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Virtually Speaking Susie

Tonight at 9 pm EST, I’ll be interviewing my friend Michael Rogers, who wears many hats. Gay rights blogger at Blogactive, Mike has outed many closeted Republicans and stars in the documentary “Outrage.” Michael is also the managing director of Raw Story. You don’t want to miss this one!

Click here to listen, or call in 646-200-3440 with questions or comments.

Oklahoma

Also going after municipal unions.

Winding down Obama

How very impolite this author is! If someone in the administration read this, it might very well hurt their feelings:

The President of the United States is a traveling salesman for the military industrial complex. In 2010, Obama came to India to visit the Mumbai home of Gandhi, a hero of his, someone he would most like to dine with, very touching, before announcing a mega arms deal of GE fighter jet engines and Boeing military transport planes. Now, as he bombs Libya, Obama tries to sell F-18 fighter planes to Brazil. According to an aide, “President Obama underscored that the F-18 is the best plane on offer” as he made a “strong pitch” to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

The President of the United States is also a spokesman for murderers and crooks. He doesn’t rule, but obeys. His main job is to deceive the masses as he serves his enablers. He can say anything at any time, and means none of it. The President of the United States is the world’s most visible actor, in short. Campaigning in 2007, Obama said, “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States.” Quite a performance. This year, as Wisconsin teachers fight to retain their right to collectively bargain, Obama has said absolutely nothing. One would have to be a fool to think he would join them.

Offshoring began under Clinton, and has continued unabated. Under the banner of free trade, the only goal of Globalism is to couple capital with the cheapest labor available. Since organized workers are anathema to the bosses, American companies have moved their factories to totalitarian countries where workers have little rights, where they cannot be unionized. The idea is to roll back the clock to the earliest days of industrialism, where workers toiled all day long for next to nothing. In February, a bill was even introduced in Missouri to eliminate child labor laws. It seeks, in part, to get rid of “the prohibition on employment of children under age fourteen. Restrictions on the number of hours and restrictions on when a child may work during the day are also removed.” Don’t laugh. This may be a sign of things to come.
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Bob Herbert

I’m actually glad that Bob Herbert is leaving the Times, because it sure sounds like whatever he’ll be doing, it’ll be as an activist, and not a journalist:

There is plenty of economic activity in the U.S., and plenty of wealth. But like greedy children, the folks at the top are seizing virtually all the marbles. Income and wealth inequality in the U.S. have reached stages that would make the third world blush. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received an unconscionable 100 percent of the average income growth in the years 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion.

Americans behave as if this is somehow normal or acceptable. It shouldn’t be, and didn’t used to be. Through much of the post-World War II era, income distribution was far more equitable, with the top 10 percent of families accounting for just a third of average income growth, and the bottom 90 percent receiving two-thirds. That seems like ancient history now.

The current maldistribution of wealth is also scandalous. In 2009, the richest 5 percent claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The overwhelming majority, the bottom 80 percent, collectively held just 12.8 percent.
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Class war

I was at brunch yesterday with a group comprised mostly of friends, and one of them was a retired banker. We talked about the half-million people who showed up for the labor and UKUncut march, and the banker tsk-tsked that it was a shame “some people” had to be violent and attack businesses.

I ventured a comment that things were so bad, nothing would change until the powers that be were actually scared. One of my friends smiled and said, “I have no problem with that.”

When corporations indiscriminately attack the workers, workers will defend themselves. Eventually we’ll even see it here, in the good old U.S. of A.

Link:

Earlier that morning, the feeder marches, all condemned as unauthorised by the TUC made their way largely unhindered to greet the masses gathered at Embankment. A half-hearted attempt by cops to put a line across Westminster bridge in front of the Radical Workers block that had left from Kennington Park was shrugged aside.

The anarchist block split from the main march past Embankment Station, as a voice over a megaphone beckoned marchers to come with them for a sight-seeing tour around London. The break off bloc poured past Trafalgar Square, past the front of the TUC demo where hundreds of disenchanted activists decided to sack off the A to B marching exercise and join the black bloc. By the time the bloc had made its way through Covent Garden to Oxford Street it numbered several thousand.

Trudging along with the masses, other anarchists filtered through the crowd to UK Uncut’s pre-arranged meet up on Oxford St at 2pm. UK Uncut had called for occupations of corporate tax dodgers. The police tactic for the day was clearly the protection of known UK Uncut targets, with lines of police in front of branches of Boots, Vodaphone and Topshop. The cops even seemed willing to protect Topshop at the expense of more traditional anti-capitalist targets, with unfortified McDonalds and Starbucks getting done over anyway, showing that this was far from a single issue demo.
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Uh oh

Really bad news:

Plutonium has been detected in soil at five locations at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday.

The operator of the nuclear complex said that the plutonium is believed to have been discharged from nuclear fuel at the plant, which was damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

UPDATE: Let’s see. We have radioactive water now leaking directly into the ocean and it sure looks like we have at least a partial meltdown. Wheee!

Sometimes you just shouldn’t fuck with things.

Gee

It sure looks like Michelle Rhee fabricated all those “improvements” in the D.C. school system!

Tactics

“If the economy disrupts our lives, then we must disrupt the economy”. — UKUncut

I think this is a conversation worth having, because sooner or later, this Uncut movement will continue to spread across the Atlantic and reach critical mass here. This is about yesterday’s march in London:

On Saturday, around half a million people took action in response to the coalition government’s public sector spending cuts. This is how I witnessed it.

The largest group disrupted traffic across a large section of central London, as they marched from Embankment to Hyde Park, chanting their slogans, banging pots and pans and blowing whistles and vuvuzelas. The cost of the damage caused by people littering and tramping across the grass in one of the country’s best-loved public parks has yet to be assessed.

A much smaller group, perhaps of around a thousand, staged sit-ins at a number of West End shops in the early afternoon. This was followed by a rally in Soho Square where campaigners were entertained by stand-up comedians and a well-known newspaper columnist. They then staged a final, peaceful sit-in, en masse, in the upmarket grocery store Fortnum and Mason. These people were arrested on leaving the shop, kept in the cells overnight and charged with aggravated trespass. (This illiberal law was introduced in 1994 as part of the widely-opposed Criminal Justice Bill, and can be applied to anyone who “trespasses on land with the intention of disrupting, or intimidating those taking part in, lawful activity taking place on that or adjacent land.”)

A smaller group still (the BBC’s Paul Mason estimates 600) smashed the windows of and threw paint at shops and banks in the West End. From what I saw, there was no serious attempt to arrest those causing the damage.

There are two lessons that I think the anti-cuts movement (by which I mean anyone who turned out on Saturday) should take from this. First, there has been a great deal of sneering among advocates of “direct action” in the past few months at “a to b marches”. I hope Saturday’s march, which left me feeling exhilarated and hopeful for the prospect of building a sustained opposition to the cuts, proves that bringing together a huge cross-section of society valid and necessary action. Of course it doesn’t change anything in isolation, but just think about how many people returned to their workplaces today, sharing their experiences with colleagues, realising that they’re not alone in their fight, and with any luck, thinking about what to do next.

Second, there is a narrative developing among some sections of the left that UK Uncut wrecked Saturday’s protest by diverting attention from the rally in Hyde Park and are somehow responsible for the “anarchist violence” focused on by the majority of the media. This plays into the hands of the right and needs to be stopped.
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G.E.

Mike Elk at Think Progress:

Last week, the New York Times reported that, despite making $14.2 billion in profits, General Electric, the largest corporation in the United States, paid zero U.S. taxes in 2010 and actually received tax credits of $3.2 billion dollars. The article noted that GE’s tax avoidance team is comprised of “former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress.”

After not paying any taxes and making huge profits, ThinkProgress has learned that General Electric is expected to ask its nearly 15,000 unionized employees in the United States to make major concessions.

This year, 14 unions representing more than 15,000 workers will negotiate a new master contract with General Electric. Among the major concessions GE has signaled that it will ask of union workers is the elimination of a defined contribution benefit pension for new employees, a move the company has already implemented for its non-union salaried employees. Likewise, GE is signaling to the union that it will ask for the elimination of current health insurance plans in favor of lower quality health saving accounts, a move the company has already implemented for non-union salaried employees as well.

In addition, General Electric may ask some workers for a wage freeze. Since the recession began in 2007, GE threatened to close plants in Schenectady, NY and Louisville, KY unless workers took wage concessions and adopted two-tier wage structure. In an interview with ThinkProgress, Mark Haller, a machinist at General Electric locomotive factory in Erie, PA, said:

The company I work for paid no federal taxes last year, but we all get these mass emails from GE asking us to call our Congressman to fund the useless, alternative GE engine for the F-35. As taxpayers, we are subsidizing the profits of this company to a huge extent and now after making the company even more profitable, they are asking us to make concessions on pensions, benefits, and perhaps even wages. You wonder why there is a jobs crisis in this country with a guy like G.E. CEO Jeff Immelt heading the President’s Jobs Commission.

In 2003, union workers at 16 different General Electric factories engaged in a strike when G.E. proposed to cut their health care. Workers are mobilizing again this year. They have planned a rally that is expected to attract 10,000 workers from all over the country at the General Electric Locomotive Factory in Erie, PA on June 4th.

In the closet

There weren’t any Republicans in there with him?

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