Last time, we were talking about the railroad workers and I wanted to pick up on that topic again. First up, Krystal and Saagar did a video report today.
The move by Washington to override a clear vote by railroaders to reject a White House-brokered contract and impose it unilaterally is a major assault on the basic democratic rights of the working class. It is also a strategic experience, the lessons of which workers must learn.
After three years of endless rounds of government-mandated mediation, imposed on railroaders by the anti-worker Railway Labor Act, and after an earlier settlement that the government and union bureaucracy sought to enforce in a vote subject to endless delays and marred by serious irregularities, workers were finally set to launch a national strike on December 9. Workers face brutal employers who refuse to budge on essential and basic demands, such as paid sick leave (workers currently have none at all) and scheduling that allows them to spend time with their families.
Instead, the Biden administration and Congress are moving rapidly to ban strike action and impose the deal. Biden announced Monday night that he would seek congressional intervention, and he met with congressional leaders Tuesday morning. A vote in Congress, where the move is supported by the leadership of both parties, could take place as soon as Wednesday morning.
The struggle of the railroaders to win their demands has proved two fundamental elements of Marxism, which lay at the heart of its theory of the class struggle.
First, it demonstrates the correctness of the labor theory of value—that the source of all society’s wealth is the labor of the working class, and the source of profits is the surplus value extracted from the exploitation of workers. This is the economic source of exploitation in capitalist society.
Earlier this year, during arguments before a federal mediation board, the railroads arrogantly argued that railroaders’ labor “did not contribute to their profits.” But Monday, 400 business groups penned a letter demanding Congress act to prevent a strike, warning of apocalyptic economic consequences if railroaders stopped working.
In the United States, the most socially unequal of all the advanced economies, cults of personality are developed around celebrity billionaires, who are promoted as “job creators.” But all of these people are socially useless. The country can function without them—but not without the railroaders.
It is no accident that the most profitable industry in the US is also home to some of the worst working conditions. Through continuous job cuts, forced overtime and other methods, massive levels of surplus value are pumped out of railroaders’ labor by the hedge fund managers and billionaires who own the industry. This profit in turn finances stock buybacks and other speculative and parasitic activity.
Second, it proves the character of the state as an instrument of class rule. “The executive of the modern state,” Marx wrote more than 150 years ago, “is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”
I was waiting on WSWS to post something about it. That went up an hour ago. And this is Jake Johnson reporting on the topic at COMMON DREAMS:
Rank-and-file rail workers voiced frustration and anger late Monday after Joe Biden—a self-described "pro-labor president"—urged Congress to pass legislation forcing unions to accept a contract agreement without any paid sick days, a step that would avert a looming nationwide strike and deliver a win for the profitable railroad industry.
"By forcing workers into an agreement which doesn't address basic needs like healthcare and sick time, President Joe Biden is choosing railroads over workers and the economy," said Ross Grooters, an engineer and co-chair of Railroad Workers United, an inter-union alliance that supports public ownership of the national rail system.
Another worker was more blunt in a text message to labor reporter Jonah Furman: "Words cannot express how f**king livid I am at this administration... people in power, LIKE HIM, would rather screw workers than stand up to f**king robber barons."
While Congress could put forth legislation that would improve the tentative White House-brokered contract deal announced in September, Biden made clear he wants lawmakers "to pass legislation immediately to adopt the tentative agreement between railroad workers and operators—without any modifications or delay—to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown."
That agreement, which has been rejected by more than half of the country's unionized rail workforce, does not include a single day of paid sick leave and would only allow three penalty-free days off per year for medical visits. But even that time off is heavily constrained: It's unpaid; can only be taken on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday; and must be scheduled at least 30 days in advance.
"These agreements were rejected because the quality of life rail workers and their families have today is abysmal," Ash Anderson, a member of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED)—one of the unions that voted against ratifying the tentative deal—wrote on Facebook. "There were no provisions to improve the quality of life for rail workers, who continue to be exploited by companies that are earning record-breaking profits while their service suffers and they cut their workforce to the bone."
I'm with the workers. They have every right to strike. If a strike needed to be averted, management needed to meet the workers' demands.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Twelve years ago, on November 28th 2010, our five international media outlets – The New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais and DER SPIEGEL – published a series of revelations in cooperation with Wikileaks that made the headlines around the globe.
“Cable gate”, a set of 251,000 confidential cables from the US State Department disclosed corruption, diplomatic scandals and spy affairs on an international scale.
In the words of The New York Times, the documents told “the unvarnished story of how the government makes its biggest decisions, the decisions that cost the country most heavily in lives and money”. Even now in 2022, journalists and historians continue to publish new revelations, using the unique trove of documents.
For Julian Assange, publisher of Wikileaks, the publication of “Cable gate” and several other related leaks had the most severe consequences. On April 12th, 2019, Assange was arrested in London on a US arrest warrant, and has now been held for three and a half years in a high security British prison usually used for terrorists and members of organized crime groups. He faces extradition to the US and a sentence of up to 175 years in an American maximum security prison.
This group of editors and publishers, all of whom had worked with Assange, felt the need to publicly criticize his conduct in 2011 when unredacted copies of the cables were released, and some of us are concerned about the allegations in the indictment that he attempted to aid in computer intrusion of a classified database. But we come together now to express our grave concerns about the continued prosecution of Julian Assange for obtaining and publishing classified materials.
The Obama-Biden Administration, in office during the Wikileaks publication in 2010, refrained from indicting Assange, explaining that they would have had to indict journalists from major news outlets too. Their position placed a premium on press freedom, despite its uncomfortable consequences. Under Donald Trump however, the position changed. The DOJ relied on an old law, the Espionage Act of 1917 (designed to prosecute potential spies during World War 1), which has never been used to prosecute a publisher or broadcaster.
This indictment sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press.
Holding governments accountable is part of the core mission of a free press in a democracy.
Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information when necessary in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists. If that work is criminalised, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker.
Twelve years after the publication of “Cable gate”, it is time for the U.S. government to end its prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secrets.
Publishing is not a crime.
The editors and publishers of:
- The New York Times
- The Guardian
- Le Monde
- DER SPIEGEL
- El Pais
For those who've forgotten, Julian's 'crime' was revealing the realities of Iraq -- Chelsea Manning was a whistle-blower who leaked the information to Julian. WIKILEAKS then published the Iraq War Logs. And many outlets used the publication to publish reports of their own. For example, THE GUARDIAN published many articles based on The Iraq War Logs. Jonathan Steele, David Leigh and Nick Davies offered, on October 22, 2012:
A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
The new logs detail how:
• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.
• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.
The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent deat
At long last, these publications have acknowledged that the material published by Assange was of vital public interest and importance, noting that what he released “disclosed corruption, diplomatic scandals and spy affairs on an international scale” and “decisions that cost the country most heavily in lives and money.”
Even now, they write, “journalists and historians continue to publish new revelations, using the unique trove of documents.”
The letter stated, “On April 12th 2019, Assange was arrested in London on a US arrest warrant, and has now been held for three and a half years in a high-security British prison usually used for terrorists and members of organised crime groups. He faces extradition to the US and a sentence of up to 175 years in an American maximum-security prison.”
The authors oppose the use against Assange of “an old law, the Espionage Act of 1917 (designed to prosecute potential spies during World War One), which has never been used to prosecute a publisher or broadcaster.”
The letter concludes that this “sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press. Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information when necessary in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists. If that work is criminalised, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker … it is time for the US government to end its prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secrets.”
The open letter makes clear that Assange has been the victim of a monstrous campaign of state persecution, costing him years of his life and good health, for revealing state criminality, designed to set a chilling example for others.
But this raises the question: What took so long? Why did it take 10 years for the New York Times and Guardian to call for Assange’s prosecution to end?
The conduct of these newspapers over the past decade has been thoroughly reprehensible. Their efforts to poison public opinion against Assange, to give credence to the false claims and accusations made against him, facilitated the American state’s persecution of this principled and courageous journalist.
You know what? I'm an adult. I know we can't turn back time.
What we can do is work on freeing Julian Assange. What we should do. If an institution like THE NEW YORK TIMES is finally stepping up, great. Where were they until now?
Obviously, not helping.
You've made that point. You can make it again when Julian's free. How about we focus on freeing Julian right now?
And here's another point: The government of Turkey has been bombing northern Iraq for years. So, if you're WSWS, and you're publishing a piece on how Turkey's been bombing Syria lately? Maybe your hypocritical ass is in no real position to criticize THE NEW YORK TIMES?
We've long noted here that WSWS will attack the Kurdistan (for wanting to have autonomy, for example) and will otherwise ignore it. Turkey has sent ground troops into the Kurdistan. It has set up bases there. It terrorizes the people there with drones and bombs. And WSWS just doesn't want to deal with that. The way some outlets turn a blind eye to the suffering of the Palestinians? That's how WSWS behaves with regards to Kurdistan.
So maybe the high horse Thomas Scripps has just mounted should be traded in for a Shetland pony?
Margaret Kimberley Tweeted:
Probably correct. He doesn't like being called out on Julian. He has a grandchild who has begun telling him that this should not be his legacy.
The British government assigned at least 15 people to the secret operation to seize Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, new information shows.
The WikiLeaks founder was given political asylum by Ecuador in 2012, but was never allowed safe passage out of Britain to avoid persecution by the US government.
The Australian journalist has been in Belmarsh maximum security prison for the past three and a half years and faces a potential 175-year sentence after the UK High Court greenlighted his extradition to the US in December 2021.
‘Pelican’ was the secret Metropolitan Police operation to seize Assange from his asylum, which eventually occurred in April 2019. Asylum is a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The operation’s existence was only revealed in the memoirs of former foreign minister Sir Alan Duncan which were published last year. The UK government routinely blocks, or obfuscates its answers to, information requests about the Assange case.
But the Cabinet Office recently told parliament it had seven officials working on Operation Pelican. The department’s role is to “support the Prime Minister and ensure the effective running of government”, but it also has national security and intelligence functions.
It is not immediately clear why the Cabinet Office would have so many personnel working on a police operation of this kind. Asked about their role, the Cabinet Office said these seven officials “liaised” with the Metropolitan Police on the operation.
The secret operation named ‘Pelican’ to seize Assange from asylum, which eventually took place in April 2019, came to light after being revealed in the memoirs published last year by former Foreign Minister Sir Alan Duncan.
As foreign minister for the Americas from 2016 to 2019, Duncan was the key British official in the diplomatic negotiations between the UK and Ecuador to release Assange from the Embassy.
In his memoirs, the Former Minister revealed that he watched live footage of Assange’s arrest from the Operations Room of the Foreign Office alongside personnel carrying out the operation.
After the events took place and Assange was imprisoned, Duncan had drinks at his office for the operation team. “I gave them each a signed photo which we took in the Ops Room on the day, with a caption saying ‘Julian Assange’s Special Brexit Team 11th April 2019,’” he wrote.
We are in a rape culture. We have a million examples in this neoliberal and neocon country of that. We have the fact of one out of 12 or 15 girls and women losing their viriginity through sexual assault. We have what — one out of five in this country experiencing sexual assault by the time they hit 40 years of age.
The reality is we have Clarence Thomas as one of the Supremes, with his sick attack on Anita Hill, as well as girls and women at large, and then the frat boy Kavanaugh, more male human stain. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, 55, is a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University who grew up in the suburbs of Washington DC. She’s also a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine. And her testimony was lambasted by a lot of men. Joe Biden attacked Anita Hill during her testimony to try and keep the Criminal Clarence off the bench. Dear reader, you can provide countless examples of rape culture, misogony, and the unending attack on women.
We'll pair that with this from IRAQI NEWS:
A conference was held last Sunday to launch the campaign for 16 days of activism to end violence against women, under the auspices of the Prime Minister, Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani, according to a press statement issued by the United Nations.
The campaign is in collaboration with the Department for Women’s Empowerment at the Council of Ministers, and in partnership with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UNWomen), the World Food Program (WFP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The conference highlighted the decisive role of Iraqi women in public life, through government positions, civil society, and human rights movements in preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls, the statement mentioned.
The conference advocated for the ratification of relevant laws, namely the Anti-Domestic Violence Law, the statement elaborated.
In addition to Al-Sudani, the conference was attended by Iraqi MPs, members of the parliamentary women’s committee, the High Judicial Council, ministries of Labor, Interior, Social Affairs, and Health, as well as experts and academics, the statement explained.
Stepping out of the line of fire when people are rude
Cheap stuff made in China, someone calls it a sale
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Beat down in the market, stoned to death in the plaza
Raped on the hillside under the gun from LA to Gaza
A house made of cardboard living close to the rail
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
And I feel the witch in my veins
I feel the mother in my shoe
I feel the scream in my soul
The blood as I sing the ancient blue
They burned in the millions
I still smell the fire in my grandma's hair
The war against women rages on
Beware of the fairytale
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
The noise of elections, the promise of change
A grabbing of power at the top, a day at the rifle range
Somebody's in danger, somebody's for sale
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Winding down, AP reports:
A member of the U.S. Navy who was injured while helping prevent further harm during a shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado last weekend said Sunday that he “simply wanted to save the family that I found.”
Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas James made his first public comments on the shooting in a statement issued through Centura Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs, where James is recovering from undisclosed injuries suffered during the attack.
Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said that James was one of two men who helped to stop the shooter who walked into Club Q late on Nov. 19 with multiple firearms, including a semiautomatic rifle, and killed five people. At least 17 others were injured when a drag queen’s birthday celebration turned into a massacre.
James reportedly pushed a rifle out of the shooter’s reach while Army veteran Rich Fierro repeatedly struck the shooter with a handgun the shooter brought into the bar, officials have said.
The following sites updated: