On May Day, the first of May, the #GeneralStrike2020 (and beyond) campaign launches across the country. Learn more about the overall campaign in our most recent newsletter, "The Era of Mass Strikes Begins On May 1; First Day of General Strike Campaign." This prolonged and broad campaign will organize around a list of basic demands, as outlined here. Not on the list, but included is the demand to save the US Postal Service. The campaign will follow a three-prong strategy - resistance through noncompliance, mutual aid and building alternative systems in our communities rooted in cooperation, solidarity and participatory democracy. On May Day and extending through the weekend, there will be many activities. Read through and decide how you can best participate in the actions. There is something for everyone to do. Be creative!
Earlier today, Trump announced that he intended to use the power of the federal government and the Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open throughout the United States. The move comes as massive outbreaks with hundreds of workers have hit meatpacking plants throughout the U.S. As a result, scores of meatpacking plants have closed because of outbreaks. Strikes and mass sickouts at a dozen meatpacking plants throughout the U.S. have led to the closure of additional plants. It’s unclear how Trump intends to use the Defense Production Act to force meat packing processing workers back into the assembly line. Organized labor immediately denounced the move. “We only wish that this administration cared as much about the lives of working people as it does about meat, pork, and poultry products."
The Friday demonstrations will also request protective and cleaning equipment and full disclosure on the number of infected cases in company facilities. The protest would result in employees of the listed businesses calling in sick from work or stepping out during their lunch break. At the same time, some union members will reportedly join workers outside warehouses and storefronts in support of the strikes. "We are acting in conjunction with workers at Amazon, Target, Instacart, and other companies for International Worker's Day [May 1] to show solidarity with other essential workers," said Daniel Steinbrook, a Whole Foods employee and strike organizer. Smalls was fired by Amazon in March after organizing a walkout and has said he will take legal action against the company.
Americans, generally speaking at least, think it is right and good that they and their neighbors have access to books. And magazines and newspapers. And internet access when you need it. And places to sit and read. And a trusted source you can call when you have a question you can’t figure out the answer to. These things cost money, and it’s unlikely the magic of the marketplace will find a way to make all of them universally accessible. So people in nearly every community nationwide have funded and supported these things called libraries. In many places, those libraries are funded by a special dedicated tax or fee, which goes to buy those books, pay for that internet access, keep the lights on, and so on.
Washington, DC ― New analysis from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) shows that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) likely has carried out at least 232 deportation flights to Latin American and Caribbean countries since February 3, 2020, just after the Trump administration declared a public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By examining flight data for known ICE Air contractors taking off from airports near ICE detention facilities, with destinations frequently used for deportations, CEPR is able to provide estimates of the numbers of deportation flights since the pandemic began. In some cases, there has been evidence of deportations of people known to be infected with the novel coronavirus, and many other cases of people being deported after being exposed to the virus while in ICE detention.
Empires fall a little bit at a time and then all at once. Over the last two decades, America has proven itself to be well along on that journey. The coronavirus pandemic has simply pushed our nation further along that downward spiral. Ultimately, the pandemic has further exposed and exacerbated — for those still somehow in denial about the decades-long reality of America as a decaying empire — deep political, social, economic, cultural and other societal problems. The country's infrastructure is rotting. Trump presides over a plutocratic, corrupt, cruel, authoritarian, pathological kakistocracy. The commons is being reduced to rubble while the ultra-rich extract ever more wealth and other resources from the American people. Excessive military spending has left the United States incapable of attending to the basic needs of its people.
This is a very effective but flawed film, which already has been seen on YouTube by 2.5 million when I saw it on April 26. To sum up my review, it combines a very welcome biting critique of “green” capital-driven renewable energy creation and big capital funding/influence on the agendas of major U.S. environmental groups with a reactionary message calling human population growth the driver of an unsustainable planet. The film’s conclusion is that there is a “human presence far beyond sustainability”. It argues that scientists all agree, at least the ones interviewed, that overpopulation is at the root of our environmental crisis. Well, I am a scientist among many others who strongly disagrees with this conclusion, rather that the “cancerous form of capitalism” identified in this film is the root cause.
Experts have been consistent in telling the public that one of the best means to stop the spread of the coronavirus is the practice of good hygiene. But how can you abide by these instructions when you do not have access to clean water? This is the challenge facing millions of low-income people throughout the world. As COVID-19 continues to spread — overwhelming even advanced capitalist countries with robust health care systems — governments, social movements and citizens in Latin America are being forced to confront the global pandemic in societies that are still largely defined by extreme inequality, one that makes typical expert recommendations nearly impossible to follow. “The global struggle against the pandemic has little chance to succeed if personal hygiene, the main measure to prevent contagion, is unavailable to the 2.2 billion persons who have no access to safe water services,” said a team of independent experts affiliated with the United Nations Human Rights Council, as quoted by the Associated Press.
The world’s wildlife is in danger of dying off, and inevitably taking humanity out with it. Humans have destroyed enormous portions of the planet’s natural spaces, and caused a climate disaster as well as the unprecedented acceleration of mass extinction events. Among the many species struggling to stay afloat are the butterflies, birds, bats, bees, and other pollinators we depend upon in order to grow basic food crops. People cannot live without the Earth’s diverse, wild plants and animals. Scientists agree that continued disruption of the Earth’s ecosystems threatens the future survival of humanity as much as climate change does. And, the two aren’t entirely separate issues; healthy forests and soil systems, for example, sequester carbon naturally. As they are destroyed, there is increased carbon in the atmosphere.
We have read the first Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) April 2020 report on alleged chemical attacks at Ltamenah. We observe that, as expected, the IIT has been loyal to its raison d’être. This has gone on for too long now. What makes it worse is the IIT’s narrative has been presented to the world as a product of many peoples’ work. In fact, a number of impartial and principled professionals no longer wish to be associated with the politically motivated reports being issued by the OPCW FFM and now the IIT. Many consider this work and these reports to be procedurally and scientifically flawed. Some of us believe they should not be seen as representing the work of OPCW inspectors at all.
The unprecedented scale of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic gives rise to many questions about the ways our society is organized and how our future society should be rebuilt. One issue that has an enormous impact on how our future society will be is how much public money we will spend on wars and militarism and how much money we will spend on human needs and the protection of our plants. Currently, the US spends an insane amount of money on the military and wars each year. The FY2020 military budget will cost taxpayers $738 billion, a $120 billion increase in the last three years. No country in the world comes close to dedicating this many of its resources to the military. In fact, the U.S. spends more on defense than the next ten countries combined and it has 800 bases in more than 90 countries while all other countries in the world, 11 of them, have 70 bases in foreign countries altogether.
My neighborhood in Chicago, “Little Village,” is the single largest jail site in the United States. The Cook County Jail is usually known as a place where violence occurs, like attacks on inmates and correctional officers, suicides and shootings outside of the courthouse. It has also become what the New York Times called a top national “hot spot” for the coronavirus in recent weeks. As of this writing a staggering 491 inmates and over 360 staff have tested positive for COVID-19. Six inmates have recently died because of the virus, and the numbers of cases continue to grow. There are several important efforts taking place locally, like the Chicago Community Bond Fund and The Bail Project, to reduce the number of people behind bars during this pandemic.
President Richard M. Nixon prided himself on the accuracy of his political prognostication. Nixon was never more prescient than fifty years ago this month, in a remark made to his secretary, just before delivering a White House address that announced a U.S. military invasion of Cambodia. “It’s possible,” Nixon told her, “that the campuses are really going to blow up after this speech.” Blow up they did, as Nixon’s unexpected escalation of an already unpopular war in Vietnam triggered a chain of events culminating in the largest student strike in U.S. history. In May 1970, an estimated 4 million young people joined protests that shutdown classes at 700 colleges, universities, and high schools around the country. Dozens were forced to remain closed for the rest of the spring semester.
On April 29, 2020, a team of activists with La ColectiVA and ShutDownDC painted a mural on the street in front of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ DC home. The mural read “PROTECT AMAZON WORKERS” in massive letters stretching from curb to curb. The mural action was taken in solidarity with Amazon workers across the country who are being forced to endanger their health during the COVID-19 crisis. Advocates for healthy and safe working conditions in Amazon warehouses participated in an online town hall in which they called on Bezos to provide paid time off for illness, adequately clean warehouses, and end attacks on worker organizing. They were joined by environmental justice and racial justice activists. “Whether it’s harming our environment or enabling ICE and police surveillance, corporations like Amazon are complicit in profiteering from practices that put us all, especially Black and brown communities, at risk...”
The coronavirus depression is fast becoming as deep as the Great Depression. The federal government’s response has been too little, too late. While sickness and death spread, while unemployment and small business failures soar, while health care and essential workers lack personal protective equipment (PPE), Congress is in recess until May 4. The childlike dummy, Donald Trump, spouts bad advice daily in his televised briefings. Thursday he said we could beat the coronavirus by injecting disinfectants or somehow shining ultraviolet radiation inside our bodies. Meanwhile, the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, is MIA. Is he sitting on a park bench somewhere feeding bread crumbs to pigeons? Since the lockdown started five weeks ago, 26 million people have applied for unemployment insurance.