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Tidbits - April 14, 2016 - Reader Comments: Mine Safety; Panama Papers Fallout; Chicago Police Spying; Minimum Wage Hikes; Bernie, Hillary; whites and the working class; and more

Reader Comments: Panama Papers fallout; Controversy over whites as part of the working class; Mine Safety and Blankenship Jail Sentence; Minimum wage hikes discussion; Bernie and labor, Wisconsin victory; Wall Street and Glass-Steagall; Hillary and labor, Wall Street and fracking; Pope Francis; Announcements: Gerald Horne book signings - Baltimore, Washington and New York; China Labor Relations; Communists in the Civil Rights Movement

Tidbits - Reader Comments and Announcements - April 14, 2016,Portside
(posting on Portside Labor)
this is a slap on the wrist. These killers need to serve serious time.
Robert David Cohen
Slap on the wrist? This isn't even that much. Maybe it's 15 minutes in the corner with a dunce hat on...
Lizzi Azalia Swane
"...the power against which Pinkerton's army is called on to protect property is a ludicrously small minority of the population. Labor, which has brought this shame on us, and in fear of which Governors of American States and Mayors of American cities are ready to play the mountebank in their public utterances, and violate their oaths of office, and dishonor the national flag, probably does not number 1,000,000 all told, and a large proportion of it is composed of poor and ignorant foreigners, who know not what they do, and to whom every intelligent American's first duty is to make plain that in this land of liberty the law is omnipotent."
Pinkerton's Men, 1887
"The mines was my first love but never my friend
I've lived a hard life and hard I'll die
Soon all of this sufferin' I'll leave behind
But I can't help but wonder what God had in mind
To send such a devil to claim this soul of mine"
For the most part, this company has been a joint venture with Royal Dutch/Shell Group. During the violent strike of'84-'85, "a high level of solidarity with South African workers is kept with the striking workers who are well aware that Massey is exploiting workers on an international scale and that solidarity is important if they wanted to have a fighting chance".
A bloody history. Not even the mountains themselves survived.
(I think they call this case "exceptional" because ALEC(Koch) legislation has made it impossible to convict CEOs and executives for crimes.. it has to be proven they have knowledge of wrongdoing. )
Graz Gugni
We all knew this was going on, but the scope of it is staggering.
Seymour Joseph
May I suggest that the issue may require as well the re-education of the superrich. You can't take it with you! What are they going to do with so much money? Some set up foundations that contribute to universities, cultural institutions like art galleries, PBS in the United States. That must be more satisfying for those that are essentially honest rather than hiding the wealth away.
Laurel MacDowell
Amazing that it took until 2016 for this tax dodging to be fully revealed.
Robert Politzer
Time to look at our own home grown crooks. We don't need to look far!
Joanne Look
The official opposition leader in Quebec has his company registered in Delaware....Quebecor, the largest QC Media group...
Jacques Daoust
In 1976 a number of civil rights, anti-war, civil liberties, peoples' law, community and union groups sued the City of Chicago to abolish the Police Dept. Red Squad and to end political spying by the police department. We were successful - the Red Squad was disbanded, the files were sealed, and damages were won by the victims. I am no longer in Chicago, but I was one of named plaintiffs in the suit against the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department. I hope that a similar fight against this practice will be undertaken, once again.
Jay Schaffner
I was a paralegal on that case. The CPD red squad was also a patronage mill for old man Daley. They even spied on Republicans! Not very professional though. My own file was full of nonsense and bs, obviously just guesswork by snoops. Still, as far as the CPD was concerned, that was me.
Ethan Young
By the time that raise would reach it's maximum in 2022, it won't be worth more than whatever it is they are getting today. Furthermore, the concept of minimum wage needs to be replaced by a living-wage. FDR thought that 75 years ago.
Phyllis Mandel
My understanding is that over the years, productivity has risen but wages have remained stagnant. Raised productivity means more $$$ in the pockets of industry, Right? So since the workers have not been paid fairly for years and are still not being paid fairly, it would seem that $15 immediately in  many cases would be possible without starving the bosses and many cases a FAIR wage would be higher. Why must the wages be raised gradually?  
Lee Loe, Houston, TX Grandmother for Peace (& Bernie!)
Actually it will benefit all californians
Lincoln Soldati
US based corporations equipped and financed Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and, as discussed here by Adam Hochschild - Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939  aided -- in very direct ways the overthrow of the Spanish Republic by Franco's fascists. So many died for Texaco's profit. Does this underscore to you, as it does to me, the vampire-like, blood sucking, amoral nature of the corporations and billionaires running our country? Thanks to Portside for the link. For a similar story concerning the cooperation of the Associated Press with Nazi Germany, see Phillip Olterman's essay (sent along by Todd Gitlin).
Daniel Millstone
(posting on Portside Labor)
We will be watching this lawsuit as it moves through the Wisconsin courts. As the article points out the outcome of this years presidential election will be crucial for labor unions as it will decide the make up of the Supreme Court.
Our anti-racist message seems to be increasingly diluted by well-meant whining. Chris Arnade's Guardian article asked, "Who Will Speak for the American White Working Class?"
NO ONE should "speak for the white working class." There is only ONE working class, whose class interests are advanced by speaking with one voice. White members of that class need to understand that, not encouraged to think they have class interests contrary to workers of other hues.
Arnade's message is that we should pity them. Our message is that we must all stand together and fight.
Ken Lawrence
The author has ignored the change in the politics of the Democrats. E.g., Clinton bears a great deal of responsibility for enabling the Republican agenda of deregulation, welfare reform, trade agreements that allow American businesses to move abroad without any compensating policy for lost jobs, the decline of unions as a consequence, and labor policy that makes the U.S. the least organized nation in the industrialized world.  The presence of major financial interests in the executive branch is not only a Republican phenomenon.
Ed Geffner
(posting on Portside Labor)
I am disappointed that Rand Wilson's and Dan DiMaggio's article "Labor for Bernie Activists Take the Political Revolution into Their Unions" did not mention the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.  I believe several locals, including my Seattle Local 19 have endorsed Bernie Sanders.
Howard McCay
For my friends who have yet to vote in a primary, please read this article and then vote for Bernie Sanders!
Nancy Likely Shipes
First step in ending addiction is acknowledging one has a problem. Neoliberal orthodoxy is very difficult for true believers to recognize!
Chuck Weed
Pay no attention to the man just out of focus (but not behind the curtain, quite). Naomi Klein looks at the alliance between HRC and the fossil fuel industry (and banksters). The corporate cash flows to her campaign because the givers and the candidate are in general agreement. Mind you, if she's the nominee, she'll be better than anyone on the misbegotten GOP horizon. Her position on the issues has improved. But, I say i want a (Bernie) revolution and the Clinton outlook is for more of the same. Thanks to many friends who posted links to this.
Daniel Millstone
How did our economy get to where it is now?
During the Clinton administration, unions wanted a streamlined voting procedure for union recognition, while banks wanted to gamble with depositor's money. Banks got what they wanted and workers got screwed. The Clinton administration chose Wall Street over Main Street, just like they did with the NAFTA deal that was a top-priority for corporate America - and guaranteed job-killer for working Americans.
Another sign of anti-worker bias is the kind of "advisors" presidents use to guide their decision-making. The Clinton administration and those that followed in both parties have relied on Harvard grad types, who often have a closed mentality that doesn't allow them think out of their pro-business box.
President Roosevelt's administration used advisors who thought outside of the box and came from different backgrounds.  Harry Hopkins, one of Roosevelt's closest confidants, was a social worker from Iowa. Robert Jackson, the US Attorney General whom Roosevelt appointed to the Supreme Court, was a lawyer who had no law degree. Jessy Jones who ran Roosevelt's bail-out program was a business man from Texas who had no qualms about putting the nation's largest financial institutions in receivership. Meraner Ekels, whom Roosevelt appointed to run the Federal Reserve, was a small time banker from Utah with no advanced degrees. Henry Wallace, the nation's greatest agriculture secretary who also ran for President in 1948 with support from the ILWU, studied at Iowa State University and came to government after running a magazine for farmers. Harry Truman, FDR's last Vice President, had no college degree at all.
In 1999, Bob Brooks of local 94 and l were both ILWU credit union board members who attended a panel discussion in Washington DC, where we called-out several Under-Secretaries of the U.S. Treasury for proposing to destroy the Glass-SteagallAct.  This law was passed during the Roosevelt administration in order to separate investing from banking. As banks and the finance industry grew more powerful in recent decades, they proposed gutting this law so banks could once again gamble with depositor's money in high-risk investments. Treasury officials told us not to worry because the law was old, outdated, and would only allow the biggest banks to make risky investments. That was back in 1999 when Clinton declared that the Glass Steagall protections "were no longer appropriate." Just ten years later, we reaped the devastation of what two Longshoremen foresaw coming down the pike. If you ask me, Presidents in both parties have been relying too much on Harvard experts - and not enough on people with common sense- even if we don't have all the formal degrees and diplomas from the "right" universities. 
This is just one reason - and a good one - for all of us to support Bernie Sanders for President. He may not be popular with Washington insiders, but he's listening to the American people and offering us a rare chance to be heard. 
Lewis Wright
Local 63
Retired from the industry, not from the struggle!
(Posting on Portside Labor)
This endorsement, and Portside's broadcasting of it, is a disgraceful betrayal of the members' interests, because in so many ways Clinton has not been on our side, and every time Sanders has. If Hillary wins by a narrow margin in NY it could be the difference for July. Trump will crucify her in November because regular working people are angry and fed up with Clinton and the whole system she represents - and because she has so much baggage. In doing so he'll tear the country apart. Whatever lead Bernie takes in calling for Party unity, the unenrolled and young voters won't work for Hillary and many will stay home. The understanding of how our corrupt political system works is out of the bottle and can't be put back in and Hillary is it's poster child now. But she could win New York in a closed primary - thanks to DC37 and others in the Democratic Establishment. Thus this endorsement could play a critical role in producing a national disaster. If so, blame your own cowardice, don't blame Bernie.
Chris Horton
When Hillary was asked by an anti-fracking activist (asked very quietly and politely), to commit to opposing fracking, Hillary replied:
"I am sick and tired....I am sick and tired of Bernie Sanders (people? campaign?) telling lies about me!" 
Did other people catch this? It was a deliberate slander against Bernie. The young woman had identified the environmental group she was affiliated with/
Diane Laison
Bob Ross, not surprisingly, raises serious points, most of which I agree with. My perception of him over the years, that he plays with a full deck and takes politics more seriously than too many of our early and late boomer contemporaries, has been verified once again.
So I'll concentrate on points of difference. I see this race as a five-way conflict. On the Democratic side, you have the powerful and corporate-funded machine of the HRC-dominated DNC; and the volunteer and tithe-driven Sanders campaign, with a strong left platform and no ties to the ruling class.
On the GOP side, you have the psycho con artist/real estate heir representing the nativist and violent racist faction, Cruz repping the hardcore, Talibanish fundamentalists, and Kasich as the rust belt reactionary posing as the 'sane' choice - repping the capitalists who, while they were busy spending their fortunes on sex and drugs, let their party be boosted by lower class ideologues.
Of these five groups, the two whose interests most closely coincide are the DNC and the despised pragmatic capitalists who used to run the GOP. Between the two wings, there are ideological differences but ultimately one class interest: a stable government, military domination, and continuing neoliberalism. The other three groups do not share ideology or class interests, and actively despise one another, practically to the point of violence.
I think the possibility of a DNC/GOP old guard alliance the most likely development if things go on the way they have been the past two months. Their worst case scenario would be Sanders somehow acing the nomination. I believe the DNC is fully prepared to see that this does not happen, even if Sanders gains a clear voter majority up to the convention.
Meanwhile, the ruling class simply can't afford ceding the presidency to either fascist stalking horse, and like Kasich, the two each lack backing broad enough to win against either Democrat. 
As in 1972, but switching parties, the only option for the two wings of the capitalists is to unite and throw their weight behind one candidate, party loyalty be damned. But then, the base of the GOP have not been loyal to their masters, so nature is balanced.
I am suggesting that HRC will win, with the backing of the GOP old guard. As I said before, her winning is a preferable outcome to the GOP winning, especially since, for Trump or Cruz to win, the electorate would have to swing much farther right than the Tea Party, let alone GW Bush. That's always a possibility, but in my opinion a remote one this year, especially if the big money is not so inclined.
So what would be the basis for a Sanders/HRC front? They do share one interest - preventing a GOP win. Since both Hill and Bern have backed off on the 'qualifications' fight, that will likely happen. But if the Sanders campaign melts into the HRC post-convention campaign, not only will we be cutting our own throats - we would lose whatever value we would have for a full court press against the GOP campaign.
So I say, of course we have to defeat the GOP this year. "After Hitler, our turn" was a generation's epitaph. But the left is no longer what it was last year. If the seasoned activists of social movements who would otherwise support Bernie join with the Berniacs to work out common goals, demands and coordinated tactics, and prepare everybody to jump into down ballot races, we will really get this party started - whatever we mean by 'party'.
Finally, if we can pull this off, we can go farther than 'addressing', 'revising', and 'moving towards' our goals, and simply agree on 'Now' - because that's what you, me, and just about everybody outside the DNC inner circle and their billionaire backers really want.
Ethan Young
(posting on Portside Culture)
Moving and insightful.  Maybe we also remember the experiences of other refugees such as Vietnamese and Khmer people -- the USA politics that created their journeys to and the realities they encountered here in USA.
Leanna Noble
I loved Paul Becker's account of his recent trip to Cuba. I'd like to send him my account of my trip last summer, which I'm now updating based on a trip two weeks ago.
Polly Cleveland
As long as the catholic Church opposes even contraceptives (much less abortion) and divorce, it is OPPRESSING WOMEN by FORCING them to bear children due to poverty, already having children or any other reason---since, after all it is HER body and HER life to live (even those pregnancies conceived in rape and the sexual assault of children) and IMPRISONING WOMEN IN VIOLENT MARRIAGES. It's incredible to me that a Pope who aims for COMPASSION as his guiding principle so brazenly FAILS when it comes to showing compassion for those who are HALF of humanity: women. Very disappointing. Obviously, the Church still does NOT recognize women aws equal human beings---but, we remain "empty vessels" to bear children and serve men in a subordinate position.
Lydia Howell
...ideas for consideration:
You assume continuation of market economies with evolution toward a larger state or social sector. This inevitably leads to periodic busts that leaves many of us in dire straits and with imperatives to have to relocate for work at great cost to our social relations and community cohesion.
Though I've long been a single-payer activist, it is a flawed reform compromise. If we're looking at visionary goals and what works best in practice, it is fully socialized healthcare in a somewhat democratic context as in the U.K. and nordic nations. The democratic conditions allow for some possibility of reform or correction, for example Thatcher being thrown out after cuts to the National Health Service. It tends to be cheaper than limited single-payer systems with better outcomes.
For what it's worth, I'm a disabled and former (U.S.): print media worker for several publications and most notably founder of the photojournalism co-op Impact Visuals, co-op activist/leader, and occupational safety & health staffer with The Labor Institute.
Michael Kaufman
Two books by Gerald Horne - Meet the Author - Buy a Book
London:  Pluto, 2016
New York:  Monthly Review Press, 2016
Friday, April 15  --  7:30 PM
30 W. North Ave. 
Baltimore, MD
Saturday, April 16  --  3 PM
2714 Georgia Ave. NW   
Washington, DC
[The Columbia University Seminar on Globalization, Labor & Popular Struggles #671]
In China's Reform and Opening-up, transnational companies have played a substantial and irreplaceable role. They have set up a number of facilities and subcontracted manufacturing to numerous local suppliers, in total generating tens of or even hundreds of millions jobs in China. Transnational companies' behavior on labor relations will have a significant impact on China's labor rights issues as a whole. This talk will be based on the following bullet points:
1. Transnational companies' corporate social responsibility and its impact on Chinese workers
2. Current development of Chinese workers' collective action
3. Expectations on China's labor relations 
Speaker:  Li Qiang - Founder and Executive Director of China Labor Watch (CLW)
Before moving to the United States in 2000, Li Qiang played a leading role in organizing networks of labor activists, researching factory labor conditions, and conducting worker education and legal assistance programs in China. Since founding CLW in 2000, he has led the organization to become a well-trusted source of information on Chinese labor conditions, the labor movement, and corporate supply chains in China. CLW's investigative reports regularly appear in publications like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC, and others. Li Qiang maintains close contact with activists, academics, and other colleagues in China and has guided programs at CLW aimed to directly assist workers and activists through training and advocacy. In 2004, Li Qiang served as a visiting scholar at The Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University. Li Qiang will be speaking through a translator at this event.
SEMINAR DATE: Thursday, April 28 from 7:15 - 9:00 p.m. in Faculty House
The seminar is at 7:15 p.m. in a room that will be announced in the Faculty House lobby. Please look for a bulletin board posting. To reach Faculty House, enter the Columbia University campus via the gate on the east side of Broadway at 116th Street; go through campus and cross Amsterdam Avenue. Continue on West 116th past the Law School and turn left through the gate, turn right beyond Wein Hall on the right and go down the ramp to Faculty House.
PLEASE RSVP to Shayna Halliwell ( by Thursday, April 21 at the latest.

The Tamiment Library will be hosting a conference on Communists in the Civil Rights Movement on April 29-30, 2016.
April 29 Book Talk (6:00-8:00 PM): Gerald Horne, Paul Robeson: The Artist as Revolutionary
April 30: Morning Panel (10:00 AM-Noon)
Activists in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Gene Tournour (CORE, St. Louis)
  • Marian Gordon (CORE, Los Angeles, Mississippi)
  • Jarvis Tyner (WEB DuBois Clubs)
Panel Chair: Timothy V. Johnson (Director,Tamiment Library)
Afternoon Panel (2:00-4:00 PM)
The Scholar's Perspective
  • Gerald Horne (University of Houston)
  • Ian Rocksborough-Smith (St. Francis Xavier University)
  • LaShawn D. Harris (Michigan State University)
Panel Chair and Commenter: Sara Haviland (St. Francis College)
Both events will be held at the Tamiment Library, 10th Floor of the Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South New York, NY 10012. 
You can RSVP by emailing us at Space is limited.