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The future of Africa & the struggle for socialism

first_imgExcerpts from a talk by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire and WW contributing editor, at the Nov. 17-18, 2012, Workers World Party conference in New York. See video at youtube.com/wwpvideo.Abayomi AzikiweWW photo: Brenda RyanDespite claims by the capitalist governments internationally and their apologists in the corporate media, the world economic crisis is worsening.The financial institutions and other corporate entities are at the root of the current economic malaise. This is true not only for the U.S. but for the entire globe where billions still live on less than $2 per day.Recent unrest in the Republic of South Africa derives from the global crisis in the capitalist and imperialist system. Many were shocked throughout the left and progressive communities when over 50 workers lost their lives in disturbances surrounding both wildcat and protected strike actions in the mining and transport sectors of the economy, the largest on the continent.Workers in South Africa want the same things that their class brothers and sisters need all over the planet: a decent salary, quality homes, utility services, education for themselves and their families, and the right to determine the conditions under which they labor.Although we condemned the police killings of miners at Marikana on Aug. 16, which resulted in the deaths of 34 workers and injuries to many more, we placed the onus of this crime on the transnational extractive firms that are largely controlled by Western-based capitalists. South African capitalism and its links to the world system have profited immensely from the growth of the gold, diamond, platinum, coal and iron ore sectors of the economy.We were some of the earliest supporters inside the U.S. of the African National Congress and its allies within the revolutionary democratic movement, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party. We can recall vividly how the ANC was labeled “terrorist” in the same fashion that other movements in the Middle East and the Muslim world are characterized today.The unrest in the mining industry in South Africa has spread to other sectors including the civil service and agriculture. We support the workers in their just struggles for a living wage and better living conditions. Nonetheless, we realize that in order for this to truly take place the South African revolution must take the path toward economic independence and scientific socialism.We know that based upon their history of struggle, the South African people will succeed in realizing their strategic objectives. It was not long ago that the imperialists doubted the ability of the peoples of Southern Africa to reach the levels they have achieved thus far.We must continue our support of the people of Southern Africa in the next phase of the struggle for genuine liberation. With the political crisis engendered by the recent wave of strikes, a broad, sweeping debate has erupted within the national democratic movement led by the ANC.In neighboring Zimbabwe, the country embarked upon a land reform program in 2000 that confiscated farms stolen by British settlers in the late 19th century. These farms were broken up and turned over to millions of African agricultural workers.The imperialists met this process with sanctions and threats of regime change against the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU-PF) ruling party inside the country. Yet the economic impact of these reforms has been successful in raising production and income levels among African farmers.The experience of Zimbabwe is being looked at seriously in neighboring Namibia, headed by the South-West Africa People’s Organization, a close ally of the ANC and ZANU-PF. Throughout the entire region of Southern and East Africa, the question of land redistribution is no longer an academic one, but is becoming a more viable political option in Kenya as well as in other states.It is not surprising then that the imperialist states have targeted Zimbabwe. Should the ANC take on the ­much-needed reforms, it too will come under a more sustained attack. When this occurs, we must be in a position to defend the process as a much-needed step in the right direction toward a noncapitalist path of development.AFRICOM’s escalating aggressionThe U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has intensified its efforts on the continent with the 2011 war against Libya, the ongoing proxy war in Somalia, and the threats of intervention in East and Southern Africa. The role of AFRICOM is clearly linked to the growing significance of African oil and mineral resources to the world capitalist system.Over the last year, new findings of oil and natural gas occurred throughout all East and Central Africa, providing greater opportunities for transnational corporations and banks. The military interventionist policies of the U.S. through successive administrations, including the current Obama regime, will intensify. We must follow these events closely and oppose U.S. military intervention on the continent.As we did with respect to Libya last year, we must condemn the role of imperialism and build closer ties between the workers and oppressed on the continent and those in the U.S.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more


June 15, 2021 0

In defense of the Ferguson rebellion

first_imgMonica MooreheadWW photo: Brenda RyanTalk given by Monica Moorehead at the 2014 National Conference of Workers World Party in New York City on Nov. 15.The Ferguson Rebellion, ignited by the racist police lynching of Michael Brown, still strikes fear into the hearts of the 1%, the ruling capitalist class, so much so that they are preparing their storm troopers — the police and National Guard — on every level for a new phase of the rebellion, not only in Ferguson but beyond its borders, as the U.S. and the world await the dreaded outcome of the grand jury decision on whether Michael Brown’s killer, Darren Wilson, will be indicted or not.For our class, despite the tragic death of Michael Brown, this rebellion was a political victory. It has reinforced the right of the most oppressed to rebel and to resist against an entire system by exposing to the world the horrors of police terror that protects the interests of the 1% while defying the rights of millions.The Ferguson Rebellion upped the ante by tearing the covers off the growing militarization of the police with their tear gas, rubber bullets, tanks, drones and other terror weapons, for almost two weeks, starting on Aug. 10, when Black youth defied bogus curfews by staying in the streets.The Ferguson Rebellion must be examined within the overall context of the global capitalist economic crisis, where the most oppressed, the most disenfranchised, the most marginalized are targeted first and foremost with racism, cutbacks and austerity.  Black and Brown youth face a relentless war of racial profiling by the police as an occupying force, the prisons, the courts, extralegal terror exhibited by the likes of George Zimmerman, demonizing by the big business media and more. All of these instruments of repression make up the state apparatus, which exists to subjugate one class by the other.  And this war is rooted within this current capitalist crisis of unemployment, underemployment, low wages, union-busting, gentrification, privatization, attacks on public education and other assaults against the workers and oppressed.  And for African Americans, this crisis is very much rooted in the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow racism.Our party stands in unwavering solidarity with the Ferguson Rebellion, because we stand in solidarity with the workers, including oppressed nationalities from the African Diaspora, from Latin America, the Caribbean, the so-called Middle East, Asia and the Indigenous peoples, who share a common oppression, regardless of boundaries and language, in relationship to the expansion of capitalism into imperialism, which relies on the plunder and superexploitation of whole countries and peoples for its very existence.Being nationally oppressed means being denied basic democratic rights, even under a bourgeois democracy.  So defending the right to self-determination for oppressed nations is critical for any multinational, revolutionary party to adhere to in order to strengthen class unity to move forward the class struggle.And how does this understanding relate to the Ferguson Rebellion?  It means defending the right of the Black youth to rebel against their oppressor by any means necessary.  There is still this erroneous view that it is acceptable for the oppressor to be violent but not the oppressed. But, comrades and friends, this is a bourgeois concept.How many times did we hear CNN, ABC, CBS and others echo how terrible it is for the “criminal” youth to be “looting and rioting” in Ferguson?  Well, isn’t it the capitalist system that loots the entire working class on a global scale every day in terms of wages, pensions and social services?  Isn’t it the police, not the masses, who riot, armed to the teeth, and impose draconian laws that provoke righteous anger?  Why do so many armed police occupy and terrorize oppressed communities if not for this purpose?Sam Marcy, the late chairperson and founder of our party, wrote an important pamphlet after the 1992 Los Angeles Rebellion, following the acquittal of the four white police officers who beat Rodney King.  What he wrote over 24 years ago could easily apply to the Ferguson Rebellion:  “After every stage in the struggle of the workers and oppressed people, there follows an ideological struggle over what methods the masses should embrace to achieve their liberation from imperialist monopoly capital. There are always those who abjure violence while minimizing the initial use of violence by the ruling class. They denounce it in words, while in deeds they really cover it up.“Yes indeed, they readily admit the verdict in the Rodney King beating was erroneous and unfair.  But — and here their voices grow louder — ‘The masses should not have taken to the streets and taken matters into their own hands.’ Their denunciation of the violence of the ruling class is subdued and muffled — above all it is hypocritical, a sheer formality. It’s an indecent way of seeming to take both sides of the argument when what follows is in reality a condemnation of the masses.“In times when the bourgeoisie is up against the wall, when the masses have risen suddenly and unexpectedly, the bourgeoisie gets most lyrical in abjuring violence. It conjures up all sorts of lies and deceits about the unruliness of a few among the masses as against the orderly law-abiding many.“Marxism here again cuts through it all. The Marxist view of violence flows from an altogether different concept. It first of all distinguishes between the violence of the oppressors as against the responsive violence of the masses. Just to be able to formulate it that way is a giant step forward, away from disgusting bourgeois praise for nonviolence. It never occurs to any of them to show that the masses have never made any real leap forward with the theory of nonviolence. Timidity never made it in history.“Indeed, Marxists do prefer nonviolent methods if the objectives the masses seek — freedom from oppression and exploitation — can be obtained that way. But Marxism explains the historical evolution of the class struggle as well as the struggle of oppressed nations as against oppressors.”Comrades and friends, the Ferguson Rebellion is far from over; it is a bellwether of things to come, because as repression deepens, so will many other Ferguson uprisings.  And as a revolutionary party, it is our responsibility to assist our class, especially those in motion, to not feel abandoned or isolated, which are exactly the aims and objectives of the ruling class. Division within our class helps to keep the ruling class in power.  Their greatest fear is working-class unity, which will lead to the demise of their system.So what can we do to assist this rebellion led by Black youth?  What strategies can we use to motivate the unions to organize these youth, just as migrant workers demanded to be organized, especially during the great May Day strike in 2006?When a number of us were recently in Ferguson, youth told us that they want jobs, they want to be organized, but the unions are not hearing or listening to them.  This is why the slogan “Black lives matter!” is revolutionary, considering their lowly status within society.Why can’t the unions take the millions of dollars they waste on getting some Democrat elected and instead launch a nationwide organizing drive for Black, Brown and Indigenous youth?  Think of how this act of solidarity would empower their lives and politically strengthen the unions, especially the uprising of low-wage workers?So many of these youth in Ferguson and St. Louis are class-conscious.  They know that the capitalist system is to blame for their dismal existence; they know that police occupation is a symptom of the system and therefore, they have nothing to lose by resisting the police.To make the Ferguson Rebellion a major focus for Martin Luther King Day in January and the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the great Malcolm X on Feb. 21 would be so timely.  It is so important to use anniversaries like these, especially when the bourgeois forces will attempt to rewrite history, to show that they are relevant to today’s struggle; that the legacy of Malcolm X is tied to the right to resist and the right to self-defense, which is a centerpiece of the Ferguson Rebellion.  So I hope that this perspective can be discussed more in the breakout group on the Ferguson Rebellion.Long live the Ferguson Rebellion!  Say no to racism and capitalism!  Fight for socialism!  Black lives matter!!!FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more


June 15, 2021 0

‘You can’t deport a movement!’

first_imgRavi Ragbir speaking at a rally outside the Manhattan Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office.Within hours before a scheduled deportation on Feb. 9, immigrant rights organizer Ravi Ragbir won a temporary stay of removal on First Amendment grounds. Ragbir, who has lived for 27 years in the United States, said, “Like so many people who are living in this country under the threat of deportation, I know how important it is to raise our voices against the injustices in the system.”Some 500 immigrant rights supporters had just raised their voices, rallying in the early morning outside the Manhattan Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices to cheer speakers brought out by the New Sanctuary Coalition. Speakers included religious, political and legal representatives as well as multinational community leaders, who defend their Muslim, Latinx, Haitian, Asian and African communities. All here joined the cry, “The movement united will never be deported!”Ragbir’s new suit charges the Trump administration and ICE officials with “selectively enforcing the immigration laws against immigration rights activists on the basis of their protected speech.”Ragbir — from Trinidad and Tobago — is co-director of the New Sanctuary Coalition along with Jean Montrevil of Haiti. Montrevil was deported to Haiti on Jan. 3 after being seized as he was on his way to work in Queens, N.Y. Montrevil’s ex-spouse Jani Cauthen spoke at a rally the next day of the pain and strength of their children, whom ICE is forcing to live apart from their father. Montrevil has a legal date with ICE in April.Many of today’s rally messages reflected on how the laws against immigrants are racist. With speakers demanding support and justice for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) youth and defense for all needing a protected extended stay, with fair immigration laws and sanctuary for all and an end to family separations.Ragbir has a follow up court ruling that is expected by mid-March. As he spoke of the growth of the faith-based sanctuary movement, he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are interwoven. This is an explosion of love!”WW photo: Anne PrudenFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more


June 15, 2021 0

The mass appeal of ‘Black Panther’

first_imgThe movie “Black Panther” has financially taken the global film industry by storm since its official release in the U.S. on Feb. 15. Directed by the dynamic, young, multitalented African-American director Ryan Coogler and featuring a predominantly Black cast, “Black Panther” has accumulated more than $1 billion globally in ticket sales from Africa to China, including more than $600 million from the U.S. box office alone as of March 19. The movie shattered box-office records for the four-day “President’s Day” weekend in February.According to comscore.com which, together with Screen Engine, conducts exit polls of film goers on a global scale, the racial composition of those attending “Black Panther” during the Feb. 16-19 holiday weekend in the U.S. was 37 percent Black, 35 percent white, 18 percent Latinx and 5 percent Asian. These are significant numbers, considering that the Black population is estimated to be around 14 percent of the general U.S. population.The Disney-produced, Marvel comic book-based movie had a budget of $200 million. This is the largest amount of money ever given to a Black director to make a Hollywood film.This is only the third feature film made by Coogler, who is a native of Oakland, Calif. His first was “Fruitvale Station,” which focused on the real-life murder of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Black man, who on Jan. 1, 2009, was shot in the back by a white Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer as Grant lay facedown on the Fruitvale Station subway platform in Oakland. The murder was captured on cell phone video. Following a rebellion in Oakland, the officer was found guilty of manslaughter and served less than a year in prison.Not only is “Black Panther” a box-office success historically. It has also been acclaimed by movie critics due to the brilliant acting and visuals.The movie is based on a comic book character with the same name created in the mid-1960s by two white comic books creators, writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. They were responsible for creating popular comic book characters like the Hulk, the X-Men, Spider-Man and many more. Movies based on many of these characters have made billions at the box office.There was much speculation on whether a big-budget movie directed by a Black director with a virtually all-Black cast could become a blockbuster:  Would white audiences pay money to see such a movie? “Black Panther” answered that question with a resounding yes.What ‘Black Panther’ is and isn’tBefore the movie opened, many Black activists had the misconception that “Black Panther” would focus on the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist formation founded in 1966 on the principle of self-determination for Black and other oppressed peoples against racist and state repression. This is understandable.But nothing could be further from the truth. It is highly unlikely that any studio bosses, who are still overwhelmingly white, would fork over $200 million to a Black director to bring forth a positive story featuring a national liberation organization.“Black Panther” is very much rooted in the philosophy of Afrofuturism, a term first raised by white critic Mark Dery in his 1994 essay, “Black to the Future.” Since then it’s been made universally popular by Black authors like Octavia Butler and Ishmael Reed and artists Janelle Monáe, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sun-Ra and Jimi Hendrix.Author Ytasha Womack states that Afrofuturism is “the intersection between black culture, technology, liberation and the imagination, with some mysticism thrown in, too. It can be expressed through film; it can be expressed through art, literature and music. It’s a way of bridging the future and the past and essentially helping to reimagine the experience of people of colour.” (theguardian.com, July 24, 2014)While there are themes dealing with colonialism and the legacy of slavery, the movie takes place in Wakanda, a mythical African kingdom that, has been free from white colonial rule, able to control its own resources, most notably vibranium, the source of unimaginable technological advances concentrated in Wakanda. This kingdom is run by T’Challa, played by the multitalented Chadwick Boseman, who maintains his throne by fighting off challengers. Boseman’s previous portrayals include Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, singer James Brown and baseball great Jackie Robinson.T’Challa’s security team is dominated by strong, powerful African women fighters called Dora Milaje and led by Okaye, played by dynamic Zimbabwean actor Danai Gurira. Rounded out by Kenyan/Mexican actor Lupita N’yogo and Guyanese actor Letitia Wright, the characters they play have no problem pointing out T’Challa’s weaknesses, despite Wakanda being a patriarchal society.T’Challa’s main protagonist is Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, played by another multitalented actor, Michael B. Jordan. This actor has appeared in all three of Coogler’s feature films, including his breakout role in “Fruitvale Station,” in which he played Oscar Grant. While T’Challa does not want to share the vibranium with other vulnerable nations, Killmonger, who is T’Challa’s cousin, seeks to share vibranium with other African and oppressed peoples of the world in order to fight off colonial domination. Many will view him as an internationalist.In his opening scene, Killmonger is seen in a British museum, admiring African artifacts. When a white woman curator approaches him, he asks her what country each artifact comes from. He corrects her on some answers, saying that each of the artifacts was illegally stolen, much to her chagrin. Complicating his motives, Killmonger allies himself with a racist, white, South African mercenary, played by Andy Serkis, who also wants vibranium — to make a profit.Once again, the real issue of colonialism is brought before the masses of people in movie theaters, many of whom are unaware of how wealth was stolen from the African continent over the centuries.Boseman stated that despite his character being portrayed as the hero, he related more to the Killmonger character, stating: “Killmonger is trying to achieve greatness … but there’s an expectation of greatness for me. I don’t know if we as African Americans would accept T’Challa as our hero if he didn’t go through Killmonger. Because Killmonger has been through our struggle, and I [as T’Challa] haven’t.” (cinemablend.com)Boseman deemed his character as being “privileged,” which is so true. Under this monarchy, he fights his challengers to hold on to his power while his “subjects” are onlookers.Despite any political contradictions in this film, including a positive portrayal of a CIA agen, the film has, with no doubt, resonated deeply with Black audiences in the U.S. and throughout the African diaspora worldwide, especially youth, due to its positive cultural portrayals of African peoples that run counter to Hollywood’s historical and shameful racist movie stereotypes.For this reason, “Black Panther” is worth seeing, along with the talented actors and the beautiful, stunning, African-themed costumes created by visionary costume designer Ruth Carter.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more


June 15, 2021 0

SF Labor Council says ‘No’ to U.S. intervention in Venezuela

first_imgThe following resolution was adopted by the Delegates Meeting of the San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO) on Feb. 11, 2019.Whereas, Trump administration officials have openly declared their intention to overthrow the democratically elected government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro; andWhereas, the U.S. has tightened economic sanctions, including the seizure of Venezuela’s oil properties in the United States, increasing the hardship on the people of Venezuela; andWhereas, Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world, and leading Trump administration foreign policy officials have made clear their intention to privatize Venezuela’s oil and open it to exploitation by the U.S. oil companies if their coup strategy succeeds; andWhereas, Elliott Abrams has been named Special Envoy to Venezuela and is notorious for his central role in the Iran-Contra scheme and arming of the Nicaraguan contras, the Salvadoran death squad government, and the genocidal regime in Guatemala responsible for the massacres of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people in that country; andWhereas, the U.S. campaign of regime change in Venezuela is against the interests of the people of Venezuela, Latin America or the people of the United States; andWhereas, the San Francisco Labor Council resolved on May 12, 2014, to “support the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people to continue their political and social process free from foreign intervention,” demanding “that the U.S. government refrain from intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela.” Therefore Be It Resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council endorse and support (1) the February 23 Emergency Bay Area Hands Off Venezuela protest action; (2) the March 16 National March on the White House to say “Hands Off Venezuela, No War, No Sanctions, No Coup,” which in the Bay Area will be held on Saturday, March 9; and (3) the Hands Off Venezuela National Action, which in the Bay Area will be held on March 31.Be It Further Resolved, that this resolution will be sent to the California Labor Federation and to Bay Area Congress members.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more


June 15, 2021 0

Black workers resist union-busting Boston gentrifier

first_imgA June 16 action for eight laid-off workers — organized just four days after the announcement they had been fired — drew about 100 people. They were protesting at their place of work, College Bound Dorchester/Boston Uncornered, on a quiet residential street on the Tuesday morning.With these latest layoffs, CEO Mark Culliton targeted one-third of the remaining youth services employees working for his company, College Bound, after workers declared their intention to unionize as Uncornered United-Service Employees (SEIU) Local 888 on June 2. College Bound is a “further education” preparation program, while Boston Uncornered hires neighborhood leaders impacted by violence to be mentors in the program. The company website advertises the programs as “opportunities to turn away from the ‘street corners’ for good.”The UU mentors are Black and Brown neighborhood leaders who have demonstrated social influence and skill at developing young people by drawing on their own challenges and experiences. These workers are demanding that Culliton recognize the union and that he reinstate those illegally fired in retaliation for organizing. Uncornered United’s Facebook page asks supporters to sign and share a petition and contact Culliton supporting their demands.As workers spoke out at the June 16 rally, they described a quintessentially capitalist story of structural racism and gentrification. Technology instructor Joe Taché explained that Culliton reduced his company from 94 workers to fewer than 25 in a decade: “At the same time, in 2010, Culliton’s salary was $140,000 and now it’s $185,000 … a raise of $45,000. That’s more than any of us make in a year!” Taché noted that in 2020 Culliton probably made even more.Another worker pointed out that big banks and corporations oppress workers — and so do nonprofit entrepreneurs. Workers detailed how Culliton exploits and disrespects them, maximizing donations by publicly narrating selected painful details from their personal stories without consent, then excluding them from decision making.Culliton, a white graduate of the University of Michigan with a Yale MBA,  calls himself “the vision behind the solution,” highlighting his school-privatization credentials on the company website. His biography suggests Black and Brown trauma is a profitable problem for him.Meanwhile, the company’s advisors, instructors and mentors, on call 24/7 for their youth clients, earn between $30,000 and $40,000 — an unlivable wage in the hyper-expensive Boston area.Just three days before the layoffs, Culliton raised $650,000, evidence that his motivation in the firings was retaliation, not response to the recession. He had certainly removed workplace activists in the past.At the close of the rally, workers marched to Culliton’s fancy house — presumably valued above a million dollars in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood where once multiple working-class families were crammed into triple-decker housing.Protesters blocked midday traffic, chanted and leafletted essential workers of color in the streets, receiving a friendly reception. As they attached flyers to Culliton’s door, workers loudly appealed to his neighbors — home because of the pandemic — to help Culliton see the light. They also announced that they encourage people anywhere in the world to give him a call and support the workers’ struggle.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more


June 15, 2021 0

Patching up capitalism during COVID

first_imgOn Jan. 21, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first recognized case of COVID-19 in the U.S.One year later, over 400,000 people in the country are dead from the virus — the equivalent of wiping out the entire population of Cleveland, Ohio, or Tampa, Fla. Out of the estimated 2 million people worldwide who have died due to COVID-19, one-fifth have been within the U.S. alone!  Workers World has written on how countries with centralized planning on a socialist model — like Cuba or China — have dramatically lowered virus death and infection rates. (“Why socialist countries take lead in fighting COVID-19,” May 21, 2020)But here in the U.S., Republican President Trump — aided and abetted by other far-right bigots — has spread deadly lies about the virus, sabotaging the CDC’s scientific and public health work. While he boasted that Operation Warp Speed got vaccines developed, Big Pharma fattened on related government grants and was protected by contract “no liability” clauses in the event their vaccines caused harm.Now the vaccine distribution plan is stumbling, with insufficient supplies and no centralized guidance. Federal authorities simply handed off distribution to the states. But local public health systems are underfunded — if not in shambles — from years of building prisons and arming the police as budget priorities.And in many states, those in majority control of state governments are actively hostile to funding public health, the Obamacare health plan and expansion of Medicaid.Meanwhile, people are suffering and dying — with the most casualties suffered by poor people and those working in low-paying jobs, people with disabilities, Black, Indigenous and Latinx people, those undocumented and incarcerated, older people — and anyone with limited access to health care, like many LGBTQ2S+ people.And what have the millionaires of Congress been doing about the crisis? Yes, millionaires — in 2020, over half the members of the U.S. Congress were millionaires, with the richest almost evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. (opensecrets.org, April 23, 2020)So far Congress has managed to pass only two relief bills to give minimal pandemic assistance to poor and oppressed people. The provisions of the first bill — the CARES Act — actually expired at one point, leaving workers with no buffer from unemployment, hunger and home evictions because of political jockeying within Congress.Biden’s patch of a planNow incoming Democratic President Joe Biden is proposing a $1.9 trillion bill to provide COVID relief and jump-start the economy. The Jan. 6 armed attack on the Capitol building — to prevent his certification as winner of the presidential election — shows the rabid degree of white-supremacist, neofascist resistance to anyone taking over the government who says they may use the position to assist working and oppressed people.In his pandemic plan, Biden projects making the vaccine free to everyone, including undocumented workers, as well as establishing community vaccination centers and expanding treatment and research options. The plan’s other relief items include additional one-time direct “stimulus” payments, extension of unemployment benefits and eviction protection, childcare subsidies and mandatory paid sick leave.Seems massive, right?  But it’s a patch on the flat tire of capitalism — stopping a leak in the system, pumping it up — but still failing to address the continuing built-in inequalities and suffering in this brutal way of “doing business.”For instance, the bill calls for a $15 hourly federal minimum wage. Low-wage workers have been fighting for this state-by-state for years — for so long now that $20 an hour is likely needed to make a living wage!And what about the bill’s Obamacare premium subsidies, which would give more low-income or precarious workers — like gig workers — a chance at health insurance? Linda Blumberg, a fellow at the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute, says of that: “I think with good outreach and enrollment assistance, you could bring a good deal more people in. You’re not going to get to universal coverage.” (NY Times, Jan. 16) But in the middle of a death-dealing pandemic crisis, universal coverage for health care should be the proposal on the table!Instead, Biden’s bill is a proposal that will go to the chopping block of business interests that’s called the U.S. Congress.Who knows which of that bill’s best proposals will survive? And how long its passage will take? And how many people will die waiting for those who guard the coffers of capitalism to turn loose even a little help?The extent of whatever help Biden and the new Congress will offer is unknown. The length of continuation of the pandemic and its effects are unknown.What is clear, as revealed by the COVID crisis, is that the political and economic system of the U.S. is built and maintained on the backs and lives of working and oppressed people.There will continue to be crisis after crisis as long as the U.S. is a “capitalist democracy.” And people will continue to die while this unjust system continues.The challenge for those working toward socialism is to expose the link between the cycle of injustice and capitalism — and to build working-class consciousness and action with workers and oppressed people within the U.S.These are our neighbors, workmates, friends and family who are suffering. We are shoulder-to-shoulder with them in the fight against injustice — and in the advance on the liberation road toward socialism. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more


June 15, 2021 0

Hoosier Named Pig Farmer of the Year

first_img Facebook Twitter Schoettmer was selected as the first winner of America’s Pig Farmer of the Year after passing a third-party audit of on-farm practices and also going through a series of written and oral interviews conducted by subject-matter experts. He has achieved excellence in all aspects of pig farming, including animal care, environmental stewardship, employee work environment, and outstanding community service. Hoosier Named Pig Farmer of the Year By Gary Truitt – Oct 7, 2015 The America’s Pig Farmer of the Year Award is designed to recognize a pig farmer who excels at raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles and connects with today’s consumers about how pork is produced. “We are pleased to have Keith represent America’s pig farmers, and we look forward to the dialog he will create as he travels around the country,” said Derrick Sleezer, National Pork Board president and pig farmer from Cherokee, Iowa. “It’s important that we connect with today’s consumers about how we raise their food in an ethical and transparent way. Keith’s interest in sharing his farm’s story – and putting a face on today’s pig farming – will help us reach this goal.” Keith Schoettmer,The National Pork Board has announced its first-ever America’s Pig Farmer of the Year Award, and a Hoosier producer has won.  Keith Schoettmer, from Tipton, is a well-known name in Indiana pork circles, having served in several leadership positions with Indiana Pork. Now the rest of the world will know him better as he has been named the first Pig Farmer of the Year. Previous articleClosing CommentsNext articleEthanol Production Up Again Gary Truitt Schoettmer and his wife Darla began Prime Pork in 1987. He describes his operation as rather typical, “We have about 1050 sows and are a farrow to finish operation with a feed mill and mostly all on one location. We are humbled and honored by this award.” He started as a first generation, pork producer with 450 sows and has grown the operation over the years. SHAREcenter_img Hoosier Named Pig Farmer of the Year The panel of expert judges met in early September with the four finalists. The panel included Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association; Carlos Saviani, vice president of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) U.S. food team; Mitzi Dulan, a registered dietitian and a nationally recognized nutrition and wellness expert to the Kansas City Royals; Chris Soules, a farmer from Arlington, Iowa, and a television star from The Bachelor and Dancing with the Stars; and Dr. Jodi Sterle, an associate professor of animal science at Iowa State University and a nationally known youth advisor in livestock exhibition. Facebook Twitter As a judging panel member, Ganzert said, “Today, more than ever, it is important not only to point out where progress is needed, but to recognize when we get it right. The farmers I met with are working to give America’s families food that is safe, affordable, abundant, and in line with their values.” Home Indiana Agriculture News Hoosier Named Pig Farmer of the Year He hopes to use this award as an opportunity to educate the public, “We are really looking forward to visiting with people about pig farming in America. We want to tell them how producers take care of their stock. We want to tell them that there are thousands of producers who are doing the right thing every day.” He said he wants to keep his message simple, “Here on the farm we care about raising these animals, about taking care of the environment. We are about food safety and about the welfare of the animals. We do this every day.  It is our job, it is our passion.” SHARElast_img read more


June 14, 2021 0

U.S. Drought Monitor Shows More Drought Expansion

first_img SHARE Facebook Twitter Previous articleIndiana Food Summit Set for Sept. 25-26Next articleFirst Round of NAFTA Talks Scheduled Hoosier Ag Today SHARE Home Indiana Agriculture News U.S. Drought Monitor Shows More Drought Expansion U.S. Drought Monitor Shows More Drought Expansion Facebook Twitter By Hoosier Ag Today – Jul 20, 2017 The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor shows drought conditions in the upper Midwest and Plains expanding again. The weekly report says an upper-level ridge of high pressure in the western U.S. inhibited precipitation and kept temperatures warmer than normal across much of the West over the last week. The prolonged and intensifying drought ravaged crops and rangeland in the northern Plains, while soils continued to dry out across the West, Plains, and into the Mid-Atlantic region. Extreme drought coverage area now includes 40 percent of North Dakota, 11 percent of South Dakota, and 22 percent of Montana. Sixty-five percent of Montana is classified in a drought condition, while 93 percent of North Dakota is in a classified drought along with 99.97 percent of South Dakota. Seventy-four percent of Nebraska is in a classified drought, along with 40 percent of Kansas, 21 percent of Iowa, and 42 percent of Illinois is classified as abnormally dry.With hot and dry conditions expected across much of the corn belt over the next several days, it is a safe bet to expect another expansion in drought area again next week.Source: NAFB News Servicelast_img read more


June 14, 2021 0

New Technology Helps Us Learn from Our Mistakes

first_imgHome Indiana Agriculture News New Technology Helps Us Learn from Our Mistakes By Gary Truitt – Apr 10, 2019 SHARE SHARE New Technology Helps Us Learn from Our MistakesLast year many farmers used satellite images of their fields to monitor plant health. Growers can also use those images to avoid problems in 2019.Brian Bush, with Pioneer, says now is the time to get out those satellite images of  your fields from last year and plan for 2019, “We can identify problem areas and track them in 2019 to avoid the same problem. These images will tell us where to scout and where to make adjustments in our 2019 crop.”Bush says these images can remind us of mistakes we made in the past and help us avoid making them again in 2019, “I had several customers here in Southern Indiana who mudded out the corn in 2017. In 2018, they were not real happy with some of the yields in these areas. We can use the satellite photos to identify these areas and remind us to make some adjustments to fix a problem.” These images may be especially important this year as we begin the growing season with fields that may have some problems from the wet harvest last fall. Using this technology to track these areas throughout the season will help keep tabs on crop health and yield that may be impacted by some of these field issues.For more information on how to use these satellite images, contact your Pioneer representative. New Technology Helps Us Learn from Our Mistakes Facebook Twitter Facebook Twitter Previous articleU.S. and China Near Enforcement Agreement in TalksNext articleDespite Chinese Rhetoric, African Swine Fever has been a “Disaster” Gary Truittlast_img read more


June 14, 2021 0