Thursday, February 4, 2016

TAKE BACK THE PARK!

This Saturday, a "men's rights" group, that advocates legalizing rape that takes place on private property, will be likely holding a gathering in Duluth.  The gathering was to be part of an international day of face to face meetings to allow online supporters of this sexist movement to meet one another in real life.  An outpouring of outrage and planned counter-protests though led the organizers to officially cancel the meet ups.  Leaked communications though suggest that this wretched movement is still planning on going ahead with at least some of the meetings, including the one in Duluth.

For that reason, supporters of women's rights and social justice are planning a counter-protest to take place at the same time and place as the pro-rape gathering.  We're titling the event "Take Back the Park!"

The plan is for everyone to gather at 7:45pm at the parking lot of the Duluth Rose garden.  Then, at 8pm we will march to the Leif Erickson Park stage and peacefully occupy the space. Please bring candles and a sign if you can.

This is an important opportunity to take a stand against sexism and rape culture. Join us in making a stand!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Planned Parenthood cleared of false charges

Jan. 22 marked the 43rd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which ruled that abortion is a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution. Rallies in cities around the country reflected the fact that the right to abortion continues to be under attack through state restrictions, continual anti-abortion rhetoric, and specific attacks on Planned Parenthood.

This past year, those attacks included not only continual harassment of Planned Parenthood clinics but a gunman entering the clinic in Colorado Springs, Col., and killing three and wounding nine people. In addition, in July, an anti-abortion organization, Center for Medical Progress (CMP), made allegations that a Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston had attempted to illegally profit from selling fetal tissue. This resulted in cries from politicians to defund Planned Parenthood.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

2015 in Review: Grassroots Resistance Points the Way Forward

As the assault on union standards continues—wherever we still have them—glimmers of hope in 2015 came from grassroots resistance.

Employers who wrung temporary concessions during the financial crisis are doing their best to make the cuts permanent. Companies are coming after us in auto plants, on the docks, in hospitals—anywhere members make a solid wage, retire with pensions, or have health care paid for by their employers.

It’s six years since economists declared an end to the Great Recession. Corporate profits and state budgets have largely bounced back. Employers like Kohler are pushing concessions not because they need them, but because they can.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why Was MLK Murdered?

From the time of Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968, the many inconsistencies in the government’s assertion that James Earl Ray was the sole assassin have been well publicized.

In 1979, after the FBI’s “Cointelpro” disruption operations were exposed, the House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Assassinations, under pressure from these exposures and the civil rights movement, convened an “investigation” with the purpose of reconfirming the government’s version of the murder.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Kshama Sawant Shows That Ordinary People Aren’t Afraid of Unapologetic Socialist Politics

When Vanessa Patricelli first heard Kshama Sawant speak, she thought the socialist was nuts.

It was November 2013. Sawant had just been elected to the Seattle City Council as a member of the Socialist Alternative party. And Boeing was threatening to cut thousands of jobs if its machinists didn’t give up their pensions and Washington State didn’t hand the company $8.7 billion in tax breaks.

Patricelli, a public hospital nurse active in her union, had joined a downtown Seattle rally for the Boeing machinists with labor leaders and allies. When Sawant took the microphone, she declared her solidarity with Boeing employees, adding that if the aerospace giant wanted to engage in “economic terrorism,” the workers should take over the factories and place them under democratic control.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dark Money: A Look at the MN State Board of Investment

On June 3, the Minnesota State Board of Investment voted unanimously to end consideration of human rights in their investment decisions.

The State Board of Investment (SBI) manages $80 billion in assets used to pay for state pensions and other trusts. In 2014, SBI saw an 18.6 percent yield, with an annualized return over the last 10 years of 8.4 percent.

SBI’s authority rests in four officers outlined by the state constitution—the attorney general (currently Lori Swanson), the secretary of state (currently Steve Simon), the state auditor (currently Rebecca Otto), and the governor (currently Mark Dayton) as chair. The officers supervise a staff headed by Executive Director Mansco Perry.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Black Friday Protests: A New Holiday for Progressives?

Amazing but true: not all Americans are devoting their long Thanksgiving weekend to expanding both their waistlines and their credit card debt. Many of us, despite holding down a job or jobs, often go hungry, and millions more are already drowning in debt, often paying usurious interest rates. And as “Black Friday” sales have spread over more days, including Thanksgiving, growing numbers of retail workers are losing a holiday with their families, on top of already having far less time off for paid holidays and vacations than their peers in other rich countries.

Yet Thanksgiving time is also becoming more of a focus for protests from labor unions and other social groups, taking advantage of the Thanksgiving themes of peace, cooperation and gratitude for abundance as a time to call for solidarity and support for those who have fewer material reasons for thanksgiving this year.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

MN Workers Escalate Campaign for Higher Wages & Benefits

While Minneapolis city officials back off measures for paid sick leave and fair scheduling, hundreds of low-wage workers and supporters escalated their campaign for the “Minneapolis Works” agenda with a massive Day of Action Tuesday.

Fast food workers and retail cleaners who went on a one-day strike were joined by Walmart workers, union members, faith leaders and community activists in a march from a McDonald’s restaurant in northeast Minneapolis to the Macy’s store on Nicollet Mall, a downtown U.S. Bank branch and City Hall.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

In MN, a Strong ‘Fair Scheduling’ Law for Workers Runs Into a Corporate Roadblock

Less than a year after San Francisco passed a first-of-its-kind fair scheduling ordinance for retail employers, progressive activists in Minneapolis began pushing for an even stronger scheduling ordinance of their own—along with paid sick leave, wage theft protections, and the possibility of a $15 minimum wage. 

But the campaign, dubbed the Working Families Agenda, ran into a roadblock earlier this month when its most powerful political ally, Mayor Betsy Hodges, decided to abandon the fair scheduling component. Language in the proposed ordinance called for scheduling notice of at least two weeks in advance and extra “predictability pay” for workers who were scheduled after that threshold. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Get the Hell Out of Afghanistan Already!

The US war machine scored another win. Not in Syria, but in Afghanistan. After lying about a prolonged attack on the Medicin Sans Frontiers hospital in Kunduz, a recent decision from the White House to leave at least 10,000 troops in that country for an undetermined amount of time seems to make no sense. However, when one looks at the justification from various politicians and think tanks, the reasoning is proven to be the same as it has been for years. Let me quote a certain Rand policy analyst named S. Rebecca Zimmerman:

“There have been numerous security losses across Afghanistan, despite the 9,800 troop presence, but the government is also facing challenges of erosion of authority. It’s so focused on factions within, and pressure without that it cannot effectively govern and strongmen on the periphery are growing in influence. The presence of U.S. troops cannot halt these trends, but it can slow their progress.” (RAND website, October 16, 2015)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Defend Planned Parenthood!

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, women in at least 90 cities around the United States demonstrated in defense of the health provider Planned Parenthood. “Pink Out Day,” the organizers state, provided the opportunity to say: “Listen to over a million Americans who are sick and tired of the relentless attacks on reproductive health care. Listen to the one in five American women who has received care at a Planned Parenthood health center … Tell anti-abortion extremists and politicians that we are everywhere and we will not let them use fraud and deception to shut down the health centers so many women rely on for care. … We’re not backing down, not today, not ever.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Remembering Midwest Radical: Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson passed away Aug. 5 in Chippewa Falls, Wis., at age 84. His long life was marked by resolute opposition to war, local and national leadership in the Socialist Workers Party, government persecution, an exceedingly frugal life style, and from middle age, devoted care to his mother during her final years.

I first met Joe when I transferred from the Chicago branch of the Socialist Workers Party to the Twin Cities in the fall of 1965. After a long dry spell during the Fifties, the SWP was beginning to grow once more. This was primarily the result of a youth radicalization expressed through developments such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committees involved in civil rights, the Free Speech Movement launched in Berkeley, and the “New Left” Students for a Democratic Society—who organized the first national protest against the Vietnam War.

The party’s Young Socialist Alliance, founded in 1960, participated in and recruited from these movements. The Twin Cities had done particularly well in campus recruiting, but many transferred elsewhere upon graduation and reinforcements were needed. At the request of the party’s national secretary Farrell Dobbs, three of us from the Windy City headed to the Land of Sky Blue Waters.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Remembering Eugene Debs

In the annals of American socialism, the name of Eugene V. Debs stands out as the most prominent personality in the movement’s history. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the self-described independent socialist now campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, considers Debs one of his heroes.

It’s almost certain Debs would not have approved of Sanders running for nomination in the Democratic Party. As a leader of the early 20th-century Socialist Party, Debs once said he was more proud of going to jail for leading a rail workers’ strike than early in his career serving in the Indiana state legislature as an elected Democratic representative.

Unfortunately, there’s a tendency among defenders of the status quo to turn great historical figures into harmless icons, saintly martyrs to high ideals who loved everyone and threatened no one. This to a degree has happened with the Rev. Martin Luther, King, Jr., a radical fighter for civil rights in his day that the political establishment now treats with a kind of perfunctory reverence.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Iron Range Miners Rally as Contract Set to Expire

Hundreds of Steelworkers and supporters from across Minnesota’s Iron Range marched and rallied on Thursday as part of nationwide actions by the union as it fights concessions demanded by mining companies U.S. Steel, ArcelorMittal and Cliffs Natural Resources.

The union began bargaining new contracts with U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal in June. The two master agreements, which cover about 30,000 workers in all, are scheduled to expire on Sept. 1. 

The contract with Cliffs Natural Resources, which is set to expire Oct. 1, covers more than 2,600 Steelworkers from four local unions in Minnesota and Michigan.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Why Obama’s epic climate plan isn’t such a big deal

The carbon regulations that President Barack Obama is unveiling today sound like they’ll be a bit stronger than the toothless draft rules he unveiled last year. That doesn’t mean they’ll be strong. And it certainly doesn’t mean they’ll be “the strongest action ever taken to combat climate change,” as The New York Times breathlessly referred to them in its news pages yesterday morning.

It’s not yet clear exactly what they’ll be, because so far the Obama administration has only revealed some non-binding national goals, not the hard emissions targets that states will be required to meet. But the early leaks suggest that the Clean Power Plan will require the electricity sector to decarbonize slightly more than it would have under the draft plan. The sector’s emissions are expected to drop 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, up from 30 percent in the draft. The plan now anticipates renewable energy to rise to 28 percent of the grid’s capacity by 2030, instead of 22 percent, and coal to drop to 27 percent of capacity, instead of 31 percent.