“The worst in collegiate journalism since 1982!” The Koala, a student publication at the University of California, San Diego, boasts on its home page.
But a student publication is a student publication, whether it traffics in satire or offensive material (as many at UCSD believe The Koala does) or, more traditionally, in nonfake news. And if a public university allows student publications to compete with other student groups for funds, barring the publication in retaliation for content it published violates its free press and free speech rights, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned a lower court’s 2017 ruling dismissing The Koala‘s lawsuit against UCSD. The appeals court found that the student publication had offered sufficient evidence to suggest the university (and its student government) had changed their policies for funding student groups to single out and retaliate against The Koala.
by Bruce T. Boccardy
A ‘Booming’ Economy
A CNN poll released early in May this year showed that 56 percent of Americans approved of President Trump’s economic policies.
White House National Economic Council Director Lawrence Kudlow commented on the economy this April:
‘It tells me, among other things, that the prosperity cycle we have entered into is continuing, it is strong. It has legs and momentum and frankly it is going to go on for quite some time,’ he continued. ‘This is the new Trump economy. Some people don’t like that or they don’t agree with that. I respect the differences but I’ll tell you it’s working.’
Mr. Kudlow peddled similar nonsense recently in interviews on the June 30 Sunday talk shows commenting on recent criticisms of the economy:
I just don’t understand in general. I hear some of their policies. I hear some of their narratives. I don’t understand what planet they’re describing.
…on this business about the bad distribution, the blue collar workers have done the best. The unemployment rate is low, we just had the best June stock market, the Dow Jones, in 80 years…
He asserted: “The American economy is booming.”
The numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) appear to support these views or do they?
First, Mr. Kudlow ignores the fact that 10 percent of households in America own 84 percent of stock shares directly or indirectly through mutual funds, trusts, or various pension accounts. This was reported in a paper by New York University economics professor Edward N. Wolff in Nov. 2017.
Reports by the Federal Reserve, Gallup, and Bankrate confirm that the spectacular rhythms of the stock market are irrelevant to the vast majority of Americans.
Back to the numbers on Main Street.
Cost of Living
Cost of living calculators report the amount of money required to maintain basic standards of living in various localities by expenses such as housing, groceries, taxes, and health care.
The Economic Policy Institute created a Family Budget Calculator that measures the income a family requires to attain an adequate standard of living. In Boston, for example, the income required for two adults and two children is $111,724. This is not an anecdotal padded estimate. The costs of an adequate standard of living are rising to ridiculous levels.
Aside from the monthly employment report, the BLS also compiles the Consumer Price Index (CPI), our primary inflation gauge.
From August 2017 to August 2018 average hourly earnings rose 2.8 percent. The CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 2.7%. That’s how much the cost of living went up.
Unless you had no housing or transportation expenses in the last year, your cost of living probably rose at least 2.7 percent.
That being the case, a 2.8 percent wage gain is a pittance.
We should know how the overwhelming majority of Americans are maintaining themselves and their families. The United States Census Bureau (USCB) provided an answer.
The USCB data showed that the bulk of gains in real income in 2016 was due to an increase in employment hours. That means that work hours increased, not real wages. Another consideration is that working more hours means higher expenditure on income related necessities, such as commuting, childcare costs, and costs for caring for dependents.
Besides the unemployment rate and jobs created data, the BLS also presents reports of wages and salaries. This is essential information in determining the impact of the economy on working people.
Despite the Trump administration’s celebratory proclamations of recent wage growth, the numbers tell a different story.
Bankrate’s January 2019 Financial Security Index survey reported that six in 10 Americans don’t have enough savings for a $1,000 emergency.
A widely publicized study on the decline of the economy for working people was from the Federal Reserve Board‘s Economic Well-Being report in May 2018. It reported that four in 10 adults in the country could not afford a $400 emergency expense.
Career Builders released a report in Aug. 2017 that found 78 percent of U.S. employees are living paycheck to paycheck.
The BLS reported that real hourly earnings increased 1.2 percent over 12 months from April 2018 to April 2019. However, the inflation rate for the 12 months was 2.0 percent. That’s losing ground.
In June 2018, the BLS reported that from May 2017 through May 2018, average real inflation adjusted hourly wages for the largest demographic of workers fell by 0.1 percent. That demographic comprises production and non-supervisory workers; it constitutes about 80 percent of the privately employed workforce. More ground lost.
PayScale Index tracks quarterly changes in total cash compensation for full-time, private industry employees and education professionals in the United States.
They reported in January this year that real wages declined in 2018. When adjusted for inflation, the increase was 1 percent for the past year. In fact, when adjusted for cost of living and CPI, real wages actually declined 1.3 percent since the end of 2017.
According to the Payscale Index since 2006, pay has decreased -9.5 percent with inflation. Huge ground lost.
The Financial Advisor reported in March 2018 that the rate of low wage jobs has remained relatively stagnant since 2012. In six states (Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and West Virginia), more than one in three jobs is in a low-wage occupation.
The Federal Reserve Bank’s Board of Governors met with the Community Advisory Council in November 2017. They reported that despite the apparent drop in unemployment, there was no increase in the number of quality jobs.
The Opportunity Index: Opportunities in Urban America reported in October 2018 that just 38 percent of jobs in the U.S. pay enough to afford a middle income lifestyle for a dual income with children. 32 percent of jobs pay a living wage and 30 percent pay a “hardship” wage.
The 2017 Scorecard reported that one in four jobs in the country is in a low-wage occupation.
The conclusion is that one in four jobs in the country doesn’t even pay enough to keep a family of four above the poverty line. When one considers the number of jobs just above the poverty line we are discussing a serious crippling of the economy for middle and low income people.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Reports
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases two reports measuring unemployment and jobs created. The most popular is the Current Employment Statistics (CES) a.k.a. Payroll Survey/Establishment Survey. The other is the Current Population Survey (CPS) a.k.a. the Household Survey. The BLS measures unemployment through the CPS conducted each month by the United States Census Bureau (USCB).
The BLS utilizes a seasonal adjustment to remove influences of predictable seasonal patterns. This includes weather, harvests, major holidays, and school schedules. This adjustment is included in all the numbers referenced here.
The BLS also presents various reports on pay and benefits.
The employment and jobs created reports are a skewed view of the economy.
The CES reports are released to the public usually on the first or second Friday of the month. The jobs creation are revised twice after their initial release. The revisions include additional sample information and recalculated seasonal adjustment variables.
What often goes unreported by the corporate media are the revisions essential to present a more accurate number of unemployment and jobs created. This approach often affects how working people view the economy and their place in it.
Kevin Carmichael of “FiveThirtyEight” in December 2017 provided an example of the mercurial monthly report. The BLS revised its August 2017 report for July jobs. The press and mainstream economists responded to the 209,000 new jobs. Predictably, President Trump grasped on to the numbers and extolled them as a spectacular result of his economic policies.
However, when the BLS reported the revised job numbers in October it was 189,000; it was revised again to 138,000. That notable decrease was rarely mentioned in the media. Unsurprisingly there were no tweets from the president.
Another variable not discussed is how many jobs are required each month to keep pace with the population growth. Business Insider estimated in August 2016 that on average, 205,300 jobs need to be created every month. Most economists place the number at around 150,000 jobs.
Upton Sinclair observed:
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.
We expect those in positions of economic and political power in the United States to rely on fabrications, misrepresentations and oversimplifications to justify the economic constructs that benefits their tiny numbers.
It is a bit disappointing to review the standard measure of unemployment that the BLS disseminates to the media and public each month.
The BLS has six categories of unemployment measures. The standard measure is the U-3 unemployment rate. This category is promulgated by the BLS despite its limitations. The U-3 rate measures:
- People without a job who have actively searched for a job in 4 weeks prior to the survey.
It does not include:
- Marginally Attached—discouraged job seekers who searched for work in the last 12 months and stopped looking in the past four weeks for various reasons:
- Part Time—those who want full time work or are underemployed for economic reasons
- Part Time—those who have part time jobs for non-economic reasons
The BLS does have a category that is more accurate which is the U-6 rate. It combines those in the first two components above with the standard U-3 measure.
Clearly, the U-6 rate is a more accurate representation of the actual unemployment rate. It is usually double or triple the standard U-3 rate.
For example, the BLS U-3 unemployment rate for this April was 3.6 percent. It was distributed over the mainstream media as evidence of a “booming” economy.
Economist Arthur MacEwan of the University of Massachusetts broke down the U-6 category. He identified the group of marginally attached people as 1.42 million for this April.
Economist Martin Wolfson of the University of Notre Dame further identified another group of people in the U-6 rate. They are people with part-time jobs for economic reasons numbering 4.65 million.
None of these people would be counted in the standard U-3 category.
The third component consisting of people who have part-time jobs for non-economic reasons is a bit complicated. The numbers are quite high (21,322,000 for this April) and not included in the labor force number. It is speculative as how many of these folks would choose to work full time if their personal situations changed.
However, combining the marginally attached numbers with the part-time economic reason numbers in the U-6 rate resulted in the April unemployment jumping from the original 3.6 percent rate to 7.3 percent.
Moreover, the average U-3 rate for the entire year of 2018 was 3.9 percent, while the U-6 rate was 7.7 percent.
Finally, there is another unemployed demographic that reinforces doubt on BLS unemployment numbers. According to economist John Williams, in 1994 workers who moved from U-3 into U-6 unemployment and were “discouraged” for more one year were completely dropped from the U-6 measure. That means a significant number of the unemployed from the U-6 just disappeared from the unemployed numbers. This actually tripled the U-6 rate.
“The situation of the worker,” inspired
by Chapter 25 of Karl Marx’s, Capital.
This is just a small taste of a series
of drawings created to
illustrate Marx’s laws of motion of capital.
There is at least one illustration for
each chapter of Capital, vol. 1.
It’s largely the corporate media that willfully ignores these changes to the BLS reports. The effect is to create a false narrative that can impel working people to bewilderment and self-recrimination. If the economy is “booming” for so many as the monthly reports suggests with increased job numbers and falling unemployment rates, it should be improving their lives but it’s not.
Distorted employment and wage and salary numbers contribute to the perception of working peoples’ views; the powerful underlying theme of job insecurity and the struggles to maintain an adequate life style is always present. Jobs have consequences.
Much has been written about spiritual and secular corrosion in our culture exacerbated by economic burdens that continue for an overwhelming majority of Americans.
Economic distress has serious health consequences as well. The Journal of Community Health published a study in April 2017 based on data from The National Health Interview Survey. The study found that people with perceived job insecurity had higher incidences of obesity, sleeping less, mental illness, physical pain, ulcers, diabetes, hypertension, angina pectoris, and coronary heart diseases.
Moreover, a 2019 study at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine found that employees with dramatic income cuts had double the risk of cardiovascular disease.
An essential element of democracy is an informed electorate. It is vital that working people know the score. Only by accurate and complete economic representations can an informed electorate pursue political strategies and tactics that benefit all working people.
About Bruce T. Boccardy
Bruce T. Boccardy is economics/labor advisor for the Small Planet Institute in Cambridge. He is former president of Massachusetts Service Employees International Local 888, Public Sector Division; former labor representative of the Massachusetts Joint Labor-Management Committee; and former consultant for the National Association of Government Employees.
This article also appeared in Monthly Review online, July 4, 2019.
A new risk assessments report, endorsed by the former Chief of the Australian Defense Force, warns that current scientific reports analyzing impacts of global warming, habitat loss, pollution and other drivers of the mass extinction are misleading and underplaying the threat, because of a conservative emphasis upon known probabilities. The report stresses that analyses of known possibilities is essential for national security risk assessments, on a global scale.
The report reinforces the messages of new movements such as Extinction Rebellion and the global youth climate strikes of Fridays for Future. (See https://rebellion.earth/ and https://www.fridaysforfuture.org/ )
Here is the report:
Here is a round-up of news coverage of the new report.
CBS News· 5 days ago
New report forecasts widespread societal breakdown set off by the migration of billions of people…
International Business Times· 4 days ago
Since the start of the new millennium, mankind has been warned about climate change and its…
Reason.com· 5 days ago
Now comes a policy paper, Existential climate–related security risk: A scenario approach, from …
FOX 29 Philadelphia· 4 days ago
“Even for 2°C of warming, more than a billion people may need to be relocated and in high-end…
IFLScience· 5 days ago
A new report has warned there’s an existential risk to humanity from the climate crisis within the…
New York Daily News· 5 days ago
Could the human population be wiped out within a generation? “Climate change now represents a…
MSN News· 3 days ago
Its authors are calling for a “wartime level of response” to climate change.
People via Yahoo News· 5 days ago
The report, published by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration in Australia on…
Vice· 6 days ago
The analysis, published by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, a think-tank in…
Daily Mail· 5 days ago
‘A new approach to climate–relatedsecurityrisk-management is thus required,’ the authors said, emphasising the need …
Vice· 6 days ago
New York Daily News· 5 days ago
Could the human population be wiped out within a generation? “Climate change now represents a…
Daily Mail· 5 days ago
‘A new approach to climate–related security risk-management is thus required,’ the authors said, emphasising the need …
Sci Fi Wire· 4 days ago
When we think of global catastrophe, sci-fi disaster movies like The Day After Tomorrow and Geostorm…
The Inquisitr· 5 days ago
Research paper released last week by an Australian think-tank sounds alarm that climate change is…
April 22, 2019
The IWW FJU is a union for all freelance journalists, bloggers, and other writers in the news media. Contact us today! You have nothing to lose but your unpaid invoices!
We’re a group of freelance journalists, bloggers, and other writers in news media from all around the world, organizing to improve our working conditions and assert our rights.
In the tumultuous, insecure world of contemporary news media, more and more of us are forced to work on a freelance basis. While it’s difficult to put a precise estimate on the numbers, self-employed writers make up the majority of the profession in the United States and there are legions of us around the world.
Publicizing this union comes after a months-long organizing effort in which we’ve had one-on-one conversations with hundreds of freelance journalists and group meetings with dozens, discussing the struggles that members of our profession face and how we can collectively overcome them.
Many of us deal with long overdue payments, low rates, vast pay disparities, exploitative contracts and frustrating invoicing systems at publications throughout the industry. While nearly every news outlet relies on freelance labor, few are committed to treating workers with dignity and providing fair compensation.
In order to change these conditions, and to gain power through solidarity, we created the Freelance Journalists Union. The FJU is part of the Industrial Workers of the World, an international, member-run union for all workers, which was established in 1905.
Photo: The Real News Network (TRNN)
by Camille Fassett, Reporter for Freedom of the Press Foundation
Promoting press freedom in the 21st century
April 11, 2019
Today, WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange was arrested by British authorities after Ecuador terminated his asylum status. He has been charged for alleged conspiracy with whistleblower Chelsea Manning under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and faces potential extradition to the United States — a country with an extensive history of targeting whistleblowers with punitive sentences in prison. The details of the charge are fraught with press freedom implications and could potentially criminalize many common interactions journalists have with sources.
Here’s what numerous civil liberties and digital rights groups had to say about the implications of Assange’s charge and arrest.
For years, the Obama administration considered indicting WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, before rightly concluding it could not do so without encroaching on core press freedoms. Now almost nine years in, the Trump administration has used the same information to manufacture a flimsy and pretextual indictment involving a “conspiracy” to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act—based entirely on alleged conversations between a journalist and source. While the Trump administration has so far not attempted to explicitly declare the act of publishing illegal, a core part of its argument would criminalize many common journalist-source interactions that reporters rely on all the time. Requesting more documents from a source, using an encrypted chat messenger, or trying to keep a source’s identity anonymous are not crimes; they are vital to the journalistic process. Whether or not you like Assange, the charge against him is a serious press freedom threat and should be vigorously protested by all those who care about the First Amendment.
Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for Wikileaks’ publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional, and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations. Moreover, prosecuting a foreign publisher for violating U.S. secrecy laws would set an especially dangerous precedent for U.S. journalists, who routinely violate foreign secrecy laws to deliver information vital to the public’s interest.
The potential implications for press freedom of this allegation of conspiracy between publisher and source are deeply troubling. With this prosecution of Julian Assange, the U.S. government could set out broad legal arguments about journalists soliciting information or interacting with sources that could have chilling consequences for investigative reporting and the publication of information of public interest.
While we investigate the implications of the US Justice Department’s charges against Julian Assange, which are specific to his interactions with a source, we reiterate our concern that the prosecution of those who provide or publish information of public interest comes at the expense of the investigative journalism that allows a democracy to thrive.
While the indictment of Julian Assange centers on an alleged attempt to break a password—an attempt that was not apparently successful—it is still, at root, an attack on the publication of leaked material and the most recent act in an almost decade-long effort to punish a whistleblower and the publisher of her leaked material. Several parts of the indictment describe very common journalistic behavior, like using cloud storage or knowingly receiving classified information or redacting identifying information about a source. Other parts make common free software tools like Linux and Jabber seem suspect. And while we are relieved that the government has not chosen to include publication-based charges today, if Assange is indeed extradited, the government can issue superseding indictments. It should not do so. Leaks are a vital part of the free flow of information that is essential to our democracy. Reporting on leaked materials, including reporting on classified information, is an essential role of American journalism.
The indictment and the Justice Department’s press release treat everyday journalistic practices as part of a criminal conspiracy. Whether the government will be able to establish a violation of the hacking statute remains to be seen, but it’s very troubling that the indictment sweeps in activities that are not just lawful but essential to press freedom—activities like cultivating sources, protecting sources’ identities, and communicating with sources securely.
The arrest sets a dangerous precedent that could extend to other media organizations such as The New York Times, particularly under a vindictive and reckless administration that regularly attacks journalistic enterprises that, just like WikiLeaks, publish leaked materials that expose government corruption and wrongdoing. This is a worrying step on the slippery slope to punishing any journalist the Trump administration chooses to deride as ‘fake news.’
New Indicator also recommends readers see the report from The Real News Network (TRNN):
- Assange and Manning Under Arrest: Trump Admin Goes All Out Against Whistleblowers (Pt 1/2)
- Assange and Manning Under Arrest: Trump Admin Goes All Out Against Whistleblowers (Pt 2/2)
Photo credit: livelovefruit.com
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2019
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, a second jury in less that 8 months found Bayer-Monsanto’s signature weedkiller Roundup responsible for causing cancer.
The verdict in the case Hardeman v. Monsanto before a federal district court in San Francisco found exposure to glyphosate, the signature ingredient in Roundup, caused plaintiff Edward Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Jurors awarded $80 million in damages to Hardeman.
“Clearly, the testimony that informed the jury’s decision was Bayer-Monsanto hiding Roundup’s carcinogenic properties, manipulating the science and cozying-up with EPA so it would not have to warn consumers of its dangerous product,” said Environmental Working Group (EWG) President Ken Cook. “Bayer-Monsanto has known for decades the cancer-causing properties of Roundup and I applaud the jury for holding the company accountable for failing to warn consumers of the known danger.”
“This verdict puts Bayer’s back firmly up against the wall as the cost of litigation mounts and its stock price gets pummeled once again,” said Cook.
The World Health Organization, in a March 20, 2015 report, stated that glyphosate is a “probable” human carcinogen. In 2017, the European Parliament voted to ban glyphosate in 28 countries. Currently, countries around the world are considering banning glyphosate or have already banned it.
Glyphosate has also been identified as a leading cause of the loss of 90 percent of the population and the threat of extinction of Monarch Butterflies in North America. Monarch Butterflies are a major crop pollinator. The herbicide kills milkweed, which is the sole source of food for Monarch caterpillers.
Monarch Butterfly on native milkweed.
Glyphosate is the most heavily used herbicide in the world. Even people who are not farm workers or groundskeepers, widely including home gardeners, are being exposed to the cancer-causing chemical.
A 2015 EWG analysis mapped the year-to-year growth in glyphosate use on American farmland from 1992 to 2012. According to the Department of Agriculture, in 2014, approximately 240 million pounds of glyphosate were sprayed in the U.S. As a result of widespread spraying, glyphosate has now been found to contaminate air, water and soil across vast expanses of the U.S. It also shows up in the food Americans eat every day.
Biomonitoring studies in a number of states, especially in the Midwest, found glyphosate in the bodies of children and pregnant women. According to initial data from a study in Indiana, women who were more heavily exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy were more likely to give birth to premature babies who weighed less than average.
Although the vast majority of glyphosate is applied to genetically modified corn and soybeans, it is increasingly being sprayed on oats just before harvest as a drying agent, or desiccant. Glyphosate kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested earlier than if the plant were allowed to die naturally. This allows easier harvesting but also increases the likelihood that the pesticide makes it into food. The herbicide is now being sprayed on more than 70 types of crop.
Two separate rounds of laboratory tests commissioned last year by EWG found glyphosate in nearly every sample of popular oat-based cereals and other oat-based food marketed to children. The brands in which glyphosate was detected included several cereals and breakfast bars made by General Mills and Quaker.
Material for this article is from EWG and other sources. For more information please contact The Environmental Working Group (EWG), Monica Amarelo (202) 939-9140, firstname.lastname@example.org EWG is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.
“We’re not striking because we want adults to give us hope. We’re striking because we want them to panic, to act like we have the emergency that we have.” Greta Thunberg, March 15, 2019
Photo from Montreal, Quebec via Greta Thunberg@GretaThunberg
On every continent and in more than 125 countries, more than one million students in high schools and younger went on strike on Friday, March 15, 2019. There were more than 2,000 different protests. The first global school strike day is to be followed by persistent Friday school strikes, until governments and businesses everywhere take the emergency actions needed to avert the worst global warming results now projected by scientists.
The people of Earth only have 11 more years to avoid disastrous levels of global warming, according to a 2018 report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In its newest report, The Living Planet Report 2018, the World Wildlife Fund found that human beings have wiped out 60 percent of all mammals, birds, fish and reptiles on Earth since 1970.
ScienceDirect just released a report on the decline of insect species concluding that 40 percent of all species worldwide face extinction in the next few decades, and the number of threatened species is increasing each year:
“As insect biodiversity is essential for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, the current trends are disrupting – to varying degree – the invaluable pollination, natural pest control, food resources, nutrient recycling and decomposition services that many insects provide (Aizen et al., 2009; Davis et al., 2004; Kreutzweiser et al., 2007)) …The pace of modern insect extinctions surpasses that of vertebrates by a large margin…Since the declines affect the majority of species in all taxa, it is evident that we are witnessing the largest extinction event on Earth since the late Permian and Cretaceous periods (Ceballos et al., 2017; Raup and Sepkoski Jr, 1986). Because insects constitute the world’s most abundant and speciose animal group and provide critical services within ecosystems, such event cannot be ignored and should prompt decisive action to avert a catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems (May, 2010).”
Photo from Prague, Czech Republic via Greta Thunberg@GretaThunberg
The Student Global Climate Strike demands vary somewhat, from country to country. Students in the USA have issued these demands:
Green New Deal
An equitable transition for marginalized communities that will be most impacted by climate change
An equitable transition for fossil-fuel reliant communities to a renewable economy
100% renewable energy by 2030
Upgrading the current electric grid
No creation of additional fossil fuel infrastructure (pipelines, coal plants, fracking etc.)
The creation of a committee to oversee the implementation of a Green New Deal
That has subpoena power
Committee members can’t take fossil fuel industry donations
Accepts climate science
A halt in any and all fossil fuel infrastructure projects
Fossil fuel infrastructure disproportionately impacts indigenous communities and communities of color in a negative way
Creating new fossil fuel infrastructure would create new reliance on fossil fuels at a time of urgency
All decisions made by the government be based on the best-available and most-current scientific research.
The world needs to reduce GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2030, and by 100% before 2050.
We need to incorporate this fact into all policymaking
Declaring a National Emergency on Climate Change
This calls for a national emergency because we have only a few years to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Since the US has empirically been a global leader, we should be a leader on climate action
Since the US largely contributes to global GHG emissions, we should be leading the fight in GHG reduction
Compulsory comprehensive education on climate change and its impacts throughout grades K-8
K-8 is the ideal age range for compulsory climate change education because:
Impressionability is high during that developmental stage, therefore it’s easier for children and young adults to learn about climate change in a more in-depth manner, and retain that information
Climate change becomes a nonpartisan issue, as it truly is because it’s based solely on science from the beginning
Preserving our public lands and wildlife
Diverse ecosystems and national parks will be very impacted by climate change, therefore it’s important that we work to the best of our abilities to preserve their existence
Keeping our water supply clean
Clean water is essential for all living beings, when we pollute our water supply, or the water supply of someone else, it’s simply a violation of an essential human right
Photo by Jamie Tehonica. Alexandria Villasenor, 13, California, United States.
by National Lawyer’s Guild
March 8, 2019
TIJUANA, Mexico—Leaked US-Mexican government documents revealed both governments are maintaining a secret database targeting at least 59 journalists, activists, and an attorney as part of an intelligence-gathering mission under “Operation Secure Line,” based on their work reporting on and offering humanitarian aid to the recent caravans of migrants fleeing from violence and poverty. The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) condemns this practice as a blatant violation of civil liberties and attempt to intimidate those seeking to provide necessary, legal and legitimate aid to migrants and their families.
An NLG delegation was in Tijuana investigating violations of migrants’ rights by US and Mexican authorities when the documents, titled “San Diego Sector Foreign Operations Branch: Migrant Caravan FY-2019, Suspected Organizers, Coordinators, Instigators and Media,” were uncovered. Prior to the leaked report, the delegation heard stories of hours-long interrogations, harassment, confiscation of electronic devices, and intimidation of activists and lawyers by immigration authorities on both sides of the border related to their humanitarian work, including members of the group Pueblo Sin Fronteras (PSF). Many activists who felt singled out by CBP correctly suspected that they were on a government watch list due to their association with the migrant caravan, especially following the of two journalists and US attorneys with Al Otro Lado who were denied entry into Mexico earlier this month, who were held and faced questioning for up to 10 hours.
Alex Mensing, a US citizen living in Tijuana who helped coordinate the delegation’s meetings with domestic and international NGOs, as well as Mexican human rights and immigration authorities, chose not to accompany the delegation to San Diego on Wednesday for meetings with the ACLU, Border Angels, and the International Rescue Committee. Mensing has been repeatedly stopped for secondary questioning by US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) on a clear effort to intimate PSF and other volunteers. “It’s worrisome, but not surprising,” Mensing told Telemundo yesterday. “I was taken into a concrete cell for interrogation and they took my phone, scanned all my notebooks, all the papers I brought… It angers me that the government is using taxpayer funds to create a database meant to intimidate people.” For the last four months, Mensing has attempted to obtain information directly from CBP about his repeated questioning to no avail.
Pooja Gehi, Executive Director of the NLG and member of the Tijuana delegation, said, “We witnessed migrants who had traveled days fleeing violence and persecution, only to be denied their right to claim asylum at the border, in contravention of international law. Instead, they were required to put their name on a handwritten list, then wait indefinitely while trying to find food and shelter, dodging violence and deportation, in hope that their names would be called to start the arduous process that is the US asylum system.”
It is also important to note that Mexico has previously operationalized their surveillance of activists and journalists through practices such as Pegasus malware, and the leaked list also delegitimizes the Democrats’ offer of a “technological wall” as an acceptable compromise to Trump’s border wall that would be any more lawful or based in human rights principles.
While government surveillance of activists is nothing new, and an issue the NLG has a long history of fighting, we are particularly concerned that binational surveillance of activists will not only deter people from engaging in humanitarian action but will also leave migrants in need of humanitarian and legal support with neither, thereby exacerbating human suffering at the border.
Since last year, NLG lawyers, legal workers, and law students have been on the ground in Tijuana volunteering legal support, training, and observation in coordination with other organizations such as Al Otro Lado. The NLG urges deepened investigation into this report and demands an immediate termination of the illegal practice of targeting activists and journalists.
The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.
# # #
- 1/8/19: Open Letter to the President of the United Mexican States, Mr. Andrés Manuel López Obrador
- 12/10/18: Hunger Strike Demands by Central American Migrant Exodus
- 12/6/18: Demands by Central American Refugees at Border
- 12/5/18: Refugee Caravan: A Legal Observer’s Report from Tijuana
- 11/29/18: “Deployed to the Border: A Test of Conscience for GI’s” Military Law Task Force of the NLG
- 11/28/18: WEBINAR: Why Do Refugee Caravans Exist? A Lesson in Geo-Political History of Central America
- 11/20/18: NLG & Al Otro Lado Mobilizing Legal Support for Central American Refugee Caravan at Mexico-US Border
NLG National Office
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[New Indicator presents here Kshama Sawant’s open letter and we make an invitation to all left groups to engage in a public dialogue around Sawant’s proposal for how we might use the Sanders campaign. This is NOT the same as asking people to merely talk about their views about the Sanders campaign itself. We will publish here statements about the Sawant proposal from left organizations, without editing. New Indicator does not endorse any political party nor any political candidate. New Indicator does support building a “new society” in which working people democratically control the economy and our own destiny. We do not usually publish what one left organization thinks about any other left organization or left individual. The Sanders campaign is a rare exception to our rule. With over 13 million votes in the 2016 primary elections, the Sanders campaign offers us all a larger audience for talking about “socialism”. Please send all response statements to email@example.com ]
Yesterday, Bernie Sanders formally launched his 2020 run for the U.S. presidency, vowing to mount “an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign that will begin with at least one million people from across the country.”
In the first 24 hours, he had already raised $5.9 million in donations and has more individual donors than all other current presidential candidates combined.
Certainly, Bernie’s new campaign has a far higher starting point than when the Vermont Senator first called for a “political revolution against the billionaire class” in the spring of 2016 and was overwhelmingly ignored by the corporate media. While it is still early, Sanders is well poised to politically define the coming Democratic primary.
Sanders’ video announcement yesterday began with the declaration: “Real change never takes place from the top on down, but always from the bottom on up.” I fully agree. And that is why Socialist Alternative and I will be working with others to launch grassroots campaigns in communities, unions, schools, and workplaces across the U.S. to build a mass working class fightback around Sanders’ campaign.
There is a great deal at stake in this election. Trump urgently needs to be driven out, and socialists and the left must take full advantage of the potential to organize alongside the millions already moving into struggle and who now will be mobilized around Bernie.
But we should also heed the lessons from 2016, when the Democratic primary was rigged against Bernie: with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) actively organizing against him, maneuvers in a series of state caucuses and primaries, the threat of the undemocratic superdelegate system, and with the corporate media and “progressive” Democratic figures leading waves of blistering attacks.
Working people need our own party, independent of corporate money and power, and that fights alongside our movements rather than against them.
I think Bernie should run as an independent socialist, as I have, and use his campaign to launch a new mass party for working people, instead of running inside a corporate party whose leadership is determined to stop him at all costs. Bernie unfortunately has made his decision and is running in the Democratic primary, but it is not acceptable that our political movement becomes imprisoned in this process. The 2016 election had terrible political consequences. Prior to launching his first campaign four years ago, Sanders said he was considering running either as an independent or as a Democrat and that he wanted to hear what people thought. This time he has bypassed that discussion and is making a fundamental mistake, though undoubtedly many people agree with him on a pragmatic basis or out of hope that the Democratic Party can somehow be remade into a people’s party.
While it is certainly true that Bernie will gain an enormous platform in the Democratic primary, declaring now that he was running as an independent and using his campaign to lay the basis for a new party would create a massive earthquake in American politics. In a column in the New York Times today entitled “Is America Becoming a 4-Party State?”, Thomas Friedman attacks the new left around self-described democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez but correctly points out that “political parties across the democratic world are blowing up” and that there is the basis for a real left party as well as a far right party.
If the Democratic establishment succeeds in once again blocking Bernie, he should continue his run as an independent candidate all the way to November, 2020. History doesn’t offer an unlimited number of opportunities to build the kind of political force working people need, and we must learn from the past. If the Democratic leadership again succeeds in ramming through another status quo candidate, there is a risk Trump could win re-election in spite of his unpopularity and poor standings in the polls at present. Certainly an establishment candidate may also be capable of defeating Trump, as many such candidates won in last fall’s midterm elections, which were essentially a referendum on the administration’s right wing agenda. But we do not in any way accept that the politics of Joe Biden or Kamala Harris are an asset in defeating the right or that their bankrupt corporate politics represent the views or needs of working people – it is quite the opposite.
Sanders today is the most popular politician in the country, and the working class demands at the center of his 2016 campaign – Medicare for All, free public college, and a federal $15 minimum wage – have been thrust to the center of American political discourse. While long popular, they now have overwhelming support in the polls as a result of Sanders and grassroots forces backing them. Many establishment Democratic Party politicians have had to at least pay lip service to them, including candidates like Kamala Harris.
In 2016 and since, Sanders’ self identification as a “democratic socialist” has played a big role in creating a mass discussion about socialist ideas, a process primarily driven by the failure of capitalism and its inability to provide decent living standards for the working class or a future for young people. As Sanders pointed out in his recent response to Trump’s State of the Union address, in the U.S. working people are making less than they were in 1973, adjusted for inflation, and 80% of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck.
Now polls show a majority of millennials view socialism positively.
In recent months, Sanders joined, Ocasio-Cortez, in the call for a “Green New Deal.” This enormously popular demand has the potential to rally millions of young people and working people, in the face of a string of new reports emphasizing the looming climate catastrophe.
When asked by CBS how his new campaign would be different, Sanders responded “We’re going to win.” But as my organization, Socialist Alternative, and I have emphasized, none of these working class demands – nor Bernie Sanders himself – are at all acceptable to the ruling class. Sanders will face an uphill fight every step of the way, and all sorts of maneuvers and vicious tactics will be deployed if seen as necessary to stop Sanders from winning the Democratic Primary.
The echo for Bernie’s call in 2016 for a “political revolution against the billionaire class” caught the Democratic establishment and ruling class by surprise. Entirely out of touch, they expected him to be totally marginalized. My organization was one of very few who recognized the potential to build the working class politics Sanders represented. But this time if Bernie’s campaign gains momentum, he will face a more immediate and decisive pushback from the elite.
The crowded field of candidates in the Democratic Primary is also a different situation than the clear contrast created in 2016 with Sanders v. Clinton.
Many working people and youth will take some time to assess the different candidates running on progressive platforms, including Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke. This is understandable, but we should be clear that in spite of Sanders’ political weaknesses, which are real, none of the various candidates running as progressives represent a stronger or more reliable force for working class politics or are prepared to stand up to the billionaire class.
Elizabeth Warren, the most consistent progressive after Sanders among the field of current or likely candidates, has her own serious political weaknesses. Foremost among them, Warren does not point toward building movements of the working class, without which the key demands in her progressive platform cannot be won.
Warren also has shown less willingness to stand up to the Democratic establishment than Sanders. Bernie supporters will remember that Warren sat out the 2016 primary, when she was well positioned to impact the fight for working class politics by endorsing and campaigning for Bernie. It was only when Sanders was clearly defeated that Warren stepped in – to fully and uncritically endorse Hillary Clinton. This contributed to the situation where the main candidate facing the right populist Trump was an unpopular corporate Democratic nominee.
As working people have seen in Seattle, where I sit on the City Council, few elected representatives are prepared to stand up to big business and the political establishment. What will really be needed to win our demands and defeat the coming onslaught of the ruling class against Sanders’ is a broad independent grassroots campaign of millions of working people, with grassroots democratic structures, independent of the Democratic Party, and aimed at mobilizing the strongest possible force.
As a City Councilmember in Seattle, I have fought alongside social movements and labor to help win the $15 minimum wage, millions of dollars for affordable housing, and a series of landmark renters rights victories. All of these gains were won in spite of the fierce opposition of the Democratic establishment, which has long run Seattle City Hall. My organization, Socialist Alternative, has been the backbone of our progressive victories. Even the most well meaning of the Democratic Party Councilmembers bow to huge pressures from big business and the leadership of their own party, as we saw again with their betrayal of working people in capitulating on Seattle’s Amazon Tax last spring.
Sanders’ website opens with the familiar but powerful theme of his 2016 campaign: “Not Me. Us.” We need to make this real – not just in the fight for Bernie’s campaign and against the corporate political establishment – but in the struggle for a fundamentally different kind of politics.
Rather than wait and see what’s in store in the Democratic Primary, let’s start now.
Let’s begin building independent grassroots campaigns in our communities and workplaces, introduce resolutions in our unions to support Bernie’s campaign, and launch student groups on our campuses. Let’s use this historic moment to launch an all-out working class fightback.
But to really defeat the right wing and win the struggle for a society based on the needs of working people and a sustainable environment, we need to fight for a socialist alternative. I hope you will consider joining my organization.
Lastly, if you’re in Seattle (or even if you’re not) you should sign up to support the fight for socialist politics in Seattle, by going to our 2019 re-election campaign website. With big business furious over the Amazon Tax and other progressive struggles, we will face a huge battle this year over who runs this city – Amazon and big business, or working people.
Councilmember Kshama Sawant can be reached at:
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 85862, Seattle, WA 98145-1862
Like the Berlin Wall of Cold War days, the U.S.-Mexico border wall divides our communities.
None of the major corporate news media are reporting that zero funding is proposed for any border wall with Canada. Why? Racism. Yes, news reporters and editors are cheer-leading a massive propaganda campaign of racism.
The conference committee of top congressional Democrats and Republicans has announced late last night their proposal of a “compromise” on “border security”. Politicians of both big capitalist political parties and news reports have repeatedly used the phrase “border security” as a code to manipulate public opinion to fear immigrants with brown skin. The proposal must be approved by both houses of congress and not be vetoed by the president. The proposal includes funding for 55 miles of new wall on the U.S.-Mexican border.
None of the major corporate news media are reporting that the entire history of U.S. immigration laws is based upon racism. Immigration is not the problem. Racist immigration laws are the problem. Racism in America is the problem.
If these facts are in any way surprising, try a little homework study starting with Wikipedia: History of laws concerning immigration and naturalization in the United States.
Mr. Trumpachev, Tear Down This Wall!