IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS DEMAND MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE

No commentary necessary …. the 2,000 Plus demonstrators say it all on their placards … 

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Related Article from CounterPunch

Wage Gains Won’t Last, Unless Fight for 15 Builds Worker Power

by ARUN GUPTA

When fast-food workers first took the streets in New York City in November 2012 to protest for higher wages and a union no one could have imagined how successful the campaign would be. Since then the low-wage workers movement, known as Fight for 15, has helped spureleven states and numerous cities to raise the minimum hourly wage. It’s enabled campaigns in Seattle and the Bay Area to pass citywide measures for $15-an-hour minimum wage. Fight for 15 and a separate campaign called Organization United for Respect at Walmart has also pushed companies like McDonald’s, Target, and Walmart to announce in early 2015 that they would raise the minimum wage for hundreds of thousands of employees.

The success of the organizing is due to everything from the abysmal recovery from the 2008 economic crisis to Occupy Wall Street’s role in shifting the national dialogue from austerity to economic inequality. But Fight for 15 is due primarily to the Service Employees International Union, which initiated the campaign in 2011 and has poured tens of millions of dollars into growing waves of protest that are battering the image of the fast-food giants.

As the protests have grown, the campaign has become both broad and narrow. SEIU has linked the plight of fast-food workers to that of retail and convenience-store workers, home healthcare aides, childcare workers, and adjunct professors. At the same time Fight for 15 is focusing its fire on McDonald’s. One SEIU insider says the strategy is, “Pummel them until they come to the table.” Another organizer outlined the thinking back in 2013: Fight for 15 was trying to cause enough problems for McDonald’s image and stock price that SEIU could say to the company, “We can make this all go away” if it agreed to a deal on wages and unionization.

Using the National Labor Relations Board, SEIU has filed charges of unfair labor practices and wage theft against McDonald’s franchises. The strategy paid off after the NLRB general counsel ruled in July 2014 that McDonald’s has joint employer responsibility, opening space for SEIU to pressure the corporate parent, rather than dealing with 3,100 U.S. franchisees. SEIU is also raising the heat overseas. The European Union is investigating McDonald’s for allegedly dodging more than $1 billion in taxes and labor federations in Brazil are suing McDonald’s largest franchisee in Latin America for wage and workplace violations. A participant in a recent strategy session held with Scott Courtney, said to be SEIU’s mastermind for Fight for 15, says the next step under consideration is to create trouble for McDonald’s on the property front, which is as much a titan of real estate as it is of hamburgers.

McDonald’s claims the campaign has had no effect on its operations and that it could not afford to raise wages. Over the last year its internationalsales have been flat and its profits have fallen sharply. So its announcement on April 1 that it would raise pay for workers at corporate-owned U.S. stores was widely viewed as a concession to Fight for 15. That move backfired, however, as the raise is only 89 cents an hour on average and affects just 10 percent of its U.S. workforce. Plus, sources say McDonald’s has quietly approached SEIU and is looking for a deal. For nearly two years there have been rumors that SEIU was considering some alternative to a union for the fast-food sector, such as a workers association.

A workers association, however, would mean fewer rights and protections for workers than a traditional union. This points to the question that’s been hanging over Fight for 15 since it caught fire. What is SEIU’s end game? I asked one organizer if the campaign is building working power, and the response was blunt: “The goal is not worker power. It’s a contract.”

Since a traditional union contract with McDonald’s or any other fast-food company remains unlikely, the campaign goals need to be better aligned with reality. Fight for 15 has been remarkably successful on wages, but unless it is trying to increase worker’s power on the job, any wage and benefit improvements won through public pressure, negative publicity, and community-based protest activity will be hard to sustain in the absence of ongoing workplace organization or networks of some sort.

Now, many Fight for 15 organizers point out SEIU is the only big union gambling on trying to organize an industry with millions of unorganized workers, and it’s putting thousands of workers in motion. Organizing low-wage workers is a long overdue response to the neoliberal turn that dealt a historic defeat to organized labor during the 1980s. Millions of new jobs are projected to be in occupations like food prep, retail, and healthcare aides that pay $9 to $12 an hour. The jobs have few benefits, schedules and hours are erratic and there tends to be high turnover. This is the base for Fight for 15, OUR Walmart and a broader campaign known as 15 Now, initiated by the Seattle-based Socialist Alternative.

A fundamental goal of labor organizing is to take labor out of competition with itself. But that is nearly impossible when low-skilled, low-wage workers have few rights and number in the tens of millions. Fight for 15’s approach is unorthodox, but it is constrained by organized labor’s history. Class-struggle unionism has been abandoned by labor leaders who act as junior partners to corporations, like SEIU and Kaiser Permanente, the UAW and auto companies, the machinists union and Boeing, and the building trades and real-estate developers. Many union leaders are also in the pocket of the Democratic Party despite it being in the pocket of Wall Street.

Fight for 15 trying to make trouble for global corporations, but it’s not pursuing a working-class struggle. (Few unions are interested in that; that’s the job of the organized left.) Fight for 15 is more of a legal and public relations campaign, as I explain, than an organizing campaign. It is bearing fruit, but mainly as a spillover than in the fast-food sector. This includes adjunct professor organizing, which with the assistance of unions, especially SEIU, have notched many victories since 2013. Thousands of healthcare workers, who make up about half of SEIU’s membership, are agitating for $15 an hour, which is also in response to the 2014 Supreme Court ruling that imposed limits on union membership for home-care aides. There are also linkages with the Black Lives Matter movement, which is significant given Fight for 15 is the biggest mobilization of African-American workers since the 1960s. While these are inchoate forms of solidarity and social-justice unionism, they remain underdeveloped because of the top-down nature of Fight for 15.

The most intriguing outcomes of Fight for 15 are citywide campaigns for a raise in the minimum wage, which has opened up organizing space for the left. Fifteen dollars an hour is now reality in Seattle, albeit it with loopholes, with most low-wage workers expected to earn that by 2017. San Francisco’s ballot measure for $15 an hour was spearheaded by SEIU Local 1021, which one observer calls a model for a worker-run union. Fight for $15 campaign helped legitimize the idea in Seattle. The local SEIU affiliate’s biggest contribution was a $15-an-hour ballot measure that won in the SeaTac suburb. But the heavy lifting was done by Socialist Alternative and its inside and outside political approach, aggressive reporting and support from The Stranger, a well-regarded newsweekly, and incoming Mayor Ed Murray’s decision to back the measure and establish a committee to shape, for good and bad, the final bill. 15 Now is currently pushing $15 an hour statewide in Oregon and according to sources is encountering resistance from some unions that are reluctant to challenge Democratic politicians.

In terms of Fight for 15, its efforts have been more effective in the digital realm than in the real world when it comes to fast-food workers. One Fight for 15 organizer says, “SEIU would like the public to perceive this as a large and growing movement creating a crisis. They are creating the perception of a wave.”

But the campaign is also hamstrung, and SEIU’s media-centric strategy inhibits it from making hay from it. The organizer explains, “Workers are afraid to stand up. The number one problem is fear. I would say less than 4 percent of the workers we contact stay on board. They jump on and jump off [Fight for 15] all the time.” Workers have every reason to be afraid. One study from 2005 estimated 23,000 workers a year are penalized or fired for legitimate union activity, making a mockery of laws meant to protect workplace organizing.

A rich account of the difficulty and potential of worker-run, shop-based organizing in the fast-food industry is provided by Erik Forman in New Forms of Worker Organization. He recounts an IWW campaign in Jimmy John’s sandwich shops in Minneapolis, which narrowly lost a union vote but gained many concessions, wage increases and most important, worker consciousness, solidarity and power. Provocations and illegal acts by the bosses were used to build organization and militancy, not shunted over to law firms and P.R. agencies as in Fight for 15. But the campaign was dealt a serious blow by the mass firing of six organizers. (Forman’s scathing critique of a complacent union bureaucracy as an outcome of labor law and how labor law proved to be a dead end is also important to consider.)

SEIU has far more resources to confront employer threats of firing and retaliation, but creating a shop-by-shop base of power would still be a monumental task. Fight for 15 could nurture worker power other ways, but it has forgone a bottom-up struggle. Its worker leaders serve to energize other workers, relate a compelling personal story and act as a media spokesperson. In other words, they provide the image of a leader rather than the substance of a leader who can organize the workplace, engage in shop-floor warfare against the boss, develop worker solidarity, and force concessions while building a militant rank and file.

The site of worker power in Fight for 15 is supposed to be the organizing committees, but within the staff-driven campaign participants say workers have little power. Strike votes are usually not held unless the staff leadership is confident it will win. Meetings are for pumping up workers and feeding them information, not democratic debate and decision-making. The annual Fight for 15 conferences, with the next one reportedly set for this summer in Detroit, are described as heavily scripted. I asked one organizer if it was true that worker leaders made decisions during weekly national conference calls. The response was, “That’s bullshit, and I know because I participate in those calls.” Plus, a one person says during a strategy session Scott Courtney was introduced to workers as “the reason you are all here.” Compare this SEIU’s claim in 2013 that it is following the lead of fast-food workers and “We don’t yet understand the scale of it” when in fact it gave birth to the fast-food workers campaign.

Where there is organizing in Fight for 15, it is more in the streets than in the workplace. The big days of action are vital for the sense of momentum. Allies from community groups, students and union staff swell numbers, add to the festivity, make a more favorable media impression, sway public opinion, and make it look as if the campaign is growing.

One can make the case that SEIU made a sound decision in forgoing a worker-centric campaign for a P.R. and legal strategy. But then it can no longer said to be a worker-driven movement. If SEIU admitted workers’ fear of being fired or disciplined by employers leads to high turnover in Fight for 15, it would undermine the perception that more and more fast-food workers are joining and staying with the campaign. A lack of power also means workers follow the dictates of paid organizers, who in turn say they get their marching orders from SEIU leaders.

A few organizers have mentioned SEIU’s P.R. firm, BerlinRosen Public Affairs, is involved in the strategy. In fact, a 25-page document entitled “Strike in a Box,” which bears BerlinRosen’s logo, is presented as a how-to-guide for building a successful strike. This and other documents provide more evidence for the top-down management of Fight for 15, which is logical given the enormous effort devoted to organizing just one protest in one city. The fact that Fight for 15 staged more than 200 protests in U.S. cities on April 15 indicates how many resources SEIU has committed.

For example, one fast-food protest in 2013 was run like a military campaign. The staffing plan included the local organizing leadership, four different media workers, half-a-dozen “defusers” to soothe any trouble, a photographer, videographer, police liaison, chant leader and energizer, a supply team, drivers, onsite legal, a criminal lawyer on standby, breakfast and lunch coordinators, and people designated to hand out signs, flags, t-shirts, and water. A spreadsheet mapped out protests by the minute, noting times and location for loading vans, picking up workers, talking points for press conferences, skits, prayers, dancing in the streets, and “walk backs” of workers the next day to minimize retaliation. Insiders say to maximize turnout, Fight for 15 will sometimes rent hotel rooms for workers the night before a protest, rent vans to drive them to the start point, and provide meals.

Strike in a Box appears to be from an earlier stage of Fight for 15, but it is insightful. It starts with a “Legal FAQ” that describes different types of strikes under labor law. It cautions against any conduct that can be classified as picketing as “picketing is considered coercive and incurs more liability for the union,” such as forcing a union election. Instead it says to focus on unfair labor practices as “ULP strikes are the legal crown jewel of strikes.”

The document gives tips for discovering, recording and tracking unfair labor practices. Workers in various Fight for 15 chapters say uncovering ULPs became a priority nearly two years ago, with organizers regularly asking for incidences of employer retaliation or discrimination.

The link between the legal and media strategy is in the section on “Site Assessments,” which begins by asking how many active and strong ULP’s there are at a particular establishment. The section also asks if it’s a good site to focus on, the existence of strong leaders, and then shifts to questions about messaging:

“Is it an iconic brand? Does the brand help tell a story, locally and/or nationally?

“Do we have spokespeople?

Trained? Reliable? Experienced?

“Do we have stories?

Compelling worker stories

Horror stories about site practices (wage theft, sexual harassment, etc)

Connection to broader themes (cutting hours because of Obamacare, etc)”

Much of the remainder of Strike in a Box is devoted to recruiting workers with strong stories, organizing the strike vote, how to build a “pull plan” to maximize strike-day turnout, shoring up workers confidence, carrying out the actual strike, and the need for compelling visuals, stories and a narrative. Little is said about workplace organizing. This matches the experiences of many workers in the campaign who say they are not provided with any training on how to build shop-floor organization.

None of this is meant to dismiss Fight for 15. It is having a more profound effect than anyone could have hoped for when it began. But politics don’t just happen. By denying a central role SEIU leaders can deflect questions about controversial strategies and on-the-ground organizing. Likewise, analyzing strategy and tactics years from now is little use in books few people will read. There are many more questions that can and should be asked about Fight for 15.

For example, the campaign is focused primarily on wages and then on scheduling. But once they clock out, fast-food workers confront the dilemmas of childcare, healthcare, transportation, and rent. Fight for 15 talks about the difficulty of living on a poverty wage, but does so in moralistic terms: “fairness.” It avoids a deeper critique because “the goal is a contract.” As much as workers need a pay raise, $15 an hour is of little help in many cities where the average rent on a one-bedroom apartment would eat up the entire income of a full-time worker on this wage. In Seattle, Socialist Alternative has pivoted to organizing around runaway rents, but it’s rare for big unions to seriously organize around rent control or tenants’ rights despite the fact that escalating housing costs are one of the biggest burdens that workers shoulder.

Beyond issues of daily life is workers’ role in the labor process. Building worker power would stop promotional campaigns like McDonald’s embarrassing “Pay with Love” or Starbucks clumsy “Race Together” before they happen. This is not all the responsibility of one organizing campaign but without a serious debate about the strategy Fight for 15 is pursuing and shifting to worker-oriented strategies, it’s hard to see how wage gains will translate into a gain of power for workers.

The campaign has raised hopes on the left of a revival of class consciousness and a working-class movement, but will it come to fruition under SEIU? If history and current events are any guide, the missing ingredient is the organized left. It’s anarchists who made Occupy Wall Street happen, socialists who have revitalized many teachers unions, and socialists and the left that have turned $15 an hour into reality. Without a similar effort, Fight for 15 may give fast-food workers more change in their pockets, but not the power to change their lives.

Arun Gupta contributes to outlets including Al Jazeera America, Vice, The Progressive, The Guardian, and In These Times.

A TRIBUTE TO OUR MEN IN BLUE

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Men in Blue

By Tom Karlson

 

spawned under the rebel flag

to destroy the slave hating  antichrist

derail her railroad

poison the drinking gourd

send Harriet and Sojourner to the tobacco field

ball and chain Douglass back to Maryland

patrol and police Robert E Lee’s turf

the men in blue

are reincarnated at reconstructions death

in the north

Chicago and her sister cities

anywhere

that workers organize

anywhere

that immigrants march

anywhere there are scabs

there work  the men in blue

some men in blue

stop and frisk

arrest and arrest and arrest

using executors muscle

keeping the machine spinning

stocking the furnace

of the new Jim Crow

some men in blue

protect and serve

with brain and tongue

when forced to fight

for more pay and less hours

                                                  the militia  comes running

governor and mayor with whip and gun

Pinkerton and National Guard

those men in blue do learn quickly

they have no right to strike

against public safety

anywhere any reason anytime

ONLY BY VOTING TOMORROW CAN YOU CHOSE THE PICTURE YOU WANT FOR AMERICA

This One OR This One

From the Occupation to #OccupyWallStreet

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It’s so ironic that the Democrats chose Scarlett Johansson of SodaStream fame to act as their spokesperson ….

Here is a letter she sent out to Party members on behalf of the Democratic National Committee;

Friend —

I think you know by now how incredibly high the stakes are on November 4th, especially for women. And if we don’t want to wake up on November 5th and find ourselves on the fast track back in time on women’s rights, it’s critical that Democrats vote.

That starts with you.

Will you take a moment to confirm your polling place, and then forward this email to three of your friends?

http://my.democrats.org/Lookup

If the Republicans take back the Senate, one of the first things they will try to dismantle will be a woman’s right to make her own personal health care decisions. This year, I have been appalled again and again by decisions from the GOP and even the Supreme Court that attack a woman’s right to choose, and this is our chance to take action.

Our votes on Tuesday are all that can stop Republicans from doing even more damage.

So please, even if you remember your polling place, take a moment to confirm that it hasn’t changed, and check that your friends and family have a plan for where and when to vote.

Thanks for stepping up. And if you get your friends to vote, tell them thanks from me!

Scarlett Johansson

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Pretty sickening if you ask me!

Just remember this image when you cast your ballot.

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Enjoy the following …

I AM NO LONGER ACCEPTING THE THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE

I AM CHANGING THE THINGS I CANNOT ACCEPT!
Free yourselves from all evils of society

Free yourselves from all evils of society

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As a society, we have been duped by the powers that be. We were told to chant the following …

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

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Yet, the President of the United States promised CHANGE …. and yes, he kept his promise. Things have changed from bad to worse!

Are we expected to accept that?

I SAY NO!

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Now that we are finally awake, let's get out of bed and get to work!

Now that we are finally awake, let’s get out of bed and get to work!

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Acceptance of what Obama calls CHANGE is complicity with the evils within those changes!

Let’s start with the erosion of our Academic Freedom …. students are no longer allowed or encouraged to think … or even hear opinions contrary to those of the Administration. The human brain has become as redundant as the appendix.

Black Americans have become mere targets for trigger happy police officers, especially the youth.

Muslim Americans have been classified as terrorists and are racially profiled in every aspect of their lives.

New wars are being waged throughout the world targeting self created enemies … soldiers are dying for no reason at all yet they continue to follow orders, truly ‘Waste Deep In The Big Muddy’ …

Attempts to change any of the above leads to arrests, loss of jobs, or even worse, loss of lives.

BUT IT MUST BE DONE!

The American nation has become a nation of Sheeple being led to slaughter.

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The outdated Serenity Prayer presented above has allowed the Administration to destroy the very fibers of our society. They have treated us as if we were all addicted to a substance  dangerous to our health … and yes we were, a substance we know as Capitalism! Don’t allow that substance to become fascism …. an evil even harder to cure.

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It can be nipped in its bud!

It can be nipped in its bud!

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Stop following that asshole in front of you! Become the CHANGE that will give us something to really be thankful for this coming Thanksgiving!

ON LABOUR DAY, AND EVERY OTHER DAY, LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL

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Don’t Just Look for Union Label

On Labor Day, Time To Rethink Old Progressive Mantra

By Ari Paul*

Labor Day has arrived, and families across the country will be getting their backyards ready for barbecues. In progressive circles, a familiar message is making the rounds: Buy union. Make sure your grill is a Weber or Thermador, made by union hands. Eat Butterball and Hebrew National franks. A list of brands has been circulating on social media sites with the goal of urging pro-labor consumers to support members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and other food sector and manufacturing unions.

Trade unionists encourage each other to “buy union” not only to show solidarity, but also to prop up unionized businesses. After all, nonunion competitors can afford to mark down their products, so it is up to us to keep union jobs alive. And we can punish anti-union companies by not giving them our business. The idea of letting your social conscience guide your purchases — whether it be boycotting or gorging on Chick-fil-A — is a familiar and popular American concept.

But at a time when a movement like Occupy Wall Street is proposing a new economic approach that isn’t based simply on stimulating consumer spending, perhaps this is the wrong approach. At the very least, we should examine at it a bit more critically.

I should make it known that I avoid anti-union FedEx. I don’t set foot in a Walmart unless I’m stranded in the middle of a highway in America with no other option. On more than one occasion, I’ve defended my preference for plebeian Budweiser or Miller High Life over more sophisticated micro-brews by pointing to the union label.

But this assumes that the benefits union workers have at these companies are the result not of collective action, which forced the employer to comply with worker demands, but of consumers lining the pockets of the bosses. Through active consumerism, the “buy union” narrative shifts the power to driving change from worker struggle. Furthermore, there is something terribly Reagan-istic about assuming that making bosses at unionized firms even richer will allow the wealth to trickle down to Joe Sixpack.

In fact, it often doesn’t. Many of the major strikes and lockouts in this country over the past several years — at Verizon, Sotheby’s, Mott’s (which is on the Labor Day BBQ list) and Caterpillar — involved companies demanding draconian wage and benefit concessions from workers not because of increased competition or falling revenues, but despite whopping profits.

Think of it this way: If I send a package via UPS (where workers are represented by the Teamsters) and my patronage helps keep the parcel company in the black, how can I expect the surplus to be used? Will it be voluntarily invested in a new safety program for workers or through increased pension contributions? Or will it go to corporate lawyers and public relations hacks to help fight the union in the next round of contract talks?

Also, if you look at the list of Labor Day “union” items, you see a lot of odious actors. Though its workers are unionized, Smithfield has been condemned by both labor groups and by animal rights activists for its atrocious slaughterhouse conditions. The list urges people to buy Coca-Cola products even though many unionists are boycotting the company for its connection to violence against labor organizers in Colombia. Hormel Red Franks is also on the list; in the mid-80s the company fought against its meatpackers and were successful in the campaign, which, along with Ronald Reagan’s firing of air traffic controllers. marked the decline of the American labor movement.

Of course, when it is feasible and ethical to buy union, there’s not a problem with that. And there’s a sense that buying union proves to free-market advocates that it is possible for companies to invest more in employees and remain competitive. But the fact is, buying union is a kind of “least I can do” approach. It isn’t clear that shopping at Costco, which has union-represented locations and pays its employees above the industry standards according to labor groups, will change Walmart’s ways anytime soon. America can’t buy its way to labor reform; that will take massive legal changes and, most of all, grassroots organizing among workers, not patting employers on the back for not having broken the union at their place of business.

Things such as green products thrive because a lot of people demand them. Sadly, union membership is at less than 15% in the United States, and that’s not enough people to move markets — or company ethics.

*Ari Paul has written for The Nation, the Guardian, Z Magazine and Al Jazeera English. He is a dues-paying member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Written FOR

 The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

#Ferguson ~~ LATUFF’S LATEST SPOOFS

“No more pigs in our community!” …  A quote from the Black Panthers

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Stand with the people of Ferguson

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#FergusonUnderFire ~~ 90 YEAR OLD HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR ARRESTED

FERGUSON UNDER FIRE …

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Hedy Epstein, 90-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor, Arrested During Michael Brown Protest

OCCUPYING THE PRISONS

Cecily McMillan Sentenced to Three Months in Jail

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer (Reports follow)

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Cecily McMillan Sentenced to Three Months in Jail

By Jon Swaine, Guardian UK (Via)

McMillan to also serve five years’ probation for deliberately elbowing a New York police officer at a protest in 2012

 

n Occupy Wall Street activist has been sentenced to three months in jail for assaulting a New York police officer as he led her out of a protest.

Cecily McMillan, who had been facing a maximum sentence of seven years, was told on Monday morning by Judge Ronald Zweibel that she “must take responsibility for her conduct”.

“A civilised society must not allow an assault to be committed under the guise of civil disobedience,” said Zweibel at Manhattan criminal court. However, he added: “The court finds that a lengthy sentence would not serve the interests of justice in this case.”

McMillan, 25, received a three-month jail sentence to be followed by community service and five years of probation. Her lawyers expect her to serve two-thirds of the sentence. She will also receive credit for the two weeks she has been remanded at Rikers Island jail since being convicted.

McMillan was earlier this month found guilty of deliberately elbowing officer Grantley Bovell in the face at a demonstration in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park in March 2012. He suffered a black eye and spent two weeks off work with headaches and sensitivity to light. McMillan insisted throughout her trial that she swung her arm instinctively after having one of her breasts grabbed from behind.

Wearing a fuschia dress, the New School graduate student was on Monday led, handcuffed, into a courtroom lined by about 50 police officers. Reading a prepared speech, she told the judge that she lived by the “law of love”. She said: “Violence is not permitted. This being the law that I live by, I can say with certainty that I am innocent of the crime I have been convicted of”. She apologised for what she called “this accident”.

However, in a sharply critical statement to the judge, assistant district attorney Shanda Strain said that McMillan had “not only physically assaulted the police officer but also falsely accused this police officer’s character both inside and outside of this courtroom”.

Accusing McMillan of using the court as a “grandstand for her political opinions,” Strain baldly stated that the 25-year-old had committed perjury by accusing Bovell of grabbing her breast. “Through her lies, she has undermined the claims of genuine sexual assault victims who seek justice in this system,” she said. However, Strain said that a sentence of 90 days would be sufficient to “serve the interests of society”.

After being pushed to the ground during her arrest, McMillan suffered further bruising and said that she had a seizure or anxiety attack. She previously said that she underwent treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. McMillan’s attorney, Martin Stolar, told Zweibel: “I urge the court to take into account the injuries that Miss McMillan suffered subsequent to her arrest … which will last probably the rest of her life.”

Stolar told the Guardian outside court that the sentence was “less worse than it could have been”. He said: “The punishment, and whatever deterrent effect a punishment can have, was already delivered to Cecily the night she was arrested. As far as the police were concerned, she punched a cop and she got punched back, so street justice was delivered.”

McMillan’s felony conviction for second-degree assault is believed to be the most serious against any of the hundreds of members of Occupy who were prosecuted for offences around protests after the movement began in 2011. She had previously turned down an offer from prosecutors to plead guilty to the felony charge in exchange for a recommendation that she not receive a prison sentence.

Following the sentencing, Erin Duggan Kramer, Vance’s deputy chief of staff, said in a statement that the district attorney’s office recognised the freedoms of speech and assembly as “bedrocks of our personal liberties” that were “deeply entrenched in our city’s culture”. Claiming that “great leniency” had been shown to Occupy members charged with minor offences, Duggan Kramer said: “This defendant chose to take her case to trial, and was convicted by a jury of her peers for a violent felony.”

Stolar pointed out to the judge that following McMillan’s conviction, nine of the 12 jurors in her trialwrote to Zweibel, asking him not to send her to prison and to show her leniency. Their letter was followed by similar requests from members of the New York city council and prominent pop musicians. Two members of Pussy Riot, the Russian punk activist group, visited McMillan at Rikers and also wrote to the judge.

McMillan’s support team also delivered a petition to Zweibel and Cyrus Vance, the district attorney, bearing what they said were 43,000 names of other people asking that she not be sent to prison. While acknowledging that the courts should not be dictated by public opinion, Stolar urged Zweibel to note that “so many people have spoken up and that they believe leniency is in order for Miss McMillan”.

Singling out by name contributions from Kim Gordon, formerly of Sonic Youth, and Lauren Mayberry, of the Scottish group Chvrches, Stolar told Zweibel: “These are people that neither you nor I would recognise, but among this generation are fairly important”.

Zweibel said: “The court agrees with many of Miss McMillan’s supporters that Miss McMillan is capable of making a positive contribution to society. However, as I stated before, a sentence must take into account the fact that Miss McMillan was convicted of assaulting a police officer.” He then delivered his order on her sentence.

Several people in the public gallery began quietly singing ‘We Shall Not Be Moved’, adding “Cecily is innocent” to the lyrics. However, they stopped after being ordered to be quiet by a senior police officer.

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Related Report

PHOTO AND SONG ESSAY ~~ THE GIANT REAWAKENS ON MAY DAY

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After a long and cold winter, the 99% finally ended their hibernation in New York … They went all out on May Day …

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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The following from Matt Weinstein …

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The City Belongs To Its Workers – May Day 2014

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Thousands of New York city’s workers filled the sidewalks on Broadway next to City Hall. The weather was sublime and the spirit exuberant as the working class of New York claimed the day as theirs. 

May Day, the international workers holiday, was born in the USA in the struggle for an eight-hour work day. For many years, it was ignored or red-baited out of the consciousness of America’s working people. But it’s back and the pride and militancy of today’s rally was palpable.

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Photos © by Matt Weinstein

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The NYC Labor Chorus. A fantastic rendition of Solidarity Forever!

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Folks from NYSNA - the NY State Nurses Association.

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UFT members at May Day rally.

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Seattle just passed the .00 minimum wage. Is New York next?

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Brooklyn For Peace was in the house for May Day.

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And Comrades who have left us were with us in spirit …

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TRIANGLE FIRE ~~ 104 YEARS AND COUNTING

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pilfering and work-breaks will not be tolerated

The Triangle Shirtwaist fire

March 23, 1911

By Tom Karlson

doors chained

exits blocked

!fire!

infernoed smoke and heat everywhere

elevator pulleys buckle,

fire-escape collapses

women leap

bodies smashed

sculpted by fire and crash

charred pick-up sticks

to be counted and named

by shattered lovers and family

148 sweatshop workers

148 Italian and Jewish women

148 from 14 to 48

on that sidewalk morgue

a flat temporary mausoleum

lined with

tears and blood

from mass murder will come new laws

protecting labor

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A look at the history

CHUTZPAH OF THE YEAR AWARD GOES TO …

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Walmart Holding Canned Food Drive For Its Own Underpaid Employees
The company has long been plagued by charges that it doesn’t pay its employees a real living wage.
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A Walmart in northeast Ohio is holding a holiday canned food drive — for its own underpaid employees. “Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner,” a sign reads in the employee lounge of a Canton-area Walmart.

Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, says the drive is a positive thing. “This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships,” he said. Indeed, Lundberg is correct that it’s commendable to make an effort to help out those who are in need, especially during the holidays.

A Walmart in northeast Ohio is holding a holiday canned food drive — for its own underpaid employees. “Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner,” a sign reads in the employee lounge of a Canton-area Walmart.

Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, says the drive is a positive thing. “This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships,” he said. Indeed, Lundberg is correct that it’s commendable to make an effort to help out those who are in need, especially during the holidays.

But the need for a food drive illustrates how difficult it is for Walmart workers to get by on its notoriously low pay. The company has long been plagued by charges that it doesn’t pay its employees a real living wage. In fact, Walmart’s President and CEO, Bill Simon, recently estimated that the majority of its one million associates make less than $25,000 per year, just above the federal poverty line of $23,550 for a family of four. When the Washington DC city council passed a living wage bill requiring Walmart to pay workers a minimum of $12.50 per hour, the chain threatened to shut down its new stores if Mayor Vincent Gray didn’t veto the bill. Gray vetoed the bill.

Walmart’s low wages come at a public cost. Because low-income workers still need housing and health care, taxpayers end up doling out millions in benefits to bridge the gap faced by many of the store’s retail workers. They have also led to strikes at Walmart stores from Seattle to Chicago to Los Angeles in recent weeks.

Even if the canned food drive successfully gathers enough to help out the Canton store’s low-income workers, many of them might not even be able to have the food on Thanksgiving. That’s because Walmart is one of a group of retailers that will open its stores for Black Friday sales beginning at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving afternoon.

But the need for a food drive illustrates how difficult it is for Walmart workers to get by on its notoriously low pay. The company has long been plagued by charges that it doesn’t pay its employees a real living wage. In fact, Walmart’s President and CEO, Bill Simon, recently estimated that the majority of its one million associates make less than $25,000 per year, just above the federal poverty line of $23,550 for a family of four. When the Washington DC city council passed a living wage bill requiring Walmart to pay workers a minimum of $12.50 per hour, the chain threatened to shut down its new stores if Mayor Vincent Gray didn’t veto the bill. Gray vetoed the bill.

Walmart’s low wages come at a public cost. Because low-income workers still need housing and health care, taxpayers end up doling out millions in benefits to bridge the gap faced by many of the store’s retail workers. They have also led to strikes at Walmart stores from Seattle to Chicago to Los Angeles in recent weeks.

Even if the canned food drive successfully gathers enough to help out the Canton store’s low-income workers, many of them might not even be able to have the food on Thanksgiving. That’s because Walmart is one of a group of retailers that will open its stores for Black Friday sales beginning at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving afternoon.

Source

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Runner-Up for the Award this year goes to …

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McDonaldsTellUnderpaidWorkerstoSellTheirXmasPresents112013

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McDonald’s Advice to Underpaid Employees: Sell Your Christmas Presents For Cash

Their website has another piece of advice for people who are stressed about their meager paychecks: “Quit complaining,” the site suggests. “Stress hormones levels rise by 15 percent after 10 minutes of complaining.”

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Tis the season for holiday spirit: Yule logs, egg nog, festive lights and exchanging gifts with loved ones. If you work for McDonald’s, though, be sure to save those receipts.

McDonald’s McResource Line, a dedicated website run by the world’s largest fast-food chain to provide its 1.8 million employees with financial and health-related tips, offers a full page of advice for “Digging Out From Holiday Debt.” Among their helpful holiday tips: “Selling some of your unwanted possessions on eBay or Craigslist could bring in some quick cash.”

Elsewhere on the site, McDonald’s encourages its employees to break apart food when they eat meals, as “breaking food into pieces often results in eating less and still feeling full.” And if they are struggling to stock their shelves with food in the first place, the company offers assistance for workers applying for food stamps.

McDonald’s corporate officers have a history of offering questionable advice to their low-wage workers. Four months ago, the company partnered with Visa to distribute a sample “budget.” In it, the chain suggested that workers needn’t pay for such frivolous expenses like their heating bills, and factored in a monthly rent of $600. To workers living in New York City (home of 350+ stores) and other expensive metropolises, that number is almost comical.

McDonald’s employees are some of the most underpaid workers in the country. The company’s cashiers and “team members” earn, on average, $7.75 an hour, just 50 cents higher than the federal minimum wage. Responding to rising living costs, many stores have staged walk-outsstrikes and protests, demanding a living wage. In Europe, where the minimum wage for employees is $12, customers pay just pennies more than their American counterparts for the same menu items, while the stores themselves typically bring in higher profit margins than ones in the United States.

Of course, McDonalds has shown little willingness to negotiate higher salaries for their poorest workers even as labor rights groups up the pressure. Instead, their website has another piece of advice for people who are stressed about their meager paychecks: “Quit complaining,” the site suggests. “Stress hormones levels rise by 15 percent after 10 minutes of complaining.”

Also FROM

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MILLION MASK MARCH FOR JUSTICE

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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“Remember who your enemies are: billionaires who own banks and corporations who corrupt politicians who enslave the people in injustice.”
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Protesters gather around the world for Million Mask March

Demonstrations in more than 400 cities were planned to coincide with Guy Fawkes Day, with Russell Brand at a London protest

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POWER TO THE SHEEPLE! ~~ IMAGE AND VIDEO

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PHOTO ESSAY ~~ SOLIDARITY WITH FAST FOOD WORKERS ON LABOUR DAY

For some today is a holiday …. for others it’s a day of struggle.
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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 ….. Let’s make it a Happy Holiday for all!
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IMAGE ESSAY ~~ REV. KING HAD A DREAM ~~ WE ARE LEFT WITH A NIGHTMARE

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This is what it all really boils down to …
Mr.Fish.MLK&Obama

A MOST HAUNTING PHOTO FROM BANGLADESH

Think of this photo the next time you go shopping for clothes …. LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL!
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A Final Embrace: The Most Haunting Photograph from Bangladesh

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Taslima Akhter 
April 25, 2013. Two victims amid the rubble of a garment factory building collapse in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Click here to find out more!

Many powerful photographs have been made in the aftermath of the devastating collapse of a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. But one photo, by Bangladeshi photographer Taslima Akhter, has emerged as the most heart wrenching, capturing an entire country’s grief in a single image.

Shahidul Alam, Bangladeshi photographer, writer and founder of Pathshala, the South Asian Institute of Photography, said of the photo: “This image, while deeply disturbing, is also hauntingly beautiful. An embrace in death, its tenderness rises above the rubble to touch us where we are most vulnerable. By making it personal, it refuses to let go. This is a photograph that will torment us in our dreams. Quietly it tells us. Never again.”

Akhter writes for LightBox about the photograph, which appears in this week’s TIME International alongside an essay by David Von Drehle.

I have been asked many questions about the photograph of the couple embracing in the aftermath of the collapse. I have tried desperately, but have yet to find any clues about them. I don’t know who they are or what their relationship is with each other.

I spent the entire day the building collapsed on the scene, watching as injured garment workers were being rescued from the rubble. I remember the frightened eyes of relatives — I was exhausted both mentally and physically. Around 2 a.m., I found a couple embracing each other in the rubble. The lower parts of their bodies were buried under the concrete. The blood from the eyes of the man ran like a tear. When I saw the couple, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I knew them — they felt very close to me. I looked at who they were in their last moments as they stood together and tried to save each other — to save their beloved lives.

Every time I look back to this photo, I feel uncomfortable — it haunts me. It’s as if they are saying to me, we are not a number — not only cheap labor and cheap lives. We are human beings like you. Our life is precious like yours, and our dreams are precious too.

They are witnesses in this cruel history of workers being killed. The death toll is now more than 750. What a harsh situation we are in, where human beings are treated only as numbers.

This photo is haunting me all the time. If the people responsible don’t receive the highest level of punishment, we will see this type of tragedy again. There will be no relief from these horrific feelings. I’ve felt a tremendous pressure and pain over the past two weeks surrounded by dead bodies. As a witness to this cruelty, I feel the urge to share this pain with everyone. That’s why I want this photo to be seen.


Taslima Akhter is a Bangladeshi photographer and activist.

Source

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A BELATED MAY DAY GIFT FOR YOU

 

Songs for May Day – Songs for You and Me 

 

Songs for and inspired by May Day – The Last Internationale Demand That ‘Workers of the World Unite!'; Union Town by Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman; “This Land Is Your Land” with Judy Collins, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie & Fred Hellerman; L’Internationale – Pete Seeger in English and the original French; “The Internationale” conducted by Arturo Toscanini–BANNED by U.S. censors!; Max Roach: We Insist! Freedom Now Suite

May%20Day%20graphic%20%20-%20Drooker%20

 
 

 Drawing from Drooker’s book, “Slingshot.”, http://drooker.com/books/slingshot.html

“May Day has become an international celebration of the social and economic achievements of the labour movement. Although the commemoration of May Day as International Workers’ Day received its inspiration from the United States, the U.S. Congress designated May 1 as Loyalty Day in 1958 due to the day’s perceived appropriation by the Soviet Union. Alternatively, Labor Day traditionally occurs on the first Monday in September in the United States. People often use May Day as a day for political protest, such as the million people who demonstrated against far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen in France in 2002, or as a day for protest against government actions, such as rallies in support of undocumented workers across the United States.”

 

Eric Drooker post on Facebook

 

 

The Last Internationale Demand That ‘Workers of the World Unite!’

 

Folk-rockers rally for protest anthem

 

Listen toThe Last Internationale

 

By RJ Cubarrubia

May 1, 2013 

Rolling Stone

 

New York’s counterculture spirit lives on in the Last Internationale, a group of impassioned folk-rockers, and the new video for their fiery protest song “Workers of the World Unite!” In it, the band plays through the stripped-down track in an isolated shack, and images of hard-working farmers filter throughout the video (which you can watch here exclusively).

 

“[The song] is about poverty, oppression, injustice, the myth of the American dream and the need for workers’ revolution against capitalism,” the Last Internationale tell Rolling Stone. “We wanted to write a song with an anthemic chorus to perform at protests and for social movements in general, but we also wanted it to be very personal.” To get their pure, no-frills sound, the band recorded the track at Estudio Sa Da Bandeira in Porto, Portugal while on tour. “We performed and mixed it live to quarter-inch tape with the engineer controlling the faders behind the board,” the band says. “No overdubs, no punch-ins and no soul-sucking computers.”

 

The group may sound modest, but they already have a famous fan. Tom Morello considers the Last Internationale a “raw and real” combination of “East Village rock sensibilities with Battleship Potemkin firepower,” he tells Rolling Stone.

 

“Workers of the World Unite!” marks International Workers’ Day today. The band’s latest release, the Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Indian Blood + Crawlin’ Queen Snake and Bourgeois Blues seven-inch, is out now. They also released their new EP, New York, I Do Mind Dying, in January.

 

 

Union Town by Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman 

 

Stop the War on Workers

 

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

 

Visit to join the fight and download “Union Town” for free. Video by Revolution Messaging. Directed and edited by Robin Bell. Tom Morello filmed by Sean Ricigliano Wisconsin convergence footage by Matt Wisniewski as well as the Transport Workers Union. LA Unity Rally footage by Chris Kissinger.

 

  

 

 

“This Land Is Your Land” with Judy Collins, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie & Fred Hellerman 

 

Studs Terkel does the introduction to the beloved Woody Guthrie song, sung by Judy, Pete, Fred and Arlo in this 1976 broadcast from PBS studio in Chicago.

 

 

 

L’Internationale 

 

Pete Seeger singing the socialist anthem, in both French and English

 

   

 

 

“The Internationale” conducted by Arturo Toscanini–BANNED by U.S. censors!

 

  

 

In 1944, to honor the Allied victory in Italy, the great Arturo Toscanini–a refugee from Fascisim in his home country–decided to conduct a performance of Verdi’s “Hymn of the Nations”. “Hymn” is a composition that Verdi originally built around the national anthems of Britain, France, and Italy. In order to honor all four of the major Allies, Toscanini decided to add “The Star Spangled Banner” for the U.S. and “The Internationale” for the Soviet Union. The music was performed by the NBC Symphony Orchestra, with the Westminister Choir and the great tenor Jan Peerce as soloist; conducted by Toscanini. It was filmed as a featurette to be shown in movie theaters, and was narrated by Burgess Meredith.

 

In the early 50’s, at the height of the Red Scare,U.S. censors excised the portion of this performance that featured the “Internationale”.

 

For years the sequence in the original featurette was considered forever lost. But recently a copy of this missing piece of film was rediscovered, and now this rousing rendition of the Internationale–together with chorale and orchestra under the direction of a legendary conductor–can now be enjoyed again.

 

 

Max Roach: We Insist! Freedom Now Suite (2007)

 

 

By Chris May

 

October 8, 2007

All About Jazz

 

Re-released following the passing of drummer Max Roach in August 2007, We Insist! Freedom Now Suite (Candid, 1960) remains a work of enduring musical and social importance. Notwithstanding Roach’s central role in the creation of bop, or his later hard bop explorations with trumpeter Clifford Brown, it is, by some margin, the most perfectly realised album he recorded.

 

1960 was the year in which black Americans’ struggle for civil rights reached critical mass. In February, anti-segregationist lunch-counter sit-ins began in Greensboro, North Carolina. Rallies, marches and sit-ins spread out across the country like a bushfire, with black, and white, musicians, dramatists and visual artists adding their voices to the movement. The question was no longer perceived as whether a change was going to come, but when it would come.

 

We Insist!, recorded in August and September 1960, was the first of several jazz albums explicitly to voice the growing demand for equal rights. In November, it was followed by the recording of bassist Charles Mingus’ Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus (Candid, 1960), whose “Original Faubus Fables,” a ferocious attack on Arkansas governor Orval E. Faubus (of Little Rock High School infamy), possessed an intensity which set the tone for most jazz-as-protest albums to follow.

 

Some of those albums sound like period pieces today, but not We Insist!, which is sufficiently nuanced and free of agit-prop literalism to transcend its era. Conceived as a suite by Roach, its composer and arranger, the album features a shifting cast of players, with only Roach and singer Abbey Lincoln heard throughout. Three of the five tracks – “Driva’ Man,” “Freedom Day” and “All Africa” – feature lyrics by Oscar Brown Jr., sung by Lincoln, who is joined on “All Africa” by Nigerian conga player Michael Olatunji. Brown’s words, pitched as poetry rather than polemic, are deep and eloquent, and Lincoln’s assertive, uncompromising delivery of them is widely considered to be her finest recorded performance.

 

The album is ablaze with instrumental spirit too. Tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, in an inspired piece of guest casting, solos at length on the opening “Driva’ Man,” his sturdy, heavyweight testifying suggesting dignity and determination in the face of whip-wielding oppression – he sounds like the civil rights marchers looked. “All Africa” closes with four minutes of collective improvisation between Roach, Olatunji and Afro-Cuban percussionists Ray Mantilla and Tomas DuVall, as thrilling an African/Afro-American drum summit as could be wished for. There are stirring solos from trumpeter Booker Little, trombonist Julian Priester and tenor saxophonist Walter Benton, and the ensemble’s focus is razor sharp throughout, honed by Roach’s virtuosic drumming.

 

Awesome is an over-used word, but it’s the right one for We Insist!. 

 

Track Listing: Driva’ Man; Freedom Day; Triptych (Prayer, Protest, Peace); All Africa; Tears For Johannesburg.

 

Personnel: Max Roach: drums; Booker Little: trumpet; Julian Priester: trombone; Coleman Hawkins: tenor saxophone (1); Walter Benton: tenor saxophone; James Schenck: bass; Michael Olatunji: congas; Ray Mantilla: percussion; Tomas DuVall: percussion; Abbey Lincoln: vocals.

 

 

We Insist! : Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite (complete) 

 

  

MAY DAY! MAY DAY!! MAY DAY!!!

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Mayday is an emergency procedure word used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure radio communications. It derives from the French venez m’aider, meaning “come help me“.[1]

It is used to signal a life-threatening emergency primarily by mariners and aviators, but in some countries local organisations such as police forces, firefighters, and transportation organizations also use the term. The call is always given three times in a row (“Mayday Mayday Mayday”) to prevent mistaking it for some similar-sounding phrase under noisy conditions, and to distinguish an actual Mayday call from a message about a Mayday call. (From)

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Yes, the entire world is in distress…. Here’s how YOU can help ….

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Wed
May. 1
12:00 AM
May Day Events
Wed
May. 1
10:00 AM
Occupy Guitarmy May Day Education and Actions
Wed
May. 1
10:30 AM
Young Workers: March with TWU on May Day!
Wed
May. 1
11:00 AM
Wed
May. 1
12:00 PM
Immigrant Worker Justice Tour
Wed
May. 1
12:00 PM

Rally for Worker & Immigrant Rights

Union Square, Union Square Park, New York
Rally for Worker & Immigrant Rights
Wed
May. 1
3:00 PM

99 Pickets Solidarity Swarm

Union Square, Union Square Park, New York
99 Pickets Solidarity Swarm
Wed
May. 1
3:00 PM
NYC Student May Day Convergence and Dance Party
Wed
May. 1
3:00 PM
Resistance Is Fertile: Love Bomb Seed Bombs
Wed
May. 1
7:00 PM

May Day People’s Assembly

Foley Square, Foley Square, New York
May Day People's Assembly
Wed
May. 1
7:45 PM
Kimani Gray Memorial Citywide May Day Assembly
Fri
May. 3
1:00 PM

Screen: Occupy Love (Film)

Cinema Village, 22 E 12th Street, New York
Screen: Occupy Love (Film)
Sat
May. 4
1:00 PM
Occupy Against attacks on the 99% Through Austerity!
Tue
May. 7
6:30 PM
After May Day-Occupy Wall Street in Action/Open House

WHY WE WON’T MOURN FOR MARGARET THATCHER

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Among other things … She sponsored a wave of racism claiming Britain was being “swamped by immigrants” – and then unleashed a reign of racist terror by the police on black communities across the country, notably in places like Brixton and Toxteth. At the same time she propped up Apartheid racism in South Africa branding Nelson Mandela a terrorist to the very end. She used the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s as an excuse to attack lesbians and gay men, bringing the anti-gay law, Section 28. And in case students thought they were getting off lightly she laid the foundation stone of the long campaign to transform education from a right into a privilege for the rich by introducing student loans.
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Why we Won’t Mourn for Margaret Thatcher
Written by Liverpool Trades Union Council   

Margaret Thatcher died on 8 April 2013 and the vast majority of ordinary people greeted her passing with undisguised joy.

The right wing media have tried to portray this response as the disrespectful behaviour of a minority. It isn’t. It is a fitting response to the death of a Tory prime minister who spent the entire 1980s wilfully attacking the poor and the working class, in Britain and abroad.

During her reign countless people lost their lives directly as a result of her policies – miners killed on the picket lines, ten Irish prisoners driven to death on hunger strike by her refusal to recognise their human rights, sailors on the Belgrano torpedoed on her order as their ship sailed away from a war zone, people driven to suicide by her selfish economic policies that increased inequality massively in Britain.

And of course in this city 96 Liverpool supporters died at a football match. She was up to her armpits in a conspiracy to blame the victims and their families for a tragedy that her hateful policing policies caused. And we have only just got an official recognition of how this cover up increased the terrible suffering that the families and survivors of this terrible event have had to endure for 24 long years.

Did Thatcher mourn for her victims? No. And we don’t mourn for her.

In Britain she destroyed industry after industry to break the power of the trade unions – in steel, in the mines, in the print and on the docks. She passed the most undemocratic and draconian anti-union laws in the west. She deregulated the banks and directly caused the regime of financial piracy that led to the recent financial crash.

Thatcher openly targeted our city – a city with strong trade union and socialist values –imposing savage cuts and then ousting a democratically elected Labour council that fought her. She launched her attacks on Liverpool after the Toxteth Rising in 1981, determined to make us pay for having fought back and determined to carry out a policy of the “managed decline” (her words) of our city.

After she had waged her neo-colonial war against Argentina in the Falklands/Malvinas in 1982 – a war designed to shore up Britain’s military prowess on the world stage and protect the interests of Britain’s bosses who could smell oil reserves in the South Atlantic and saw the islands as a potential future basis of operations – she returned to war on people she called “the enemy within”, trade unionists, workers, poor people and above all the miners. After all, the excuse that Argentina was ruled by a dictator didn’t wash given her lifelong support for the murderous General Pinochet in neighbouring Chile. This was a dictator she was happy to lavish praise on and arm to the teeth. He killed at least 30,000 Chilean trade unionists after his coup in 1973.

Thatcher spent untold millions killing Argentinians and then in 1984/85 bludgeoning British miners into submission after a year-long strike, and all for the same aim – to ensure that the country would be a land of plenty for the rich elite both at home and abroad. Mining communities were wrecked by her pit closure programme and criminalised by a police occupation of their villages when they fought back.

And having won both battles she went on, in her third term of office – to impose an unjust local tax on everyone – the poll tax. She brazenly piloted it in Scotland first in act of vengeful spite against a people who had rejected Toryism outright. This was one battle she lost as we fought back with all our might. Make no mistake, it may have been the Tory men in suits who moved against her in parliament, but they were only able to do it because we had made Britain virtually ungovernable through the great Poll Tax Rebellion.

During her time in office and even before she became prime minister Thatcher – who famously said, “there is no such thing as society” –did her best to harm all of those who stood for justice and equality? She took free milk away from schoolchildren. She sold off council houses creating a terrible shortage of affordable homes; she privatised industries and utilities so her loud mouthed mega rich friends in the City of London could make killing after killing on the stock markets. She closed down industries and then allowed a heroin epidemic to flourish in the ghost towns her policies had created.

She sponsored a wave of racism claiming Britain was being “swamped by immigrants” – and then unleashed a reign of racist terror by the police on black communities across the country, notably in places like Brixton and Toxteth. At the same time she propped up Apartheid racism in South Africa branding Nelson Mandela a terrorist to the very end. She used the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s as an excuse to attack lesbians and gay men, bringing the anti-gay law, Section 28. And in case students thought they were getting off lightly she laid the foundation stone of the long campaign to transform education from a right into a privilege for the rich by introducing student loans.

There is not one thing that Thatcher did that was good. Her life was a blot on our landscape. We are well rid of her – and we are outraged that at a time of major cuts in welfare she is being given a multi-million pound send off. What hypocrisy, what an insult to the poor of this country who are having to cope with the bedroom tax and the benefit cuts as over £10million is spent burying a person the majority of people in this country despise.

Which brings us to the main point we should all remember as she is dispatched – Thatcher may be dead but her legacy of sacrificing the livelihoods, the rights and communities of the working class on the altar of profit lives on in her descendants. Cameron and his gang of Etonian toffs are trying to finish off the job Thatcher started. It is our job to stop them and hurl Thatcher’s legacy back in their face. Which is why on the day of her funeral Liverpool Trades Union Council renews its commitment to stopping the cuts, axing the bedroom tax, saving the NHS and supporting workers’ struggles here, across the country and across the world. 

Source

 

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BELLA CIAO HUGO CHAVEZ

 Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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The President that did more to help the poor people in the United States than Obama himself ….
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Hugo Chavez Gives Heating Aid to U.S. Poor Following Obama Budget Cuts

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Read the full report HERE
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Bella Ciao Dear Comrade
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10 Memorable Hugo Chávez Moments

President Hugo Chávez was known for his grand overtures and bold attacks. A exceptionally gifted orator who relished media attention, he continually came up with show-stealing lines. Below are 10 of the many moments that made Mr. Chávez such a distinctive force in Venezuela and across the world.
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Click HERE to see the multi media report from the New York Times
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Cindy Sheehan adds the following tribute to a wonderful human being ….
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In Loving Memory: Hugo Chavez Frias 1954-2013

 
Hugo Chavez Frias, Presente!
Cindy Sheehan
 
A wonderful human being has passed.
What do I do when I am angry, happy, or sad? I write.
Back in 2004, shortly after my son, Casey, was killed in Iraq, a grief counselor advised me to write a letter to my son in a journal every night. I filled up three journals in the terrible months after his death. I often wrote at his grave and those journals did help me deal with the unspeakable loss.
Today, I write from a great well of sadness, but not just for me, for the world. My dear friend in peace and justice, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, just lost his fierce and valiant battle with cancer.
Many people know about Hugo Chavez, the president, and constant thorn in the side to El Imperio the meddlesome and harmful Empire to the north. But I want to eulogize Chavez the man I knew.
He was my dear friend and comrade in a way where we were united in the struggle for peace and economic justice and equality. It’s not like I could text him, or we would chat about current events, but whenever I had the privilege to be with him, warmth radiated from his heart and I was able to connect with him in very real and human ways. Compared to the palpable realness of Chavez, most of the US politicians I have met with are walking and talking ice sculptures.
The first time I met him in Caracas was in early 2006 at the World Social Forum. I had been invited to sit on the stage while he gave a speech to those gathered there from around the world. He introduced me as, “Señora Esperanza,” “Mrs. Hope,” in contrast to his nickname for George Bush: “Señor Peligro,” “Mr. Danger.” However, our brother, Hugo Chavez, was the one who gave us much hope.
I have met and interviewed so many people in Venezuela whose lives were immeasurably improved by the vision and dedication of Hugo Chavez. How can one put a price on going from being illiterate to being able to read? A 65-year-old woman told me her life was transformed by the adult literacy program. It really made me appreciate the fact that I have always known how to read (it seems). What would I have done without my best friends, my books? Wow. I guess Capitalism would tally the cost of educating one student and, of course education here in the US is now just another commodity, but the look of wonder in my Sister’s eyes was priceless!
Another woman showed me her perfect teeth in a huge grin. She told me that her teeth used to be so bad, that she would never smile before, but now, due to her new set of false teeth provided by the national dental program, she walks around grinning like a lunatic all day, which made me laugh with joy! Again, Capitalism would say: One set of false teeth equals X amount of dollars. I say, being able to smile after years of embarrassing humiliation is worth more than any amount of gold.
Those are just two stories out of millions and my heart breaks with sorrow for the People of the Bolivarian Revolution that must be even more devastated than I, today.
I witnessed Chavez the proud “abuelo” (grandpa) once on a long flight from Caracas to Montevideo that I took with them. We chatted about out “nietos” (grandchildren) and felt a mutual connection there. I hugged my grandbabies a little harder today when I found out that Chavez died, because I know the wonderful connection that he had with his. My heart breaks for his children and his family, and his brother, Adan, who seemed to be constantly at his side. It’s just a very hard day.
I was with Chavez in Montevideo, Uruguay, for the presidential inauguration of Felipé Mujica. I was amazed that Chavez could just plunge into the crowds and interact with the people without a phalanx of bodyguards, anti-aircraft missiles and assault weapons. His security detail was prepared, but not paranoid like up here in the Empire. Someone who is universally loved by the 99% need have no fear. Chavez had no fear.
Chavez’s courageous battle against the Empire was more successful than his battle against cancer. Chavez was able to inspire more leftist leaders in Latin America and my friends in Cuba will always be grateful for the friendship between Venezuela and Cuba. The struggle against neo-liberalism and the Empire has been far advanced under Chavez’s inspirational leadership.
This is a sad day and I am angry that the so-called leaders of my own country made Chavez’s life a virtual hell, but he survived one coup attempt and the many other attempts through the media and financing of his opposition to undermine the revolution.
When in the hell is this country going to mind it’s own goddamn business and realize that not every drop of oil belongs to our oil companies and not every democratically elected leader must pledge undying obsequiousness to the Evil Empire?
I am immensely proud of Chavez and I am immensely proud of the people of Venezuela who have worked with him to improve their lives and because they really understand the concept of “national sovereignty.”
I know the upper echelons of The Empire think they have won a victory today (if it didn’t give Chavez his cancer in the first place—don’t even start and say I am a “conspiracy theorist” everyone knows that the Empire is fully capable of it, they couldn’t kill him, or depose him, outright) and all the oil will now flow back into the hands of our big oil companies, but The Empire underestimates the people of Venezuela and their dedication to the Bolivarian Revolution and love for their leader, Hugo Chavez.
As we sorrowfully say, “vaya con la paz” to our Brother, Hugo Chavez, let’s also say, “long live the revolution.”
Chavez will never die if we honor his vision and continue our struggle against The Empire.
US Presidents come and go with destructive, yet boring and predictable regularity and are numbered for History’s convenience when they should all have had black and white striped clothing and be behind bars. However, it is my belief that Hugo Chavez Frias will go down in World History as one of the most significant figures of the early 21st Century and his passing is a tragic and profound loss to us all, as his life was an inspiration.
A-dios, Señor Esperanza.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul. Your light is far too bright to be extinguished by something as cruel as death and your light shines in all of us whose hearts burn with revolution and love for all the people.
My life and our world are far better today because of your life and the struggle continues until victory! 

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