The Venezuelan people reelected Nicolas Maduro for a second presidential term on May 20. A US-backed political tide of reaction had been bucked, which had swept away previously left-leaning Latin American governments – often by extra-parliamentary means – in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Honduras, and even Ecuador. The US and the right-wing opposition in Venezuela had demanded an election boycott and Maduro’s resignation. Defying them, the popular classes voted as a form of resistance in what they proudly told us was a “celebration of democracy.” Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution was again affirmed as was Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro.
SB 822 passed in large part due to mass mobilization by California residents in support of net neutrality. The bill heads next to the State Assembly, where it will likely get a vote early this Fall. -More than 53,000 California residents sent letters to the Senate Energy committee calling on them to advance SB 822 -Nearly 200 small businesses in California have signed on to open letters here and here. -Dozens of public interest groups like Fight for the Future, Color of Change, Greenpeace, Consumers Union, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, CREDO, and Daily Kos signed on to a letter calling on Committee Chair Ben Hueso to advance SB 822.
WOODSTOCK, N.Y. >> Jay Wenk, a town councilman and local exemplar of peaceful but determined activism, has died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 91. Conor Wenk said his grandfather died Tuesday evening at home on Meads Mountain Road. “It’s something he had a battle with once before, and this time he really didn’t want to fight it,” Conor Wenk said of his grandfather’s illness. “I was incredibly proud of everything he did, and he was absolutely my favorite person.” Wenk was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II, serving as a combat infantryman in the European Theater, but he also was a member of the group Veterans for Peace, which opposed U.S. military action, and he often participated in demonstrations, including at military recruiting offices.
DONALD TRUMP: Every death is a horror. But if you look at a real catastrophe, like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody’s ever seen anything like this. What is your death count as of this moment, seventeen? Sixteen people certified, sixteen people, versus in the thousands. You can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people.
This week on Act Out! When a regulatory institution doesn't regulate – but rather rubber stamps dirty energy projects for fossil fuel companies destroying our land, air and water - what tactics should you consider? Next up, how corporate media is protecting racists and normalizing oppression – and finally Freedom Day – or Juneteenth is around the corner. Eugene Puryear joins us once more – this time to talk about commemoration and the ongoing fight for black liberation in this country.
Fathi Harb should have had something to live for, not least the imminent arrival of a new baby. But last week the 21-year-old extinguished his life in an inferno of flames in central Gaza. It is believed to be the first example of a public act of self-immolation in the enclave. Harb doused himself in petrol and set himself alight on a street in Gaza City shortly before dawn prayers during the holy month of Ramadan. In part, Harb was driven to this terrible act of self-destruction out of despair. After a savage, decade-long Israeli blockade by land, sea and air, Gaza is like a car running on fumes. The United Nations has repeatedly warned that the enclave will be uninhabitable within a few years.
Since May 19, a hotline dedicated to assisting families threatened by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been ringing nonstop. That same day is when ICE agents across the Chicagoland area began a widespread sweep, including at a worksite near a Home Depot, where laborers go to find work. According to immigrants’ rights organizers, at least 80 people have been detained since the sweep began, and likely many more. On Thursday, a group of around 75 protesters gathered on Chicago’s Southwest side at the intersection of 45th St. and Western Ave., across the street from the worksite. Organizers, as well as several workers who were at the job site when ICE arrived last weekend, spoke to the gathered crowd. With ICE threatening their livelihoods and their communities, those who spoke gave urgency to the ongoing fight to end police intimidation and for immigrants to earn a living and to live without fear.
While the current problems of the Democratic Party began in the Carter era, they escalated with the choice of Bill Clinton as its presidential candidate. He was chosen by the Democratic Leadership Council in part for the purposes he served, namely undoing key elements of Democratic past that even Ronald Reagan couldn't achieve such as social welfare. Clinton has been outdone by another DLC vetted candidate, Barack Obama, who not only showed contempt for the Constitution on various civil liberties issues but was the first president to propose reducing the benefits of Social Security and Medicare. Further, since Clinton took office, the Republican Party has had no effective opposition and the Democratic Party has become overwhelmingly beholden to its corporate contributors.
Over 3,000 contract instructors at York University in Toronto, Canada, have been walking picket lines since early March. Their strike affects nearly 50,000 students. Up to half of all courses offered are taught by contract instructors, the Canadian term for adjuncts. The university administration made a decision to continue as many courses as possible despite the walkout. But being short just one credit can keep a student from graduating. The Canadian Union of Public Employees 3903, which represents the striking contract instructors and teaching assistants, has charged the York administration with being unwilling to bargain. York’s administration insists on binding arbitration — submitting disputes to a third party that makes a final decision — which the union has rejected. Overwhelming majorities of the union have also voted down contract proposals, which York insisted had to be voted on.
When Scott Pruitt took the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency in 2017, public health activists, environmentalists and ordinary citizens expressed outrage. How could a politician with close ties to the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) be counted on to champion the Agency’s mandate? Why turn the EPA over to a lawyer who was involved in multiple lawsuits against it, and, who, as attorney general of Oklahoma, disbanded that state’s Environmental Protection Unit? Less than two years later, Pruitt's record as EPA head has only reinforced his detractors’ worst fears. While Scott Pruitt’s tenure provokes almost daily controversy, what remains less known is that the EPA has long been a compromised institution.
FEDERAL MAGISTRATE JUDGE Ronald G. Morgan is in his 60s, with a bright-pink face and a crisp, friendly manner — though lately he has been making disconcerting little mistakes in court. He has spent eight years on the bench in Brownsville, a small Texas city on the U.S.-Mexico border. Morgan knows how to run a court smoothly, but during a morning session I attended in early May, he announced that he’d just dealt with 35 defendants — all at one time — when the actual number was 40. And after the proceedings, he forgot to pronounce their guilt. Marshals had already led them out, so Morgan sheepishly had to call the 40 defendants back to the courtroom to correct his error. These days, he seems distracted and troubled.
Six months after Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 into law, “the days of most people getting a pay raise are over.” That is one finding of a disturbing new report from Axios, which also notes that major corporations are planning on cutting their respective payrolls, despite having secured trillions in tax savings from Republican legislators in Congress. During a conference Thursday at the Dallas Fed, several of the country’s leading CEOs were asked if they had any plans to use their collective tax windfall to increase wages. Their answers, according to Axios’ Steve LeVine, were “candid and bracing.” “It’s just not going to happen,” Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Beverages Florida Troy Taylor told the discussion’s moderator. “Absolutely not in my business.” Taylor and several others suggested that if workers wanted to increase their salaries, or even save their jobs, they would have to pursue more “technically-skilled” employment.
Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela are all targets of the U.S. government because they challenge control of Latin America and the Caribbean by Western corporate elites and their local allies. By means of soft coups these interests have – at least for now – taken power in Brazil and Argentina, hijacked the government in Ecuador and derailed the peace process in Colombia. Currently, U.S. efforts at regime change focus most urgently on Venezuela and Nicaragua, while reverting to the failed policy of punitive sanctions against Cuba and biding their time for the moment in Bolivia. Despite the relentless psychological warfare campaign to discredit them, the governments of Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela defend their peoples' fundamental democratic rights to peaceful economic development focused on human needs rather than corporate profit.
Black Alliance For Peace Calls On Congressional Black Caucus And Leadership Of Poor People’s Campaign To Demand The Dismantling U.S. African Command (AFRICOM)
On May 25, African Liberation Day, the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) called on the United States government to dismantle the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) and withdraw all U.S. forces from the African continent. This demand is in line with the main objective of the newly formed Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases—of which BAP is a founding member—which was formally launched in January. The coalition demands the closure of 800-plus U.S. military bases in other countries, which would save more than $150 billion that could then be re-allocated to realize the economic human rights of the working class and poor in this country. In our statement on African Liberation Day we called on the members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to publicly oppose the aggressive militarization of the African continent, ramped up by the Obama administration and being continued by the Trump administration.
Gaza, Palestine – A flotilla carrying at least 25 patients, students and activists have broken Israel’s imposed boundary off the coast of the Gaza Strip, the first time in more than a decade. The group set sail on Tuesday morning from the besieged Gaza Strip, hoping to break Israel’s debilitating siege on the enclave that has trapped more than two million Palestinians since 2006. By midday, the boat had crossed nine nautical miles (16km), with four Israeli warships flanking the vessel. “We’re surrounded by Israeli warships to the left, the right, to our front and from behind. We’re stuck in the middle,” an activist on the flotilla told reporters. “We’re all safe and request your prayers.” Under the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, Israel is obligated to permit fishing up to 20 nautical miles, but this has never been implemented.