Ari Paul

Facebook took down posts regarded as too sympathetic to Soleimani. Free speech advocates must fight back

Instagram, and its parent company Facebook, took down posts regarded as too sympathetic to Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated January 3 in a controversial US airstrike. The news website Coda (1/10/20) was credited with breaking the news, and Newsweek (1/10/20) also reported that:

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How the media is legitimizing a century-old Nazi trope

When Norwegian right-winger Anders Breivik invoked “cultural Marxism” as the reason for his 77-person killing spree in 2011, many observers placed the notion in the same category as the killer—the fringe. But since the election of Donald Trump, Brexit and the rise and re-election of other far-right governments around the globe, “cultural Marxism” has become a well-known nationalist buzzword, alongside “globalism”: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro denounces it, and the media empire of former White House advisor Steve Bannon revolved around fighting it.

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NYC's Labor Movement Fragments Over Race for Mayor

Most of the Democratic candidates for New York City mayor can brag without deceit about having the backing of labor. Comptroller John Liu has District Council 37, the large public-sector confederation, on his side, along with several building trades groups, even though he noted that public unions shouldn’t expect full retroactive pay on new contracts settled under his administration. The United Federation of Teachers and Teamsters Local 237 soon undermined Liu’s public-sector support by backing his predecessor Bill Thompson, who vows not to seek higher taxes on the wealthy. He also has the backing of several cop unions, which is no surprise, considering he has the most of NYPD-friendly platform of the bunch.

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Massive East Coast Dock Strike Averted; Washington Sighs in Relief

President Barack Obama now has one less headache. Just days before a deadline that could have crippled some 14 East Coast ports, the International Longshoreman’s Association reached a tentative agreement with representatives of the dock employers, averting a work stoppage that was looming on December 31 -- the same day that across-the-board spending cuts are set to go into effect at every federal agency, unless the White House can reach a deal with Republicans in Congress.

A mere three weeks after West Coast ports reopened after an eight-day strike by the clerical workers of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, a different union -- the International Longshoreman’s Association -- was threatening a work stoppage that would have threatened the movement of consumer goods at 14 East Coast ports at a critical time in a battle between the White House and Congress.

Both the East Coast ILA and the West Coast ILWU have flexed considerable muscle in contentious contract talks over the past few weeks, causing alarm among shipping companies and retailers.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey estimated that a work stoppage at the East Coast ports would have cost $136 million a week in personal income and $110 million in economic output, according to Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times.

Federal mediators were brought into negotiations between the ILA and the U.S. Maritime Alliance, which represents the employers -- and the federal muscle seems to have worked in bringing about a tentative agreement on the main sticking point between the two parties: the employers’ attempt to roll back the share of container royalties earned by workers in addition to their hourly wages.

An extension of an additional 30 days of negotiation to resolve other outstanding issues was also granted. Those include "including delayed contributions to the union’s health care fund and annual raises that are below inflation," according to Greenhouse.

Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University, noted that both sides were likely leery about the possibility of a work stoppage. “There’s pressure, I think, on the union -- probably from the AFL-CIO and the White House -- not to have a strike right now,” Chaison said.

Labor leaders outside the ILA may well have been wary of a strike, especially in the wake of constant attacks on the labor movement from the right, most recently with the passage of right-to-work legislation in Michigan.

“The unions are taking the position that they are part of the solution and not the problem with job creation,” Chaison explained. “With a strike, that [could have] all [gone] out the window.” That’s one reason why Chaison predicted days ago that the two sides would reach an agreement without a work-stoppage.

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Chicago Teachers Uprising Takes on a 1 Percent Mayor, and the Labor Establishment to Boot

Chicago teachers could hardly be more united in their disgust at Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s assault on public education. More than 98 percent voted to authorize a strike, which union activists say is as much about defending students and parents as it is about the economics of their contract. And while school has already started in the Windy City, the nation’s third largest school system could be shut down by next week, setting off a confrontation between a militant rank-and-file teacher movement and the mainstream of the labor movement and its allies, the Democratic Party.

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Neoliberal Occupation: How the IMF and the European Central Bank Are Strangling the Greek Economy

ATHENS--With Greek workers bracing themselves for more announcements of privatization of public services and industries, the fight among political factions continues. But the drama that is unfolding proves that Greek Parliament is but a puppet regime for an occupying force known as the troika: the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank.

The pro-austerity government (led by the conservatives, New Democracy) installed this summer is already on shaky ground. With three ministers already having resigned, the country is just a few rowdy demonstrations away from new elections in the fall.  The troika is using its leverage to arrange the debt-ridden country’s economy and governance as it sees fit, which, as shadow justice minister and Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentarian Zoe Konstantopoulou said, constitute “violations of our international obligations,” and amounts to the nation being “a guinea pig for Europe, and the experiment has failed again and again.”

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