Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Monday, 8 February 2010
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui update
Now Playing: Is Dr. Siddiqui a dangerous terrorist?
Author: Debra Sweet
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in Afghan custody July 17, 2008
The U.S. government’s case against Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani who holds an advanced degree from MIT in neuroscience, will go to the jury Monday in federal court here in New York City. I’ve been in the courtroom, and several times in the overflow room with dozens of supporters and reporters.
Even when we are only watching the trial through cameras in the overflow rooms, we are forced to give ID to enter, all to bolster the impression that Dr. Siddiqui is a dangerous terrorist, and that we are dangerous for caring what happens to her. Everyone entering the courthouse goes through airport style security screening, but to go into her trial, one must be searched again.
Petra Bartosiewicz wrote for Time magazine in A Pakistani on Trial – With No Pakistani Reporters:
Although Siddiqui is not charged with any terrorism-related crime,security concerns are paramount though the procedures seem to be unevenly enforced. During the lunch break on the first day of the Siddiqui trial a group of Muslim men praying in the waiting areas outside the courtroom were afterwards asked to leave the floor. That prevented them from securing a place in line for the afternoon session. Several Muslim women in hijabs were also given similar instructions, but others in the same area, dressed in business attire, including this reporter, were permitted to stay. On the second day of the trial metal detectors were posted outside the courtroom and individuals were asked for photo identification and their names and addresses were logged by court security officers. At the close of proceedings on Thursday defense attorney Charles Swift protested the practice. “The suggestion is that the gallery may be a threat,” said Swift, calling the measure “highly prejudicial.”
Judge for yourself whether the New York Daily News, which calls Siddiqui “Lady al Queda” (absent any evidence produced at trial), or The Washington Post which headlines “Government: Let al-Qaida-linked scientist testify” is part of the prosecutor’s team.
Petra, who is writing a book on US terrorist prosecutions, has been in the trial every day, blogging and linked at CagePrisoners.com. Her article in November 2009 Harper’s The intelligence factory: How America makes its enemies disappear is a deeply researched piece going behind the US government’s public case against Siddiqui, and, more broadly, the existence of a network of secret detentions and prisons the US operates. On Aafia Siddiqui:
When I first read the U.S. government’s complaint against Aafia Siddiqui, who is awaiting trial in a Brooklyn detention center on charges of attempting to murder a group of U.S. Army officers and FBI agents in Afghanistan, the case it described was so impossibly convoluted—and yet so absurdly incriminating—that I simply assumed she was innocent. According to the complaint, on the evening of July 17, 2008, several local policemen discovered Siddiqui and a young boy loitering about a public square in Ghazni. She was carrying instructions for creating “weapons involving biological material,” descriptions of U.S. “military assets,” and numerous unnamed “chemical substances in gel and liquid form that were sealed in bottles and glass jars.” Siddiqui, an MIT-trained neuroscientist who lived in the United States for eleven years, had vanished from her hometown in Pakistan in 2003, along with all three of her children, two of whom were U.S. citizens.
The complaint does not address where she was those five years or why she suddenly decided to emerge into a public square outside Pakistan and far from the United States, nor does it address why she would do so in the company of her American son. Various reports had her married to a high-level Al Qaeda operative, running diamonds out of Liberia for Osama bin Laden, and abetting the entry of terrorists into the United States. But those reports were countered by rumors that Siddiqui actually had spent the previous five years in the maw of the U.S. intelligence system—that she was a ghost prisoner, kidnapped by Pakistani spies, held in secret detention at a U.S. military prison, interrogated until she could provide no further intelligence, then spat back into the world in the manner most likely to render her story implausible. These dueling narratives of terrorist intrigue and imperial overreach were only further confounded when Siddiqui finally appeared before a judge in a Manhattan courtroom on August 5. Now, two weeks after her capture, she was bandaged and doubled over in a wheelchair, barely able to speak, because—somehow—she had been shot in the stomach by one of the very soldiers she stands accused of attempting to murder.
Dr. Siddiqui, whose brother Mohammed and many supporters are following the trial closely, is not on trial for terrorism charges, but for, as the government puts it, what happened in the “3 minutes” inside the Afghani police building on July 18, 2008. She denied, on cross examination last week, picking up a gun, or shooting it.
From what I can observe, and have read, Dr. Siddiqui is deeply traumatized and has reason to be distrustful of the courts, the military, the FBI, who questioned her without introduction while she was in hospital recovering from the gunshot wounds. She said, several times in court — and was removed for breaking the rule because she did so — that she was held in a secret prison, and her children were disappeared, and that she was tortured.
I saw reporters snicker at that. Isn’t that a delusional idea, that a Pakistani could be held in a secret prison? Remember George W. Bush, and Barack Obama as well: “We do not torture.” She must be crazy, and guilty, to assert such a thing.
Then comes this piece by Anand Gopal, reporting for The Nation this week, Obama’s Secret Prisons:
Sometime in the last few years, Pashtun villagers in Afghanistan’s rugged heartland began to lose faith in the American project. Many of them can point to the precise moment of this transformation, and it usually took place in the dead of the night, when most of the country was fast asleep. In the secretive U.S. detentions process, suspects are usually nabbed in the darkness and then sent to one of a number of detention areas on military bases, often on the slightest suspicion and without the knowledge of their families.
This process has become even more feared and hated in Afghanistan than coalition airstrikes. The night raids and detentions, little known or understood outside of these Pashtun villages, are slowly turning Afghans against the very forces they greeted as liberators just a few years ago.
Andy Worthington reports on a new report from the United Nations, UN Secret Detention Report Asks, “Where Are the CIA Ghost Prisoners?”
“While the report spreads its net wide, the US administration’s response to its findings about the Bush administration’s legacy of “disappeared” prisoners, and its focus on the gray areas of Obama’s current policies, is particularly anticipated. So far, however, there has been silence from US officials, and only the British, moaning about “unsubstantiated and irresponsible” claims, have so far dared to challenge their well-chronicled complicity in the secret detention policies underpinning the whole of the war on terror, which do not appear to have been thoroughly banished, one year after Barack Obama took office.”
How delusional are Dr. Siddiqui’s claims that she was tortured in a secret prison?
Dr. Siddiqui was found, disoriented, in Grazni Afghanistan, having disappeared from her home in Pakistan five years earlier. No one has said where she was. Pakistani human rights organizations, and some at the trial, have urged me to mention, and look into the disappearance of thousands of Pakistanis at the hands of the secret police, ISI, who are paid many millions by the US government to be part of the so-called “war on terror”.
These disappearances and deaths, this police state, are the responsibility of the US government, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, by funding, by political support and pressure to do the dirty work that amounts to the “war on terror” while the US chooses to say “we do not torture.”
But this is an administration which has dramatically the use of unmanned drones to target alleged “terrorists,” thereby killing hundreds of civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and now Yemen and Somalia. A poll last year in Pakistan, by al Jazeera found only 9% of adults supporting the drone attacks, because of concerns that they are killing innocent civilians.
Sebastain Abbot in the Huffington Post:
“The U.S. government doesn’t even suggest what the proportion of innocent people to legitimate targets is,” said Michael Walzer, a renowned American scholar on the ethics of warfare. “It’s a moral mistake, but it’s a PR mistake as well.”
As part of this “war on terror”, the US prosecutors have produced no physical evidence that Dr. Siddiqui held or fired a gun on July 18, 2008. As Dr Siddiqui said, “I walked towards the curtain. I was shot and I was shot again. I fainted.”
I don’t expect justice for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui this week. Even if she were to be found not guilty on all charges — which the evidence supports — what will her future be? Where are her children? Will she get back the lost years and be able to tell her story?
And I don’t expect an end to the illegitimate “war OF terror” until people living in the United States reject the dangerous direction their government is taking, against the interests of humanity.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 5:32 PM PST
Updated: Monday, 8 February 2010 5:37 PM PST
Saturday, 6 February 2010
A 'how to' link that is helping people keep themselves private
Now Playing: snoop spy - information
This is a bit sinister: the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) has been dropping digital certificates into the computers of everyone in China, which could potentially allow them to snoop on your normally secure ‘https’ web-surfing, such as your online banking and email.
CNNIC’s digital certificate, which is probably in your computer right now, has not been proved to be maliciously spying, but it’s a matter of trust. Do you really trust CNNIC, the overlords of the ‘Great Firewall’, to not be potentially peeking into your email, Facebook, Paypal account or online bank? Nope, thought not.
These digital certificates are not viruses or malware; they’re genuine tools that sites use to encrypt and verify information, and are issued by third-party Certificate Authorities (CA). For this CNNIC certificate to be on your computer, it has taken numerous levels of consent: by the web browser makers (Mozilla’s Firefox, Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, and more obscure ones, such as Opera) and by the CA ‘Entrust’, who will have evaluated, accepted and issued CNNIC’s digital certificate.
So, what’s the drama, you ask… Well, in devious hands, these important data snippets can be configured to pry, spy and snoop on your web traffic and private data. A benign digital certificate could turn malicious if remotely reconfigured, so as to tap into a certain users encrypted web data. In one other scenario, CNNIC could possibly use this tool in conjunction with the Great Firewall to tunnel into your encrypted web sessions. And, remember, CNNIC has a history of putting malware on people’s machines, hence all the alarm bells ringing over this tiny, new development.
So, let’s get about blocking CNNIC’s ass off of your computer: It’s best not to delete it – it’ll only be re-added – so we’re going to need to ‘never trust’ it in your computer’s settings. Then, you’ll be safe and unsnooped upon. It’s pretty easy, taking it step-by-step…
Mac: Safari and Chrome
This applies only to the Safari and Chrome web browser (Firefox needs to be done separately, in its own settings; see below). First, use Spotlight to search for the Keychain Access app (or, find it in Applications > Utilities folder) and launch it. Now, in the Keychain Access app search-box you should type CNNIC, and if their digital certificate is on your laptop, you will see 1 or 2 of them. If there’s nothing, that’s good. But, if you have 1 or 2 of the little buggers, this is what to do next: right-click on one of the digital certificates and select Get Info. A new window will appear; in this, click on the little arrow to the left of the word “Trust” so that more options are revealed. Now, in the first drop-down box you should select “Never trust” which’ll cause all the others drop-down boxes to also change to ‘Never trust’. Now that certificate is never, ever trusted, and will not be re-added since it already sits there. Repeat on the 2nd, if there is one.
To check that it has worked, quit your browser(s), and then restart a browser and go to the website https://www.enum.cn where now a warning should appear saying that the site’s digital certificate is not trusted. If so, that’s great. If not (and the website loads normally), repeat the instructions more carefully.
Firefox (Windows, Mac, Linux)
First go to the Firefox ‘Preferences’ (on Mac), which is called ‘Options’ (I think) on Windows. Then, click the Advanced tab, then the Encryption tab, then click ‘View Certificates’. Next select the Authorities tab, and scroll down to find the CNNIC entry. Highlight the certificate, and then lower down click on the ‘Edit’ button, and in here you should now uncheck all the checkboxes, then click ‘Okay’. OK, that’s one blocked. Also scroll down to the Entrust.net entry, and see if there’s another CNNIC one in there. There’ll either be 1 or 2 in total. If there’s another one, repeat the above instrcutions.
To check that it has worked, quit Firefox, and then restart it and go to the website https://www.enum.cn where now a warning should appear saying that the site’s digital certificate is not trusted. If so, that’s great. If not (and the website loads normally), repeat the instructions more carefully.
Windows: Internet Explorer
I’m afraid I don’t have a clue how to do it on IE. And, seriously, with all the holes and bugs in IE, you should be thinking about ditching it for Firefox, pronto. But the Chinese blogger and techie Felix Yan, who first alerted me to this whole situation with his detailed blog post on the issue, has a step-by-step guide for Internet Explorer, though it’s all in Chinese, over on his site. Here’s the link for it.
Google Chrome browser, for some reason, utilizes the digital certificates stored inside Internet Explorer, so you’ll also need to refer to Felix’s instructions for how to block CNNIC inside IE.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 9:57 PM PST
Updated: Saturday, 6 February 2010 9:59 PM PST
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Howard Zinn & Speaking Up with Ideas
Now Playing: Speaking Out & Complancy
Topic: ANYBODY * ANYDAY
"No pitifully small picket line, no poorly
attended meeting, no tossing out of an idea
to an audience and even to an individual,
should be scorned as insignificant.
The power of a bold idea uttered publicly
in defiance of dominant opinion cannot be
easily measured. Those special people who
speak out in such a way as to shake up not
only the self-assurance of their enemies
but the complacency of their friends are
precious catalysts for change.
-> From You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 7:24 PM PST
Updated: Tuesday, 2 February 2010 7:25 PM PST
Sunday, 31 January 2010
bluetooth ...virus ....and bears Oh My!
Now Playing: Virus can spead fast to bluetooth devices could be big threat
Viral Epidemics Poised to Go Mobile
- May 26th, 2009
A National Science Foundation press release reports “scientists predict mobile phone viruses will pose a serious threat.” The scientists are network experts who have studied how “a Bluetooth virus can infect all phones found within Bluetooth range of the infected phone, its spread being determined by the owner’s mobility patterns.” The image above is a frame from a video accompanying the press release depicting the spread of a Bluetooth virus. Another video with the release is a time-lapse of a spreading pattern of a MMS mobile phone virus. The work is based at Northeastern University and led by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 7:06 PM PST
Protesters Block 12th St, Independence Ave in Washington DC
Now Playing: Immigrant Activist Decend on Homeland Security in Washington DC
Immigrants' Rights Protesters Block 12th St, Independence Ave
On January 26, several hundred immigration reform/immigrant rights activists from groups such as Casa de Maryland descended on the Department of Homeland Security to demand an end to the workplace raids and detention of immigrants. Both 12th st and Independence Ave were blocked by sitting, arm-locked protesters at different times before 24 people were hauled off the street by the cops.
The blockade at 12th st in front of Homeland Security
The crowd in front of Homeland Security
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 2:16 AM PST
Updated: Sunday, 31 January 2010 2:19 AM PST
Saturday, 30 January 2010
Redress of grievances - Ungar Furs - Man Lights Himself on Fire
Now Playing: A post on Portland Indy Media Regarding Man who Burned to Death
Topic: ANYBODY * ANYDAY
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 1:00 PM PST
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
Torture USA style - Bush or Obama - what style do you prefer
Now Playing: Torture Never Stopped Under Obama
Torture Never Stopped Under Obama
|What is Torture? It can be physical or physchological, quick or unhurried. It implies lasting trauma unbefitting a human. The U.N. defines torture as: |
" ...any act by which severe pain or suffering, physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession... " (U.N. Convention Against Torture).
By this definition the U.S. continues to practice torture. Yes, Obama outlawed some especially shocking forms of torture — water boarding, for example — but other types of torture were not labeled "torture" and thus continue.
|Surprisingly, this fact was recently discussed at length in The New York Times, under an Op-Ed piece appropriately entitled Torture's Loopholes. In it, an ex-interrogator explains some of the more glaring examples of how the U.S. currently tortures and argues for the practices to end. In reference to Obama's vow to end the systematic, obscene torture under Bush, the article states: |
"... the changes were not as drastic as most Americans think, and elements of our interrogation policy continue to be both inhumane and counterproductive."
The author says bluntly, "If I were to return to one of the war zones today... I would still be allowed to abuse [torture] prisoners."
The article also explains how the U.S. "legally" continues a practice that thousands of people in the U.S. prison system already know to be psychological torture:
"... extended solitary confinement is torture, as confirmed by many scientific studies. Even the initial 30 days of isolation could be considered abuse [torture]."
Other forms of torture commonly practiced — since they are part of the Military's updated Field Manual — are "... stress positions [shackling prisoners in painful positions for extended periods of time], putting detainees into close confinement or environmental manipulation [hot or frigid rooms]... "
Also mentioned as torture is sleep deprivation, a tactic used in combination with 20-hour interrogation sessions. The author concludes that these practices do "not meet the minimum standard of humane treatment, either in terms of American law or simple human decency." (January 20, 2010).
Unmentioned by the article are other forms of torture institutionalized under the Obama administration. One is "sensory deprivation," a deeply traumatizing psychological torture described in detail in Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine. The new Army Field Manual says that the tactic — though not called "sensory deprivation" — should be used to "prolong the shock of capture," and should include "goggles or blindfolds and earmuffs" that completely disconnects the senses from the outside world, where the captive is able to experience only the thoughts in their head.
Yet another blatant form of torture that Obama refused to stop practicing is "extraordinary rendition," or what critics call "outsourcing torture." This is the practice of flying a prisoner to a country where torture is routinely practiced, so that the prisoner can be interrogated. As reported by The New York Times:
"The Obama administration will continue the Bush administration's practice of sending terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation, but pledges to closely monitor their treatment to ensure that they are not tortured, administration officials said Monday." (August 24, 2009).
Human rights groups instantly called Obama's bluff: why transport terrorism suspects to other countries at all? If not for the fact that torture and other "harsh interrogation methods" are routinely practiced there? No justifiable answer has been given to these questions.
Another common way the U.S. continues to outsource torture is performed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. There, the U.S. military often arrests suspects and hands over the interrogation duties to Iraqi or Afghan security forces, knowing full well that they regularly torture (this was also the strategy in the Vietnam war). Unfortunately, handing over someone to be tortured means you are also guilty of the crime.
A less obvious form of torture is the concept of "indefinite detention" — holding someone in prison indefinitely without a trial. The terrible experience of hopelessness that a victim of this crime experiences, over years, is a profound form of psychological torture. This is one of the reasons why the American Constitution guarantees due process, a legal detail that the Obama administration continues to ignore.
In connection, The Washington Post recently announced that the Obama administration will detain 50 Guantanamo inmates "indefinitely," without any legal charges or chance of a trial. This act is consistent with earlier statements made by Obama, when he stated that "some detainees are too dangerous, to be released." Of course, there does not exist any evidence to prove that these detainees are dangerous, otherwise they would be prosecuted in a legal court. The article reports that these detainees are "un-prosecutable because officials fear trials... could challenge evidence obtained through coercion [torture]." (January 22, 2010).
The Washington Post article also reports that 35 additional Guantanamo inmates will be tried in Federal or Military courts. In the latter court, far less evidence — if any — is needed, and the military jury can be handpicked to deliver the preferred outcome.
Obama, like Bush, has sought to undermine the legal rights of those detained and the victims of torture who seek accountability. Obama continues to refuse to release pictures (evidence) of detainee abuse, preventing Americans from really understanding what their government is guilty of. Obama has also refused detainees in so-called "black sites" (U.S. Bagram Air Base, for example) access to attorneys or courts. Finally, by not prosecuting anyone for torture crimes in the Bush administration, Obama is guaranteeing that the worst forms of torture will continue, since institutionalized behavior rarely stops unless rewards or punishments are implemented.
In the end, the act of torture is impossible to separate from war in general. The "rules of war" are always ignored by both sides, who implement the most barbaric acts to terrorize their opponents into submission.
Obama's wars, like Bush's, are wars of conquest. U.S. corporations want the oil and other raw materials in the region. They also want to privatize the conquered state-owned companies, and to sell U.S. products in the new markets the war has opened them. Many corporations benefit from the act of war itself (arms manufacturers and corporate-employed mercenaries), or from the reconstruction opportunities the destruction creates.
Working people have no interest in this type of war. The hundreds of billions of dollars that Obama is using for destruction should be used to create jobs instead, or for health care, public education, social services, etc. It is up to all working people to organize themselves — through their unions and community organizations — to broadcast this demand and make it a reality.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 7:21 PM PST
Monday, 25 January 2010
Military base in Japan - Okinawa "not happening now!"
Now Playing: No Base's
Hello Zebra3 Report Peace Activists and CIA agents
I thought this was interesting article regarding a new military base in Japan that looks as if it is not going to happen
It might be an idea to wave a friendly hand of peace toward those that are moving on this anti-US base in Nago. Although I dont know of much of the policies, I do like "no bases" and thought you all would too
My idea was maybe to let them know not all of us here in the US wanted the damn thing there in the first place... any comments or suggestions?
Opponent of American military base wins mayoral election in key Japanese city
Japanese-American relations could take a hit as an opponent of the U.S. Military base in Japan’s Okinawa wins a key mayoral election in a small city that was set to be the new spot for the relocation of the currently controversial airfield.
On Jan. 24th, Susumu Inamine beat incumbent Yoshikazu Shimabukuro by only about 1,600 votes in a race that saw nearly 77% voter turn out for the mayoral election in Nago, a city of approximately 60,000 people in the Northern-half of Okinawa’s main island, according to Nago’s city office.
Nago is the would-be site for the relocation of the controversial Futenma Marine air station located just outside of Okinawa’s main city of Naha. Locals near Futenma have consistently complained about noise and pollution the airfield has caused in the area. Tensions and fears also mount when crimes are committed by stationed U.S. personnel in the area – agreements between the U.S and Japan largely restrict the ability of Japanese authorities to investigate suspected U.S. personnel without full arrest warrants.
In 2006, after nearly a decade of negotiations, the two countries agree to move Futenma base to Nago, as well as to transfer around 8,000 troops to Guam, by 2014, the Yomiuri stated. Nago was seen as an ideal location by the U.S, being close to Camp Schwab – a U.S. Marine camp in a more remote section of the island. Nago was also originally willing to allow the move, largely for the economic benefits.
However, when it was announced that Mr. Inamine had won the election on the 24th, he exclaimed to some 300 cheering and whistling supporters, “We fought in this election with the aim of reforming the city’s policies and not allowing a new base to be built at Henoko. Because of this we have gained the support of many of the city’s citizens,” Jiji.com reported. Cries of “That’s right!” and “You can do it!” were heard from the crowd.
With Nago’s new opposition, agreements between the U.S. and Japan regarding Futenma base’s future could fall back to the situation in 1996 when negotiations were just beginning, Jiji.com wrote. Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has said that the issue is a priority, and his party is looking for alternatives, such moving the base completely off the island – or even completely out of the country. However, the U.S. has rejected all of those ideas as of yet, stating among other concerns the cohesiveness of the units.
Read more news from Japan by the Japan Headlines Examiner
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 8:43 PM PST
Saturday, 23 January 2010
LABOR & UNIONS - OF TWO DIFFERENT KINDS
Now Playing: COMPANY UNION AND THE WORKERS UNION
Topic: CORPORATE CRAP
Fighting Company Union Ideology
|The evolution of the company union in the U.S. is a history of both labor's progress and its missteps. It is a story that, at bottom, speaks to the battle of workers to find an independent, powerful presence on the job — and to push this clout into the community to help shape the broader public realm. |
Unions came into existence organically wherever capitalism developed. As soon as workers were brought together by a small number of employers and compelled to make profits for them, the employees naturally sought to defend themselves. A living wage and decent working conditions failed to emerge through the good will of the employers, unfortunately, so workers took matters into their own hands.
|They formed organizations that promoted their interests at the expense of the bosses' profits. And as soon as these fledgling unions became powerful, the owners sought to undermine them. When the unions were too powerful to be drowned in blood, the bosses sought other techniques. |
The company union was typically a preventative measure initiated by the employers to lure workers away from real unions. Where workers became militant and bold in their demands, the company would offer a venue for them to voice their concerns and, sometimes, have these concerns properly addressed.
Of course, these company unions were totally controlled by the employer — they could be whisked away if the workers were impolite or too demanding. These fake unions automatically eliminated the strength workers would have had if they belonged to an independent, larger labor union. Some issues that workers sought to remedy were purposely kept "off the table."
During World War I, the growth of company unions was encouraged by the U.S. government, which sought to stem the growing surge of worker radicalism. Employer-employee councils were set up en masse, and where nothing could be agreed upon, the federal government would swoop in to try and smooth over the conflict.
The union labor upsurge before, during and after World War II was unprecedented, scaring the employer class stiff by exhibiting its organized strength and winning workers demands. F.D.R. used a combination of tactics to defuse the worker-owner conflict: compromise, the National Guard, and finally, appealing to the national patriotism needed to win workers support for WWII.
F.D.R. also set up the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in an attempt to "balance" the conflict between workers and their employers. The NLRB falsely claimed that it would remain objective in its work, but it functioned inside a government where giant corporations dominate the political system.
F.D.R.'s Labor Relations Act effectively banned the company union in practice, but the essence of the phenomenon would linger until the present, where it maintains its historic, poisonous influence. The fundamental aim of modern company union ideology is to promote the concept of identical interests between workers and the employers. It is a philosophy of cooperation and teamwork, where in reality bitter hostility and mutual distrust are accurate reflections of the attitudes of workers and owners — emotions based on the real antagonism between wages and profits.
The 1947 anti-worker amendment to the Labor Relations Act — Taft-Hartley — was a counter-attack on the organized workers' movement. In it, a surplus of anti-worker measures are outlined that to this day render the union movement harmless in conflicts with employers (since most union officials refuse to disobey the unjust law).
In addition to making it impossible for unions to support one another during strikes, a special provision of Taft-Hartley is often incorrectly viewed by some union officials as being"pro-labor." The bill cleverly outlined an organizational body that today encompasses bank accounts of hundreds of billions of dollars. Taft-Hartley "funds" are employer-employee financed accounts that help workers save for retirement, pay for health insurance and buy homes, etc.
These accounts are presided over by an equally-weighted labor-management team, where often the fund is managed like a corporate bank, and the employers and employees view themselves as partner shareholders. The Taft-Hartley bill was a very conscious attempt to disarm the labor movement. By merging the interests of workers and management into a pot of money, sections of the labor movement found it difficult to demand their "fund partners" pay higher wages, etc. Some workers identified themselves more and more as investors and used these funds to enrich themselves, or as stepping-stones into the corporate world of finance. In any case, the company union philosophy blurred the interests of workers, who sometimes found difficulty in determining if they should go on strike or merely consult an investment broker.
Another modern example of company unionism is the openly "collaborationist" grouping inside of the Alliance for American Manufacturers (AAM). Here we have labor unions — the Steelworkers, for example — and giant corporations in the same organization working towards identical goals, aiming at a common enemy — China. One of the AAM's most cherished tasks is to promote "fair trade," which they define as U.S. corporations out-competing other nations' companies — though most notably China — on the world market.
The AAM uses its corporate money to "lobby" Congressmen, who oblige by putting up taxes (tariffs) on Chinese imports, an action the Chinese accurately view as "economic warfare." Of course, if workers are being taught to work with their bosses against the Chinese, the ability of workers to fight their bosses to win a good contract is greatly diminished.
A broader, political example of company unionism is labor unions' continued involvement in the Democratic Party. The Democrats have always been dominated by big business; it's a party where corporations come together to have their needs met, though less explicitly — and therefore more dangerously — than the Republicans.
The few crumbs that Democrats threw to the unions have long since dried up; both Clinton and Obama are blatantly pro-corporate Presidents, with Obama presiding over a very pro-corporate Democratic controlled Congress.
And although the Democrats have snubbed labor a thousand times, most top labor officials seem desperate to maintain this worthless "alliance," something that requires them to constantly make "compromises" with the Democrats that are against the interests of the working class. The most recent one is the acceptance of the Democrats' "Cadillac" tax on workers health care plans.
Another recent example of labor officials practicing dangerous cooperation with the corporate Democrats is the actions of the President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Randi Weingarten.
Instead of preparing teachers for a battle against Obama's anti-public education "reform," the AFT President has decided that "working together" would be more effective. Both the Democrats and mainstream media are attempting to adopt many long-time conservative notions regarding education. Obama calls his plan the"Race to the Top" campaign (a name as misleading as Bush's No Child Left Behind).
The Democrats attack on public education requires undermining the power of teachers' unions, a task done by instituting teacher-specific, conservative reforms, including tying a teacher's pay and job status to a student's performance or closing down "failing schools" and opening non-union, private charter schools. Both of these schemes are integral to Obama's education reform and have already been ruthlessly implanted in New Orleans and Chicago, to the huge detriment of both teachers and students.
In response to future, potentially crippling attacks in Obama's plan, the AFT President is disarming her membership while walking them into a war zone.
Weingarten has not only failed to condemn the President's plan, but has spoken positively of it, and how teachers could best work with the Obama administration.
In a recent speech to the U.S. Press Club, the AFT President cited two recent examples of teacher collective bargaining retreats — including an especially bad defeat in Detroit — and proclaimed the outcomes as victories of "collaboration", to be mimicked throughout the country in accordance of Obama's anti-teacher plan. Weingarten admits that one of the contracts included classic conservative reforms like "rigorous evaluations, more flexible hiring authority, and performance pay on a school-by-school basis... "
In a classic example of company union ideology, Weingarten states: "We must transform our mutual responsibility into mutual commitment. Our relationship should be a constant conversation that begins before and continues long after we meet at the bargaining table."
This would be a fine statement if not for the fact that Weingarten's partners in "mutual commitment" are out for teacher's blood.
Advancing the labor movement cannot be done with friendly cooperation with management or voting for either of the corporations' political parties. The past gains in living wages of union workers— which are now quickly shrinking— and their benefits were won in past generations through a combination of two very important factors. The first was the recognition that the interests of working people and the employers were diametrically opposite, where wages came at the expense of profits and vice versa.
Secondly, workers employed organized militant actions, for example, large demonstrations, strikes with massive picket lines and at times workplace occupations, etc. Those who promote less confrontational solutions to labor's problems have had decades to prove their theories. They have completely failed. Labor continues a decades-long backward slide. The promised Employee Free Choice Act is being relegated to the Obama bin of betrayals.
Labor can and must change course, the sooner the better. This can be done by directly challenging the Obama administration's pro-big business policies of foreign wars, bank bailouts, cuts in needed social services, corporate health care, attacks on public education, etc. Mass demonstrations are an effective tool to organize and educate workers, while giving an explicit warning against politicians who promote anti-worker policies. Labor unions around the country have passed resolutions endorsing a march on Washington demanding jobs, peace and justice. Below is a model resolution to propose at your local union.
Workers Emergency Recovery Campaign Model Resolution
National March on Washington for Jobs, Peace, Affordable Health Care For All and Ending Foreclosures and Evictions
Whereas — despite the so-called economic recovery — the economic crisis for working people has continued unabated with growing unemployment and rising home foreclosures and evictions,
And whereas this economic crisis has resulted in the underfunding and degrading of public education and social services,
And whereas the government has bestowed billions of dollars of bailout money on the financial institutions whose recklessness and greed created this economic crisis,
And whereas there is growing opposition to the wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq by a majority of the people here in the U.S. -not to mention the great and ever-growing opposition by the citizens in Afghanistan and Iraq,
And whereas these wars are costing billions of dollars each month,
Therefore be it resolved that ____________ call on the AFL-CIO and Change to Win to organize a Solidarity Day III march on Washington D.C. in the spring of 2010 to demand jobs, housing, health care, full funding for public education and social services, and peace.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 1:37 PM PST
Updated: Saturday, 23 January 2010 1:39 PM PST
Thursday, 21 January 2010
HATE WATCH Report 1.21.10
Now Playing: Hate Hate and Hate
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Posted by Joe Anybody
at 6:33 AM PST
Updated: Thursday, 21 January 2010 12:34 PM PST
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