk often about the conventional wisdom being reality on its head. That goes back to the founding story of the United States.</strong></p><p>It sure does.</p><p><strong>Can you talk about the principles on which this country is supposedly founded versus the ones you think it might actually be founded on? I've been reading Edward Baptist's extraordinary book, <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/046500296X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=046500296X&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=lauraflanders-20&amp;linkId=53DXFLCPZIHNWCG7" target="_blank">The Half Has Never Been Told:</a>Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism</em>.</strong></p><p>Well, take Baptist's book and compare it with The New York Times this morning. There's a description in The New York Times of the horrible treatment of the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/15/world/middleeast/yazidi-girls-seized-by-isis-speak-out-after-escape.html" target="_blank">Yazidi by ISIS</a>. Now go back to Baptist's book. That's what he's describing. He's describing the treatment of the slaves for half of American history, and in fact it continues. And it's almost identical. That's the way they were treated.</p><p>It's not just kind of bad people in Georgia; Boston financiers were involved in it. They didn't say they were in favor of slavery but they were happy to become wealthy by exporting commodities that were produced by the leading resource of the 19th century, which was cotton. Cotton was kind of like oil.</p><p>So, the oil - the cotton gets exported and they make a ton of money and the banks, they have enough money to import. The country grows and becomes rich, and in fact as Baptist says, the economy was built on the backs of African slaves.</p><p><strong>So is capitalism - RECD as you call it - real existing capitalist democracy - in the United States. Is it redeemable, reformable?</strong></p><p>Well, this is a good illustration of how remote our system is from capitalism. It's hard to think of any greater violation of capitalist and market principles than slavery. But the country was based on two basic commitments: one, slavery, which was, as Baptist points out, was all the source, pretty much the source of the growing economy, including the industrial economy. The other is the extermination of the indigenous population by state power. What's that got to do with capitalism?</p><p>In effect, it goes right to the present. If you have an iPhone and you take a look at the components in it, practically all of them were developed through the state sector, government funding, research and development, often for decades.</p><p><strong>Public sector. We paid for it.</strong></p><p>Yeah, we paid for it. And notice there is a principle of capitalism. Say we imagine we're in a capitalist society. And you invest money in something, and it's a risky investment, and you keep investing in it for decades. And finally, something comes out that makes a profit - well, in a capitalist society you're supposed to get the profit. That's not what happens here.</p><p><strong>If I'm the US taxpayer . . .</strong></p><p>You pay for decades, usually under the pretext that the Russians are coming or something. You're paying for the kind of research and development and creative work that yields the IT revolution, computers, the internet, your iPhone, all the rest of it. Do you get anything back?<br /> <br /><strong>I haven't noticed it.</strong></p><p>It goes to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.</p><p><strong>But, we work a lot with people these days who are interested in trying to develop work around co-ops and cooperative regions of solidarity economics. Is that hopeless?</strong></p><p>No, I think that makes sense. In fact, there are interesting things happening. The person who's done the most writing about this is Gar Alperovitz, and it's interesting work. Throughout the northern Middle West, like in northern Ohio, there is a spread of work around enterprises - not huge but not small either - which could be the basis of a different kind of society. And notice that these could be substantial if there was enough popular support.</p><p>So, go back a couple of years - Obama virtually nationalized the auto industry. It was collapsing, so it had to be kind of built up by the taxpayers. So he took over most of the auto industry. There were a few possibilities. One possibility, of course, was the one that was followed. Bail out the owners, bail out the banks, give it back to the same people, or other people with different faces but essentially the same roles in society, and have it continue to produce what it had always been producing - automobiles. There was another possibility.</p><p>Give it to the work force. Subsidize them to develop and have it produce what we need. What do we need? I can give you a personal example.</p><p>My wife and I came to New York by train from Boston. The train took only an hour and a half longer than when I took it in 1950 for the first time. Either it was standing still or it was going slower than the trucks on the Connecticut Turnpike.</p><p>There isn't a country in the world where this happens. And that's just a symbol of the country. This is the richest country in the world that has incomparable advantages and it's just falling apart.</p><p><strong>Were you encouraged by the news that was hailed as a breakthrough of the US-China accord around emissions, for the first time China committing to cap emissions?</strong></p><p>Look, it's better than nothing, but it doesn't really amount to much. And it has potential dangers that we'd better keep our eye on. Notice that this is a US-China agreement. It could turn out that this is going to undercut the international agreements, and it's not impossible that that was the purpose.</p><p>When we talk about Chinese emissions, remember they're our emissions. China manufactures, say, your iPad, and there is pollution, but that's for the American markets. So, it's a mixed story.</p><p><strong>Well, so that goes to the questions that we received from our Facebook friends. We invited them to pose questions for Professor Chomsky and they posed very many. They fell into several camps: How did we get into this mess? How would you describe this mess? And how do we get out of this mess? I think at the "how do you describe this mess?" situation.</strong></p><p><strong>One quick question in particular, was "How do you assess the strengths and weaknesses of the US movements for social justice, and how would you advise we try to maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses?"</strong></p><p>The labor movement has traditionally been in the forefront of progressive social change, and for that reason and others it's under severe attack. Partly it's the fault of labor bureaucrats, but partly it's just fierce attack from the business world, which pretty much runs the country.</p><p>And by now the labor movement is a shadow of what it once was. It could come back. There have been earlier periods of American history when the labor movement was destroyed - 1920s, it was partially wiped out, 1930s it rose again, so it could happen.</p><p>But with the labor movement seriously weakened and independent political parties almost gone, there's a lack of, a fundamental lack of, continuity in activist politics.</p><p>So everything starts from - as if nothing ever happened before. So, if you take Occupy, which was important but it came out of nowhere, no institutional memory, no recollection of the history. Not even remembering how to run a demonstration. You know, all of this kind of institutional memory is gone. There's a lot of activism, but it's very separated.</p><p>One of the things that I spend a lot of time doing is just giving talks around the country. And one of the major positive contributions is it just brings people together in the same community. People may be doing the same thing in different neighborhoods and don't know each other. And that extends across the country. What's happening here nobody knows about there. That's a serious weakness.</p><p><strong>One of the other questions we had from our Facebook page was from people asking about the prospects for a movement growing out of the conflict in Ferguson and the role of police and the militarization of police in our society. Do you see any prospects for a broad anti-racist social justice movement coming out of that mobilization?</strong></p><p>There are prospects, but it's going to be very hard. This is a very racist society. I mean it's pretty shocking. What has happened in the last, roughly 30 years, with regard to African-Americans, actually is very similar to what Baptist describes in the late 19th century. Remember what happened - the constitutional amendments during and after the Civil War were supposed to free African-American slaves.</p><p>It did something for about 10 years then there was a North-South compact, which essentially granted the former slave-owning states the right to do whatever they wanted. And what they did was criminalize black life in all kinds of ways. That created a kind of a slave force.</p><p>In fact, one of the most interesting books on it [is] Douglas Blackmon's <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385722702/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0385722702&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=lauraflanders-20&amp;linkId=3X6IR5AZBXS5LI5W" target="_blank">Slavery by Another Name</a></em>. It threw mostly black males, but also women, into jail where they became a perfect labor force, much better than slaves. If you're a slave owner you have to keep your capital alive. If the state does it for you, it's terrific. No strikes, no disobedience, the perfect labor force.</p><p>A lot of the American Industrial Revolution in the late 19th, early 20th century, is based on that. And that actually pretty much lasted until World War II when there was a need for what's called free labor in the war industry. After that came about two decades in which African-Americans had kind of a shot at entering this society. A black worker could get a job at an auto plant; the unions were still functioning; maybe he could buy a small house and send his kid to college or something.</p><p>By the 1970s or '80s, it's going back to criminalization of black life. It's called the drug war, which is a racist war. Ronald Reagan was an extreme racist and denied it. And the whole drug war is designed, from policing up to eventual release from prison to make it impossible, for the black male community, and more and more women and more and more Hispanics, to be part of the society.</p><p>If you look at American history, the first slaves came in 1619, and that's half a millennium. There have been about three or four decades in which African-Americans had a limited degree of freedom, not entirely, but at least some.</p><p>And of course, for black elites there are some privileges, but I'm talking about the mass of the population, which has been re-criminalized and also turned into a slave labor force (prison labor for example). This is American history. To break out of that is no small trick.</p><p>If you take a look at the elections, say the last election, in many ways it's a civil war. The red states are the confederacy. That extent is a little bit beyond, but that's pretty much what it is. This is a real battle. These two founding crimes, slavery and extermination of the indigenous population, are very much with us. Take a look at Indian reservations today. It's not a pretty sight.</p><p><strong>People could talk a lot about what to do, but I do have to ask you one other important question that came out of Democracy Now! yesterday. I don't know whether you heard, but <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmFMiDGIgRc" target="_blank">rumors were spread</a> of unseemly behavior by yourself at summer camp with Amy Goodman's father.</strong></p><p>I read it. I didn't read - somebody sent it to me.</p><p><strong>Russell Brand, the British actor/comedian wants to know, did you bite Amy Goodman's father's ear?</strong></p><p>I'm afraid not. He was a friend. We were campers at a camp, and we were in the same bunk. And we were friends, and we knew each other for a couple of years but never got as close as biting his ear I'm afraid.</p><p><strong>So, to be clear, not to put too fine a point on it, but this whole question of Chomsky cannibalism . . .</strong></p><p>Not true. Sorry. It's a nice story.</p><p><strong>But maybe 'chompers' isn't bad.</strong></p><p>Yea, it sounds good.</p><p><strong>Pretty good.</strong></p><p>But we were friends.</p><p><strong>What do you think of Russell Brand?</strong></p><p>Actually, I don't know much about popular culture.</p><p><strong>Sounds like he should pay you a visit.</strong></p><p>Actually, Amy's father was one of the best quarter milers in camp. I don't know if he knew that.</p><p><strong>And were you a runner?</strong></p><p>No, no. I stayed and watched.</p><p><strong>Noam, thank you so much. It's great to have you.</strong></p><p><em>Noam Chomsky's latest book is</em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/160846363X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=160846363X&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=lauraflanders-20&amp;linkId=XOD63G2Y2X2NVLXL" target="_blank">Masters of Mankind: Essays and Lectures, 1969-2013</a><em>, from Haymarket Books. Watch his interview in full on "The Laura Flanders Show," now seen every week on <a href="http://multimedia.telesurtv.net/web/telesur/#%21en/lista/programa/laura-flanders-show" target="_blank">TeleSUR English</a> and starting this month, on <a href="https://www.linktv.org/series/laura-flanders-show" target="_blank">KCET/Link TV</a>. Find out more at <a href="http://grittv.org/" target="_blank">GRITtv.org</a>.</em></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1028715'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1028715" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 10:01:00 -0800 Laura Flanders, Truthout 1028715 at http://www.personals.alternet.org noam chomsky foreign policy New Factories Have Jobs You’d Really Want—and These Chicago Kids Are Skilling Up to Get Them http://www.personals.alternet.org/education/new-factories-have-jobs-youd-really-want-and-these-chicago-kids-are-skilling-get-them <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1024792'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1024792" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">As factories return to a struggling neighborhood, one school is training students for the jobs that actually need to be filled.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/austin_polytech_class.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Dan Swinney bristles when he hears the words “postindustrial.”</p><p>“The U.S. is not postindustrial, OK?”</p><p>Nor should it be, he told the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives when he keynoted their convention in his hometown of Chicago in May.</p><p>The United States has lost plenty of manufacturing jobs to other parts of the world. If we want to see the sort of systemic change we need in the United States, manufacturing things on a massive scale must be part of that vision, Swinney said. And it’s not about urging a return to the bad old days of the last industrial revolution—it’s about embracing a new industrial age, making things in new ways, and making the U.S. heartland hum again.</p><p>Factory work can be compatible with thriving communities and a healthy planet, Swinney said. “It depends whose values are in the driver’s seat.”</p><p>There are signs that American manufacturing is poised for a comeback. After years of over-a-cliff decline, the number of new manufacturing jobs has edged up over the past four years, and steadily all summer.</p><p>The country still has a long way to go. President Obama set a national goal in 2012 to create 1 million new manufacturing positions by the end of 2016—an aspiration some doubt we'll reach. Still, the idea of creating these jobs gets people excited because they pay better and have greater impact on their communities than the low-wage work where growth has been concentrated up to now.</p><p>A manufacturing revival wouldn’t just be good for jobs and pay, Swinney says. “Manufacturing is the only way we’re going to lift people out of poverty, create strong local economies, and solve the challenge of climate change.”</p><p>“Drop the language about a postindustrial age,” Swinney told the co-op crowd. “You need to enter the new industrial age and attempt to lead it.”</p><p>But the question, Swinney said, is this: Will the Second Industrial Revolution look like the first, with its child labor, smokestacks, and profits for the few; or will it look like the cooperatively run factories of the Mondragon Corporation in the Basque region of Spain, or the democratically run industries of Italy’s Emilia Romagna district? There, worker-owners produce on an industrial scale, but in ways that prioritize the needs of their local community instead of profits for far-off investors.</p><p><strong>Manufacturing jobs in the U.S.have been disappearing for a long time:</strong></p><p><strong><div alt="" class="media-image" height="300" width="555"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="300" width="555" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/story_images/manufacturing_employees_in_the_us.jpg" /></div></strong></p><p><em>Graphic by Michelle Ney and Natalie Lubsen.</em></p><p><strong>But they're starting to come back:</strong></p><p><strong><div alt="" class="media-image" height="300" width="555"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="300" width="555" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/story_images/manufacturing_job_openings.jpg" /></div></strong></p><p><em>Graphic by Michelle Ney and Natalie Lubsen.</em></p><p><strong>Bringing business back to the Candy Capital</strong></p><p>Swinney is a social-change-maker with a business plan. A former union machinist who saw his career in labor go up in smoke during the downturn of the 1980s, he’s pulled together a big tent partnership of public schools, private businesses, community groups, and labor. The goal is to harness the power of manufacturing for the empowerment of those most affected by the downfall of the last industrial revolution.</p><p>Thirty-two years ago, Swinney founded the research group Manufacturing Renaissance, which in 2005 spawned the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council, the Bay Area Manufacturing Renaissance Council, and the National Manufacturing Renaissance Council.</p><p>This year, Manufacturing Renaissance went global, linking up with manufacturers and movements in Europe and soon, Swinney hopes, the developing South. For a project founded by a former union organizer, Swinney’s manufacturing revolution has a diverse set of fans: among them, the U.S. Department of Labor, the <a class="internal-link" href="http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/mondragon-and-the-system-problem">Mondragon cooperatives</a>, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.</p><p>Now the job is selling manufacturing to young Chicagoans—most of whom associate factories with a bygone age.</p><p>It’s been a couple of generations since Chicago saw its heyday as the metal—and candy—capital of the United States. The brand names that were born here endure: names like Cracker Jack, Wrigley, and Baby Ruth; but only older residents recall smelling sugar in the air and telling the time by the shift-change siren ringing out from the Brach’s candy factory.</p><p>Darnell Shields Jr. remembers eating Brach’s butter toffees off the production line on family days. His father worked there, and colossal Brach was one of the last factories to close.</p><p>Shields experienced his father's layoff and saw the place shuttered when new Swiss owners moved the business to Argentina in 2003. He chose to attend a vocational school because, “I grew up around those types of skills.”</p><p>The federal government started investing in public vocational education at the turn of the last century, when the last Industrial Revolution was creating more jobs than the trade guilds and the 19th-century apprentice system could fill. For decades, those schools were the training ground for high school students who planned to skip college and go directly into the trades or manufacturing. Factory life wasn’t for everyone, but it paid a wage on which you could raise a family, and promised a pension—at least before factories starting flooding South.</p><p>Shields, a parent now, is not promoting manufacturing to his kids. He got a degree in engineering  and architecture, but he works in a community nonprofit.</p><p>“I saw the jobs go away and it didn’t seem viable,” he says.</p><p>Besides, before the founding of Austin Polytechnical Academy, a local manufacturing-focused college and prep school that partners with Manufacturing Renaissance, Shields’ kids would have had a hard time finding a place to get a technical education. His own high school closed the year after he graduated.</p><p>In the 1980s and ‘90s, Manufacturing Renaissance reports, about 4,000 of Chicago’s 7,000 factories closed, sucking away 200,000 jobs. Not long after, as part of a national trend, local high schools started cutting shop class and disparaging “vocational ed” in favor of pushing everyone to college.</p><p>The intentions weren’t all bad. But beyond the school walls, where there had once been thriving businesses, caverns of deep urban poverty were opening up—especially in black and Latino communities like the Austin area of Chicago’s West Side. The taco shops, car wash joints, and snack food stores where factories had stood didn’t offer a career path, a pension, or wages that could come anywhere close to paying for college.</p><p>Swinney had time to study all this when he lost his job in 1983 after the Taylor Forge metal company closed its doors. A union organizer with experience in the United Steelworkers, Swinney formed a research group to study what was happening.</p><p>He found that some companies were outsourcing to find cheap, compliant labor, and some were put out of business by competition or speculators. But others were closing for simple lack of a succession plan, and a good number were determined to stay—though they were having a hard time.</p><p>With so much focus on what had been lost in the Candy Capital, educators, politicians, and social movements had failed to see what remained: Chicago was still one of the manufacturing capitals of the United States.</p><p>According to a report by Manufacturing Renaissance, 750 manufacturing companies do business in the city’s depressed West Side; 3,500 operate within 10 miles.</p><p>And it’s not just Chicago: Across the country, 600,000 manufacturing jobs are going unfilled.</p><p><strong>A School-to-Shop-Floor Pipeline</strong></p><p>Freedman Seating has been making things people sit on for 120 years: first, for horse-drawn buggies; now, for delivery trucks and transit buses.</p><p>Craig Freedman is the last in a long line of Freedmans who grew up sweeping scraps of upholstery off the shop floor and working summers in the plant. He attended business school and spent a couple of years on Wall Street (he’s pretty sure he was the only one in his class who’d held a factory broom in his hand).</p><p>When his father got ready to retire, Freedman came back to Chicago. “It’s in my blood,” he said.</p><p>Is seating in his children’s blood? He doesn’t know, but qualified manufacturing staff is already scarce.</p><p>The company has been growing. Last year, it won a contract to produce more than 11,000 new lightweight seats for the Chicago Transit Authority’s latest fleet of buses. The company added 100 jobs in 2013, and more this year. The jobs pay $12-$25 an hour, but they’re hard to fill because qualified workers are in hot demand and few places train unskilled workers in upholstery and engineering.</p><p>According to an survey of 300 manufacturing executives by the consulting firm Accenture, 75 percent of those surveyed reported a moderate to severe shortage of skilled workers, and manufacturing workers are getting older (the proportion of workers who are over 65 years old is growing).</p><p>The Society of Manufacturing Engineers predicts that the shortfall of skilled factory workers could increase to 3 million jobs by 2015 due to the aging of the manufacturing workforce and older workers retiring.</p><p>“It’s more and more difficult to hire for skilled positions,” said Freedman, “partly because of the aging of our population and partly because the sophistication of manufacturing has changed so much.”</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="230" width="555"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="230" width="555" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/story_images/82_percent_of_us_manufacturers_plan_to_increase_production.jpg" /></div><p> </p><p><em>Graphic by Michelle Ney and Natalie Lubsen.</em></p><p><em><div alt="" class="media-image" height="230" width="555"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="230" width="555" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/story_images/75_percent_of_manufacturers_report_shortage_of_skilled_workers.jpg" /></div></em></p><p><em>Graphic by Michelle Ney and Natalie Lubsen.</em></p><p>Americans started turning away from manufacturing (and cutting shop class) in pursuit of the “knowledge economy” just as manufacturing was getting modern and complex.</p><p>Since 2008, Swinney’s had help from his daughter, Erica Swinney. Erica left Chicago for California to attend college at the University of California, Berkeley, but returned to her old hometown after graduating.</p><p>Today, she serves as program director for Manufacturing Renaissance at Austin Polytechnic. She and her team have help from 60 privately owned companies—like Freedman Seating—who agree to give their high school students on-the-job experience and a fair crack at job placements.</p><p>In return, Manufacturing Renaissance trains Austin students on the latest computer and metalworking skills, and offers them a chance to win nationally recognized credentials.</p><p>Of the class of 2014, Erica estimates that about 45 graduates are enrolling in higher education or pursuing jobs in manufacturing (that’s 5 percent of the total class); and 62 percent have earned at least one machine-working credential from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). Many had earned two or three.</p><p>Although it’s still a tiny school, students at Austin Polytechnical Academy accounted for 56 percent of all NIMS credentials earned by high school students in Illinois in 2013. Since 2011, 28 have been placed in full-time jobs.</p><p>The Department of Labor is impressed enough that earlier this year, it gave Manufacturing Renaissance a 4-year grant of $2.7 million to fund a “Manufacturing Connect” program, which Swinney is confident will make the school-to-shop-floor route even smoother.</p><p>One of the beneficiaries is likely to be 21-year-old TreVon Dotson. Like most of the kids he knows, he didn’t grow up thinking about making things.</p><p>“I grew up wanting to be Godzilla,” Dotson said earlier this year.</p><p>More seriously, he describes himself as “lost” like many of his friends, until he got a sense of his own abilities and a taste of computer programming at Austin Poly.</p><p>Hooked up with a job-shadowing experience at Dudek Manufacturing, a custom-order metal corporation on Armitage Avenue that partners with Manufacturing Renaissance, Dotson was hired at Dudek not long after graduation. He was proud that he and his teammates manufactured components for the Weber Grill. The work’s not easy, Dotson explained, but he loved it. It made him feel needed.</p><p>“I’m needed to run the machine, and we’re making things people need," he said. "That helps America and it helps other people. It’s like giving it forward.”</p><p>Since then, Dotson’s road has gotten rockier. Dudek let him go later earlier this year. While the company didn’t return calls for comment, Dotson says he’d made a mistake on a machine and soon afterward he was told it wasn’t a good fit. (Dudek has hired two other graduates from Austin Poly since, according to Erica Swinney.)</p><p>What Dotson has—that many young workers don’t—is a place he can go for help.</p><p>Among the academy’s partners is the community organization, Austin Coming Together (ACT), where former Brach's candy child Darnell Shields works. ACT gives the students at Austin Poly the wraparound social supports many need to deal with stresses beyond the school walls—especially the problems associated with chronic poverty: “Drug addiction, alcoholism, long-term unemployment in their families,” Shields said. The list is long.</p><p>Dotson still wants to work in manufacturing. The pay was good. The way it made him feel about himself was good. He may be the first in his family to work in the industry (that he knows of), but he doesn’t want to be the last.</p><p>Just a few days after being let go, he went back to Austin Poly to meet with Erica. “Our teachers told us we could always come back, and that really meant a lot,” he said this August.</p><p>What the companies and community groups at Manufacturing Renaissance are doing at Austin Polytechnic is less about job placement than it is about stitching up a torn social fabric. It’s about equipping kids (and in their night classes, adults) with the skills they need to have a chance.</p><p>But the Swinneys’ real priority is improving those chances, for the sake of the community, the economy, and ultimately, the planet.</p><p>“The standard for most schools is to prep kids for college,” Swinney said. “That’s just a portal for kids to flee the community with no idea of what they’re going to do. The purpose of our school is to build the community and to learn all the skills that are necessary for that.”</p><p>That’s why they’re in Austin, not the suburbs. That’s why they’re working within the public school system, not setting up a private charter. That’s why they’re focusing on industry.</p><p>“Unless you’re talking about manufacturing, you’re not talking about transforming the economy,” Swinney said.</p><p><strong>A Blue-Collar Revival</strong></p><p>Economists calculate that every job created in manufacturing generates 4-5 others in the supply chain, or in the neighborhood where better-paid employees live, Swinney told me. In retail, the estimate is 1.5 jobs; in service, it’s a quarter of a job.</p><p>“If ballet had the same multiplier effect, we’d be starting ballet schools,” Erica said.</p><p>The “new” economy is spawning a new culture where our dichotomies need an update.</p><p>As Matthew Crawford, author of The New York Times' best-seller Shop Class as Soulcraft observes, the divide between white-collar and blue-collar—corresponding to  “mental” versus “manual”—is a relic.</p><p>“First, it assumes that all blue-collar work is as mindless as assembly line work, and second, that white-collar work is still recognizably mental in character," Crawford writes. "Yet there is evidence to suggest that the new frontier of capitalism lies in doing to office work what was previously done to factory work: draining it of its cognitive elements.”</p><p>“Paradoxically,” Crawford continues, “educators who would steer students toward cognitively rich work might do this best by rehabilitating the manual trades, based on a firmer grasp of what such work is really like.”</p><p>Assembly lines are already different—and can be more so. Part of what’s driving <a class="external-link" href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/12/the-insourcing-boom/309166/">what The Atlantic called “The Insourcing Boom”</a> is the recognition that offshoring puts such distance between manufacture and design that it is hard to respond nimbly to changes in consumer demand, and easy for foreign makers to knock off the product. Go one step further and make the workers owners, and you eliminate that distance.</p><p>Democracy at work is not just good for workers, it’s good for business, say the <a class="external-link" href="http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/worker-owned-window-factory-opens-for-business">worker-owners at the New Era Windows cooperative</a>.</p><p>At their plant, across town on Chicago’s South Side, the New Era workers had a chance to redesign their workplace when they started their own company and bought their equipment from their former boss.</p><p>“We do the work and we know how it goes,” said worker-owner Melvin “Ricky” Maclin. “When we worked for the boss, the workers had to move about a lot … Now we work for ourselves, we laid it out in a more efficient work flow.”</p><p>Swinney’s inspired by the cooperative model. The top-down, profit-up monopoly capitalism that’s brought our economy and our planet to the brink is not—despite what Margaret Thatcher said—“the only alternative.” Even as the first industrial revolution was crashing like the Brach candy factory’s chimney into rubble all over Chicago, social movements in Spain and Italy were creating huge, democratically run manufacturing companies. They were operated for profit, but that profit went to the workers and the community, serving the public interest.</p><p>“You can have growth like cancer or growth like a baby,” as Swinney sees it. The point is, the underlying values drive the ship.</p><p><strong>Cooperation Capital, USA</strong></p><p>At Austin, a lot of students can rattle off the high school’s values, which include promoting sustainability on a local and global level. Given the chance, those are the values students like Azariah Hutchinson will take into their own business.</p><p>Hutchinson is one of four female students running a business cooperative out of what started in shop class at Austin Poly. This February, she displayed delicately what she hopes to soon be selling: a small, brass trumpet mouthpiece.</p><p>The idea for the mouthpiece came from her teacher, Pablo Varela. He’s a keen trumpet player, but playing is hard. He set his students the task of making a product that might be easier to blow.</p><p>After many months of calculations and programming on Austin’s computer-controlled machines, the group came up with three models. They have a patent on one. It’s called Euterpe, after the Greek muse of music. Now, Hutchinson and her colleagues are just trying to perfect the code that will get the machine to imprint the little goddess logo on the brass.</p><p>“I don’t know if I’ll go into metalworking for my career, but I’m very interested in marketing and sales,” Hutchinson says.</p><p>Career, sales, metal, shop … None of these words played much of a role in Hutchinson’s life before she came to Austin Poly, she said: “Without this class I would have known nothing about manufacturing, factories, the jobs, any of it.”</p><p>Looking to the future, Swinney has his sights set on the next step. Having built a pipeline for qualified workers, he’s ready to woo new companies to Chicago.</p><p>That’s the idea behind the Austin Manufacturing Innovation District. With funding from part of a $1.25 million grant in 2012 from the City of Chicago, Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council, and Manufacturing Renaissance have proposed a production, research, development, and training facility in the Austin area.</p><p>On the day he spoke to the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives convention, Swinney said they were close to an agreement with a company to build a factory and hire people on Chicago’s West Side (the agreement was finalized October 1). There are 13 more companies—including seven international companies—that have signed MOUs to explore siting production within the Innovation District.</p><p>“If all goes well we could be responsible for 400-600 new manufacturing jobs in the next 18 months.”</p><p>One site within the district that has enormous symbolic appeal is the 27-acre Brach candy site that now sits empty. The factory’s demolition made for quite a spectacle, the noise heard all across the West Side.</p><p>Could Chicago’s Second Industrial Revolution turn the Candy Capital into the Cooperation Capital—and make a different sort of boom?</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1024792'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1024792" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 05:00:00 -0700 Laura Flanders, YES! Magazine 1024792 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Education Economy Education Labor chicago manufacturing jobs labor skilled workers education teaching Austin Polytechnical Academy David Harvey and Gar Alperovitz Discuss the Failure of Capitalism http://www.personals.alternet.org/economy/david-harvey-and-gar-alperovitz-discuss-failure-capitalism <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1018675'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1018675" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The theorists also speak about what activists fighting for a just economy have to do to reach that goal.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/_david_harvey-_gar_alperovitz_.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>If you listen to the money media, you might think that fixing the economy is just a matter of the right bailout or the right tax policy. But what would it mean to fight for <em>systemic</em> economic change? What are the economic alternatives? At GRITtv we actually ask those questions and engage guests that have compelling answers. <span>This week, I will be speaking with two brilliant theorists of economic change - <a href="http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0018KG-MSuGrMoTOfUeRlQPKOP7xRXYCn_wZuQ0GZs4U9jAE2Va0USv_6ICiCqAJ4h5BePPYika77dwE1WOQitw6gYl47wrh530tsiif42Av2UEL_Kd-KgT5K4WAYZ--1-3IRtf08EPk7ZfNv4Gkd-03DLVeIjwWq15rxw4M1N0y0c=&amp;c=sCldXPHdNU1Cmc-yVoVsPGe9zPBO3kRMorIOjsMHSg1gb7P1EOw1xQ==&amp;ch=diNF_yUKWE733i2aPDPL3ujj_p_k6Ia0fPzZX3ylO_HKKu2GYMcX6A==" shape="rect" style="color:blue;text-decoration:underline" target="_blank">David Harvey</a> </span><span>and </span><span><a href="http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0018KG-MSuGrMoTOfUeRlQPKOP7xRXYCn_wZuQ0GZs4U9jAE2Va0USv_6ICiCqAJ4h5U3ZEOXCdfRRWzZmzlkxjzZ3kJB7WgE6y6Eg8HN6QSkc9k1Oaf1NM7Ocn3RuRYF6CzjMTI38pQD8K5eT7BD7Q6xJfOReJ0mHTYCZPpaMDCDBpA3owR0xbKQ==&amp;c=sCldXPHdNU1Cmc-yVoVsPGe9zPBO3kRMorIOjsMHSg1gb7P1EOw1xQ==&amp;ch=diNF_yUKWE733i2aPDPL3ujj_p_k6Ia0fPzZX3ylO_HKKu2GYMcX6A==" shape="rect" style="color:blue;text-decoration:underline" target="_blank">Gar Alperovitz</a>. Together they dig into the failure of capitalism, the hope presented by worker co-ops, and what activists fighting for a just economy must do to get there.</span></p><p><em>Watch the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dIfVai8_A4">conversation</a> with Harvey and Alperovitz below:</em></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/1dIfVai8_A4" width="560"></iframe></p><p>This episode also features excerpts from GRITtv's exclusive new documentary on worker co-ops, <em>Own the Change.</em></p><p>For another look at why we need systemic change, check out last week's episode for my <a href="http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0018KG-MSuGrMoTOfUeRlQPKOP7xRXYCn_wZuQ0GZs4U9jAE2Va0USv_6DNAUEb11dTJvDh_s1NCcjMo5MziI-7xFoDhilvU__3eyP-WUesxkFVfo1wrix_M7jPykeyljPoQMuPHdCzvssS7pRxz_OQVHyTRAqxTENYRSPRwvIN2f8=&amp;c=sCldXPHdNU1Cmc-yVoVsPGe9zPBO3kRMorIOjsMHSg1gb7P1EOw1xQ==&amp;ch=diNF_yUKWE733i2aPDPL3ujj_p_k6Ia0fPzZX3ylO_HKKu2GYMcX6A==" shape="rect" style="color:blue;text-decoration:underline" target="_blank">interview with Nikole-Hannah Jones and Jennifer Taub</a> about how government policies have reproduced segregation.</p><p>This week also marks the release of <a href="http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0018KG-MSuGrMoTOfUeRlQPKOP7xRXYCn_wZuQ0GZs4U9jAE2Va0USv_6ICiCqAJ4h51EUAmwirAv2DmhsA15f4v2FPoLxoxBAnKf5wgyFYZ7i_Tfgz6seX5LLCTI6RbZm19QMpr4cG0-iHVIPeEkKW9zDzfj7nmCU94qOXlpruiCATVpWIN6iAtw==&amp;c=sCldXPHdNU1Cmc-yVoVsPGe9zPBO3kRMorIOjsMHSg1gb7P1EOw1xQ==&amp;ch=diNF_yUKWE733i2aPDPL3ujj_p_k6Ia0fPzZX3ylO_HKKu2GYMcX6A==" shape="rect" style="color:blue;text-decoration:underline" target="_blank">Born to Fly</a>, a documentary about extreme choreographer <a href="http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0018KG-MSuGrMoTOfUeRlQPKOP7xRXYCn_wZuQ0GZs4U9jAE2Va0USv_6ICiCqAJ4h5jHyzww8ZW5VqF0xYtWR4MJtKHGS4o1FhmesODvvNcVsDgwVm3ODH36d2M-GYs7YRXctItCB2_3pkq67kMi5yvEOqOF_HP7yqal54N4dKFvw=&amp;c=sCldXPHdNU1Cmc-yVoVsPGe9zPBO3kRMorIOjsMHSg1gb7P1EOw1xQ==&amp;ch=diNF_yUKWE733i2aPDPL3ujj_p_k6Ia0fPzZX3ylO_HKKu2GYMcX6A==" shape="rect" style="color:blue;text-decoration:underline" target="_blank">Elizabeth Streb</a>. Check out our <a href="http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0018KG-MSuGrMoTOfUeRlQPKOP7xRXYCn_wZuQ0GZs4U9jAE2Va0USv_6ICiCqAJ4h55XF-iVrKTasRySAZyPhrgqoGQxVAOJeE8qZWQwmRiQfUju_CBXr63coByn5pFwtKPUBJgTiLMdXMzVe61w069-bW23yo2JKAsbO-103cWIdc7KF-AtNB7RqKzzat7_7KfQljcP9_qnXbrqzQFeZb3AQimurheNTS&amp;c=sCldXPHdNU1Cmc-yVoVsPGe9zPBO3kRMorIOjsMHSg1gb7P1EOw1xQ==&amp;ch=diNF_yUKWE733i2aPDPL3ujj_p_k6Ia0fPzZX3ylO_HKKu2GYMcX6A==" shape="rect" style="color:blue;text-decoration:underline" target="_blank">2010 interview</a> with her!</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1018675'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1018675" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 12:20:00 -0700 Laura Flanders, GRITtv 1018675 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Economy Economy News & Politics Video david harvey gar alperovitz capitalism cooperation How Did All This Surplus Military Hardware End Up in Police Hands? http://www.personals.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/how-did-all-surplus-military-hardware-end-police-hands <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1017055'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1017055" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">And while we&#039;re at it, how about the residents in towns with all this firepower review the program? </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/4050d8dc7fd00f8ef6dd1dbbd5a4eaa581d1bdfc_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered a review of the distribution of military hardware to state and local police. Great. Now can we have a review of the distribution of military influence throughout US society?</p><p>What we’ve learned so far is that under a federal program, more than $5 billion worth of military equipment has gone to more than 8,000 city and state agencies since 1997. I found out this weekend that one small town not far from me received six military HumVees for a police department where just 25 officers work.</p><p>Mine-resistant trucks aren't the only war tools showing up in US suburbs. Take those gunshot wounds. Michael Brown, the unarmed teen shot by a police in Ferguson August 9, was shot six times, twice in the head. Ever wonder why so many gun shot victims show up with multiple bullets in their flesh?  It’s certainly the cop, it’s also the gun.</p><p>As the <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/07/how-military-guns-make-the-civilian-market/375123/">Atlantic Magazine</a>reported this summer, every time that Congress pays a military contractor to develop a new killer weapon for the battlefield, it almost at once shows up at High Street gun shops – and in Hollywood movies, like Lethal Weapon 1, 2, 3 and 4.</p><p>Obama’s review has been sparked by public shock at images from Ferguson, but what do people think happens when war profiteers dominate the marketplace, the media and Congress?</p><p>There’s a lot of surplus out there because defense contractors lobby for it. The top five companies spent more than<a href="http://grittv.org/%20http://watchdog.org/124909/defense-spending/">$65 million</a>last year persuading Congress to cancel promised cuts. As a result the 2014  budget gave them everything they asked for, including the controversial F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive weapon system ever, and a tank that we already know that nobody wants.</p><p>Weapons makers don’t just do war work of course. Lockheed Martin, the maker of that costly fighter, has also snapped up government contracts to do data collection for everyone from the Postal Service to the IRS, despite a history of fraud.  </p><p>Now the country's SWAT teams are lobbying to keep their military surplus and there’s about to be more of it because Congress is already hearing the Pentagon’s $555 billion budget for next year, isn’t sufficient, in light of the threat posed by the Islamic State. That's good news for the SWAT teams and probably for ISIS. In Syria and Iraq, ISIS has seized an arsenal of US military gear --  even more than the Ferguson police!</p><p>So by all means yes, let’s examine the surplus program. But let’s not stop at that. And while we’re at it, Obama says the review will be done by White House Staff and “relevant" agencies including Homeland Security and the Departments of Defense. We can guess what will come of that. How about the residents in towns with all this firepower review the program?  Especially the ones who’ve been shocked, not just by the images  -- but by the experience of having police point assault rifles at their heads.</p><p></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1017055'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1017055" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 12:40:00 -0700 Laura Flanders, GRITtv 1017055 at http://www.personals.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics military hardware police militarization weapons ferguson People Power and Democratic Banking? Look No Further Than Your Local Credit Union http://www.personals.alternet.org/economy/people-power-and-democratic-banking-look-no-further-your-local-credit-union <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '987086'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=987086" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">People&#039;s Federal Credit Union&#039;s Linda Levy describes what makes a credit union tick.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/flanderslevy.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>Editor’s note: This is a transcript of Laura Flanders’ interview with Linda Levy for <a href="http://www.grittv.org/">GRITtv.org</a>.</em></p><p>A financial institution you can run? Better than that, a financial institution you and your neighbors can own and manage in your neighborhood? Credit unions are exactly that and they’re getting a fresh look since the so-called Great Recession, which they weathered a whole lot better than many private banks. What’s a credit union? How is it different from a private bank and what laws hold credit unions back? To talk about that and more we’re happy to welcome Linda Levy, CEO of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union. It has been serving people and businesses on the Lower East Side and Central Harlem in New York since 1986.</p><p><strong>Laura Flanders: So, tell us how much money have you lent out since 1986?</strong></p><p>Linda Levy: Amazingly enough, we have lent out $65 million.</p><p><strong>LF: Sixty-five million dollars! Who has it gone to?</strong></p><p>LL: It has gone to the people that live and work on the Lower East Side and since 2005 also to people in Central Harlem. It is mostly low-income people and local small businesses.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong> Describe for a little bit the scene on the Lower East Side when you started. You were there at the start in 1986, right?</strong></p><p>LL: The East Village, Lower East Side back then was a lot of drugs, it was very impoverished, the city had basically abandoned the community, the banks had abandoned the community, which is why our credit union got started. So it was a very different place than it is now.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong> So you had been working in co-ops but mostly food co-ops, consumer co-ops.</strong></p><p>LL: Yes, before that I had been working food co-ops and got to the point where I felt that the food co-op movement was not really able to make major social change because of a lack of capital. So I thought, let’s see about getting access to capital for low-income people and then I found out about credit unions.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong>So how do credit unions do that for people and what makes them different from a private bank?</strong></p><p>LL: Credit unions are owned by their members and only lend to their members. Our credit union started and served only people who lived between 14th Street and the Brooklyn Bridge, from Bowery over to the East River. The only people who could borrow from us  who would join the credit union and were owners of the credit union. So all the money that they put in went back out into the community and never went anywhere else. So Bank of America, City Bank, they may have a branch in a neighborhood but their money can go wherever they choose to invest it.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong>On this question of ownership, who owns it and how is it run?</strong></p><p>LL: Credit unions are democratically run: one member, one vote. Every member has the right to vote for the board of directors, the board of directors sets the policy, we have an annual meeting every year at which the members come and exercise their vote, but the main point of it is one member one vote, which is very different than how it is done in banks where you get more votes if you have more stocks.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong>Are they voting on who to lend money to?</strong></p><p>LL: The membership at large doesn’t vote on who to lend money to, but we do have a credit committee which is elected by the membership.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong> I’m impressed by how much you have all loaned out, but it’s a pretty small percentage of all of the assets that are loaned by financial institutions. Why is it so tiny a proportion?</strong></p><p>LL: For one thing, we only loan to our members and we only get money from our members. I always say that a credit union is only as rich as its membership. We are a low-income credit union: that is a designation by the national credit union administration. Since our members are low income, we are low income, as a credit union. So we don’t have as much money as we might want to lend out. There was a point a few years ago that we were lent out at 125 percent: that was pretty scary. We didn’t have much liquidity at all and we did have to borrow money to continue to lend.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong>Could public monies come through credit unions?</strong></p><p>LL: Unfortunately in New York state, municipal deposits are not allowed in credit unions. That means that even though a couple of years ago when Mayor Bloomberg made an announcement that he was going to put millions of dollars into credit unions, little did he know he couldn’t do that because there is a state law that says that all municipal funds must be deposited in banks, not credit unions, not thrifts only banks.</p><p>When we have tried to change this law, the bank lobby gets very upset.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong> Where does that law come from?</strong></p><p>LL: I often think that they never even thought about credit unions. They were writing this law stating that money had to be kept in a safe and secure place, so they said you have to keep municipal funds in banks. Well, credit unions are insured in the exact same way that banks are. I really believe it was an oversight, they didn’t even think about credit unions.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong>What difference would it make if you could be a depository for some of that municipal funding? Meaning development loans, I’m imagining, other kinds of monies, what kinds are we talking about?</strong></p><p>LL: They have talked about pension funds being put in credit unions. Because they want to put the money in an institution where it will be put back into the community. Community development institutions, which we are one of, have an incredible track record of getting money back out into the community. We’re probably better at doing that than anybody else.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong>How do you measure that?</strong></p><p>LL: We measure that by the fact that all of our members are getting loans and if they go into a normal bank they’re not getting loans. The history of red-lining, Community Reinvestment Act laws which wouldn’t be there if banks were willing to put money into communities by themselves. Under the CRA, the banks do sometimes give us deposits for maybe $100,000.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong>So going back to the difference it would make if you had those municipal bonds....</strong></p><p>LL: If we had those funds, we would be able to our members, for example our low income house co-ops. Right now a lot of our membership is people who live in those housing co-ops, or the buildings themselves. They have a lot of needs for capital and we have had periods where we have had to say, “Sorry, we can’t make any more loans.”</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong>We have a moment in our economy with banks famously refusing to lend out money, sitting on trillions of dollars. Credit unions with the kind of track records you have, is this something you want to see changed? Maybe with the de Blasio administration?</strong></p><p>LL: It would be great to see it be changed, but since it’s a state law there is little that de Blasio himself, or any mayor of New York or a city council member of New York can do. They can get Albany to change the laws.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong>It’s not just a city problem, there are credit unions all over the state.</strong></p><p>LL: All over the state and the Credit Union Association of New York has had this as one of their major efforts legislatively, and every time the banks say, “No no no, we’re going to pull all of our money away from legislators.”</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong> So you do have some initiatives on the horizon you’re excited about—I hear there is a merger underway.</strong></p><p>LL: Yes, April 1, a credit union merged into our credit union. Union Settlement Federal Credit Union located in East Harlem. They have been around since 1957, and very sadly they have had issues and started struggling over the last 18 months. We were really honored because they went to the regulator and said that they wanted to do a voluntary merger and they wanted to do it with us. We now have Union Settlement as a part of us. So their name is now Union Settlement Federal Credit Union, a division of Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong> And not to sound like a broken record, but would those municipal funds have helped that Harlem credit union to survive?</strong></p><p>LL: Oh, totally. They would have. Because they really were very short on capital and they just did not have what they needed to be able to serve the community and in the end it puttered out because it did not have enough income coming in.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong> So for people who are anxious and think, "Why would I want to get into financial bed with a lot of really needy people in my neighborhood?"</strong></p><p><strong>Your neighborhood, for example, is divided between the super wealthy who have come in the past few years, and those occupying those low-income housing units that remain. Why would someone who has some assets or some resources want to get involved in a financial institution where they are responsible for people a lot less well-off than they are?</strong></p><p>LL: There are a lot of reasons. For one thing, look at what happened just a few years ago. Our credit union did not fail because of the crisis in 2008/2009. In one way you could say that credit unions are actually a safer place to keep your money than some of these big banks.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong> Because you’re not leveraging out to buy mortgage debt in other states and countries.</strong></p><p>LL: Exactly. We’re also very careful when we do our underwriting for our loans. We don’t want our members to get into trouble. We don’t want them to take on more debt than they can afford. Whereas most banks, all they want to do is make the loan. They don’t care about your ability to repay. That is another reason that makes it a very safe investment, a very sound investment.</p><p>And lastly, back with Occupy Wall Street we got a lot of new members because some people think, “Maybe I should be doing something good with my money” instead of just making more and more money hand over fist. It is a good way of giving back.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong> So maybe we should shift all of our massive amounts of GRITtv money into your credit union.</strong></p><p>LL: You should!</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong> Clearly, you love this work. I’d love you to talk about what it is like doing it on a daily basis and whether you feel like you have built wealth in the way that you had hoped to in 1986.</strong></p><p>LL: One of the things about the credit union is that once you go in there, you can’t leave. I was the first manager at the credit union. I left after five years. I stayed on the board of directors. Then I came back as CEO. I’m not the only person that has done that. It is because there is something about the atmosphere, and the feeling that everyone has that we’re—it sounds corny—but we’re a big family. Our members are a family. We really care about our members. We look forward to seeing them. We mark their anniversaries when they have babies, everyone is cooing over them.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong> Can you bank online?</strong></p><p>LL: Yes, of course we can. We have every service that a bank has.</p><p><strong><strong>LF:</strong>All right, I’m going to come talk to you about joining your credit union! Thank you so much. Linda Levy, really great talking to you.</strong></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '987086'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=987086" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 29 Apr 2014 14:39:00 -0700 Laura Flanders, GRITtv 987086 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Economy Activism Economy Take Action grittv laura flanders Linda Levy Lower East Side People's Federal Gredit Union banking reform democracy and economy The “F” Word: AOL’s CEO is Not the Only One Who Should Be Shamed http://www.personals.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/f-word-aols-ceo-not-only-one-who-should-be-shamed <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '956671'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=956671" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">AOL&#039;s Tim Johnson may have apologized to his employees, but thousands of companies aren&#039;t backing down and continue to supress wages and benefits regardless of good earnings.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/tim_johnson.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Not long ago it was the Great Recession, today it’s Obamacare that’s serving as a convenient scapegoat for employers seeking to tighten the screws on their workers.</p><p>This week saw AOL's chairman and CEO, Tim Armstrong announce a stingy plan to shrink employee benefits, that would have saved his shareholders millions even as the company’s financial reports showed healthy growth and profits. Armstrong blamed it all on rising healthcare costs, uncertainty, and of course, Obama.</p><p>But then he went on to make some creepy comments about worker’s costly sickly kids, and failed to provide a shred of credible proof that AOL was actually feeling any pinch associated with healthcare.</p><p>At the end of the week, Armstrong was forced to back down. Owners of the Huffington Post, AOL is a consumer-dependent company in a crowded market that’s pretty receptive to public shaming. So score one for all that public shame and for the AOL workers.</p><p>But thousands of companies haven’t backed down, even as they’ve suppressed wages and benefits, regardless of good earnings, not for a year or two or to weather a storm, but steadily, incrementally over decades.</p><p>The spoils for investors are rich: fewer workers, lower wages, shrunken benefits, a more precarious workforce. And the blame’s shifted about: once it was global competition, then the EPA, then the credit crunch, now it’s Obamacare.</p><p>From a winners' point of view, what's not to like? The proof of the gains for the one percent rest in the fact that the even as the gap between rich and poor has grown faster than in any other developed country, the top one percent in the US has captured ninety-five percent of all growth since 2009. The president and congress keep talking about recovery and jobs bouncing back, but there's no structural change on the table, no new economic tools, no new worker rights or regulations -- certainly no reparations that might re-balance the sweat-profit equation.</p><p>The losers are weak, the winners are strong and the blame keeps shifting about, pointing anywhere but at the board rooms and the corner office.</p><p>The AOL debacle shows shame can sometimes work. At GRITtv, we’re doing our bit to keep it coming. Last week we interviewed half a dozen New Yorkers about their lives at work. Whether they had jobs, or were looking for them, they were all working too darn hard. You can watch their stories at GRITtv.org or on our facebook page.</p><p>Are you Working Too Damn Hard? Tell us about it. No really, tell us – post your story in any format you want, on our facebook page. It’s time we did some of our own finger pointing.</p><p>You can find GRITtv at <a href="http://GRITtv.org" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">GRITtv.org</a>. For GRITtv, I’m Laura Flanders</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '956671'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=956671" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 10 Feb 2014 05:23:00 -0800 Laura Flanders, GRITtv 956671 at http://www.personals.alternet.org News & Politics Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace Economy News & Politics aol tim johnson workplace Bill de Blasio: A Mayor for the New Economy http://www.personals.alternet.org/economy/bill-de-blasio-mayor-new-economy <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '921847'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=921847" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">New York City&#039;s new mayor has laid out a radically inclusive economic agenda.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/blasio.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>After 20 years of rule by Republicans, and three terms with a businessman mayor who referred to billionaires like himself as a <a href="http://nymag.com/news/politics/bloomberg/in-conversation-2013-9/">"godsend,"</a> New Yorkers this Tuesday elected Bill de Blasio, a self described "unapologetic progressive" who ran on a simple message of confronting inequality.</p><p>"For all those who had their doubts about the ability of such a campaign to win a broad swath of support, just look at the numbers," City Council member Brad Lander, a de Blasio ally, told Commonomics shortly before the election.</p><p>De Blasio, the city's public advocate, defeated Joseph Lhota, a former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, by a landslide: 73 to 24 percent. At his victory party (held, fittingly, at a Brooklyn Armory-turned-YMCA rather than a swanky Manhattan hotel), the 6'5" Democrat stood on the stage with his multiracial family and a bevy of campaign volunteers and took aim squarely at what he'd repeatedly called "a Tale of Two New York Cities."</p><p>"The people of New York have chosen a progressive path," he said. "We will bring an end to inequality in this city."</p><p>New Yorkers know what de Blasio's talking about. Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Big Apple has become a safer and more economically vibrant place, for some. New York now boasts a larger share of the world's super-rich than any city on the planet. With help from City Hall, developers have built 40,000 new buildings and brought an affluent buzz to yet more neighborhoods, but 400,000 affordable housing units have been lost; homelessness has never been worse, and some of the city's poorest are still in temporary housing a year after Hurricane Sandy.</p><p>Mayor Bloomberg banned trans-fats and workplace smoking, brought in bike lanes, and did his best to limit the sale of sugary drinks. Life expectancy is up and infant mortality down, but one in six residents is unemployed or underemployed, and a decline in crime has been accompanied by race-based police tactics that have bitterly divided the boroughs.</p><p>De Blasio's campaign ran on two pledges: to tax those earning more than $500,000 in order to fund universal pre-kindergarten for the city's children, and to rein in police <a href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/s/stop_and_frisk/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier">stop-and-frisk</a> tactics that have disproportionately targeted young black and Latino men.</p><p>His platform also included a good dose of "<a href="http://www.yesmagazine.org/commonomics/welcome-to-commonomics-how-to-build-local-economies-strong-enough-for-everyone">commonomics</a>." As public advocate, de Blasio supported the drive for paid sick days and a living wage in New York City. On the campaign trail, he pledged to do more to raise incomes and improve housing access for the working poor. He also talked about eliminating tax breaks for large corporations (notably including big developers) and instead creating a "Unified Development Budget" to "spread subsidies throughout the city." He promised to establish "economic development hubs," not just in the fashionable design and high-tech sectors, but in every sector of the economy, and to establish a new revolving loan fund that would free up credit for small and neighborhood businesses—"to fulfill the role abandoned by most banks."</p><p>Still, it's one thing to campaign, quite another to govern. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has made it clear that he won't approve de Blasio's tax on the super-rich. Furthermore, the mayor-elect disappointed some when he announced on November 6 that one of the co-chairs of his transition team would be Carl Weisbrod, a well-connected real estate developer who ran the 42nd Street Development Corporation, which was responsible for what critics call the "Disney-fication" of the theater district. Weisbrod was also the president of Trinity Church's real estate company, the same company that called the cops on Occupy.</p><p>"Mayor-elect @<a href="http://twitter.com/intent/user?screen_name=deBlasioNYC">deBlasioNYC</a> names <a href="http://inagist.com/search?q=Carl%20Weisbrod">Carl Weisbrod</a>, real estate/planning bigwig, as co-chair of his transition team," Left Business Observer publisher Doug Henwood wrote on Twitter after the announcement. "Status quo can smile."</p><h3>"The left-wing mouse that roared"</h3><p>In "commonomics" terms, the most significant aspect of de Blasio's win may be the route he took to power. Taking office with him this January will be a public advocate who generally shares his views and a dozen new progressive city council members—all beneficiaries of a long-term strategy by local advocates of economic justice to reduce local legislators' dependence on establishment-party patronage and big corporate donors.</p><p>One way they've done that is by building an innovative labor and community coalition, the Working Families Party, which de Blasio helped to found in 1998. Taking advantage of New York's relatively open election laws, which permit independent parties to run their own candidates and cross-endorse others who share their views, WFP is now being called <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/07/nyregion/in-new-york-citys-sharp-left-turn-questions-of-just-how-far.html">"the left-wing mouse that roared."</a></p><p>Brad Lander says that neither de Blasio nor himself would be in office without the WFP and New York's public campaign financing laws. "I wouldn't have been interested in running if there had been no space for the kind of inside-outside partnerships I'm interested in. And even if I had been interested, I wouldn't have known how." Incoming public advocate Letitia James was the first candidate to win election to the City Council running solely on the Working Family platform.</p><p>Election laws differ in every state, but after Tuesday, economic-justice-minded city legislators in other states are giving New York a close look.</p><p>"Particularly at this moment of very profound gridlock at the federal level, people see a lot of possibility at the municipal and state level," says Andrew Friedman, one of the coordinators of Local Progress, a national network of progressive state and municipal legislators that de Blasio addressed in Washington, D.C., last month. Just a few weeks later, labor and community groups there announced a new "Working Families Party D.C."</p><p>Building on the success of initiatives like the Progressive States Network (for state legislators) and challenged by the impact of the corporate-backed <a href="http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/brooke-jarvis/what-to-make-of-the-alec-exodus">American Legislative Exchange Council</a>, Friedman says that Local Progress is an attempt to build mutual support and relationships among those trying to advance a more inclusive, shared-prosperity approach to local and municipal government.</p><p>Local Progress members haven't arrived at any consensus on the "commonomics" questions of procurement practices, worker ownership, localism, and sustainable economic development, Friedman says, but "there's wind in our sails."</p><p>Those who promise change, as de Blasio does, will certainly need support. "The role of money in politics can't be overstated," says Lander. "The unequal economy wants to reproduce itself."</p><p>By and large, November 5 was a pretty good day for "commonomics" in New York City. For people who long to live in strong, life-sustaining economies, the question after the victory lap is, What happens next?</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '921847'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=921847" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 09 Nov 2013 11:13:00 -0800 Laura Flanders, YES! Magazine 921847 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Economy Economy bill de blasio new york city economy bloomberg Noam Chomsky: Obama's Policies Are Creating Terrorism Around the World http://www.personals.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/chomsky-obama-creating-terrorism-around-world <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '857429'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=857429" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Video: NSA spying justified as preventing terrorism, when it is the administration&#039;s policies that are ensuring terrorism.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1347493558902-1-0_1.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> </p><p>If ever you accused Barack Obama of fearing to offend or suffering from lack of spine, you have to hand it to him now: President Obama is acting more and more like a leader every day, one specific leader in fact: George W. Bush.</p><p>Take the recent disclosures about the National Security Agency's massive spying on the world. The data dragnet mimics the worst of the Bush administration.  </p><p>It's hypocritical in the extreme to gather data in the name of preventing terrorism while the administration's own policies are creating terrorism around the world, says MIT professor emeritus, Noam Chomsky in this <a href="http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001FS_aVSzia8xVHGFLeN9_fWW7vYbOD79PvN3bLXjI5ue_mJ-FQqMzmxF6WME8OAKpGXz4uO96PFx7T0kyy_8DuB4MXz1eBf8gpipvlyhHH72CNAGgplnFFB3X8dU8coQ1ZltZ2Gy52hUxsvATf9SWo-eILEATrVw5NG6WUXW7fL4X69vkl0slQwCtqb8YF0L3RLoPQbGntCd2Sin-euQbmTSs_D8Ue7e0mKv3TqhBdS4ac3e8nyd6bX-oBNrBgEpP" shape="rect" target="_blank">GRITtv exclusive interview.</a></p><p> </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="259" src="http://blip.tv/play/AYOTkHkC.x?p=1" width="420"></iframe><embed src="http://a.blip.tv/api.swf#AYOTkHkC" style="display:none" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"></embed></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '857429'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=857429" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 19 Jun 2013 08:49:00 -0700 Laura Flanders, GRITtv 857429 at http://www.personals.alternet.org News & Politics Media News & Politics nafta big pharma immigration drones vaccinations NSA Spying The Death of the 'Good Union Job': Plight and Protest of Thousands of Mine Workers Barely Noticed By Mainstream Media http://www.personals.alternet.org/death-good-union-job-plight-and-protest-thousands-mine-workers-barely-noticed-mainstream-media <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '844688'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=844688" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">If companies can break the UMWA, heaven help the fast food workers. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/union_jobs.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> </p><blockquote type="cite"><p>Remember the phrase “good union job”? In contrast to the contingent fragile world of retail, service and fast food, a good union job is the sort union coal miners have. At least that’s what thousands of veteran union miners thought, until suddenly last summer, they discovered that just like some Walmart sub-contractee, a boss they’d never worked for was trying to break their contract.</p><div>Contracts are the heart of “good union jobs.” The work may not be glamorous, but the contract gives workers a fair shake. Through collective bargaining, they’re able to cut a deal, and in the case of coal miners, that deal is a matter of life and death.  Talk to any miner’s wife and she’ll tell you she worries every minute he’s underground, but once he hits the surface, and if he makes it to retirement, at least he and the family will have “Cadillac” coverage. That's what they've won, in exchange for spending their lives digging rock out of the underside of a mountain in the dark, so the rest of us can run our factories, or turn our lights on. </div><div> </div><div>Living wages, basic safety protections, and guaranteed quality healthcare for life. That’s the deal the union fought for, and after 120 years in existence, complete with coalfield wars from Colorado to Harlan County, that’s the deal the venerable United Mineworkers of America was able to extract from American coal companies.</div><div> </div><div>As union leaders explained in a recent informational video, the UMWA extracted decades of those contracts with Peabody Energy and Arch Coal. The companies signed, the miners worked, and the contracts, and the profits piled up, until we hit era of extreme corporate hubris, which is to say, the turn of this century. </div><div> </div><div> At the same time that companies like Apple and Google were figuring out how to  avoid paying tax by moving to tiny exotic islands (or Ireland), and banks and mortgage companies were coming up with derivatives and bundled assets, big coal companies, like Peabody and Arch found that by spinning off smaller companies they could rearrange their responsibilities and their liabilities.  One of those smaller companies was Patriot Coal. In 2007 The Patriot Coal Corporation was created by Peabody and acquired all the company's union operations east of the Mississippi. By 2012, Patriot had acquired most of the union mines of Arch Coal too. Their sort of coal mining was in decline, but they sure had a lot of those retired miners’ contracts -- and a lot of liability – for thousands of retirees, who’d never worked a day in their life for Patriot.  </div><div> </div><div>To no ones surprise but the miners' and their families,  in July 2012, Patriot Coal filed for bankruptcy and announced its intention to modify its collective bargaining agreements.  The company said it was responding to market declines and trying to survive. Just like Google and Apple, Peabody and Arch say everything they did was legal.  The union accused Peabody and Arch of intentionally setting up a shell to dump their union pensions. Now a federal judge in Patriot's hometown of St Louis has until May 29th to decide if Patriot’s bankruptcy plan is valid.</div><p>Jim Hall is a retired union miner. Twenty-four years ago, when the Pittston Coal company tried to stop paying retiree health benefits, he and his wife along with thousands of other UMWA families went on strike on behalf of their fathers and uncles and the generation before them.  "I was working then. The struggle was about the retirees," said Hall last month.  "Now I'm retired and I know what it means to need good healthcare. I'll do anything the union asks me to."  "And so will I" said Shirley. The couple has already traveled out of state from their home in Castlewood VA, to join a Patriot protest.</p></blockquote><blockquote type="cite"><div> "What's at stake at Patriot is the union," says Jan Patton, now approaching her 90s, a miner's widow in Clincho VA. "I know what a difference the union makes because I watched what my father and grandfather went through before they had one." </div><div><dl><dt> In 1989, thousands of miners, miners wives, church groups and community supporters lay down in the streets at the entrance to Pittston's mines to the block the coal trucks and world media paid attention. Rev Jim Lewis, former rector at St. John's Episcopal Church in Charleston was among those arrested then in a struggle which was ultimately mostly victorious.</dt></dl></div><div>This spring, their benefits on the chopping block once more, miners and their supporters have been lying down in the streets again, but this time in front of the federal court house in St. Louis. The protests are barely registering in the media.</div><div> </div><div>Cecil Roberts, the President of the UMWA, who was a leader in the Pittston strike was one of a dozen protestors arrested in St. Louis in the latest peaceful protest Monday. Rev. Lewis was arrested in a protest late last month. </div><div> </div><div>"In comparison to 1989, I looked over the crowd and saw people much older, weaker, in a weaker environment, economically and in terms of movements," said Lewis who was recently part of a fact finding mission by religious leaders which produced a report, "Schemes from the Board Room."  </div><div> </div><div> If the plan is approved, <a href="http://umc-gbcs.org/content/general/peabody2013report.pdf" target="_blank">the report </a>estimates that more than 23,000 retired miners and their families, will lose their benefits and that lifetime guarantee. The company’s proposing a trust fund instead --  it’ll start at $15 million and go up to a maximum of $300 million. That, says the United Mineworkers of America is miserably inadequate. It also sets a dangerous precedent.</div><div> </div><div>What’s happening in St. Louis doesn’t look like a coal-field war but the same things are at stake:  reciprocity, respect, fair play.  If the companies can break the UMWA, heaven help the fast food workers.</div><div> </div></blockquote><div><div><div> </div></div></div><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '844688'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=844688" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 23 May 2013 08:08:00 -0700 Laura Flanders, AlterNet 844688 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Labor News & Politics union jobs fast food workers fair pay coal miners Eve Ensler Rising: One of America's Most Amazing Activists Is About to Pull Off Her Biggest Event Yet http://www.personals.alternet.org/gender/eve-ensler-rising-one-americas-most-amazing-activists-about-pull-her-biggest-event-yet <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '748564'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=748564" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">On February 14, 2013, Ensler says One Billion women will rise. I believe her.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/ensler.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>I have known Eve Ensler for almost thirty years, and I have never talked to her about my vagina. We have done lots of other things. In the early 1980s, before she was a famous playwright, author of <em>The Vagina Monologues</em>and founder of the global anti-violence movement, V-Day, we were part of a group that camped out in Battery Park to protest nuclear weapons entering New York Harbor. We danced the can-can across the entrance to the Nevada nuclear test site in 1987 as part of a demonstration against the Reagan administration’s resumption of nuclear testing. To highlight the lack of affordable housing and the power of rich developers in New York, we served brunch to homeless people on long, white, linen-covered tables in front of the Plaza Hotel. </p><p>Eve and I danced, laughed, got arrested, got released, but we never talked about my vagina. Not that Eve didn’t ask. She once tried to persuade me by saying she was short of “happy vagina” stories. My vagina was happy enough, but it wasn’t about to talk. If you’re looking for happy parts, muttered my radical feminist self (to herself), why not the clitoris? Besides, isn’t women’s liberation supposed to be freeing us from biology as destiny, identification by body part? </p><p>As the 1990s advanced, Eve drew more into theater, I into journalism. We slept in the streets less and traveled the world more, on crisscrossing tracks; I to Northern Ireland, Central America, Haiti, the Middle East, Croatia, Berlin; she to Berlin, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Haiti, later Afghanistan. </p><p>Then, in 1999, I found myself participating in <em>The Vagina Monologues</em> at Madison Square Garden. The whole event was wildly improbable. Part ringmaster, part mistress of ceremonies, Eve stood in bare feet in the gaping hugeness of that 18,000-seat stadium. Jane Fonda performed giving birth; Glenn Close exploded the word “Cunt!” loud enough to rock the very highest bleacher. I helped to hold a piece of glass for one of Elizabeth Streb’s dancers to fly through, after which Queen Latifah stormed past us and into the spotlight, bellowing, “This is a Rape Free Zone!” </p><p>Madonna, eat your heart out! Eighteen thousand people—teen trendies, twin-set professionals, peacenik grandmas, dads, sons, lovers, kids and teary feminists—were all suddenly screaming one word, “Vagina!” </p><p>It was then that I told my snarky intellectual self to take a hike. I told the radical feminist to take a break, and I gave up the snark about all things Ensler.</p><p>Eve had stopped asking me about my vagina, but she hadn’t stopped asking. She had kept on, asking more than 200 women everywhere she went. What she tapped into wasn’t the clinical truth of individual bodies but rather a broad body of evidence of an invisible, silenced epidemic of rape, assault, brutalization and hate that scarred women of every age, every race, every class, on every continent.</p><p>Propelled by what she heard, Eve didn’t just write a play, <em>The Vagina Monologues</em>, and perform it herself for years. She created a fundraising engine for grassroots groups working to combat violence against women, and she sparked a movement. V-Day was founded in 1998 and incorporated a couple of years later. </p><p>Once she had earned what she says was a healthy sum and “enough” from the commercial production, Eve gave many of the rights to the play to those who wanted to perform it to raise funds for anti-violence groups in their communities. Facilitated by the small officeless staff of V-Day, <em>The Vagina Monologues</em> has raised more than $90 million for grassroots anti-violence projects, mostly from nonprofessional performances around Valentine’s Day. There have been 5,800 performances around the world in 2012. V-Day has also conducted yearlong “spotlight” campaigns and contributed directly to groups in particular danger zones, including Afghanistan, New Orleans, Haiti, Juarez and the Democratic Republic of Congo.</p><p>For the fifteenth anniversary of V-Day, Ensler is calling for an escalation. She wants 1 billion women (and those who love them) to “rise, strike or dance” on February 14, 2013. Participants can do whatever sort of action works for them. The point is for so many people to act together, and to be seen to act together, that attitudes change, Ensler told me in October. </p><p>“Fifteen years ago, we started V-Day to end violence against women. Fifteen years on, we’ve had a lot of achievements, but the violence is still going on…. People can say the word ‘vagina.’ They talk about violence against women, but they don’t realize how central it is to our lives. We can either keep picking up the scattered body parts of women all over the world, or we can escalate.” Bring a billion people to take action all at once, and Eve believes One Billion Rising (OBR) will make more than a statement. It will show the existence of a movement. “The earth will move, and attitudes will shift,” she says.   </p><p>When it first came up, V-Day board member Carole Black was sure she’d misheard. “Don’t you mean a million?” she asked at a meeting. The 1 billion figure comes from a United Nations estimate that one out of three women on earth will be raped or sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Eve did the calculations.</p><p>A billion. “OK” said Black, the former president and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services. She signed on, and so did groups in 142 countries—in the first two weeks after the announcement on February 14. Today, supporters include the AFL-CIO, National Nurses United, the United Steelworkers of America, Amnesty International, NOW, Planned Parenthood and the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Members of the European Parliament performed the play. The women’s rights minister in France has signed on. So have women’s groups throughout Asia and leaders from seventeen countries in Africa. In the Philippines, the largest union, Kilusang Mayo Uno, has joined the cause, as has UNITE, the largest union in Britain.</p><p>Asked how she explains it, Black says, “Eve’s the real deal. She’s the realest, most committed person I’ve ever met. She makes you believe with the strength of her belief.”</p><p>* * *</p><p>Eve’s beliefs are rooted in trauma and theater. In her 2007 book, <em>Insecure at Last</em> (a meditation on deadly American illusions about safety in the wake of the attacks of 9/11), she describes being raped and brutally beaten by her father, a food company CEO, from age 5 to 10. Growing up in hell (in suburban Scarsdale, New York), Eve was able to step outside herself through writing. “It gave me a place I could go,” she told Pat Mitchell in a televised interview last year. </p><p>Her love of theater came in college. A class led to productions, including a college production of <em>The Bacchae</em>, in which Eve remembers playing Agave. In Euripides’ play, Agave kills her own son in an ecstatic, Dionysian frenzy. “I entered the stage with a head on a stick and blood dripping down my arm,” says Eve. “I was sliding in the blood…. It was a marriage instantly.” </p><p>There’s a trace of the Dionysian in Ensler. She believes in the power of collective experience, the power of direct action, the power of people having an experience together, in the streets or in the theater. The collective joy of the sort Barbara Ehrenreich writes about in <em>Dancing in the Streets</em>; the sort that enlivened pre-capitalist life but is banished today mostly to pop concerts or, occasionally, political protests. </p><p>I think of the theater that brought Eve and me together. We loved the anti-fascist satirist Dario Fo (<em>Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay</em>). We stuck the same black-and-white portrait of Samuel Beckett on our walls. When Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize, we hadn’t spoken in months, but she immediately picked up the phone to call me, squealing. We thought the theater we were witnessing was theater at its most alive. Similarly, we thought the creative tactics of Abbie Hoffman, ACT UP and the can-can dancers at the Nevada test site were the only tactics tactile enough to touch people’s hearts and move them. </p><p>Ensler’s latest play, <em>Emotional Creature</em>, opens at New York’s Signature Theater on Forty-second Street, on November 12. Based on her best-selling book <em>I Am an Emotional Creature</em>, the play explores the lives of girls, sexual abuse, their relationships with power, their own bodies and each other. Eve wants this play to do what <em>The Vagina Monologues</em> did: spark a movement. </p><p>In mid-October, on the first day of rehearsals, Eve arrived at the theater emanating urgency. It wasn’t just that the cast was convening barely two weeks before previews. Eve was on fire because she had received word that a 14-year-old girl in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai, had been shot in the head in what looked like a Taliban assassination attempt. Yousafzai has been a visible activist for girls’ education since age 11. Eve was on the phone to her V-Day partners in the region offering assistance.</p><p>“This is why we’re here,” she told the assembled stage managers, production managers, public relations officers, front-of-house personnel, actors, producers and one journalist. She formally dedicated day one of rehearsal to Yousafzai. Carole Black and Pat Mitchell, producers of <em>Emotional Creature</em>, nodded their coiffed blond heads. </p><p><em>Emotional Creature</em>, said Eve, “is about more than a play. It’s about a new way of seeing the girl cell in all of us and transforming consciousness.” </p><p>“It’s a bit of a high bar for a play, isn’t it?” I ask two of the young actresses in the cast. I don’t know what I was thinking. They’ve both not only seen <em>The Vagina Monologues</em>; they’ve been involved in college productions. Said Ashley Bryant, “When she first said that about starting a movement, I thought uh-huh. Then I got it that she means it.” “Not only means it, she’s done it,” said Emily Grosland. </p><p>“When you go into theater you go in believing you’re going to change the world; and then the world gradually gives you the message that’s not what’s going to happen, and you lower your goals. Eve is a successful businesswoman, an artist, an activist, and she is changing the world. She’s changed my world.” </p><p>Like Carole Black, Pat Mitchell has never produced a play. A Peabody Award–winning documentary producer and the first woman president and CEO of PBS, Mitchell is president and CEO of the Paley Center for Media. She met Ensler when she was working at CNN in 1997. “Glenn Close called and said, ‘You have to come to Sarajevo tomorrow, because I’m doing a play about Bosnian rape victims with Eve Ensler.’”</p><p>“I went,” Mitchell told me.   </p><p>Out of that visit to Sarajevo, where Close was performing in an early incarnation of Ensler’s play <em>Necessary Targets</em>, came a deep, life-changing relationship. Mitchell became the first member of the V-Day board. Black and Mitchell stepped in to produce <em>Emotional Creature</em> at Eve’s request. They’re a formidable team: two of the most powerful women in media and an activist with a taste for the dramatic.  </p><p>“There have been times I’ve thought, ‘That could be said more diplomatically,’” says Black of working with Eve. “But that’s not Eve.”</p><p>“Eve’s an iconoclast, the outrigger in the canoe,” says Mitchell. “Sometimes you think, ‘Oh my God, where is she leading us now?’”  </p><p>While Mitchell, like many feminists, backed Hillary Clinton for president in 2008, Ensler opposed her because of her support for the Iraq War. “We most of us have made compromises,” says Mitchell. “She doesn’t compromise. She’s always on the edge, pushing out.” </p><p>* * *</p><p>Eve’s edge hasn’t led to the easiest of relations with so-called mainstream theater, or activism, or media. In her loft in Chelsea, Eve recalled some of the tensions of earlier days. </p><p>“I was confused about being an activist and an artist. They seemed to be at odds. The theater people had problems with me for being political. The political people had problems with me for being artistic.” </p><p>In 2002 <em>The New York Times</em> ran a profile titled “Eve Ensler Wants to Save the World.” It still riles her. “The attitude is, how dare you—how dare you be so audacious as to believe you could have an impact?” says Ensler. </p><p>It’s as if, confronted by Eve’s ecstatic Agave, critics see only tragedy (Pentheus’ head on that stick). It’s no wonder there have sometimes been clashes. Ensler’s utter lack of ambivalence runs smack up against the media’s cult of “objectivity.”</p><p>But the same energy that discomforts some critics is what attracted celebrated director Jo Bonney to <em>Emotional Creature.</em>Ensler and Bonney workshopped the piece in Johannesburg, Paris and Berkeley before bringing this production to New York City. New York is more commercial than it was when Australian-born Bonney arrived in 1979. Coming out of the experimentation of the 1960s, then, “theater, dance, music, film were all part of a bigger social agenda, calling people out on their behavior and the mores of the age.” </p><p>In Ensler’s work, Bonney sees what she likes: audiences don’t sit back in their seats. “They lean forward into the performance.” In Eve’s plays, the characters’ questions are asked of the audience. “When I’ve seen her at her best, it’s electric,” says Bonney. </p><p>“Electric” is a good word. Eve’s interested in energy that ignites. Just as Dario Fo railed against “dead theater for dead people,” Eve embraces theater that moves people to act, and rails against political talk that leaves people dead to violence.   </p><p>The root of the Greek word “drama” lies in the word for “deed” or action. Like <em>The Vagina Monologues</em>, Eve wants <em>Emotional Creature</em> to do real work. She’s not interested in intra-feminist fights over essentialism and identity. Emma Goldman is her favorite feminist. Abbie Hoffman is her favorite activist. Like Fo, Beckett, Euripedes and Hoffman, Ensler believes in the outrageous, that which upsets, disrupts. It displaces things as they are to make room for what might be. </p><p>I don’t know what evidence the art snarks have on their side, but science backs Ensler and Fo on the matter of change and the brain.</p><p>Neuroscientists believe that the structure of the brain leads it to memorize patterns and resist new things. It requires a jolt, they say, to change the brain. Art can jolt, and so can charismatic energy, believes Drew Westen, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Emory and the author of <em>The Political Brain</em>. Westen says it’s an under-studied field, but he wouldn’t be surprised if charisma has an effect on transmitters like dopamine, which have to do with love and caring. “There is a set of neurons, mirror neurons, which enable us (without [conscious] thought) to feel what another is feeling,” Westen told me. “The art of charisma has that feeling of mutuality, that we both feel the same thing and have the same aspiration.” </p><p>Eve is interested in changing complacency enough to end violence against women. On a crack-of-dawn train to Washington not long ago, she put it this way: “What I think I’m particularly good at is creating drama…. I’m good at creating the churning, the outrageous.” </p><p>I’m barely awake, but Eve’s blood is running hot. Her e-mail inbox brims with news of gruesome atrocities and barely believable acts of resistance, side by side. The previous night’s presidential debate has included not one use of the word “woman.” The scientifically illiterate views of Missouri Republican Todd Akin on rape are not discouraging him from campaigning, or national Republicans from discreetly supporting him for election to the Senate. From the Philippines comes a picture of several bishops in their religious attire, holding up a small sign: “We Are Rising.” A V-Day activist in Australia has sent a Facebook link to news of a tiny outback town that held a 30,000-strong march after a local woman was raped and killed. Subject head: “We Are Rising.” Eve rattles off the news until I beg her for a breather. </p><p>In Washington, Eve is the keynote speaker at a town hall convened by Amnesty International. Why Eve? I ask the organizers. Amnesty’s been a presence on college campuses decades longer than V-Day. Program director Cristina Finch answers, “Amnesty International has been working on the issue of women’s human rights for years, but Eve’s passion fires people up in a different way.” </p><p>Sure enough, almost as soon as she’s finished speaking, women of all ages form a line at the microphone that stretches almost to the back of the hall to tell her what their plans are for February 14, 2013, One Billion Rising. Those plans range from pot-luck suppers in rural Vermont to a dance party in Washington’s Dupont Circle by teenage survivors of sex-trafficking. </p><p>At the office of Farmworker Justice, Eve is introduced to twenty organizers: mostly Spanish-speaking women from the most vulnerable of communities. Farmworker women face violence from police, from poison, from bosses, from husbands, as well as the grinding violence of back-breaking work for starvation wages. As Eve rises to deliver her OBR speech about women dancing and moving the earth, I hold my breath. But already a murmur is going around the room: “Vageena.” It turns out almost all the attendees have seen the play (which ran for ten years in Mexico City). Before I know it, the women are crowding around Eve, fingers poking the air in “V” signs, chanting “Vageena Campesina.” </p><p>Mily Treviño-Sauceda, an organizer from Oxnard, California, told me she’d never seen the play, but she and her sister read it at their kitchen table as soon as it came out in Spanish. Referring to Eve, she exclaims, “She goes out very far, and we need that.”  </p><p>Score another strike against snark. In an era of mealy-mouthed politicians and penned-in progressives—underfunded, dependent on donor dollars and desperate not to offend—Eve’s “realness” is her power. She’s rarely barefoot these days, but she’s still willing to stand exposed in public, even if tears come. </p><p>“Most of us have fear-of-failure or fear-of-embarrassment filters,” says public speaking coach Joel Silberman. Not Eve. “Charisma comes from turning off the editor. She’s not afraid of her emotions, and that’s the root of her power.” </p><p>Eve says more simply: “If someone goes out there, everyone can inch a bit forward.” </p><p>I’m reminded of what social historian Lewis Mumford wrote about the role of magicians in the advance of science: “Their fiery hopes, their crazy dreams…. To have dreamed so riotously was to make the technics that followed less incredible and hence less impossible.” </p><p>Eve’s superhuman drive and riotous dreams make the impossible seem probable. She also has a healthy dose of pragmatism and a record of achievement at her back. V-Day grew up with its own means of support, funded solely by productions of the play. The group now accepts foundation dollars but still refuses money from governments. Some very rich people sit on the board, including Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg and philanthropist Jennifer Buffett. But there’s no discernable blunting of Eve’s edge. In June 2010, writing in <em>The Guardian</em>, Ensler called out the Obama administration for telling her that femicide in Congo was not Mrs. Obama’s “brand.” </p><p>“V-Day’s the product of a playwright, but there’s strategy behind it,” says Susan Swan, the organization’s longtime executive director. The group hasn’t wavered; it has a big, clear goal: to end violence against women and girls. There are rules. V-Day productions can’t support other causes, no matter how worthy; they have to support local anti-violence programs. As a result, college organizers have formed connections with women off campus. Also, the play has to be performed as written. When she stopped performing the piece herself, Ensler required that the cast of any commercial production include a woman of color. “That very concretely gave a whole cohort of actresses their first break,” says Swan. </p><p>Above all, Eve doesn’t just put her words to work. She puts herself in her work. </p><p>Westen says that is critical. “Charisma is in many ways an ability to move people to think that important change can happen,” he says. “But it isn’t only words. Performance is part of it.” </p><p>Amy Goodman, host of <em>Democracy Now!</em>, a Polk Award–winning journalist, sees a constant flow of newsmakers, artists, activists and academics come through her TV/radio studio every day. Eve brings tears to her eyes, she told me, because “Eve does not stop, she maintains a drumbeat…and she creates community wherever she goes. She leaves a place, and there’s a community behind her.” </p><p>When Republicans in Michigan censured Representative Lisa Brown for using the word “vagina” in a floor debate over a package of draconian anti-choice bills, Ensler called State Senator Rebekah Warren, co-chair of the Health Policy Committee and former president of MARAL—the Michigan branch of NARAL, the pro-choice group. Ensler proposed performing <em>The Vagina Monologues</em> in protest. Warren, who knew Eve from years of V-Day performances, agreed on a reading on the steps of the Capitol building. </p><p>“It was Friday. The worst time to reach people are weekends…. But how can you beg off a 10 pm conference call if you know Eve Ensler is going to be on it?” Warren said to me. </p><p>Three days later, thirteen women legislators, including Warren and Brown, stepped out with Ensler to read the play and found an audience of 5,000 people stretched out on the lawn in front of the Capitol. </p><p>“People were looking for some way to respond,” says Warren. Would they have turned out for just a rally? Maybe some of them. “But Eve’s well known as such a fighter for women…it made a difference,” said Warren. Eve’s presence, and the phenomenon of the reading, also brought the media: on MSNBC and CNN the event dominated a news cycle.  </p><p>“When you look at the world from a place of feminist, or progressive, or any kind of orthodoxy, you can forget where people really are,” says Mallika Dutt, founder and CEO of a global human rights group, Breakthrough, which signed up early to support OBR. In Delhi, Breakthrough booked a 350-seat house for the first Indian performance of <em>The Vagina Monologues</em>. Two thousand showed up, and Dutt almost had a riot on her hands. “She engages people at a level of feeling that’s different from the intellectual language we’ve come to speak,” Dutt told me. </p><p>Thinking of feminist orthodoxies reminds me of “the personal is political.” It could be the most poorly understood slogan in contemporary politics. In Eve’s work, the global and the personal meld, as in her life. In 2009, Eve was diagnosed with uterine cancer—stage IV. I got a call. She told me she’d just made it through nine hours of emergency surgery. By the time we could arrange a visit, she was weak from an infection, half her organs seemed to have been removed, and pipes and tubes were connecting her to not one but two waste-container bags. What she wanted to talk about was Congo. </p><p>The closer she got to death, she said, the more determined she was to live to see the opening of the City of Joy. The City of Joy, in Bukavu, is a V-Day-funded recovery-and-revival center for women victims of sexual violence in the fifteen-year militia war raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  </p><p>In her next book, <em>In the Body of the World</em> (coming out in April from Metropolitan), Eve describes daily calls to her partner at the City of Joy throughout her ordeal with cancer. Christine Schuler Deschryver was on the other end of those calls. The Congo director of V-Day, Schuler Deschryver says she met Eve when she herself was at the end of her rope, frustrated and furious after years of people coming to Congo, promising help and disappearing. “Eve came and stayed,” Schuler Deschryver explained in a phone call. </p><p>* * *</p><p>In March 2011, the City of Joy opened with a not quite bald Eve in a very short, very red dress, standing side by side with Schuler Deschryver, Mitchell, Black and thousands of Congolese women in Bukavu. Today ninety women, age 14 to 30, are living at the City of Joy house, receiving therapy, learning self-defense and computer skills (thanks to a donation by Google), and preparing to return as leaders to their villages. Did Eve survive thanks to the City of Joy? Did the City of Joy come alive thanks to Eve? It’s not an either/or question. As she describes it in <em>In the Body of the World</em>, her personal survival and the collective project were indistinguishable. </p><p>I asked Schuler Deschryver what therapy is like in Bukavu. She tells me it’s not the sort we’re used to in the West. It’s not personal, private, one-on-one in a closed room. Every day at the City of Joy starts with dance, then group storytelling. “In Africa, we live in community. The key to our success is we recover together.” That’s no doubt why Eve loves it.  </p><p>Fifteen years after the founding of V-Day, fifteen years of brutal war in Congo later, the violence hasn’t stopped. In the news today, I read that Dr. Denis Mukwege, the doctor who inspired Eve to come to Congo—one of the country’s few high-profile people and a past Nobel Peace Prize nominee who has dedicated his life to repairing the broken bodies of brutally raped Congolese women—has narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. His bodyguard was shot dead. Schuler Deschryver is his neighbor. Also in the news: a 10-year-old Dalit girl in India has been gang-raped by village men who videotaped the rape on their cellphones. An American college student, raped by a fellow student, reports being told by her “sex assault counselor” that there was nothing the school could do. Republicans are saying more mad things about rape, and Democrats aren’t getting anyone very excited. </p><p>It is hard to imagine violence more ubiquitous or complacency more commonplace. The world needs a jolt. On February 14, 2013, Eve Ensler says One Billion will rise. I believe her.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2012 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '748564'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=748564" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 21 Nov 2012 11:00:00 -0800 Laura Flanders, The Nation 748564 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Gender Activism Gender Visions eve ensler vagina monologues One billion rising v-day An Ambitious Plan to Get People to Rethink Themselves and One Another http://www.personals.alternet.org/story/155987/an_ambitious_plan_to_get_people_to_rethink_themselves_and_one_another <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '671419'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=671419" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A new campaign called &quot;Caring Across Generations,&quot; has in mind nothing less than a 180-degree turn in the way that Americans think about themselves, one another, and the economy.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1340384792_screenshot20120622at1.05.31pm.png" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> <em>The following article first appeared in </em><a href="http://www.thenation.com/"><em>The Nation</em></a><em>. For more great content from the Nation, sign up for its </em><em><a href="http://www.thenation.com/nation-email-subscription-center">e-mail newsletters here.</a></em></p> <p> A new campaign calling itself Caring Across Generations has in mind nothing less than a 180-degree turn in the way that Americans think about themselves, one another, the economy and workers. This group aims to create 2 million quality jobs in the process and put us all on track for a happy, healthy old age too. But first we need to talk, out loud, about care.<br />  <br /> A meeting in New York in February kicked off with stories. “Share a personal care story,” coaxed Ai-jen Poo, co-director of Caring Across Generations (CAG) and director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.</p> <div> From around the table, the stories came. The story of the grandpa whose homecare worker came to his hospital to brush his hair after he suffered a stroke. The nanny who took the kids to school so Mom could practice law. The lover with disabilities who needs full-time care: “It takes a village, but right now I’m the village,” says the partner, Alejandra, who also uses a wheelchair. Domestic worker Barbara, born overseas, was nervous: “I’ve been a caregiver all my life, and now I’m turning 65. Who’s going to be there to take care of me?” <p> Funny how storytelling works. Within minutes I’m thinking of the live-in assistants who helped my father, Michael Flanders, perform on Broadway. A star, but also a polio survivor, Dad rolled onto the stage in his wheelchair every evening thanks in part to the help of an assistant in the morning. My grandmother Hope was said to be “independent” because she lived past 100 in her own apartment teaching writing to the end, but her students’ classes and her sense of self got a whole lot of help from Geen Crooks, her live-in aide.</p> Ask anyone. We all have our “care stories.” What we don’t tend to have is a plan for what we’ll do when someone we love needs care, or when we ourselves turn out not to be invincible. We don’t have a plan, and neither does our government, and yet a crisis looms. The immigrant population grows as the baby boomers age. As of 2010, every eight seconds another American turned 65. The “age wave” is upon us—except it’s not a wave; it’s a tsunami. Just as more families are economically stretched, the number of Americans in long-term care is projected to mushroom, from 13 million in 2000 to 27 million in 2050. More of us want to stay in our homes, where care also happens to be cheaper. (The National Association for Home Care &amp; Hospice reports that one day in a nursing home is four times as expensive as twelve hours of homecare.) But the current homecare workforce—at approximately 2 million workers—is nowhere near large enough to meet the need. <p> High-quality long-term caregivers are already in short supply, and it’s no big mystery why. Homecare is a female-dominated world, open to young and first-time workers and immigrants. It’s also unprotected, uncovered by basic wage and overtime laws that apply in nursing homes. At the time the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was passed in 1938, caregivers were thought of as relatives or friends—or as a way to get the unemployed off welfare. Which leads us to now: in 2010 the national median wage for homecare workers stood at $9.40 per hour. According to a 2011 survey by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), the mean annual income for these workers in 2009 was $15,611. More than half of all personal care aides live in households that depend on one or more public benefits. Although homecare has become an
$84 billion, largely for-profit industry, the typical care provider can still be hired and fired at will.</p> You might say: Organize! And that is what Caring Across Generations is doing. “Frankly,” says Ai-jen Poo, who started working on this issue at the height of the economic crash, “we thought, There’s a jobs crisis, there’s a care crisis. We should create millions of quality jobs in homecare. Caregivers will benefit. Care receivers will benefit. Everyone is touched by it. Let’s do it!” <p> There’s just one problem. Although a few states have extended some wage and hours protections to homecare workers, these workers enjoy no federal right to form a union or bargain collectively. There’s not even a real collective; the workforce is isolated in homes—a private worksite where, as Friedrich Engels put it, women are either openly or covertly “enslaved” in the name of “caring.” Poo and her comrades are undaunted: indeed, they are taking aim at the very isolation that makes their tasks as organizers of this fragmented workforce so difficult—seeking above all else to build the connections that may make a breakthrough possible.</p> * * * <p> Last July, with Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs With Justice, Poo co-hosted a national town hall meeting at the Washington Hilton to launch the Caring Across Generations campaign. Spilling off the stage was a cavalcade of workers, seniors and people with disabilities—mostly women—representing virtually every constituency touched by the care crisis.</p> Exuding more can-do spirit than the capital was accustomed to, the campaign’s collaborators spanned the community/labor spectrum, from AFSCME and the SEIU to 9 to 5, the Alliance of Retired Americans, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the YWCA. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, the daughter of a domestic worker, addressed the 700-strong crowd: “America must be a nation where dignity and respect are afforded equally and rightfully to caregivers and to loved ones alike.” <p> The White House’s Valerie Jarrett made an appearance. Liz Shuler, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, spoke too, but the stars of the day were caregivers and -receivers, people like the Direct Care Alliance’s Tracy Dudzinski, who has been working in this field for fifteen years in Wisconsin. “The public thinks we are companions or bedpan changers. We are the eyes, ears and backbone of the care system,” declared Dudzinski to cheers.</p> Rabbi Felicia Sol, of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, described the funerals she attends where the deceased’s doctors rarely appear, “but almost always there’s an immigrant woman of color who has provided dignity and care.” <p> Jessica Lehman, of Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Association, spoke about her ability to work full time despite her physical handicaps, because of her home health aide. “Without attendants, I would have no control over my life. I couldn’t work. I wouldn’t be paying taxes. I’d be living in an institution,” said Lehman. Her group, mostly employers, goes to rallies, signs petitions and gives testimony in defense of caregivers because, as she says, “My quality of life depends on their quality of life.”</p> After lunch, what seemed like the entire Caring Across Generations conference headed to Capitol Hill to lobby against cuts to Medicaid and Medicare—with the artwork of the children who’d spent the morning in conference-provided childcare. <p> Caring Across Generations, like the National Domestic Workers Alliance, aims to build relationships between those doing the work and those they’re working for. (That’s why it is rigorous about workers’ leadership, multi-language translation and creating activities where participants can bring their kids.) Its agenda is “interdependent” too. At last count, more than 200 groups were signed on as campaign partners—and member groups can’t sign up for just their “piece” of the plan. The federal policy solution CAG proposes would create 2 million new jobs in homecare, with new safety, hours and wage protections, as well as organizing rights for workers. Those jobs would come with training and certification to improve the quality of care and create a path to citizenship for those who participate in the training programs. Poo argues that because homecare is cheaper than care in institutions, the extra costs should be manageable. “Besides, it’s not manageable or acceptable to be balancing our books on the backs of our caregivers or shortchanging people in need.” She also argues for cuts to the defense budget, imposing financial transaction taxes and increasing corporate taxation to open up new revenue streams. CAG is fighting to expand Medicaid and Medicare, and to protect Social Security and healthcare spending too.</p> Over and over again, Poo returns to basics: the basics of the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the movement for women’s rights, LGBT rights and abolition: “It’s about respect and dignity, not for one group or another but for all of us as human,” she says. Reconnect the issues, and you reconnect the movements in a way that has the potential to build real power, she believes. <p> Already there’s a feather in the campaign’s cap. Many members have been working for years to change those federal labor laws. In meetings with Solis, backed by a letter-writing campaign, CAG amped up the pressure. In December members of the group, plus Dudzinski, joined President Obama when he announced a rule change to extend overtime and minimum wage protections to tens of thousands more home health aides. Despite industry complaints that paying minimum wages will drive up the cost of care, CAG and its allies flooded the Labor Department website with positive comments. Since the public comment period closed on March 12, the group has been waiting with bated breath. The department has sixty days to review, after which the Office of Management and Budget has ninety days, and then the rules should go into effect—ideally in good time to be safe from a rollback in the advent of a new administration.</p> “It’s a visionary agenda when we’ve been playing so much defense,” says Deepak Bhargava of the Center for Community Change. “It’s also a fascinating theory of the case: can you bring together constituencies that have never worked so closely before—and have all those groups hold up the whole of the vision of the organization?” <p> “They’re taking very diverse populations who are intentionally pitted against each other and saying, We start from the principle that we rise together,” says Ellen Bravo, of Family Values @ Work, a multistate coalition working for family leave insurance and sick days. Bravo, who, like Bhargava, has already done enough organizing to last a lifetime, has signed up for the CAG Leadership Team.</p> Since summer, local Care Councils have formed across the country, bringing people on all sides of the care equation together to fight budget cuts and attacks on union rights, and for increased funding for homecare. The councils have planned public Care Congresses in key cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dayton, Seattle and San Antonio. New York’s is coming up in June. <p> Asked why the SEIU, the service employees’ union, which represents more than 500,000 home health aides nationally, is working with CAG, even helping to underwrite CAG’s Care Congress in Seattle in February, Abigail Solomon, director of the SEIU Home Care Council, explained, “We’ve worked on efforts around immigration, healthcare and homecare before, but separately…this coalition is attempting to bridge a lot of those pieces and look at the whole in an integrated way. Also, the coalition has reach in states—like Texas—where we know homecare workers need a voice on the job. It’s strengthening organizing locally and nationally at the same time.”</p> Suffice it to say, traditional labor gets it. If it is to scratch back from the brink of irrelevance in a postindustrial economy, it must organize these workers. Homecare, after retail and nursing, is the third-fastest-growing workforce in the United States. But organizing has been slow and sometimes cutthroat, not breaking the unions’ isolation but reinforcing it. <p> “It’s a Wild West of rules out there for homecare workers,” reports Jennifer Klein, who with Eileen Boris has written a book on organizing homecare. Caught in a jumble of welfare, healthcare and social work bureaucracies, the workers are variously defined as public workers (employed by the state and paid through Medicaid) or independent contractors (working for private agencies) or they may be hired directly by the client. There are no clear boundaries, no rules, no list of names, no standard schedule, no “labor hall.” The mess lends itself to interunion conflict. After 74,000 mostly Latina homecare workers in Los Angeles voted to join the SEIU in 1999, the labor movement celebrated—and then fell into a bitter turf war between the SEIU and the state, city and municipal employees’ union, AFSCME, over how California’s remaining homecare workers should be contracted and represented.</p> * * * <p> The women leading Caring Across Generations have built exactly the relationships traditional labor unions will need if they are to gain the trust and the tools they’ll need to work in this community.</p> Sarita Gupta comes to this work from many years of overseeing national field operations for Jobs With Justice, where she built connections among independent workers’ groups and traditional labor unions to defend collective bargaining, immigrant workers and accessible healthcare. <p> Poo rose to organizing stardom when the Domestic Workers United mobilized so many nannies and their allies in Albany in 2010 that New York legislators were ashamed not to pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, the first in the nation to recognize these workers’ rights to overtime pay, three days’ paid leave, and legal protections from harassment and discrimination. A similar bill is in the works in California, and with the help of the AFL-CIO, domestic workers persuaded the UN’s International Labour Organization to sign an international version.</p> “From that experience I learned that there is no such thing as an unlikely ally,” says Poo. <p> * * *</p> Like Gupta, Poo has spent her whole career in inter-sectional politics, which is to say, where the “nontraditional” workers are, and where the rest of the workforce is headed. In contrast with traditional unions and movement leaders who have prioritized short-term legislative, ballot-measure or electoral campaigns, intersectional organizers emphasize building power over the long term and strategies funders haven’t always believed can produce demonstrable here-and-now “victories.” Gupta served on the National Planning Committee of the US Social Forum, the equivalent of the AFL-CIO convention for independent community organizers. The National Domestic Workers Alliance emerged from the first US Social Forum, in 2007 in Atlanta. In Detroit in 2010, the Forum convened a landmark three-day meeting of 400 “excluded workers” (those denied FLSA protections); among them were day laborers, domestic workers, taxi workers, formerly incarcerated workers and workers in what they called the “right to work-for-less states.” <p> Saket Soni, executive director of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, emerged from the Detroit meetings beaming. In an interview for GRITtv at the time, he called the discussions “historic,” adding that “we realized our own capacity.” It seemed as if workers who’d been on the margins of the old economy realized that they, in effect, had become the first responders in the new economy. Divided from their fellow workers with no “shop floor,” erratic schedules and no obvious way to assert collective power, they had nonetheless pioneered creative coalitions to have impact. They were old-timers in the new postindustrial, post-union world in which white public sector workers found themselves in Wisconsin and Ohio six months later.</p> CAG is a test of the Social Forum theory that you put at the center the people most affected by a given situation and they will know best how to operate within it. Asked how she imagines achieving any, let alone all, of the group’s grand goals, Poo says in her disarmingly strong, quiet voice that she believes in the irrepressible power of love. She saw love in action when East Side doormen got on buses to support the domestic workers in their buildings, and when workers’ kids and employers’ kids rallied side by side carrying signs that said, Respect My Mommy and Respect My Nanny. <p> For better or worse, caregivers are family members, and love is part of the conversation. That makes it very different from your average fight between worker and boss. Care stories also reveal our vulnerability, exploding in a useful way the man-
as-an-island myth that runs so deep in American iconography. As Marxist feminists have argued till they’re hoarse, behind every rugged individual hero tends to be an unpaid wife or enslaved person. Yet individual rights—like the right to vote—have always been easier to win in the United States than collective rights, like the right to organize; and globalization, mechanization and a three-decade corporate assault on unions have only exacerbated that problem. More Americans than ever are finding themselves on their own in the workplace—and barred from access to a union.</p> CAG Steering Committee member Heidi Hartmann, of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, notes, “Women are always the pioneers, going into new things that no one wants to do. Those are the jobs they can get. That’s also where the economy is going.” But there’s no reason service jobs, like caring, can’t become good jobs, believes Hartmann. The first assembly-line jobs were women’s jobs because men didn’t want them. Excess farm labor went to textile factories, and over time organizing made these good jobs. At the end of the day, making today’s bad jobs “good” will take two things: a cultural shift and a whole lot of pressure. <p> In a visit to a Connecticut home in February, I meet Erika (not her real name), a 56-year-old woman suffering from arthritis, muscle loss and bone pain. Erika is a large woman in a small apartment, and there’s not a cry she makes that isn’t heard by Mel (not her real name, either), her live-in caregiver from Liberia. “I can’t hear her cry and not come—that’s not my nature,” Mel tells me. Cooped up and frustrated, Erika is not the silent suffering kind, to be honest. It all adds up to a 24/7 job for Mel, although she is paid for only twenty-one hours per week. Erika, who is on public assistance, says she “loves” her “angel” Mel but can’t afford a full-time employee. Ostensibly, Mel could take on other clients, but on $12.30 per hour for twenty-one hours, plus the food and home expenses she must pay for, she can’t afford to travel to other clients. (There’s no travel allowance for homecare workers.) Besides, she has no idea how she’d find more clients. Now she’s facing days without pay altogether when Erika goes into the hospital for surgery. (Erika’s benefits won’t cover homecare if the client’s not at home, even if the worker is still working.)</p> Mel and Erika went together to the State Capitol to lobby for collective bargaining rights. This past March, Connecticut homecare aides who are paid through government programs such as Medicaid voted 1,228 to 365 to join a division of District 1199, SEIU and form Connecticut Home Care United, the first-ever union for the state’s in-home care providers. Governor Dannel Malloy paved the way for the vote when he signed an executive order last year, but the legislature has yet to approve a bill that would grant a right to collective bargaining. <p> When I ask her about her prospects, Mel, exhausted and exasperated, weeps. “I support the union,” she says, “but I don’t really see how it can help me. I’m trapped.”</p> * * * <p> As Engels and the feminists knew, the “private” sphere is a tough place to regulate. The Marxist plan was to de-privatize and collectivize care. That’s rarely mentioned these days, but Karen Higgins, co-president of National Nurses United, does worry about simply going along with the trend toward homecare. “Obviously, we want people to have choices, but it can’t be driven by budgets,” she says. “As nurses, we’re still seeing the blowback from the deinstitutionalization of mental care.”</p> The SEIU’s Solomon says the shift toward homecare must come with extra regulation and oversight. In terms of what the union can offer Mel, in several states where they represent caregivers, unions have created a registry of potential clients for their members—but people like Mel (and Erika) need more. They need everything from free, high-quality healthcare to affordable healthy housing to reliable public transportation—and how about cheap, durable smartphones to connect workers to lawyers and one another? <p> As union rights are won, will workers like Mel be more than dues-paying members with PR-friendly faces for their union? Mel has a voice and a story to tell, but she needs the power to change the conditions she’s living in.</p> It comes back to power. In an era of state-level budget cuts, rights rollbacks and belligerence in Washington, will the campaign be able not just to win symbolic and incremental victories, like the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and Obama’s proposed extension of FLSA protections, but to build enough power to force broader change? Clinton introduced the same FLSA rule change right before leaving office, but in 2000 homecare agencies and clients pressured the Bush administration to reverse it. <p> What next? “There are definitely life cycles in unions and movements,” says Poo, “and this is very much in its infancy. But I believe the possibilities are unlimited because we really do represent the ninety-nine percent, perhaps even the 
100 percent.” n</p> </div> <p>  </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Former Air America Radio host, Laura Flanders is the host and founder of GRITtv with Laura Flanders, a daily talk show for people who want to do more than talk. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species (Verso, 2004) and Blue GRIT: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians (Penguin Press, 2007). A regular contributor on MSNBC, Flanders has appeared on shows from Real Time with Bill Maher to The O’Reilly Factor. Flanders is the editor of At the Tea Party: The Wing Nuts, Whack Jobs and Whitey-whiteness of the New Republican Right… and Why we Should Take it Seriously (October 2010, OR books). For more information, go to LauraFlanders.com or GRITtv.org. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2012 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '671419'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=671419" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 22 Jun 2012 07:00:01 -0700 Laura Flanders, The Nation 671419 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Activism Activism Visions across generations a-jen poo national domestic workers Where Are the Missing 5 Million Workers? In the Underground Economy http://www.personals.alternet.org/story/155491/where_are_the_missing_5_million_workers_in_the_underground_economy <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '670926'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=670926" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The “underground” is always with us. For better and often for worse, it’s how marginalized populations tend to survive—often not very well.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>The following article first appeared on the Web site of </em><a href="http://www.thenation.com/"><em>The Nation</em></a><em>. For more great content from The Nation, sign up for its </em><a href="http://www.thenation.com/nation-email-subscription-center"><em>e-mail newsletters here.</em></a><em> </em> </p> <p>“Where have all the workers gone?” David Wessel of the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> wondered about the labor force <a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;ved=0CFQQFjAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303879604577407864232528118.html&amp;ei=9Wq1T_uoB-ejiQLz--m5Ag&amp;usg=AFQjCNHuQRmby5v8q96BBokxvWZhtdX7Dw&amp;sig2=6DrsRWZZAOr42tGThIl36w">this week</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>In the past two years, the number of people in the U.S. who are older than 16 (and not in the military or prison) has grown by 5.4 million. The number of people working or looking for work hasn’t grown at all.</p></blockquote> <p>So, where have all the workers gone? Have they retired, suspended their labors temporarily or are they languishing on public assistance? asks Wessel.</p> <p>There are some other possibilities. Since the crash of 2008, there’s no question that millions of Americans have indeed <a href="http://www.rooseveltinstitute.org/policy-and-ideas/big-ideas/stagnating-labor-market">stopped looking</a> for a job. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not working. Look around, it’s much more likely that the officially “unemployed” are busy, doing their best to make ends meet in whatever ways they can. Sex work, drugs and crime spring to mind, but the underground or “shadow” economy includes all sorts of off-the-books toil. From baby-sitting, bartering, mending, kitchen-garden farming and selling goods in a yard sale, all sorts of people—from the tamale seller on your corner, to the dancer who teachers yoga—are all contributing to the underground economy along with the “employed” who pay them for their wares.</p> <p>The “underground” is always with us. For better and often for worse, it’s how marginalized populations tend to survive—often not very well. (Think of the old, the young, the formerly incarcerated or foreign.) In recessions—surprise, surprise—“irregular” employment grows. Consider recent stories from Greece about wageless public “workers” swapping skills and trading food for teaching. Austrian economist, <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/81232881/The-Influence-of-the-economic-crisis-on-the-underground-economy-in-Germany-and-the-other-OECD-countries-in-2010-a-further-increase-By-Friedrich-Sc">Friedrich Schneider</a>, an expert in underground economies, has documented a surge in shadow economy activity in 2009 and 2010 in Europe. University of Wisconsin–Madison economist Edgar Feige has been doing his best to follow what’s happened here.</p> <p>Tracking the gap between reported and unreported income in the United States since 1940, Feige finds:</p> <p><img alt="" width="400" height="195" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fm_aT8-b7WE/TsEUsEO0xfI/AAAAAAAACIo/3K7AvOm0dXE/s1600/Screen+shot+2011-11-14+at+8.15.47+AM.png" /></p> <p>Measuring unreported data is not easy, but from Feige’s graph one thing is clear: there’s as much unreported income swirling around the United States today as there was in WWII under rationing, and that number’s not going down with any speed.</p> <p>Unreported income matters to the IRS because those “unreported” dollars are lost revenue for the taxman. (In 2001, the Internal Revenue Service estimates it was losing $345 billion in tax revenue. In 2009, according to Feige, that estimate could be approaching $600 billion.)</p> <p>A shrinking workforce matters to policy makers too, as Wessel explains:</p> <p>“Figuring out how many of those now on the job-market sidelines are likely to come back onto the field matters to gauging the current state of the economy, to fashioning the right remedy for the sluggish recovery and to evaluating prospects for economic growth, which hinge, in part, on an expanding labor force.”</p> <p>Getting a more accurate picture of our economy matters for another reason too. For one thing, ever since Adam Smith, we (at least we in the West) have been taught there is one set of rules, and one viable economy: the “end of history” economy of jobs and wages, profits and losses, and round the world trading on the stock market. The reality is, as farmer/science writer <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook/">Sharon Astyk</a> put it recently, what “the economy” is is not the only economy.</p> <p>“Let us remind ourselves that the informal economy is, in fact, the larger part of the world’s total economy. When you add in the domestic and household economy of the world’s households, the subsistence economy, the barter economy, the volunteer economy, the ‘under the table’ economy, the criminal economy and a few other smaller players, you get something that adds up to 3/4 of the world’s total economic activity. The formal economy—the territory of professional and paid work, of tax statements and GDP—is only 1/4 of the world’s total economic activity.”</p> <p>Looking ahead at our employment and energy future, it’s not at all clear what the economy will look like in years to come. With fewer dirty Satanic mills to labor in, regular Joe and Jane workers are going to have find income that doesn’t depend on them transmuting into celebrities or high-rolling mobsters of high finance. What are they going to do? For those who believe that stocks and bonds and 9–5 jobs are the only economy there is, the picture is dire.</p> <p>For others, there’s a world of possibility ahead. Gar Alperovitz and his colleagues at the Democracy Collaborative are about to launch a series on the upsurge of thinking that’s currently happening about different ways in which people might support themselves and restructure the political and economy. They point to the exploding interest in “new economy” conferences and the array of real-world experiments, from solar-powered businesses to worker-owned cooperatives and state-owned banks.</p> <p>“History dramatizes the implacable power of the existing institutions—until, somehow, that power gives way to the force of social movements. Most of those in the ‘New Economy’ movement understand the challenge as both immediate and long term: how to put an end to the most egregious social and economically destructive practices in the near term; how to lay foundations for a possible transformation in the longer term,” writes Alperovitz in the first of five articles.</p> <p>Could it be that the old economy is losing its grip, not only on our lives, but also on our ideas? There is much—much—more to come.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Former Air America Radio host, Laura Flanders is the host and founder of GRITtv with Laura Flanders, a daily talk show for people who want to do more than talk. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species (Verso, 2004) and Blue GRIT: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians (Penguin Press, 2007). A regular contributor on MSNBC, Flanders has appeared on shows from Real Time with Bill Maher to The O’Reilly Factor. Flanders is the editor of At the Tea Party: The Wing Nuts, Whack Jobs and Whitey-whiteness of the New Republican Right… and Why we Should Take it Seriously (October 2010, OR books). For more information, go to LauraFlanders.com or GRITtv.org. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2012 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '670926'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=670926" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 18 May 2012 08:00:01 -0700 Laura Flanders, The Nation 670926 at http://www.personals.alternet.org News & Politics Labor Economy Visions labor work economy workers jobs unemployment unemployed underground Noam Chomsky on America's Economic Suicide http://www.personals.alternet.org/story/155281/noam_chomsky_on_america%27s_economic_suicide <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '670636'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=670636" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">We’re a nation whose leaders are pursuing policies that amount to economic “suicide” Chomsky says. But there are glimmers of possibility.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1336152199_screenshot20120504at1.21.30pm.png" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Noam Chomsky has not just been watching the Occupy movement. A veteran of the civil rights, anti-war, and anti-intervention movements of the 1960s through the 1980s, he’s given lectures at Occupy Boston and talked with occupiers across the US.  His new book, <a href="https://www.alternet.org/alternetbooks/28/occupy_by_noam_chomsky/" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204); ">Occupy</a>, published in the <a href="http://www.zuccottiparkpress.com/" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204); ">Occupied Media Pamphlet Series</a> by <b><font color="#f00000"><a href="http://www.zuccottiparkpress.com/about.html" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204); ">Zuccotti Park Press</a> </font></b>brings together several of those lectures, a speech on “occupying foreign policy” and a brief tribute to his friend and co-agitator Howard Zinn.</p> <p>From his speeches, and in this conversation, it’s clear that the emeritus MIT professor and author is as impressed by the spontaneous, cooperative communities some Occupy encampments created, as he is by the movement’s political impact.</p> <p>We’re a nation whose leaders are pursuing policies that amount to economic “suicide” Chomsky says. But there are glimmers of possibility – in worker co-operatives, and other spaces where people get a taste of a different way of living.</p> <p>We talked in his office, for Free Speech TV on April 24.</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: Let’s start with the big picture. How do you describe the situation we’re in, historically?</em></p> <p>NC: There is either a crisis or a return to the norm of stagnation. One view is the norm is stagnation and occasionally you get out of it. The other is that the norm is growth and occasionally you can get into stagnation. You can debate that but it’s a period of close to global stagnation. In the major state capitalists economies, Europe and the US, it’s low growth and stagnation and a very sharp income differentiation a shift — a striking shift — from production to financialization.</p> <p>The US and Europe are committing suicide in different ways. In Europe it’s austerity in the midst of recession and that’s guaranteed to be a disaster. There’s some resistance to that now. In the US, it’s essentially off-shoring production and financialization and getting rid of superfluous population through incarceration. It’s a subtext of what happened in Cartagena [Colombia] last week with the conflict over the drug war. Latin America wants to decriminalize at least marijuana (maybe more or course;) the US wants to maintain it.  An interesting story.  There seems to me no easy way out of this….</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: And politically…?</em></p> <p>NC: Again there are differences. In Europe there’s an dangerous growth of ultra xenophobia which is pretty threatening to any one who remembers the history of Europe…  and an attack on the remnants of the welfare state. It’s hard to interpret the austerity-in-the-midst-of-<wbr></wbr>recession policy as anything other than attack on the social contract. In fact, some leaders come right out and say it. Mario Draghi the president of the European Central Bank had an interview with the Wall St Journal in which he said the social contract’s dead; we finally got rid of it.</p> <p>In the US, first of all, the electoral system has been almost totally shredded. For a long time it’s  been pretty much run by private concentrated spending but now it’s over the top. Elections increasingly over the years have been [public relations] extravaganzas. It was understood by the ad industry in 2008 -- they gave Barack Obama their marketing award of the year.  This year it’s barely a pretense.</p> <p>The Republican Party has pretty much abandoned any pretense of being a traditional political party. It’s in lockstep obedience to the very rich, the super rich and the corporate sector. They can’t get votes that way so they have to mobilize a different constituency. It’s always been there, but it’s rarely been mobilized politically. They call it the religious right, but basically it’s the extreme religious population. The US is off the spectrum in religious commitment. It’s been increasing since 1980 but now it’s a major part of the voting base of the Republican Party so that means committing to anti-abortion positions, opposing women’s rights…  The US is a country [in which] eighty percent of the population thinks the Bible was written by god. About half think every word is literally true. So it’s had to appeal to that – and to the nativist population, the people that are frightened, have always been… It’s a very frightened country and that’s increasing now with the recognition that the white population is going to be a minority pretty soon, “they’ve taken our country from us.” That’s the Republicans. There are no more moderate Republicans. They are now the centrist Democrats. Of course the Democrats are drifting to the Right right after them. The Democrats have pretty much given up on the white working class. That would require a commitment to economic issues and that’s not their concern.</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: You describe Occupy as the first organized response to a thirty-year class war….</em></p> <p>NC: It’s a class war, and a war on young people too… that’s why tuition is rising so rapidly. There’s no real economic reason for that. It’s a technique of control and indoctrination.  And this is really the first organized, significant reaction to it, which is important.</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: Are comparisons to Arab Spring useful? </em></p> <p>NC: One point of similarity is they’re both responses to the toll taken by the neo lib programs. They have a different effect in a poor country like Egypt than a rich country like the US. But structurally somewhat similar. In Egypt the neoliberal programs have meant statistical growth, like right before the Arab Spring, Egypt was a kind of poster child for the World Bank and the IMF [International Monetary Fund:] the marvelous economic management and great reform. The only problem was for most of the population it was a kind of like a blow in the solar plexus: wages going down, benefits being eliminated, subsidized food gone and meanwhile, high concentration of wealth and a huge amount of corruption.</p> <p>We have a structural analogue here – in fact the same is true in South America –  some of the most dramatic events of the last decade (and we saw it again in Cartagena a couple of weeks ago) Latin America is turning towards independence for the first time in five hundred years. That’s not small. And the Arab Spring was beginning to follow it. There’s a counterrevolution in the Middle East/North Africa (MENAC) countries beating it back, but there were advances. In South America [there were] substantial ones and that’s happening in the Arab Spring and it has a contagious effect – it stimulated the Occupy movement and there are interactions.</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF. In the media, there was a lot of confusion in the coverage of Occupy. Is there a contradiction between anarchism and organization? Can you clarify? </em></p> <p>NC: Anarchism means all sort of things to different people but the traditional anarchists’ movements assumed that there’d be a highly organized society, just one organized from below with direct participation and so on.  Actually, one piece of the media confusion has a basis because there really are two different strands in the occupy movement, both important, but different.</p> <p>One is policy oriented: what policy goals [do we want.] Regulate the banks, get money out of elections; raise the minimum wage, environmental issues. They’re all very important and the Occupy movement made a difference. It shifted not only the discourse but to some extent, action on these issues.</p> <p>The other part is just creating communities — something extremely important in a country like this, which is very atomized. People don’t talk to each other. You’re alone with your television set or internet. But you can’t have a functioning democracy without what sociologists call “secondary organizations,” places where people can get together, plan, talk and develop ideas. You don’t do it alone. The Occupy movement did create spontaneously communities that taught people something: you can be in a supportive community of mutual aid and cooperation and develop your own health system and library and have open space for democratic discussion and participation.  Communities like that are really important. And maybe that’s what’s causing the media confusion…because it’s both.</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: Is that why the same media that routinely ignores violence against women, played up stories about alleged rape and violence at OWS camps? </em></p> <p>NC: That’s standard practice. Every popular movement that they want to denigrate they pick up on those kind of things. Either that, or weird dress or something like that.  I remember once in 1960s, there was a demonstration that went from Boston to<br style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; " /><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1884519016/counterpunchmaga" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(207, 16, 40); margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; text-decoration: none; "><img title="chomskyoccupy" alt="" width="175" height="344" src="https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&amp;ik=055dd93265&amp;view=att&amp;th=13717fa47cdb6f9e&amp;attid=0.1&amp;disp=emb&amp;realattid=7be6bf608416d08f_0.1.1&amp;zw&amp;atsh=1" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 15px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; border-top-style: none; border-right-style: none; border-bottom-style: none; border-left-style: none; border-width: initial; border-color: initial; float: right; " /></a>Washington and tv showed some young woman with a funny hat and strange something or other.  There was an independent channel down in Washington – sure enough, showed the very same woman. That’s what they’re looking for. Let’s try to show that it’s silly and insignificant and violent if possible and you get a fringe of that everywhere.</p> <p>To pay attention to the actual core of the movement  — that would be pretty hard. Can you concentrate for example on either the policy issues or the creation of functioning democratic communities of mutual support and say, well, that’s what’s lacking in our country that’s why we don’t have a functioning democracy – a community of real participation. That’s really important. And that always gets smashed.</p> <p>Take say, Martin Luther King. Listen to the speeches on MLK Day – and it’s all “I have a dream.” But he had another dream and he presented that in his last talk in Memphis just before he was assassinated.  In which he said something about how he’s like Moses he can see the promised land but how we’re not going to get there. And the promised land was policies and developments which would deal with the poverty and repression, not racial, but the poor people’s movement. Right after that (the assassination) there was a march. [King] was going to lead it. Coretta Scott King led it. It started in Memphis went through the South to the different places where they’d fought the civil rights battle and ended up in Washington DC and they had a tent city, Resurrection Park and security forces were called in by the liberal congress. The most liberal congress in memory. They broke in in the middle of the night smashed up Resurrection Park and drove them out of the city. That’s the way you deal with popular movements that are threatening…</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: Thinking of Memphis, where Dr. King was supporting striking sanitation workers, what are your thoughts on the future of the labor movement? </em></p> <p>The labor movement had been pretty much killed in the 1920s, almost destroyed. It revived in the 1930s and made a huge difference. By the late 1930s the business world was already trying to find ways to beat it back. They had to hold off during the war but right after, it began immediately. Taft Hartley was 1947, then you get a huge corporate propaganda campaign a large part if it directed at labor unions: why they’re bad and destroy harmony and amity in the US.  Over the years that’s had an effect. The Labor movement recognized what was going on far too late. Then it picked up under Reagan.</p> <p>Reagan pretty much informed employers that they were not going to employ legal constraints on breaking up unions (they weren’t not strong but there were some) and firing of workers for organizing efforts I think tripled during the Reagan years.</p> <p>Clinton came along; he had a different technique for breaking unions, it was called NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement.] Under NAFTA there was again a sharp increase in illegal blocking of organizing efforts. You put up a sign – We’re going to transfer operations to Mexico…  It’s illegal but if you have a criminal state, it doesn’t make a difference.</p> <p>The end result, is, private sector unionization is down to practically seven percent. Meanwhile the public sector unions have kind of sustained themselves [even] under attack, but in the last few years, there’s been a sharp [increase in the] attack on public sector unions, which Barack Obama has participated in, in fact. When you freeze salaries of federal workers, that’s equivalent to taxing public sector people…</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: And attacks on collective bargaining? </em></p> <p>NC: Attacks on collective bargaining in Wisconsin [are part of] a whole range of attacks because that’s an attack on a part of the labor movement that was protected by the legal system as a residue of the New Deal and Great Society and so on.</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: So do unions have a future? </em></p> <p>NC: Well, it’s not worse than the 1920s. There was a very lively active militant labor movement in the late part of the 19<sup style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">th</sup> century, right through the early part of 20<sup style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">th</sup> century. [It was] smashed up by Wilson and the red scares. By the 1920s right-wing visitors from England were coming and just appalled by the way workers were treated. It was pretty much gone. But by 1930s it was not only revived, it was the core element of bringing about the New Deal. The organization of the CIO and the sit-down strikes which were actually terrifying to management because it was one step before saying “O.K. Goodbye, we’re going to run the factory.” And that was a big factor in significant New Deal measures that were not trivial but made a big difference.</p> <p>Then, after the war, starts the attack, but it’s a constant battle right though American history. It’s the history of this country and the history of every other country too, but the US happens to have an unusually violent labor history. Hundreds of workers getting killed here for organizing at a time that was just unheard of in Europe or Australia…</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: What is the Number One target of power today in your view? Is it corporations, Congress, media, courts? </em></p> <p>NC: The Media are corporations so… It’s the concentrations of private power which have an enormous, not total control, but enormous influence over Congress and the White House and that’s increasing sharply with sharp concentration of  private power and escalating cost of elections and so on…</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: As we speak, there are shareholder actions taking place in Detroit and San Francisco. Are those worthwhile, good targets? </em></p> <p>NC: They’re ok, but remember, stock ownership in the US is very highly concentrated. [Shareholder actions are] something, but it’s like the old Communist Party in the USSR, it would be nice to see more protest inside the Communist Party but it’s not democracy. It’s not going to happen. [Shareholder actions] are a good step, but they’re mostly symbolic. Why not <em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">stakeholder </em>action? There’s no economic principal that says that management should be responsive to shareholders, in fact you can read in texts of business economics that they could just as well have a system in which the management is responsible to stakeholders.</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: But you hear it all the time that under law, the CEO’s required to increase dividends to shareholders. </em></p> <p>NC: It’s kind of a secondary commitment of the CEO. The first commitment is raise your salary. One of the ways to raise your salary sometimes is to have short-term profits but there are many other ways. In the last thirty years there have been very substantial legal changes to corporate governance so by now CEOs pretty much pick the boards that give them salaries and bonuses. That’s one of the reasons why the CEO-to-payment [ratio] has so sharply escalated in this country in contrast to Europe. (They’re similar societies and it’s bad enough there, but here we’re in the stratosphere. ] There’s no particular reason for it. Stakeholders — meaning workers and community – the CEO could just as well be responsible to them. This presupposes there ought to be management but why does there have to be management?  Why not have the stakeholders run the industry?</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: Worker co-ops are a growing movement. One question that I hear is  — will change come from changing ownership if you don’t change the profit paradigm?  </em></p> <p>NC: It’s a little like asking if shareholder voting is a good idea, or the Buffet rule is a good idea. Yes, it’s a good step, a small step. Worker ownership within a state capitalist, semi-market system is better than private ownership but it has inherent problems. Markets have well-known inherent inefficiencies. They’re very destructive.  The obvious one, in a market system, in a really functioning one, whoever’s making the decisions doesn’t pay attention to what are called <em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">externalities,</em>effects on others. I sell you a car, if our eyes are open we’ll make a good deal for ourselves but we’re not asking how it’s going to affect her [over there.] It will, there’ll be more congestion, gas prices will go up, there will be environmental effects and that multiplies over the whole population. Well, that’s very serious.</p> <p>Take a look at the financial crisis. Ever since the New Deal regulation was essentially dismantled, there have been regular financial crises and one of the fundamental reasons, it’s understood, is that the CEO of Goldman Sachs or CitiGroup does not pay attention to what’s called<em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">systemic risk</em>. Maybe you make a risky transaction and you cover your own potential losses, but you don’t take into account the fact that if it crashes it may crash the entire system.  Which is what a financial crash is.</p> <p>The much more serious example of this is environmental impacts. In the case of financial institutions when they crash, the taxpayer comes to the rescue, but if you destroy the environment no one is going to come to the rescue…</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: So it sounds as if you might support something like the Cleveland model where the ownership of the company is actually held by members of the community as well as the workers… </em></p> <p>NC: That’s a step forward but you also have to get beyond that to dismantle the system of production for profit rather than <em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">production for use.</em> That means dismantling at least large parts of market systems. Take the most advanced case: Mondragon. It’s worker owned, it’s not worker managed, although the management does come from the workforce often, but it’s in a market system and they still exploit workers in South America, and they do things that are harmful to the society as a whole and they have no choice. If you’re in a system where you must make profit in order to survive. You are compelled to ignore negative externalities, <em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">effects on others.</em></p> <p>Markets also have a very bad psychological effect. They drive people to a conception of themselves and society in which you’re only after your own good, not the good of others and that’s extremely harmful.</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: Have you ever had a taste of a non market system — had a flash of optimism –– oh this is how we could live? </em></p> <p>NC: A functioning family for example, and there are bigger groups, cooperatives are a case in point. It certainly can be done. The biggest I know is Mondragon but there are many in between and a lot more could be done. Right here in Boston in one of the suburbs about two years ago, there was a small but profitable enterprise building high tech equipment.  The multi-national who owned the company didn’t want to keep it on the books so they decided to close it down. The workforce and the union, UE (United Electrical workers), offered to buy it, and the community was supportive. It could have worked if there had been popular support. If there had been an Occupy movement then, I think that could have been a great thing for them to concentrate on. If it had worked you would have had  another profitable, worker-owned and worker managed profitable enterprise. There‘s a fair amount of that already around the country. Gar Alperovitz has written about them, Seymour Melman has worked on them. Jonathan Feldman was working on these things.</p> <p>There are real examples and I don’t see why they shouldn’t survive. Of course they’re going to be beaten back. The power system is not going to want them any more than they want popular democracy any more than the states of middle east and the west are going to tolerate the Arab spring… .They’re going to try to beat it back.</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: They tried to beat back the sit-in strikes back in the 1930s. What we forget is entire communities turned out to support those strikes. In Flint, cordons of women stood between the strikers and the police. </em></p> <p>NC: Go back a century to Homestead, the worker run town, and they had to send in the National Guard to destroy them.</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: Trayvon Martin. Can you talk for a few minutes about the role of racism and racial violence in what we’ve been talking about?  Some people think of fighting racism as separate from working on economic issues. </em></p> <p>NC: Well you know, there clearly is a serious race problem in the country. Just take a look at what’s happening to African American communities. For example wealth, wealth in African American communities is almost zero. The history is striking. You take a look at the history of African Americans in the US. There’s been about thirty years of relative freedom. There was a decade after the Civil War and before north/south compact essentially recriminalized black life. During the Second World War there was a need for free labor so there was a freeing up of the labor force. Blacks benefitted from it. It lasted for about twenty years, the big growth period in the ‘50s and ‘60s, so a black man could get a job in an auto plant and buy a house and send his kids to college and kind of enter into the world but by the 70s it was over.</p> <p>With the radical shift in the economy, basically the workforce, which is partly white but also largely black, they basically became superfluous. Look what happened, we recriminalized black life. Incarceration rates since the 1908s have gone through the roof, overwhelmingly black males, women and Hispanics to some extent. Essentially re-doing what happened under Reconstruction. That’s the history of African Americans – so how can any one say there’s no problem. Sure, racism is serious, but it’s worse than that…</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: Talk about media. We often discern bias in the telling of a particular story, but I want you to talk more broadly about the way our money media portray power, democracy, the role of the individual in society and the way that change happens. …</em></p> <p>NC: Well they don’t want change to happen….They’re right in the center of the system of power and domination. First of all the media are corporations, parts of bigger corporations, they’re very closely linked to other systems of power both in personnel and interests and social background and everything else. Naturally they tend to be reactionary.</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: But they sort of give us a clock. If change hasn’t happened in ten minutes, it’s not going to happen. </em></p> <p>NC: Well that’s a technique of indoctrination. That’s something I learned from my own experience. There was once an interview with Jeff Greenfield in which he was asked why I was never asked onto<strong style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">Nightline</strong>.  He gave a good answer. He said the main reason was that I lacked concision. I had never heard that word before. You have to have concision. You have to say something brief between two commercials.</p> <p>What can you say that’s brief between two commercials? I can say Iran is a terrible state. I don’t need any evidence. I can say Ghaddaffi carries out terror.  Suppose I try to say the US carries out terror, in fact it’s one of the leading terrorist states in the world. You can’t say that between commercials. People rightly want to know what do you mean. They’ve never heard that before. Then you have to explain. You have to give background. That’s exactly what’s cut out. Concision is a technique of propaganda. It ensures you cannot do anything except repeat clichés, the standard doctrine, or sound like a lunatic.</p> <p><em style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">LF: What about media’s conception of power? Who has it, who doesn’t have it and what’s our role if we’re not say, president or CEO. </em></p> <p>NC: Well, not just the media but pretty much true of academic world, the picture is we the leading democracy in the world, the beacon of freedom and rights and democracy. The fact that democratic participation here is extremely marginal, doesn’t enter [the media story.]  The media will condemn the elections in Iran, rightly, because the candidates have to be vetted by the clerics. But they won’t point out that in the United States [candidates] have to be vetted by high concentrations of private capital. You can’t run in an election unless you can collect millions of dollars.</p> <p>One interesting case is right now. This happens to be the 50<sup style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">th</sup>anniversary of the US invasion of South Vietnam – the worst atrocity in the post war period. Killed millions of people, destroyed four countries, total horror story. Not a word. It didn’t happen because “we” did it. So it didn’t happen.</p> <p>Take 9-11. That means something in the United States. The “world changed” after 9-11. Well, do a slight thought experiment. Suppose that on 9-11 the planes had bombed the White House… suppose they’d killed the president , established a military dictatorship, quickly killed thousands, tortured tens of thousands more, set up a major international  terror center that was carrying out assassinations , overthrowing governments all over the place, installing other dictatorships, and drove the country into one of the worst depressions in its history and had to call on the state to bail them out  Suppose that had happened? It did happen. On the first 9-11 in 1973.  Except we were responsible for it, so it didn’t happen. That’s Allende’s Chile. You can’t imagine the media talking about this.</p> <p>And you can generalize it broadly. The same is pretty much true of scholarship – except for on the fringes – it’s certainly true of the mainstream of the academic world.  In some respects critique of the media is a bit misleading [because they’re not alone among institutions of influence] and of course, they closely interact.</p> <p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Former Air America Radio host, Laura Flanders is the host and founder of GRITtv with Laura Flanders, a daily talk show for people who want to do more than talk. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species (Verso, 2004) and Blue GRIT: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians (Penguin Press, 2007). A regular contributor on MSNBC, Flanders has appeared on shows from Real Time with Bill Maher to The O’Reilly Factor. Flanders is the editor of At the Tea Party: The Wing Nuts, Whack Jobs and Whitey-whiteness of the New Republican Right… and Why we Should Take it Seriously (October 2010, OR books). For more information, go to LauraFlanders.com or GRITtv.org. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2012 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '670636'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=670636" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 04 May 2012 06:00:01 -0700 Laura Flanders, Noam Chomsky, GRITtv 670636 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Economy Economy religious republicans economy foreign policy chomsky Occupy New Organizing Campaign Aims to Change the Way We Think About Work--And Each Other http://www.personals.alternet.org/story/154989/new_organizing_campaign_aims_to_change_the_way_we_think_about_work--and_each_other <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '670356'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=670356" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">America&#039;s aging population is going to need care in the coming years--Caring Across Generations aims to create millions of good jobs and redefine our relationships to one another.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1334585247_screenshot20120416at10.05.14am.png" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>The following article first appeared on the Web site of </em><a href="http://www.thenation.com/"><em>The Nation</em></a><em>. For more great content from the Nation, sign up for its </em><a href="http://www.thenation.com/nation-email-subscription-center"><em>e-mail newsletters here.</em></a><em> </em> </p> <p>A new campaign calling itself Caring Across Generations has in mind nothing less than a 180-degree turn in the way that Americans think about themselves, one another, the economy and workers. This group aims to create 2 million quality jobs in the process and put us all on track for a happy, healthy old age too. But first we need to talk, out loud, about care.<br />  <br /> A meeting in New York in February kicked off with stories. “Share a personal care story,” coaxed Ai-jen Poo, co-director of Caring Across Generations (CAG) and director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.</p> <p>From around the table, the stories came. The story of the grandpa whose homecare worker came to his hospital to brush his hair after he suffered a stroke. The nanny who took the kids to school so Mom could practice law. The lover with disabilities who needs full-time care: “It takes a village, but right now I’m the village,” says the partner, Alexandra, who also uses a wheelchair. Domestic worker Barbara, born overseas, was nervous: “I’ve been a caregiver all my life, and now I’m turning 65. Who’s going to be there to take care of me?”</p> <p>Funny how storytelling works. Within minutes I’m thinking of the live-in assistants who helped my father, Michael Flanders, perform on Broadway. A star, but also a polio survivor, Dad rolled onto the stage in his wheelchair every evening thanks in part to the help of an assistant in the morning. My grandmother Hope was said to be “independent” because she lived past 100 in her own apartment teaching writing to the end, but her students’ classes and her sense of self got a whole lot of help from Geen Crooks, her live-in aide.</p> <p>Ask anyone. We all have our “care stories.” What we don’t tend to have is a plan for what we’ll do when someone we love needs care, or when we ourselves turn out not to be invincible. We don’t have a plan, and neither does our government, and yet a crisis looms. The immigrant population grows as the baby boomers age. As of 2010, every eight seconds another American turned 65. The “age wave” is upon us—except it’s not a wave; it’s a tsunami. Just as more families are economically stretched, the number of Americans in long-term care is projected to mushroom, from 13 million in 2000 to 27 million in 2050. More of us want to stay in our homes, where care also happens to be cheaper. (The National Association for Home Care &amp; Hospice reports that one day in a nursing home is four times as expensive as twelve hours of homecare.) But the current homecare workforce—at approximately 2 million workers—is nowhere near large enough to meet the need.</p> <p>High-quality long-term caregivers are already in short supply, and it’s no big mystery why. Homecare is a female-dominated world, open to young and first-time workers and immigrants. It’s also unprotected, uncovered by basic wage and overtime laws that apply in nursing homes. At the time the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was passed in 1938, caregivers were thought of as relatives or friends—or as a way to get the unemployed off welfare. Which leads us to now: in 2010 the national median wage for homecare workers stood at $9.40 per hour. According to a 2011 survey by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), the mean annual income for these workers in 2009 was $15,611. More than half of all personal care aides live in households that depend on one or more public benefits. Although homecare has become an
$84 billion, largely for-profit industry, the typical care provider can still be hired and fired at will.</p> <p>You might say: Organize! And that is what Caring Across Generations is doing. “Frankly,” says Ai-jen Poo, who started working on this issue at the height of the economic crash, “we thought, There’s a jobs crisis, there’s a care crisis. We should create millions of quality jobs in homecare. Caregivers will benefit. Care receivers will benefit. Everyone is touched by it. Let’s do it!”</p> <p>There’s just one problem. Although a few states have extended some wage and hours protections to homecare workers, these workers enjoy no federal right to form a union or bargain collectively. There’s not even a real collective; the workforce is isolated in homes—a private worksite where, as Friedrich Engels put it, women are either openly or covertly “enslaved” in the name of “caring.” Poo and her comrades are undaunted: indeed, they are taking aim at the very isolation that makes their tasks as organizers of this fragmented workforce so difficult—seeking above all else to build the connections that may make a breakthrough possible.</p> <p>* * *</p> <p>Last July, with Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs With Justice, Poo co-hosted a national town hall meeting at the Washington Hilton to launch the Caring Across Generations campaign. Spilling off the stage was a cavalcade of workers, seniors and people with disabilities—mostly women—representing virtually every constituency touched by the care crisis.</p> <p>Exuding more can-do spirit than the capital was accustomed to, the campaign’s collaborators spanned the community/labor spectrum, from AFSCME and the SEIU to 9 to 5, the Alliance of Retired Americans, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the YWCA. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, the daughter of a domestic worker, addressed the 700-strong crowd: “America must be a nation where dignity and respect are afforded equally and rightfully to caregivers and to loved ones alike.”</p> <p>The White House’s Valerie Jarrett made an appearance. Liz Shuler, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, spoke too, but the stars of the day were caregivers and -receivers, people like the Direct Care Alliance’s Tracy Dudzinski, who has been working in this field for fifteen years in Wisconsin. “The public thinks we are companions or bedpan changers. We are the eyes, ears and backbone of the care system,” declared Dudzinski to cheers.</p> <p>Rabbi Felicia Sol, of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, described the funerals she attends where the deceased’s doctors rarely appear, “but almost always there’s an immigrant woman of color who has provided dignity and care.”</p> <p>Jessica Lehman, of Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Association, spoke about her ability to work full time despite her physical handicaps, because of her home health aide. “Without attendants, I would have no control over my life. I couldn’t work. I wouldn’t be paying taxes. I’d be living in an institution,” said Lehman. Her group, mostly employers, goes to rallies, signs petitions and gives testimony in defense of caregivers because, as she says, “My quality of life depends on their quality of life.”</p> <p>After lunch, what seemed like the entire Caring Across Generations conference headed to Capitol Hill to lobby against cuts to Medicaid and Medicare—with the artwork of the children who’d spent the morning in conference-provided childcare.</p> <p>Caring Across Generations, like the National Domestic Workers Alliance, aims to build relationships between those doing the work and those they’re working for. (That’s why it is rigorous about workers’ leadership, multi-language translation and creating activities where participants can bring their kids.) Its agenda is “interdependent” too. At last count, more than 200 groups were signed on as campaign partners—and member groups can’t sign up for just their “piece” of the plan. The federal policy solution CAG proposes would create 2 million new jobs in homecare, with new safety, hours and wage protections, as well as organizing rights for workers. Those jobs would come with training and certification to improve the quality of care and create a path to citizenship for those who participate in the training programs. Poo argues that because homecare is cheaper than care in institutions, the extra costs should be manageable. “Besides, it’s not manageable or acceptable to be balancing our books on the backs of our caregivers or shortchanging people in need.” She also argues for cuts to the defense budget, imposing financial transaction taxes and increasing corporate taxation to open up new revenue streams. CAG is fighting to expand Medicaid and Medicare, and to protect Social Security and healthcare spending too.</p> <p>Over and over again, Poo returns to basics: the basics of the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the movement for women’s rights, LGBT rights and abolition: “It’s about respect and dignity, not for one group or another but for all of us as human,” she says. Reconnect the issues, and you reconnect the movements in a way that has the potential to build real power, she believes.</p> <p>Already there’s a feather in the campaign’s cap. Many members have been working for years to change those federal labor laws. In meetings with Solis, backed by a letter-writing campaign, CAG amped up the pressure. In December members of the group, plus Dudzinski, joined President Obama when he announced a rule change to extend overtime and minimum wage protections to tens of thousands more home health aides. Despite industry complaints that paying minimum wages will drive up the cost of care, CAG and its allies flooded the Labor Department website with positive comments. Since the public comment period closed on March 12, the group has been waiting with bated breath. The department has sixty days to review, after which the Office of Management and Budget has ninety days, and then the rules should go into effect—ideally in good time to be safe from a rollback in the advent of a new administration.</p> <p>“It’s a visionary agenda when we’ve been playing so much defense,” says Deepak Bhargava of the Center for Community Change. “It’s also a fascinating theory of the case: can you bring together constituencies that have never worked so closely before—and have all those groups hold up the whole of the vision of the organization?”</p> <p>“They’re taking very diverse populations who are intentionally pitted against each other and saying, We start from the principle that we rise together,” says Ellen Bravo, of Family Values @ Work, a multistate coalition working for family leave insurance and sick days. Bravo, who, like Bhargava, has already done enough organizing to last a lifetime, has signed up for the CAG Leadership Team.</p> <p>Since summer, local Care Councils have formed across the country, bringing people on all sides of the care equation together to fight budget cuts and attacks on union rights, and for increased funding for homecare. The councils have planned public Care Congresses in key cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dayton, Seattle and San Antonio. New York’s is coming up in June.</p> <p>Asked why the SEIU, the service employees’ union, which represents more than 500,000 home health aides nationally, is working with CAG, even helping to underwrite CAG’s Care Congress in Seattle in February, Abigail Solomon, director of the SEIU Home Care Council, explained, “We’ve worked on efforts around immigration, healthcare and homecare before, but separately…this coalition is attempting to bridge a lot of those pieces and look at the whole in an integrated way. Also, the coalition has reach in states—like Texas—where we know homecare workers need a voice on the job. It’s strengthening organizing locally and nationally at the same time.”</p> <p>Suffice it to say, traditional labor gets it. If it is to scratch back from the brink of irrelevance in a postindustrial economy, it must organize these workers. Homecare, after retail and nursing, is the third-fastest-growing workforce in the United States. But organizing has been slow and sometimes cutthroat, not breaking the unions’ isolation but reinforcing it.</p> <p>“It’s a Wild West of rules out there for homecare workers,” reports Jennifer Klein, who with Eileen Boris has written a book on organizing homecare. Caught in a jumble of welfare, healthcare and social work bureaucracies, the workers are variously defined as public workers (employed by the state and paid through Medicaid) or independent contractors (working for private agencies) or they may be hired directly by the client. There are no clear boundaries, no rules, no list of names, no standard schedule, no “labor hall.” The mess lends itself to interunion conflict. After 74,000 mostly Latina homecare workers in Los Angeles voted to join the SEIU in 1999, the labor movement celebrated—and then fell into a bitter turf war between the SEIU and the state, city and municipal employees’ union, AFSCME, over how California’s remaining homecare workers should be contracted and represented.</p> <p>* * *</p> <p>The women leading Caring Across Generations have built exactly the relationships traditional labor unions will need if they are to gain the trust and the tools they’ll need to work in this community.</p> <p>Sarita Gupta comes to this work from many years of overseeing national field operations for Jobs With Justice, where she built connections among independent workers’ groups and traditional labor unions to defend collective bargaining, immigrant workers and accessible healthcare.</p> <p>Poo rose to organizing stardom when the Domestic Workers United mobilized so many nannies and their allies in Albany in 2010 that New York legislators were ashamed not to pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, the first in the nation to recognize these workers’ rights to overtime pay, three days’ paid leave, and legal protections from harassment and discrimination. A similar bill is in the works in California, and with the help of the AFL-CIO, domestic workers persuaded the UN’s International Labour Organization to sign an international version.</p> <p>“From that experience I learned that there is no such thing as an unlikely ally,” says Poo.</p> <p>* * *</p> <p>Like Gupta, Poo has spent her whole career in inter-sectional politics, which is to say, where the “nontraditional” workers are, and where the rest of the workforce is headed. In contrast with traditional unions and movement leaders who have prioritized short-term legislative, ballot-measure or electoral campaigns, intersectional organizers emphasize building power over the long term and strategies funders haven’t always believed can produce demonstrable here-and-now “victories.” Gupta served on the National Planning Committee of the US Social Forum, the equivalent of the AFL-CIO convention for independent community organizers. The National Domestic Workers Alliance emerged from the first US Social Forum, in 2007 in Atlanta. In Detroit in 2010, the Forum convened a landmark three-day meeting of 400 “excluded workers” (those denied FLSA protections); among them were day laborers, domestic workers, taxi workers, formerly incarcerated workers and workers in what they called the “right to work-for-less states.”</p> <p>Saket Soni, executive director of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, emerged from the Detroit meetings beaming. In an interview for GRITtv at the time, he called the discussions “historic,” adding that “we realized our own capacity.” It seemed as if workers who’d been on the margins of the old economy realized that they, in effect, had become the first responders in the new economy. Divided from their fellow workers with no “shop floor,” erratic schedules and no obvious way to assert collective power, they had nonetheless pioneered creative coalitions to have impact. They were old-timers in the new postindustrial, post-union world in which white public sector workers found themselves in Wisconsin and Ohio six months later.</p> <p>CAG is a test of the Social Forum theory that you put at the center the people most affected by a given situation and they will know best how to operate within it. Asked how she imagines achieving any, let alone all, of the group’s grand goals, Poo says in her disarmingly strong, quiet voice that she believes in the irrepressible power of love. She saw love in action when East Side doormen got on buses to support the domestic workers in their buildings, and when workers’ kids and employers’ kids rallied side by side carrying signs that said, Respect My Mommy and Respect My Nanny.</p> <p>For better or worse, caregivers are family members, and love is part of the conversation. That makes it very different from your average fight between worker and boss. Care stories also reveal our vulnerability, exploding in a useful way the man-
as-an-island myth that runs so deep in American iconography. As Marxist feminists have argued till they’re hoarse, behind every rugged individual hero tends to be an unpaid wife or enslaved person. Yet individual rights—like the right to vote—have always been easier to win in the United States than collective rights, like the right to organize; and globalization, mechanization and a three-decade corporate assault on unions have only exacerbated that problem. More Americans than ever are finding themselves on their own in the workplace—and barred from access to a union.</p> <p>CAG Steering Committee member Heidi Hartmann, of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, notes, “Women are always the pioneers, going into new things that no one wants to do. Those are the jobs they can get. That’s also where the economy is going.” But there’s no reason service jobs, like caring, can’t become good jobs, believes Hartmann. The first assembly-line jobs were women’s jobs because men didn’t want them. Excess farm labor went to textile factories, and over time organizing made these good jobs. At the end of the day, making today’s bad jobs “good” will take two things: a cultural shift and a whole lot of pressure.</p> <p>In a visit to a Connecticut home in February, I meet Erika (not her real name), a 56-year-old woman suffering from arthritis, muscle loss and bone pain. Erika is a large woman in a small apartment, and there’s not a cry she makes that isn’t heard by Mel (not her real name, either), her live-in caregiver from Liberia. “I can’t hear her cry and not come—that’s not my nature,” Mel tells me. Cooped up and frustrated, Erika is not the silent suffering kind, to be honest. It all adds up to a 24/7 job for Mel, although she is paid for only twenty-one hours per week. Erika, who is on public assistance, says she “loves” her “angel” Mel but can’t afford a full-time employee. Ostensibly, Mel could take on other clients, but on $12.30 per hour for twenty-one hours, plus the food and home expenses she must pay for, she can’t afford to travel to other clients. (There’s no travel allowance for homecare workers.) Besides, she has no idea how she’d find more clients. Now she’s facing days without pay altogether when Erika goes into the hospital for surgery. (Erika’s benefits won’t cover homecare if the client’s not at home, even if the worker is still working.)</p> <p>Mel and Erika went together to the State Capitol to lobby for collective bargaining rights. This past March, Connecticut homecare aides who are paid through government programs such as Medicaid voted 1,228 to 365 to join a division of District 1199, SEIU and form Connecticut Home Care United, the first-ever union for the state’s in-home care providers. Governor Dannel Malloy paved the way for the vote when he signed an executive order last year, but the legislature has yet to approve a bill that would grant a right to collective bargaining.</p> <p>When I ask her about her prospects, Mel, exhausted and exasperated, weeps. “I support the union,” she says, “but I don’t really see how it can help me. I’m trapped.”</p> <p>* * *</p> <p>As Engels and the feminists knew, the “private” sphere is a tough place to regulate. The Marxist plan was to de-privatize and collectivize care. That’s rarely mentioned these days, but Karen Higgins, co-president of National Nurses United, does worry about simply going along with the trend toward homecare. “Obviously, we want people to have choices, but it can’t be driven by budgets,” she says. “As nurses, we’re still seeing the blowback from the deinstitutionalization of mental care.”</p> <p>The SEIU’s Solomon says the shift toward homecare must come with extra regulation and oversight. In terms of what the union can offer Mel, in several states where they represent caregivers, unions have created a registry of potential clients for their members—but people like Mel (and Erika) need more. They need everything from free, high-quality healthcare to affordable healthy housing to reliable public transportation—and how about cheap, durable smartphones to connect workers to lawyers and one another?</p> <p>As union rights are won, will workers like Mel be more than dues-paying members with PR-friendly faces for their union? Mel has a voice and a story to tell, but she needs the power to change the conditions she’s living in.</p> <p>It comes back to power. In an era of state-level budget cuts, rights rollbacks and belligerence in Washington, will the campaign be able not just to win symbolic and incremental victories, like the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and Obama’s proposed extension of FLSA protections, but to build enough power to force broader change? Clinton introduced the same FLSA rule change right before leaving office, but in 2000 homecare agencies and clients pressured the Bush administration to reverse it.</p> <p>What next? “There are definitely life cycles in unions and movements,” says Poo, “and this is very much in its infancy. But I believe the possibilities are unlimited because we really do represent the ninety-nine percent, perhaps even the 
100 percent.”</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Former Air America Radio host, Laura Flanders is the host and founder of GRITtv with Laura Flanders, a daily talk show for people who want to do more than talk. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species (Verso, 2004) and Blue GRIT: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians (Penguin Press, 2007). A regular contributor on MSNBC, Flanders has appeared on shows from Real Time with Bill Maher to The O’Reilly Factor. Flanders is the editor of At the Tea Party: The Wing Nuts, Whack Jobs and Whitey-whiteness of the New Republican Right… and Why we Should Take it Seriously (October 2010, OR books). For more information, go to LauraFlanders.com or GRITtv.org. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2012 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '670356'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=670356" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 16 Apr 2012 03:00:01 -0700 Laura Flanders, The Nation 670356 at http://www.personals.alternet.org News & Politics Labor labor economy workers working jobs domestic generations alliance ai-jen poo caring across cag Comcast Cable Tosses Crumbs to (Celebrity) Minority Owners http://www.personals.alternet.org/story/154303/comcast_cable_tosses_crumbs_to_%28celebrity%29_minority_owners <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '669745'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=669745" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Media consolidation narrows the range of channels and views; a few high-profile cable entrepreneurs like Magic Johnson and Sean &quot;Puffy&quot; Combs won&#039;t change that.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1330271087_screenshot20120226at10.44.15am.png" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> <em>The following article first appeared on the Web site of the </em><a href="http://www.thenation.com/"><em>Nation</em></a><em>. For more great content from the Nation, sign up for its </em><em><a href="http://www.thenation.com/nation-email-subscription-center">email newsletters.</a></em></p> <p> The new “minority” channels from Comcast are well and good, but where are the women’s channels? This week’s news from Comcast reveals the saggy soft underbelly of our movements, the sad state of civil rights law and the weakness of our women’s organizations. Score one for Sean Combs but not much for the public interest.</p> <p>The announcement came on Tuesday. Cable giant Comcast is to launch four new minority-owned channels; one channel each for rapper Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, retired NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson and <i>Spy Kids </i>director Robert Rodriguez. A fourth channel will go to toddlers. (<i>BabyFirst Americas,</i> owned and operated by Hispanic-Americans, will include brightly colored content for children under age 3.)</p> <p>The new channels are the direct result of a private deal cut with civil rights organizations in exchange for those groups’ support of Comcast’s takeover of majority control over NBC Universal from General Electric last year.</p> <p>The latest and most insidious of a string of same-sort media marriages, the Comcast/NBC merger had activists particularly riled up because it married a content producer (NBC) with a content distributor (Comcast), threatening not just the public interest but other media businesses’ ability to compete. The <em>New York Observer</em> estimated that the new media dynasty would control almost a quarter of all cable subscribers in the country and 12 percent of all television content.</p> <p>More chilling for people concerned about the public interest is the track record after decades of media mergers like this. As far as diversity is concerned, media consolidation breeds contempt. Corie Wright, a lawyer with Free Press, put it to me this way: “Media consolidation is the number-one obstacle to women and minority ownership, as well as diverse viewpoints in the media.”</p> <p>Its no accident Wright links gender and race. When they were handing out the first broadcast licenses, in the 1930s for example, neither women nor minorities were in that receiving line. As with many federal agencies, the Federal Communications Commission has been charged with righting that imbalance. Deep in the bowels of its bureaucracy is a commitment to ensuring diversity, including minority and female ownership of broadcast stations. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 mandated the Commission distribute “licenses among a wide variety of applicants, including small businesses, rural telephone companies, and businesses owned by members of minority groups and women.”</p> <p>It hasn’t happened. To the contrary, as the FCC has relaxed its ownership regulations, ownership by women and people of color has shrunk. In February 2010, Congressman <a href="http://hinchey.house.gov/">Maurice Hinchey</a> testified against the Comcast merger, arguing that media consolidation over the past twenty years had diminished independent and diverse ownership:</p> <p class="rteindent1">“Today, five companies own the broadcast networks, 90 percent of the top 50 cable networks, produce three-quarters of all prime time programming, and control 70 percent of the prime time television market share. These same companies own the nation’s most popular newspapers and networks also own over 85 percent of the top 20 Internet news sites. There has also been a severe decline in the number of minority-owned broadcast stations. In 2007, minorities owned just 3.2 percent of the U.S. television stations and 7 percent of the nation’s full power radio stations, despite making up more than 34 percent of the population.”</p> <p>According to a 2007 <a href="http://www.freepress.net/files/otp2007.pdf">Free Press Study</a>, women, who comprise <i>51 percent </i>of the US population, own a total of only sixty-seven stations, or 4.97 percent.</p> <p>So why did civil rights groups support a big bad leap in the wrong direction? As I mentioned, they cut a deal. Or rather, some of them did. Reported saltily by Eric Deggens at the <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/media/content/civil-rights-groups-back-comcast-takeover-nbc-universal-after-diversity-programs-boosted"><em>Tampa Bay Times</em></a>, the NAACP, the National Urban League and<b></b>Al Sharpton’s National Action Network supported the Comcast/NBC Universal merger in return for corporate “diversity-boosting” measures, among them, eight new independently owned and operated networks offering substantial participation by minorities, a $20 million venture capital fund for minority entrepreneurs in digital media, the creation of Diversity Advisory Councils and the increase of minority participation in news and public affairs programming.</p> <p>Just in case you were wondering, Al Sharpton’s gig on MSNBC as host of his own nightly show has absolutely nothing to do with this. Nothing. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/28/business/media/for-al-sharpton-questions-on-ties-to-comcast.html">Not a thing</a>. (Neither did the award the National Action Network gave to Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, shortly before he was hired.)</p> <p>Did women’s groups even try for such a deal? As far as I can uncover, they did not. Carol Jenkins,  former director of the Women’s Media Center, doubts there was any comparable negotiation between Comcast and the heads of women’s groups. The current director of the Center, Julie Burton, knows of none. Gloria Steinem doesn’t know about it. Sadly it’s simply the case that, Planned Parenthood aside, there’s no women’s organization with the heft of the NAACP, and none that makes media power through ownership its issue. (There are plenty that deal with sexism, bigotry and lack of representation—but without power, you’re left with pleading.)</p> <p>That’s why we need government. Oh I forgot. Affirmative Action is unconstitutional. (Even if the Fourteenth Amendment does mention a little something about “equal protection.”) If it wasn’t on the rocks already, the Supreme Court may be about to drive <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/22/us/justices-to-hear-case-on-affirmative-action-in-higher-education.html">a stake</a> through it.</p> <p>What we’re left with is a win courtesy of corporate concession. To their credit, winning concessions from those in power is part of what civil rights groups are supposed to do. In a time of tight credit, there will be new venture capital money for minority media entrepreneurs and for a while there will be jobs at those new channels, including jobs for “minorities.” That’s all good. On the other hand, Coombs is already a music mogul; Johnson already owns a radio network. As Deggens wrote <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/media/content/now-p-diddy-magic-johnson-and-robert-rodriguez-have-cable-channels-can-comcast-help-non-cele">this week</a>, Will channels for non-celebrities come next? There’s no guarantee of that. Worse, with this one corporate crumb, Comcast bought off a whole lot of public pressure that could have burnt beneath the FCC until they did what they’re supposed to which is regulate—not in Puffy’s but in <i>the public interest</i>.</p> <p>It’s a huge blow to women’s rights and the broad tent of civil rights that—if the coverage of this deal is any indication—“diversity” as a concept has been shrunken to refer only to race. Carol Jenkins, who broke into TV thanks to movement pressure and lawsuits brought by the government against the networks, says, “It’s as true as it ever was, people have to be reminded that women are underrepresented and underserved.”</p> <p>The majority of the population with nothing like a majority of media power, women do have a special page on the Comcast site—and to show how much they care, it’s<a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=2&amp;ved=0CE0QFjAB&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.comcast.com%2FMediaLibrary%2F1%2F1%2FAbout%2FDiversity%2Fdocuments%2F2009%2F2011_Diversity_Inserts_English_Women_final.pdf&amp;ei=9clGT46nA4bK0AH4qeSeDg&amp;usg=AFQjCNHJ4PbRwmB-NhVZc6VB3cjvL0NXuw&amp;sig2=EKLb_31aooOmGOed9H4yAA">pink.</a> And it’s not impossible for women to find well paying jobs in the company. Take former FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker. Just four months after she voted, along with three of the agency’s other FCC commissioners, to approve Comcast’s acquisition of NBC, <a href="https://mail.google.com/mail/goog_649431529">Com</a><a href="http://reason.com/blog/2011/05/11/revolving-door-alert-fcc-commi">cast hired</a> her. That puts a whole new spin on affirmative action. And a channel that glues toddlers to TV sets? Women—and child minders everywhere—have got to be happy about that, right?</p> <p>Right?</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Former Air America Radio host, Laura Flanders is the host and founder of GRITtv with Laura Flanders, a daily talk show for people who want to do more than talk. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species (Verso, 2004) and Blue GRIT: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians (Penguin Press, 2007). A regular contributor on MSNBC, Flanders has appeared on shows from Real Time with Bill Maher to The O’Reilly Factor. Flanders is the editor of At the Tea Party: The Wing Nuts, Whack Jobs and Whitey-whiteness of the New Republican Right… and Why we Should Take it Seriously (October 2010, OR books). For more information, go to LauraFlanders.com or GRITtv.org. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2012 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '669745'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=669745" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 26 Feb 2012 04:00:01 -0800 Laura Flanders, The Nation 669745 at http://www.personals.alternet.org News & Politics Media Culture media tv television cable consolidation ownership Obama Brags on Saving Detroit--But Auto Industry Bailout Came on the Backs of Working People http://www.personals.alternet.org/story/154017/obama_brags_on_saving_detroit--but_auto_industry_bailout_came_on_the_backs_of_working_people <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '669493'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=669493" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">To make the deal that saved the auto industry, Treasury demanded concessions from workers and a ban on strikes. Now Obama&#039;s bragging that he saved workers.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1328468161_flintsitdownstrikewindow.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> <em>The following article first appeared on the Web site of the </em><a href="http://www.thenation.com/"><em>Nation</em></a><em>. For more great content from the Nation, sign up for its </em><em><a href="http://www.thenation.com/nation-email-subscription-center">email newsletters.</a></em></p> <p>President Obama is, as <a href="http://www.mlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/01/auto_industry_recovery_a_badge.html">AP</a> puts it, “wearing his decision to rescue General Motors and Chrysler three years ago as a badge of honor” on his re-election campaign. It saved jobs and working communities, brought the US auto industry back from the brink. In January, US auto sales were up 11 percent over a year ago, and a proud president was cooing to the college students of Ann Arbor, Michigan:</p> <p>“The American auto industry was on the verge of collapse and some politicians were willing to let it just die. We said no.… We believe in the workers of this state.”</p> <p>You’re going to be hearing a lot about the deal that saved Detroit in the next few months, not least because likely opponent Mitt Romney was against it. Then Governor Romney wrote in the fall of 2008 that if the big three auto companies received a bailout, “we can kiss the American auto industry goodbye.” Romney bad; Obama good; Big Three back. The Deal with Detroit is gold dust for Democrats. Reality is a bit more complicated.</p> <p>For one thing, it was Republican President Bush, not the Democrats’ Barack Obama, who originally decided not to stand by as the auto makers died. The deal saved an industry—US cars are still being made in the US—but it came at such a high price that in many ways it’s a whole new industry. The American auto industry that built middle-class lives as well as cars—that one we kissed good-bye, and it may be a while before we see it back again.</p> <p>To review: in the fall of 2008, President George W. Bush announced a $17 billion loan, split into $13.4 billion at once and another $4 billion in February. The billions for Detroit were tied tight with all the string that had not been attached to the trillions simply given away to Wall Street. The Treasury never forced the financial industry to hand over majority shareholder control in exchange for access to the Troubled Asset Relief Program. No CEO of AIG or Bank of America or Well Fargo had to shrink a wage or skimp on a pension. (Far from it, the Government Accountability Office found that the “standard agreement between Treasury and the participating institutions does not require that these institutions track or report how they plan to use, or do use, their capital investments.”)</p> <p>Big bucks for the Big Three, by contrast, came with all sorts of ties—mostly around the neck of the United Auto Workers and their members. When the deal was finally worked out, under Obama’s “Car Tsar” (a man with zero manufacturing experience but oodles of <a href="http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message806796/pg1">admiration</a> from NY developer Steve Rattner and Lawrence Summers), the worker’s concessions amounted to a slash in all-in labor costs from around $76 per worker-hour in 2006 to just over $50. Abandoning decades of principle, the UAW approved a two-tier wage structure in which new hires start at $14 per hour—roughly half the pay and benefits of more senior line workers. To top things off, Treasury demanded—<em>just one more teeny thing</em>—<a href="http://www.thestar.com/article/564371">a strike ban</a>. The <em>pièce de</em>no<em>résistance</em>! Under the government’s agreement with the companies, any strike by workers is grounds for forfeiting the loan.</p> <p>The timing couldn’t be more poignant. Seventy-five years ago, in the winter of 1936–37, it was a strike at General Motors that won the first victory for the 1-year-old UAW, and won for organized labor the respect that made it possible to negotiate for those middle-class automakers’ lives. Late on December 30, 1936, autoworkers in Flint occupied a General Motors plant, launching a strike that, within less than a month, involved 135,000 workers in thirty-five cities across the country. When the union called for support in early January, 150,000 people showed up at Detroit’s Cadillac Square in a show of solidarity.</p> <p><a href="http://www.mlive.com/auto/index.ssf/2012/01/75_years_ago_workers_took_cont.html#comments">The Sit-Down Strike</a>, as it came to be known, ended on February 11, 1937, with a defeat for GM, but for forty-four days the company used every tactic to end the occupation. (Take courage, Occupy Wall Street!) In the dead of winter, owners turned off the heat to the occupied plants. Knowing the strikers depended on “solidarity kitchens,” they cut off food delivery. When police moved in on one of the plants in Flint in January, workers pelted officers with engine parts and police fired back tear gas and bullets, sending twenty-eight injured workers to the hospital. Women formed an Emergency Women’s Brigade. The next time police threatened to storm the plant gates, they found their way blocked by women locking arms—the indomitable “Rolling Pin Army.”</p> <p>The battles of seventy-five years ago forced GM negotiators to recognize the union as the bargaining agent for the workers, and for a while at least, factory owners across the country negotiated in fear of a sit-down. Seventy-five years later Obama and the Democrats are cheerleading the deal that saved Detroit—and did away with the right to strike, at least temporarily. Now US auto sales are on the rise and with unemployment what it is, the companies say there’s a line around the block for those $14-per-hour entry-level jobs.</p> <p>“On the plus side we still have US-based auto production,” says Ed Ott, former chair of the New York Central Labor Council. What are union rights going to be like going forward? “The unions say we’ll build back up. Let’s hope they’re right.”</p> <p>A more likely scenario is $14-per-hour auto jobs are here to stay. If wages in the United States get low enough, they may even draw jobs back from where they’ve gone. As long as no one is looking to raise their taxes employers will see that offshore wages <em>right here</em> save them the trouble and cost of offshoring. What’s it mean for those workers’ families? Unless their low-wage lives are subsidized by more taxpayer dollars in the form of free or low-cost public services, they’re in for pretty lean years. UAW President Bob King (praised for his “flexibility”) is hopeful union strength will return. Heaven knows how.</p> <p>Lucky us. We missed it the first time. Now, it looks as if we get to experience the Gilded Age all over again—and in another half century or so, some fed up autoworker may decide to sit down and occupy a factory.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv, Mon-Thursday on Free Speech TV (Dish Network chn. 9315) and streaming at <a href="http://grittv.org">GRITtv.org</a>. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2012 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '669493'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=669493" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 05 Feb 2012 06:00:01 -0800 Laura Flanders, The Nation 669493 at http://www.personals.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics Labor Election 2016 Economy labor industry union workers michigan auto cars detroit The Drug War: Jim Crow in the Age of Obama http://www.personals.alternet.org/story/151852/the_drug_war%3A_jim_crow_in_the_age_of_obama <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '667196'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=667196" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The war on drugs is the engine of 21st century discrimination - an engine that has brought Jim Crow into the age of Barack Obama.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The NAACP has just passed a historic <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20084203-503544.html#">resolution</a>demanding an end to the War on Drugs. The resolution comes as young Black male unemployment hovers near 50 percent and the wealth gap's become a <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/07/26/eveningnews/main20083787.shtml?tag=contentMain;contentBody">veritable gulf</a>. So why is the forty-year-old "War on Drugs" public enemy number one for the nation's oldest civil rights organization? Well here's why: it's not extraneous - it's central: the war on drugs is the engine of 21st century discrimination - an engine that has brought Jim Crow into the age of Barack Obama.</p> <p> </p> <p>Author Michelle Alexander lays out the statistics -- and the stories -- of 21st Century Jim Crow in her ought-to-blow-your-socks off book: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1595581030/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_til?tag=lauraflanders-20&amp;camp=0&amp;creative=0&amp;linkCode=as1&amp;creativeASIN=1595581030&amp;adid=1K2JBN5MYM1R5S7WETCV">"The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness."</a>I had a chance to sit down with Alexander earlier this summer. We'll be posting the full interview in two parts.</p> <p><object classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" width="400" height="300" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,40,0"><param name="src" value="http://blip.tv/play/gdElgsuKVwI" /><param name="wmode" value="transparent" /><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400" height="300" src="http://blip.tv/play/gdElgsuKVwI" allowfullscreen="true" wmode="transparent"></embed></object> <a href="http://grittv.org">More GRITtv</a></p> <p> </p> <p>"We have managed decades after the civil rights movement to create something like a caste system in the United States," says Alexander in part one<a href="http://grittv.org/?p=16432">here</a> "In major urban areas, the majority of African American men are either behind bars, under correctional control or saddled with criminal record and once branded as criminal or a felon, they're trapped for life in 2nd class status."</p> <p> </p> <p>It's not just about people having a hard time getting ahead and climbing the ladder of success. It's about a rigged system. Sound familiar? Like the <a href="http://pewsocialtrends.org/2011/07/26/wealth-gaps-rise-to-record-highs-between-whites-blacks-hispanics/">Pew Research Center</a> report on household wealth and the Great Recession -- the NAACP resolution story was a one-day news-blip - despite the fact that it pierces the by-your-bootstraps myth that is at the heart of - you pick it - the deficit, the stimulus, the tax code - every contemporary US economic debate.</p> <p> </p> <p>White America just maybe ought to pay attention. With more and more Americans falling out of jobs and into debt, criminal records are a whole lot easier to come by than life-sustaining employment. Contrary to the conventional media version, the "Drug War" story is not a <em>people with problem</em>s story - it's a <em>policing and power</em> story that reminds us that racism's not a figment -- and it just might contain a hint or two, too, about what a high-unemployment America could come to look like -- for all of us.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv, Mon-Thursday on Free Speech TV (Dish Network chn. 9315) and streaming at <a href="http://grittv.org">GRITtv.org</a>. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2011 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '667196'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=667196" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 31 Jul 2011 08:00:01 -0700 Laura Flanders, Michelle Alexander, GRITtv 667196 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Drugs Economy Drugs drugs race drug war Woman Gang-Raped by 7 Halliburton Employees "Signed Away" Her Right to Sue? How Justice Has Become the Privilege of Corporations http://www.personals.alternet.org/story/151452/woman_gang-raped_by_7_halliburton_employees_%22signed_away%22_her_right_to_sue_how_justice_has_become_the_privilege_of_corporations <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '666807'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=666807" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Access to justice – like access to elected office, let alone a pundit&#039;s perch – is becoming a perk just for the rich and powerful.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> <meta charset="utf-8" />Worried about the influence of money in American politics, the huge cash payouts that the <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/us-supreme-court" style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px; border-collapse: collapse; color: rgb(0, 86, 137); text-decoration: none;" title="More from guardian.co.uk on US supreme court">US supreme court</a> waved through by its Citizens United decision – the decision that lifted most limits on election campaign spending? Corporations are having their way with American elections just as they've already had their way with our media. </p> <p>But at least we have the courts, right?</p> <p>Wrong. The third branch of government's in trouble, too. In fact, access to justice – like access to elected office, let alone a pundit's perch – is becoming a perk just for the rich and powerful.</p> <p>Take the young woman now testifying in court in Texas. <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/jamie-leigh-jones-claims-iraq-rape-employer-held/story?id=13884264" style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px; border-collapse: collapse; color: rgb(0, 86, 137); text-decoration: none;">Jamie Leigh Jones claims she was drugged and gang-raped</a> while working for military contractor KBR in Iraq (at the time, a division of Halliburton). Jones, now 26, was on her fourth day in post in Baghdad in 2005 when she says <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=4004174" style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px; border-collapse: collapse; color: rgb(0, 86, 137); text-decoration: none;">she was assaulted by seven contractors and held captive</a>, under armed guard by two KBR police, in a shipping container.</p> <p>When the criminal courts failed to act, her lawyers filed a civil suit, only to be met with Halliburton's response that all her claims were to be decided in arbitration – because she'd signed away her rights to bring the company to court when she signed her employment contract. As Leigh testified before Congress, in October 2009, "I had signed away my right to a jury trial at the age of 20 and without the advice of counsel." It was a matter of sign or resign. "I had no idea that the clause was part of the contract, what the clause actually meant," testified Jones.</p> <p>You've probably done the very same thing without even knowing it. When it comes to consumer claims, mandatory arbitration is the new normal. According to research by <a href="http://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=183" style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px; border-collapse: collapse; color: rgb(0, 86, 137); text-decoration: none;">Public Citizen</a> and others, corporations are inserting "forced arbitration" clauses into the fine print of contracts for work, for cell phone service, for credit cards, even nursing home contracts, requiring clients to give up their right to sue if they are harmed. Arbitration is a no-judge, no-jury, no-appeal world, where arbitrators are (often by contract) selected by the company and all decisions are private – and final. </p> <p>Deadly small print is not only for subprime mortgage-seekers – and neither are the costly repercussions. When corporations evade the bills for harm, no matter how huge (for medical malpractice, say, or pension fund collapse), the liability is passed on to individuals, and then to taxpayers. A new documentary, <a href="http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/hot-coffee/index.html" style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px; border-collapse: collapse; color: rgb(0, 86, 137); text-decoration: none;">Hot Coffee, premiering 27 June, on HBO</a>, lays out the whole picture – and it's devastating.</p> <p>First-time <a href="http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/hot-coffee/index.html#/documentaries/hot-coffee/interview/susan-saladoff.html" style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px; border-collapse: collapse; color: rgb(0, 86, 137); text-decoration: none;">filmmaker Susan Saladoff</a> starts where for many Americans, the term <a href="http://www.whatistortreform.com/" style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px; border-collapse: collapse; color: rgb(0, 86, 137); text-decoration: none;">"tort reform"</a> first appeared. Stella Liebeck, an 81-year-old woman, sued <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/mcdonalds" style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px; border-collapse: collapse; color: rgb(0, 86, 137); text-decoration: none;" title="More from guardian.co.uk on McDonald's">McDonald's</a> over coffee that was "too hot" – and became the "welfare queen" of tort reform. Pilloried in corporate-funded PR and in the media after a jury imposed an initial $2.7m in punitive damages, lobbyists used Liebeck's case to deride "frivolous" lawsuits and bludgeon congressional and state legislators into passing laws that set maximum "caps" on damages. (Politicians all the way up to President George W Bush needed no bludgeoning: "frivolous suits" became a campaign trail hit.)</p> <p>But look at the pictures Saladoff shows in Hot Coffee and you'll see Liebeck's legs seared by savage, third-degree burns, which covered over 16% of her body. As any reporter could have discovered at the time, McDonalds' protocols kept its coffee at 82-87ºC (180-190ºF). <a href="http://www.justinian.us/2004/03/what-is-tort-reform-and-why-is-it-bad-for-the-public.html" style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px; border-collapse: collapse; color: rgb(0, 86, 137); text-decoration: none;">Over 700 people had been burned by it</a>. Ten years of suits and claims had forced no change. Liebeck's suit was anything but "frivolous".</p> <p>Likewise, Jones's suit. Or the big-business funded effort to unseat justices opposed to "tort reform" – also profiled in Hot Coffee. It's taken Jones nearly six years and a hearing in the US Senate to force her employer, Halliburton into open court, at last, in Houston this week. Jones tells Saladoff she's driven by concern for other young women in her position – in no position, that is, thanks to mandatory arbitration, to know the truth about past claims and what they may be getting into when they sign an employment contract.</p> <p>Saladoff, a plaintiff's attorney for 25 years, is driven, too – by a belief in the seventh amendment right to a jury trial. "Tort" is a complicated word for a simple thing – "harm," she explains. The courts are supposed to be the branch of government where citizens and corporations have an equal shot. The <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jun/21/walmart-women-class-action" style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px; border-collapse: collapse; color: rgb(0, 86, 137); text-decoration: none;">US supreme court in Dukes v Walmart recently rejected 1.6 million workers' attempt</a> to bring a class action case – making it a whole lot harder for Americans to band together to hold corporations accountable. Go it alone and the deck is stacked, thanks to decades of effort by corporations and the politicians they pay for.</p> <p>They don't pay fair wages; they don't pay their fare share of taxes. They evade liability. What gives? Says Saladoff: "When corporations harm, there should be some way to hold them accountable."</p> <p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv, Mon-Thursday on Free Speech TV (Dish Network chn. 9315) and streaming at <a href="http://grittv.org">GRITtv.org</a>. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2011 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '666807'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=666807" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 13:00:01 -0700 Laura Flanders, The Guardian 666807 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Gender Gender Economy rape halliburton lawsuit hot coffee Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Tony Kushner Denied Honorary Degree for Supporting Palestine http://www.personals.alternet.org/story/150859/pulitzer_prize-winning_playwright_tony_kushner_denied_honorary_degree_for_supporting_palestine <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '666248'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=666248" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">At a time when dancing in the streets is accepted as a proper response to the killing of Osama bin Laden, it&#039;s ironic to see that support for human rights is still controversial.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>This week, the news hit that Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, perhaps best known for his <em>Angels in America</em>, was being blocked from receiving an honorary degree from the City University of New York because of his views on Israel.</p> <p>Kushner, who also has an honorary degree from Brandeis University, told <a href="http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/05/04/tony_kushner_cuny_israel/index.html">Salon</a>'s Justin Elliott that this was an “unprecedented and pretty ugly experience.”</p> <p>Sadly, though, it's not that rare for academia to balk at support for Palestinians. Elliott notes that just this January, a Brooklyn College adjunct professor was fired—and later reinstated—after students and an assemblyman complained about his views.  Last summer, GRITtv guest and fellow Brooklyn College professor Moustafa Bayoumi was the center of a controversy around his book, <em>How Does it Feel to Be A Problem? Being<br /> Young and Arab in America</em>. And back in 2009, Joel Kovel visited us at GRITtv to discuss his termination from Bard College, which he believed was over his pro-Palestinian views.</p> <p>It's notable that the same cast of characters turns up again and again in these stories. Bruce Kesler, a Brooklyn College alum, caused a stir in both Brooklyn College cases, and Jeffrey Wiesenfeld is the CUNY board member who blocked Kushner's honor.</p> <p>Wiesenfeld is, Elliott notes, a trustee at the pro-Israel think tank the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and an organizer of the Salute to Israel Day Parade Committee. His views are clearly not considered controversial or problematic.</p> <p>Instead, even a famed Jewish playwright like Kushner, who reiterated in his letter to the CUNY trustees that he supports the continued existence of Israel even as he opposes the state's policies, is accused of being an extremist.</p> <p>At a time when dancing in the streets is accepted as a proper response to the killing of Osama bin Laden, it's ironic to see that support for human rights - in this case in Palestine - is still controversial.</p> <embed width="400" height="300" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" wmode="transparent" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://blip.tv/play/gdElgrj5OwI" class="embed"></embed><p><br /><a href="http://grittv.org">More GRITtv<br /></a></p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv, Mon-Thursday on Free Speech TV (Dish Network chn. 9315) and streaming at <a href="http://grittv.org">GRITtv.org</a>. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2011 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '666248'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=666248" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 05 May 2011 13:00:01 -0700 Laura Flanders, GRITtv 666248 at http://www.personals.alternet.org World Culture Civil Liberties World israel palestine tony kushner We Have Our Own Spoiled "Royals": Corporations http://www.personals.alternet.org/story/150779/we_have_our_own_spoiled_%22royals%22%3A_corporations <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '666131'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=666131" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Some people have argued that Americans love British royals because we don&#039;t have their own real thing. Except we do: corporations are our ruling class.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>According to polls, only about 6 percent of Americans are following with any close attention the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. But that’s not stopping the media fascination on both sides of the Atlantic with American’s supposed fascination with Britain’s royals.</p> <p>“Royal wedding reminds us why we tossed Brits,” ran <a href="http://blog.syracuse.com/opinion/2011/04/fridays_letters_earth_day_roya.html">one letter</a> to a local paper recently. That exorbitant $80 million spent on a medieval style ritual in time of twenty-first-century austerity. It’s shameful. It’s Old World. It’s just what Americans fought a revolutionary war to throw off.</p> <p>And then there are the folks like Rupert Cornwall at the UK <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/rupert-cornwell/the-regal-republic-why-are-americans-obsessed-with-the-royal-family-2274357.html"><i>Independent</i></a> who argue that people in the US love British royals precisely because they don’t have their own real thing. Gary Younge at <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/160087/royal-wedding-class-act"><i>The Nation</i></a> noted that even his liberal friends wanted to know what he, a British citizen, thought of the prince marrying a “commoner.” Please.</p> <p>The only serious and in fact actually quite insidious part about this is that it reinscribes the notion that the US has no class.</p> <p>Really? When the top one percent of wealthiest Americans own 34 percent of the country’s wealth and enjoyed 80 percent of the total increase in wealth here between 1980 and 2005? No class?</p> <p>As for ruling class? In the UK the commoners keep state royals on welfare. Here we do the same with our corporations. Billions in tax dollars keep them afloat and keep CEOs in mansions. Why not just give them palaces? At least we could keep them open for tours.</p> <p>Since the Supreme Court has given corporations free speech rights and personhood—how about marriage equality next?</p> <p>Then, we could string up Bunting flags for the next monopolisitic coupling… At the Comcast and NBC nuptials we’d all throw money while they stroll down the aisle. And—with a nod to Jim Hightower—instead of aristocrats in coats of arms, the paid-off politicians would wear their logos on their lapels. At least then we’d know who owns whom.</p> <p>The trinkets from a corporate marrriage might be dreary. And the offspring, who can say? But at least we’d get a day off and one hell of a party. Plus we’d move out of denial. The more I think about it the more I like it. Monarchies or Megacorps? Why not declare them royal?</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv, Mon-Thursday on Free Speech TV (Dish Network chn. 9315) and streaming at <a href="http://grittv.org">GRITtv.org</a>. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2011 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '666131'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=666131" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 28 Apr 2011 11:00:01 -0700 Laura Flanders, AlterNet 666131 at http://www.personals.alternet.org Economy Economy Culture royal wedding prince william $1.2 Trillion Spent on the Military While the Rest of Us Fight Over Crumbs http://www.personals.alternet.org/story/150142/%241.2_trillion_spent_on_the_military_while_the_rest_of_us_fight_over_crumbs <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '665503'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=665503" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">So after all that cash is gone, what are we left with? Not a whole heck of a lot for the rest of us.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>There’s been a joke going around the labor protests.   It goes something like this:</p> <p>A union member, a CEO and a Tea Party member are sitting at a table with 12 cookies. The CEO grabs 11, turns to the Tea Partier and says “The Union’s out to take your cookie!”</p> <p>I’ve been thinking that the joke applies pretty well to another situation. For instance, the military. Our military spending grabs 11 cookies and leaves us all battling over the 12th.</p> <p> </p> <p><embed width="480" height="345" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://blip.tv/play/gdElgqi_OgI"></embed></p> <p>Christopher Hellman at TomDispatch added up all the military-related spending in the budget and came to a startling number: for fiscal year 2012, the actual military budget is something like $1.2 trillion dollars.</p> <p>Trillion with a T.</p> <p>Just to put that in perspective for a second, a million seconds is 12 days.  A trillion seconds is 31,688 years.</p> <p>So after all that cash is gone, what are we left with? Not a whole heck of a lot for the rest of us. “Discretionary” spending is nearly 40% of the budget, but if Hellman’s numbers are accurate, that $1.2 trillion eats up nearly 90% of discretionary funds, leaving just 10% for the rest of us. (That doesn’t include mandatory spending on things like Social Security and Medicare, which are separate.)</p> <p>To be fair, Tea Partiers have called for military spending cuts, too. Rand Paul, hardly a progressive, pointed out that you could cut all of the non-military discretionary spending and not balance the budget—and Politifact rated it True.</p> <p>The point behind the joke still holds, though. Instead of fighting over the last crumbs, maybe it’s time to team up and grab some of the cookies back from the people who’ve been hanging on to far more than their share.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv, Mon-Thursday on Free Speech TV (Dish Network chn. 9315) and streaming at <a href="http://grittv.org">GRITtv.org</a>. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2011 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '665503'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=665503" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 06 Mar 2011 08:00:01 -0800 Laura Flanders, AlterNet 665503 at http://www.personals.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics weapons military budget trillion Jeremy Scahill: The U.S. Is Losing in Afghanistan http://www.personals.alternet.org/story/148722/jeremy_scahill%3A_the_u.s._is_losing_in_afghanistan <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '664111'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=664111" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Journalist Jeremy Scahill talks with Laura Flanders about the U.S.&#039;s failed efforts in Afghanistan.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Journalist Jeremy Scahill talks with Laura Flanders about the U.S.'s failed efforts in Afghanistan. "The United States has basically already lost the war in Afghanistan," says Scahill, who just spend two weeks travelling unembedded in the country. Watch:</p> <p><embed width="480" height="345" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://blip.tv/play/gdElgomMEAI"></embed></p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist who reports frequently for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!, has spent extensive time reporting from Iraq and Yugoslavia. He is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute. Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. His writing and reporting is available at <a href="http://rebelreports.com/">RebelReports.com</a>. Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv, Mon-Thursday on Free Speech TV (Dish Network chn. 9315) and streaming at <a href="http://grittv.org">GRITtv.org</a>. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '664111'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=664111" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 02 Nov 2010 17:00:01 -0700 Laura Flanders, Jeremy Scahill, GRITtv 664111 at http://www.personals.alternet.org World World war iraq obama us afghanistan war on terror Watch the One Nation March for a Progressive Economy from the Lincoln Memorial http://www.personals.alternet.org/story/148382/watch_the_one_nation_march_for_a_progressive_economy_from_the_lincoln_memorial <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '663779'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=663779" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Thousands gathered in Washington for a rally this Saturday organized by progressives, to show support for a progressive economic agenda.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><span style="font-size: larger;">Over 400 organizations, including faith, environmental and gay rights groups, have organized the "One Nation Working Together" demonstration on the National Mall. </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: larger;">Organizers pronounce on their site<strong>, "</strong>We march for a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. We march for jobs, justice, and education. We march for an economy that works for all.  We march for a nation in which each person who wants to work can find a job that pays enough to support a family. We march to create a million new jobs right away, because the national values that got us out of the Great Depression will get us out of the Great Recession."</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: larger;">Announcing the event are Laura Flanders and Thom Hartmann. Watch the live feed: </span></p> <p><object width="300" height="193" id="lsplayer" classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000"><param name="movie" value="http://cdn.livestream.com/grid/LSPlayer.swf?channel=freespeechtv&amp;color=0xe7e7e7&amp;autoPlay=false&amp;mute=false&amp;iconColorOver=0x888888&amp;iconColor=0x777777" /><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed width="300" height="193" name="lsplayer" wmode="transparent" src="http://cdn.livestream.com/grid/LSPlayer.swf?channel=freespeechtv&amp;color=0xe7e7e7&amp;autoPlay=false&amp;mute=false&amp;iconColorOver=0x888888&amp;iconColor=0x777777" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"></embed></object></p> <div style="font-size: 11px; padding-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 300px;">Watch <a href="http://www.livestream.com/?utm_source=lsplayer&amp;utm_medium=embed&amp;utm_campaign=footerlinks" title="live streaming video">live streaming video</a> from <a href="http://www.livestream.com/freespeechtv?utm_source=lsplayer&amp;utm_medium=embed&amp;utm_campaign=footerlinks" title="Watch freespeechtv at livestream.com">freespeechtv</a> at livestream.com</div> <p><strong>More:</strong> <strong>Speaking from the One Nation Stage and Rosa Clemente's interview with Ajamu Baraka (Human Rights Network)<br /></strong></p> <p><object width="300" height="193" id="lsplayer" classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000"><param name="movie" value="http://cdn.livestream.com/grid/LSPlayer.swf?channel=freespeechtv&amp;clip=flv_b98c16a5-7f73-4573-852a-2c1116ec4aeb&amp;color=0xe7e7e7&amp;autoPlay=false&amp;mute=false&amp;iconColorOver=0x888888&amp;iconColor=0x777777" /><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed width="300" height="193" name="lsplayer" wmode="transparent" src="http://cdn.livestream.com/grid/LSPlayer.swf?channel=freespeechtv&amp;clip=flv_b98c16a5-7f73-4573-852a-2c1116ec4aeb&amp;color=0xe7e7e7&amp;autoPlay=false&amp;mute=false&amp;iconColorOver=0x888888&amp;iconColor=0x777777" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"></embed></object></p> <p><a href="http://www.livestream.com/freespeechtv?utm_source=lsplayer&amp;utm_medium=embed&amp;utm_campaign=footerlinks" title="Watch freespeechtv">freespeechtv</a> on livestream.com. <a href="http://www.livestream.com/?utm_source=lsplayer&amp;utm_medium=embed&amp;utm_campaign=footerlinks" title="Broadcast Live Free">Broadcast Live Free</a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>More:</strong> <strong>One Nation Opening and Interviews with Ben Jealous and Rev. Jesse Jackson</strong></p> <p><object width="300" height="193" classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" id="lsplayer"><param value="http://cdn.livestream.com/grid/LSPlayer.swf?channel=freespeechtv&amp;clip=flv_c6d20ab4-32c9-4fda-9aae-a5e28cd2343c&amp;color=0xe7e7e7&amp;autoPlay=true&amp;mute=true&amp;iconColorOver=0x888888&amp;iconColor=0x777777" name="movie" /><param value="always" name="allowScriptAccess" /><param value="true" name="allowFullScreen" /><embed width="300" height="193" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" src="http://cdn.livestream.com/grid/LSPlayer.swf?channel=freespeechtv&amp;clip=flv_c6d20ab4-32c9-4fda-9aae-a5e28cd2343c&amp;color=0xe7e7e7&amp;autoPlay=true&amp;mute=true&amp;iconColorOver=0x888888&amp;iconColor=0x777777" wmode="transparent" name="lsplayer"></embed></object></p> <div style="font-size: 11px; padding-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 300px;">Watch <a title="live streaming video" href="http://www.livestream.com/?utm_source=lsplayer&amp;utm_medium=embed&amp;utm_campaign=footerlinks">live streaming video</a> from <a title="Watch freespeechtv at livestream.com" href="http://www.livestream.com/freespeechtv?utm_source=lsplayer&amp;utm_medium=embed&amp;utm_campaign=footerlinks">freespeechtv</a> at livestream.com</div> <p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv, Mon-Thursday on Free Speech TV (Dish Network chn. 9315) and streaming at <a href="http://grittv.org">GRITtv.org</a>. <a href="http://www.thomhartmann.com">Thom Hartmann</a> is an author and nationally syndicated daily talk show host. His newest book is '<a href="http://isbn.nu/author/Hartmann,%20Thom/">We The People: A Call To Take Back America</a>.' </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '663779'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=663779" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 02 Oct 2010 06:00:01 -0700 Laura Flanders, Thom Hartmann, Free Speech TV 663779 at http://www.personals.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics progressives one nation march