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July 2009

This Week at C4SS: The Walls Came Tumbling Down

Jeff ‘The Snowman’ Monson ~versus~ The War On Terror™

Huh. US authorities are obviously very pissed with Comrade Jeff ‘The Snowman’ Monson. After pleading ‘guilty’ to rape murder theft graffiti (’malicious mischief’), Jeff has been forced to surrender his passport. As a result, he is no longer able to appear at a scheduled fight in Japan, and may spend 90 days behind bars — which is approximately 90 days more than the war criminals in Washington will ever have to serve. Monson will also have to pay a fine of $21,894 for his dastardly act — which, according to my calculations, is considerably less than the $42,637,920 Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar has pocketed for his role in The War On Terror.™

MMA fighter pleads guilty on graffiti charges
July 29, 2009

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A mixed martial arts fighter accused of spray-painting an anarchist symbol on the Washington state Capitol has pleaded guilty to malicious mischief.

Jeff Monson, 38, pleaded guilty Tuesday in the Capitol case, and entered an Alford plea for graffiti at the Lacey armed services recruitment center.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but concedes there would be enough evidence to convict if the case went to trial.

Monson, who fights under the nickname The Snowman, was charged after a picture of him and the graffiti was published in ESPN The Magazine.

Prosecutors say they will recommend that Monson serve a 90-day jail sentence. He also must pay $21,894 in restitution as part of the plea deal.

Monson’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 1.

According to one source, Monson will still be able to travel to St. Petersburg in order to fight Ibragim Magomedov on February 28, 2010 (Judge allows MMA fighter’s trip to Russia, Jeremy Pawloski, The Olympian, July 29, 2009).

Iraq for Sale : The story of what happens to everyday Americans when corporations go to war.

Acclaimed director Robert Greenwald (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Outfoxed) takes you inside the lives of soldiers, truck drivers, widows and children who have been changed forever as a result of profiteering in the reconstruction of Iraq. Iraq for Sale uncovers the connections between private corporations making a killing in Iraq (Blackwater, Halliburton/KBR, CACI and Titan) and the decision makers who allow them to do so.

See also : Fighter Monson faces another charge, Jeremy Pawloski, The Olympian, July 29, 2009 | Monson wins with a KO for anarchism, The Leveller, No.1, 2009 | Monson: ‘I’d Do It Again’ (January 18, 2009).

The Police Beat

  • Officer Justin Barrett. Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Police Commissioner recently suspended and moved to fire Boston patrol cop Officer Justin Barrett, after being forwarded a racist-ass e-mail that Barret wrote in response to Yvonne Abraham’s Boston Globe column criticizing Sergeant James Crowley for his stupid arrest of Henry Louis Gates. All the news stories have mentioned how Barrett stated I am not a racist, but I am [prejudiced] towards people who are stupid and repeatedly described Gates as a banana-eating jungle monkey. Some also mentioned active patrol cop Barret’s statement that, had he been in Crowley’s place, he not only would have arrested Gates but would have pepper-sprayed him in the face. None of the mainstream media articles I’ve read so far have mentioned that active patrol cop Officer Justin Barrett also complains that Your defense [4th paragraph] of Gates while he is on the phone while being confronted [INDEED] with a police officer is assuming he has rights when considered a suspect. He is a suspect and will always be a suspect. (Brackets in original; emphasis mine.) Or that, alongside the violent racism and explicit totalitarianism, he adds some crude misogyny, writing to the immediate target of his letter, Yvonne Abraham, that You are a hot little bird with minimal experiences in a harsh field. … You have no business writing for a US newspaper nevermind detailing and analyzing half truths. You should serve me coffee and donuts on Sunday morning. He later repeats the joke about coffee and says that you just need to get slapped. Officer Justin Barrett, when not a racist, sexist, police-statist patrol cop, is also a veteran of the United States government’s Army; he felt comfortable forwarding his racist, sexist, police-statist e-mail to a few of his buddies in the Boston police force and several of his buddies in the Army National Guard. Since the story hit, Barrett has complained to the media that in the uproar over his repeated use of the phrase banana-eating jungle monkey, People are making it about race. It is not about race, and that, although he made a poor choice of words, I didn’t mean it in a racist way. I treat everyone with dignity and respect. His lawyer says that he plans to fight to hold onto his cop job at the upcoming hearing.

  • Disorderly conduct. Patrolman Robert Lang, Patrolman Jared Bock, and Patrolman Shawn Panchick. Brackenridge, Pennsylvania. Three white patrol cops in Pennsylvania are being investigated by another local government’s cops in response to allegations that they beat and robbed a three black teenagers who they arbitrarily commanded (why?) to clear off of a friend’s front porch where they were hanging out late at night. I don’t know whether or not the allegations of robbery are true — one of the victims, Kyle Dudley, claims that he was beat down and robbed of his watch and money by a group of cops possibly different from the three who originally responded to the call, which makes it hard to compare stories — but I do know that, whether or not those allegations are true, the story that the cops all agreed on for their report is more than enough reason to call their conduct belligerent, violent and stupid. Cops have exactly no business singling out black teenagers to be hassled, or for forcing them down and arresting them on a disorderly conduct beef simply for refusing to obey arbitrary bellowed commands that they leave a private residence where they have been invited to hang out with their friends, or a neighborhood where they are hanging out on public property. And once again, it is clear that disorderly conduct charges are the sheepdogs’ favorite threat for making that the sheep stay just where they’ve been herded, regardless of whether or not anyone is actually doing anything that would threaten anyone’s rights even in the slightest.

  • Cops are here to keep us safe. (Cont’d.) By sideswiping our cars while they tear down the road at 20 mph over the posted speed limit with no lights and no sirens on. Then by concealing information or flat-out lying in the accident report and to the media about how fast they were going, until they finally reveal, a couple days later, that the accident was, after all, clearly the fault of the cop’s speeding. Where have I seen that before…? I guess his victim is lucky that he wasn’t doing 100; if he had gotten himself hurt or killed in the crash he caused, she probably would have been arrested for reckless driving and smeared as a cop-killer all over the local papers.

  • Fun for ages 7 to 70. Unnamed patrol officer, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Deputy Chris Beize. Austin, Texas. In Knoxville, a government cop, who had important business to do Investigating reports of some neighbor kids getting into a fight, has been accused of trying to coerce a 7 year old boy into talking more candidly by handcuffing the child and cussing him out, while the boy was crying and asking for his mother. The 7-year-old was not involved in the fighting and was never suspected of, or charged with, any crime. Officials refuse to so much as disclose this dedicated public servant’s name, but they promise that the matter is being Internally Investigated.

    Meanwhile, in Texas, Deputy Chris Beize tasered Kathryn Winkfein, a 72-year-old great-grandmother, twice during a routine traffic stop, after she refused to sign a ticket and he decided to escalate the situation by ordering her out of her car, instead of just mailing the damn thing to her home address. Beize claims that she swore at him (which is not a crime) and that she pushed him into oncoming traffic (no she didn’t; the dashcam video clearly shows that he lunged over and grabbed her and shoved her back several feet, when she tried to de-escalate the situation by sidestepping him to get back to her truck). Then he blasted her with a 50,000-volt electric shock from the taser, and then tasered her again while she was lying on the ground. Then he arrested her for resisting arrest. His superior officers in the paramilitary chain of command have defended Beize’s hollering belligerence, physical assault, and torture by repeated electrical shocks, against an unarmed, 4′11″, 72-year-old great-grandmother who never threatened any physical harm and was guilty of nothing more than a moving violation and contempt of cop, as an appropriate reaction to a dangerous situation. By the by, when Beize is not busy shocking the hell out of elderly women, he is a taser instructor for the local police.

  • Officer Morris Taylor. Springfield, Missouri. Officer Morris Taylor, a cop formerly on the Springfield, Missouri city government’s police force, is facing misdemeanor assault charges for beating John Sedersten, a prisoner under his authority, after Sedersten had been restrained and booked in the Greene County Jail. The story’s in the news because Sedersten, the victim of the beating, recently decided not to testify against Taylor in the criminal case, on advice from his attorneys, because of the danger that his testimony will open him up to lines of questioning that the government can use against him in his pending criminal cases. Sedersten is pursuing a separate civil lawsuit against Officer Morris Taylor for the beating; apparently he’s just not particularly interested in working closely with the same government office that is trying to lock him up in other cases, particularly not for so minor a vindication as a misdemeanor assault conviction. Even without his testimony, apparently portions of the assault are recorded on video.

    Besides having spent 11 years in local government police forces, Officer Morris Taylor also has experience in dealing with prisoners from working as a government soldier in the U.S. government’s war and occupation in Iraq.

  • Deputy Marcus Smith. San Joaquin County, California. San Joaquin County Sheriff’s deputies stopped a car on a routine traffic stop near Manteca; Charles Inderbitzen was riding in the car. Inderbitzen was ex-con out on parole, and believed that he had a warrant out on him, so he got nervous around the cops. He tried to leave the scene without the cops’ permission; even though the police had no reason whatever, at this point, to suspect that he had committed any crime, or even (since he was not the one driving the car) of even the most minor civil infraction. But government cops in America aren’t actually interested in dealing with crimes; they are interested in targeting suspects, and are more than willing to summarily declare you a suspect sort of guy based solely on your failure to follow their arbitrary bellowed commands, or your decision to try to leave the scene when they are present. So a gang of police chased Inderbitzen down, cornered him in a back yard, drew their guns on him, and ordered him to get on his knees and put his hands on his head. After Inderbitzen complied with their orders, with several cops pointing guns at him and while physically at their mercy, Deputy Marcus Smith hopped the fence, kicked Charles Inderbitzen in the gut, punched him in the back of the head, kicked him two more times in the stomach, and then punched him about 5 or 10 more times until Inderbitzen was beaten unconscious. I guess he’s lucky they didn’t taser him to death instead.

  • Oops. Our bad. Deputy Matthew Paul. Seattle, Washington. Christopher Harris was trying to get away from a group of King’s County police (or rather, a gang of beefy, heavily armed strangers, dressed all in black, who didn’t bother to identify themselves before they started hollering and chasing after him late at night). Turns out he didn’t actually do anything wrong (they were chasing him because a witness fingered him as having been involved in a bar fight; the witness was wrong). But rather than risking the possibility that someone possibly might get away from the cops (even when he had no way of knowing they were cops, who had every right to leave the scene, who posed no physical threat to anybody, and who, at the very worst, was suspected of some minor-league drunken fighting), Deputy Matthew Paul, who outweighed his victim by about 100 pounds, decided to put an end to things by waiting until Christopher Harris slowed down to a walk, and then body-tackling him so hard that he knocked him eight feet into a wall, slamming Harris’s head into the concrete so hard it put him into a coma. The story’s in the news because Deputy Matthew Paul’s coworkers in the King County government’s prosecutor’s office have announced that, as far as they’re concerned, Deputy Matthew Paul did not violate Christopher Harris’s rights and the only personal consequence that Deputy Matthew Paul will face, for putting his falsely accused, completely unarmed and physically harmless victim on life-support, is having been given a paid vacation from his job for a while during the investigation. According to the county government, It’s a tragic incident. Well, oops. I guess he’s lucky they didn’t just shoot him in the back instead.

  • Non-Lethal Force (Cont’d.) Unnamed officer, Officer Debra Lynn Indovina-Akerly and Officer Charles Watson. Swissvale, Pennsylvania. Last summer, a 37 year old unarmed black man named Andre DeMon Thomas was extrajudicially electrocuted by a gang of three Swissvale cops, who tortured him with three 50,000-volt electric shocks, handcuffed him, and, after he was handcuffed, kicked him, punched him, and crushed him until he vomited, passed out, and died. They were electrocuting him, incidentally, For His Own Good, after he begged neighbors to call the cops to help him out. He was unarmed; he wasn’t acting aggressively; none of the neighbors felt threatened by him; he was never at any point charged with any crime at all by anyone; he seemed disoriented and terrified, and he wanted the cops there to keep him safe. But in cop-think, being terrified and disoriented means acting erratic, and acting erratic in the judgment of a cop, even if you pose no threat to anyone and even if you have not been so much as accused of committing a crime and even if you are yourself seeking help, is reason enough for you to get Served and Protected good and hard until you are physically subdued. Or dead, whichever comes first. And yet again, it became necessary to kill Dre Thomas in order to save him. The case is in the news again because the family has filed a lawsuit and the coroner’s autopsy report, which revealed deep and widespread bruising all over Thomas’s body, contradicts the Medical Examiner’s initial report absolving the cops and claiming that Thomas died from a mythical made-up condition called agitated delirium.

  • Gang cops (Cont’d.). Gang Strike Force, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Seven victims of racist shakedowns by a multi-agency paramilitary Gang Strike Force in the Twin Cities have filed suit against the members of the Strike Force, the city governments that put it together, and the boss cops who commanded it. The Strike Force was permanently shut down earlier this month after repeated complaints about the cops on it making improper seizures, which is to say armed robberies under color of law, of money and property from innocent people with no connection to gang activity, but who happened to be immigrants (hence easy targets). If only we had some warning, had some way of knowing, that an elite gang police unit with an unlimited mandate, overwhelming force, and extremely broad legal powers to roust people and take their property with minimal legal accountability, might end up just acting like the baddest gangsters on the block. But who could possibly have foreseen that? It’s not like anything like this has ever happened before.

  • Detective Keith Alfaro. San Antonio, Texas. A couple years ago Detective Keith Alfaro of the San Antonio police department got himself involved in what the media at the time dignified as a poolside scuffle with a teenager. By which they meant that he punched an 18 year old girl in the face, then, after he knocked her down, got on top of her, put her in a chokehold, and, according to an unrelated witness, pummeled her black and blue while she was on the ground. After Alfaro ran away from the Sheriff’s Deputies who responded to a call, Vaughn had to be taken to the hospital; she still couldn’t open her jaw for weeks after the attack. The reason he did this was that she told him to put out a cigar he was smoking; the community pool had a no-smoking rule. Tamara Vaughn claims she asked him politely; Alfaro claims she copped an attitude, got up in his face, dared to say some vulgar words in his hearing, and tried to swipe the cigar out of his mouth. Apparently, even if we grant his story to be true, Detective Keith Alfaro believes that that’s good enough reason for a grown-ass man to throw the first punch, then beat the living hell out of an 18 year old girl while she’s lying on the ground, and that doing so was totally defensive … It was her own actions that forced me to take those measures. Perhaps that’s also what forced him to answer her request that he not smoke a cigar at a non-smoking pool by telling her to take that East Side attitude back over there; maybe that’s also what forced him to call her a nigger and a half-breed while he was beating the hell out of her, or to tell Vaughn, who is a lesbian, that You wanna look like a man, I’m gonna treat you like a man.. Detective Keith Alfaro testified that his problem was not with her race but with her attitude (you know, the East Side kind), and that She though she was talking to a child, … She thought she was talking to someone she could bully — not an adult family man. Apparently Detective Keith Alfaro believes that an adult family man deals with tense social situations by punching 18 year old girls in the face and dislocating their jaws. In any case, this adult family man bragged in an online profile for an Ultimate Fighting website about his countless street KO’s.

    The story is in the news again because Keith Alfaro finally ended up going to trial this year on a misdemeanor assault rap, along with some resisting and evading arrest for having run away from the Bexar County Sheriff’s deputies. And just today, after the judge refused to allow Bexar County prosecutors to tell the jury about the online bragging about street fights, or about the numerous existing complaints against Alfaro in his internal affairs file (complaints which, of course, never endangered his position with the San Antonio Police Department, until he got into a fight on another police agency’s turf), the jury voted to acquit Alfaro on the assault beef. They convicted him on the misdemeanor evading and resisting arrest charges, because apparently busting up an 18 year old girl’s jaw is OK, but they’ll be damned if they’ll let anyone get away from the po-po.

  • Rapists on patrol. Officer Feliciano Sanchez, Los Angeles, California. (Possible trigger warning.)

    Officer Feliciano Sanchez, formerly hired muscle for Los Angeles County’s Bell Police Department, recently plead guilty to using his police powers to abduct a woman he had detained on a traffic stop, drive her to an isolated location, and then flashed his gun and coerced sex from her before he would let her free. Bell Police Department Captain Anthony Miranda says he is shocked to hear that a male cop might use his government-granted legal powers and his arsenal of deadly weapons to intimidate and violently coerce sex from women who come under his power. He says that he’s in disbelief because he’s never heard of such a thing before. Well, I’m not. I have.

  • 18 shots for running a stop-sign. Officer James Arnold. Fort Wayne, Indiana. The city government in Fort Wayne, Indiana just spent $335,000 of other people’s money in order to cover Office James Arnold’s ass after he shot an unarmed immigrant named José Baudilio Lemus-Rodriguez 18 times, after Lemus-Rodriguez refused to pull over for a routine traffic stop for running a stop sign.

    Fort Wayne Police Officer James Arnold, by the way, was just four months on the force when he lit up Lemus-Rodriguez’s car; before that, he had years of combat experience as a United States government Marine fighting for the U.S. government’s occupation and counter-insurgency operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards refused to file any criminal charges; the city hired on a PR flack to declare Arnold’s actions objectively reasonable. The city’s main concern in settling the family’s lawsuit, besides using taxpayer money to cover Officer James Arnold from any personal legal liability for his lethal actions, is apparently as a bribe to ensure that the objective video record of the objectively reasonable shooting remains permanently concealed from the public.

Molly’sBlog 2009-07-31 20:29:00


The following item, originally from the CBC News, came to Molly's attention via the strike solidarity site Fair Deal Now set up by the workers on strike in Ontario against Vale Inco. As has been mentioned before on this blog the contract between Vale Inco and workers at Viosey's Bay in Newfoundland is expiring soon (tomorrow actually), and there is little doubt that the Newfie workers will be on strike soon. The more general the strike is, the more likely that the company will be pressured to settle. One can only hope that, as the strike drags on, that workers at other facilities owned by Vale Inco will find ways to put pressure on the company (work to rule ?) even if they are not in a legal strike position. One can also hope that workers employed by Vale Inco in other countries will see fit to carry out such solidarity actions as well.
As the reader can find out from the Fair Deal Now site there is now a court injunction prohibiting more militant picketing in Sudbury and Port Colborne. Just a little word to the wise here. This injunction, in its present form, applies only to the United Steel Workers. It says nothing about what a group of non-union members may undertake on their own initiative. take this as you will.

Voisey's Bay union in legal strike position:
More than 200 workers at the Voisey's Bay nickel mine in northern Labrador are preparing for a possible strike on Saturday.

Members of the United Steelworkers union are in a legal position to strike as of midnight Saturday. Unionized workers have voted 90 per cent in favor of job action.

Negotiations between the union and Vale Inco, the company that operates the Voisey’s Bay mine, broke off in June. Workers have been without a collective agreement since March.

The United Steelworkers union has said Vale Inco wants to roll back an employee bonus based on the price of nickel. The company also wants to impose a three-year wage freeze.

The union has accused the company of using the global economic slowdown to try to roll back bonuses and freeze wages.

"We do realize that we were in a very bad economic situation," Darren Cove, spokesman for the union local, told CBC News on Friday.

"Right now we’re in recovery mode, and we don't think that we should base a three-year collective agreement on the recession that we’re recovering from right now," he said.

"The only way right now to avert a strike would be for the company Vale Inco to inform us that the concessions that they're asking are off the table and that they are willing to bargain in good faith towards a fair collective agreement for the membership,” Cove said.

The nickel bonus was at the centre of a strike that shut down production at Voisey's Bay for eight weeks in the summer of 2006.

Unionized workers at Vale Inco’s nickel mine operation in Sudbury, Ont., have been on strike since July 13.

No one with Vale Inco was available for comment.(I wonder why-Molly)

Molly’sBlog 2009-07-31 20:00:00

Molly has blogged on the subject of this factory occupation in Korea several times before, even making the mistake once of assuming that because the police had made an all-out assault on the workers that the occupation was finished. happily I was wrong. This group of workers have greater intelligence and staying power than the average summit-hopping anarchist- by a factor of 100 at least.
Here's the latest (yesterday) update on the situation from the LibCom site.
Ssangyong occupation update: day eleven, July 30, 2009:
Negotiations have occurred several times throughout the day. The major hurdle is layoffs: management says they're necessary; strikers won't budge and demand that no one be laid off, even if it requires less hours for everyone and work furloughs. For the government and management it is crucial to break the strike so that austerity can be imposed on other autoworkers, as well as in other sectors needing restructuring due to the crisis. The biggest creditor of Ssangyong is Hankook Bank, which is government owned.
***Update July 30, 2009***
The strikers are making I.W.W.-like demands that no one be laid off; they're willing to agree to a reduction in hours, including unpaid work furloughs, to protect the job security of all workers. Creditors are using the threat of bankruptcy and liquidation to pressure the strikers to end the occupation; the government is in collusion with management in wanting to crush the strike (and the union) and for production to continue with a smaller workforce.

Since government-owned Hankook Bank is the biggest creditor to Ssangyong Motors, it is important for them to have production resume with a weaker union and a leaner, more flexible workforce in order to find buyers for the remaining shares of the company. Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) of China presently has a 51% share, but their main interest was technology transfer as they had no interest in investing capital in Ssangyong to resume production. This is all complicated because Korean courts currently control Ssangyong under the terms of court receivership.

The resolution of this strike has direct bearing on future attempts at restructuring by management at Kia Motors, GM/Daewoo, and the industry giant Hyundai Motors. Some of the fiercest struggles in the class war of the past have occurred at the various industrial subsidiaries of the Hyundai group. Ruling class interests hope to crush the Ssangyong occupation to dissuade other workers from following suit.
From Korea Times:
07-30-2009 18:10Breakthrough Expected in Ssangyong Negotiations
By Park Si-sooStaff Reporter
PYEONGTAEK, Gyeonggi Province ― Representatives of fired workers and the management of Ssangyong Motor met Thursday amid a warning from creditors that the troubled carmaker will be liquidated unless the factory is normalized by Aug.5.

Unlike in previous talks, hopes for a peaceful settlement are growing as the two sides are getting closer to narrowing their differences on key issues, officials from both sides said.

"We expect the two sides to reach a conclusion through the meeting," Choi Sang-jin, the spokesman for Ssangyong management, said at a makeshift press center set up in the factory's parking lot. Choi refused to elaborate on the agenda, but implied that progress had been made. "We don't know when an agreement will be made,"

The two sides said the negotiation would be the "last" to hammer out a conclusion.

"No matter what the conclusion will be, no further talks will take place afterward," said a leader of the laid-off workers. An accord might lead to the reinstatement of a portion of the dismissed workers.

In talks last Saturday, the sides were unable to reach a settlement, with the union demanding an immediate cancellation of the layoffs.

Following the breakdown of the talks, a representative of the creditors announced a plan to liquidate the company, thus forcing the two sides to engage in last-ditch talks to avoid liquidation.

In a phone interview with The Korea Times, Wednesday, Choi Byeong-hoon, spokesman for the creditors, said they have reached an accord that liquidating the firm was a better option than waiting until Sept. 15 a court-set deadline for the company's management to submit a self-rescue plan to avoid liquidation.

The occupation began when 36 percent of the workforce was dismissed. So far, the firm has sustained $243 million in losses.

(wishful thinking)

I changed my last post to the essay itself, since I get the feeling a lot of people are going to be reading it as time goes on, given it’s one of the first things that comes up when you Google “an introduction to anarchism”, and what I had written before would not make sense in that altered context.  Although I guess that was pretty much the point (ain’t I a stinker?)…

Separately, I am not impressed by what I’m hearing about APOC’s disruption of the CrimethInc convergence.  Not because I don’t think that the anarchist social project should include examining and seeking to uproot at all opportunities the latent racism and other -isms that may be embedded in every one of our worldviews as a result of the society we were raised in — I’m all for that.  But when you automatically condemn people based on their skin color and/or background, you create a vicious cycle of mutual distrust.  If you think people who “claim” to be anarchists have embedded racist views, you should try to work it out with them in good faith, not write them off as scum.  And frankly, I’m not fighting for a society where everybody’s thoughts and personal feelings are put under totalitarian scrutiny by proto-death squads ready to shut down a meeting whenever the fuck they feel like it.  Prejudicial attitudes should always be challenged, but this is just insanity.

Molly’sBlog 2009-07-31 19:07:00

It can often be hard for those of us who live in the civilized world (ie industrially developed countries and many who are not so developed) to comprehend the situation surrounding health care in the USA. Despite spending more per capita on health services than any other country in the world the outcomes,as measured by such things as life span, infant mortality rates, maternal mortality,etc.,etc.,etc. are far behind many other countries in the world. One of the problems in the USA is that health care is covered by a patchwork of insurance plans with a minimal participation on the part of government in a few aspects. The result has been extreme cost overruns for numerous reasons. One reason is that the patchwork of insurance companies has led to the growth of numerous bureaucracies, all of whom have to take their cut, that provide living proof that "private" managers are at least as bloodthirsty as public ones. The other is that the proportion of the population who are covered under public plans are covered by a number of different agencies which also increases the costs of bureaucracy. Finally, and perhaps this is inherent in American culture, those who do have the means-and the legal clout to make insurance companies compliant- demand stupendously aggressive medical interventions of dubious social, or even individual, value. Everybody goes along with this. Insurance companies are reluctant to challenge those who have easy access to lawyers. The medical industry will rapidly rush to fulfill whatever demand, with great financial rewards, that such people generate.
Meanwhile a large proportion of the American population is not covered at all by health plans. Those who are are subjected to continued uncertainty as most are covered by employer provided plans that depend upon a)the financial stability of the employer and b)the willingness of the employer to play by the terms of the social contract and not attempt to cut the coverage back at any convenient opportunity. The following from the website of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) tells of one such instance. This is the case of the Starbucks corporation who are attempting to cut the health benefits, such as they are, of their employees. They are opposed by the IWW affiliated Starbucks Union, recently in the news here in Canada for having organized and gained bargaining rights at a Starbucks outlet in Québec City. Here's the story from the point of view of the Starbucks Union.
IWW Starbucks Union Condemns Starbucks Doubling Health Insurance Costs:
For Immediate Release:
IWW Starbucks Workers Union
Media Contacts:
Aaron Kocher - 612-220-6454
Liberte Locke - 917-693-7742
July 28, 2009
IWW Starbucks Union Condemns Starbucks Doubling Health Insurance Costs Health Coverage Cuts Come Amidst Soaring Profits
Starbucks, amid massive profits, announced on Monday that it will slash at employee health care benefits. The company announced that premiums for its most economical employee health care package will nearly double, along with across the board increases in out-of-pocket expenses. This slap in the face to workers comes just one week after the announcement of $256 million in profits for the quarter, far exceeding internal and Wall Street expectations.
These cuts are an insult to Starbucks workers, and the thousands of workers who have been laid off in the last year. The increased costs of health benefits will be a barrier to many workers thinking of enrolling, forcing them to make the hard decision between health care coverage and feeding their families.
We expect more from Starbucks as a leading Fortune 500 company that builds its brand image on its treatment of its "partners", what it calls employees. Starbucks has a responsibility to provide affordable, quality healthcare to its workers, who are responsible for its enormous profits. Instead, Starbucks continues to use health care benefits as a marketing tool, while actually covering a lower percentage of its workforce than the notoriously unethical Wal-Mart.
Starbucks has repeatedly shown that it cannot be trusted to compensate us fairly. We believe as workers we must organize together to hold Starbucks accountable, and give us the respect and dignity we deserve.
About the IWW Starbucks Workers Union:
The IWW Starbucks Workers Union is an organization of over 300 current and former employees at the world's largest coffee chain united for secure work hours, a living wage, and respect on the job. The union has members throughout the United States and Canada, fighting for positive change at the company and defending baristas treated unfairly by management.

Hamas Wants to Talk Peace

Israel--Not So Much.

Some encouraging news from the Wall Street Journal today:
The chief of Palestinian militant group Hamas said his organization is prepared to cooperate with the U.S. in promoting a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict if the White House can secure an Israeli settlement freeze and a lifting of the economic and military blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Khaled Meshaal, 53 years old, said in a 90-minute interview at
Hamas's Syrian headquarters that his political party and military wing would commit to an immediate reciprocal cease-fire with Israel, as well as a prisoner swap that would return Hamas fighters for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

He also said his organization would accept and respect a
Palestinian state based on 1967 borders as part of a broader peace agreement with Israel—provided Israeli negotiators accept the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees and the establishment of a capital for the Palestinian state in East Jerusalem.
Well, I thought it was encouraging news. Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu sees things differently. Declareth a spokesman for the PM:
Anyone who has been following Khaled Meshaal's comments over the last few months sees clearly that despite some attempts to play with language in a cosmetic way to give the impression of possible policy moderation, he remains rooted in an extremist theology which fundamentally opposes peace and reconciliation.
WTF? Seriously. Meshaal says Hamas will enforce an immediate ceasefire, return a kidnapped Israeli soldier, and accept a peace agreement with Israel based on 1967 borders. And in return all he asks is that Israel enforce a ceasefire of its own, return kidnapped Palestinian soldiers, end the blockade, and take three steps (end the occupation, stop building settlements, allow the refugees to return) that are all required by international law.

Now I’m not a fan of Hamas, just as I’m not a fan of any political party, but Meshaal’s offer is reasonable and just. And Israel should have at least tested his sincerity. “You want peace?” Netanyahu could have said. “Okay, we’ll comply with your demands, but you sure as hell better comply with ours—or the deal’s off.” But instead he more or less gave Meshall the bird and in so doing allowed the world to see what he really thinks about human rights and international law.

Washington’s response was no better:
A senior White House official said Mr. Obama's administration wouldn't respond to Mr. Meshaal's comments. Mr. Obama has said the U.S. would only hold direct talks with Hamas if it formally renounces terrorism and violence and recognizes the state of Israel. U.S. officials say that to engage directly with Mr. Meshaal would undermine the Palestinian Authority.
So Obama will only talk to Meshaal if Hamas renounces terrorism and violence. But isn’t that exactly what Hamas is willing to do? Its only caveat is that Israel does the same. Ceasefire for ceasefire. You stop dropping bombs on our cities and we’ll stop firing rockets into yours.

And all this rhetoric about Hamas “recognizing” Israel is pure nonsense. As long as Hamas keeps the peace with Israel, why does it matter whether or not they recognize Israel’s “right to exist?” As a voluntarist, I don’t recognize any state’s right to exist—yet that doesn’t make me a terrorist, that doesn’t make me a threat to anyone.

And, oh by the way, Israel’s Likud party—the party which Bibi Netanyahu leads—does not recognize the right of Palestine to exist. As the Likud platform states: “The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.” Yet the Obama administration hasn’t refused to talk to Netanyahu until the Likud platform is changed.

And who’s to say that Hamas wouldn’t recognize Israel? Yes, I’m aware of all the fiery rhetoric some of its leaders have made. But other Hamas leaders have been far more conciliatory. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, for instance, has stated: “If Israel declares that it will give the Palestinian people a state and give them back all their rights, then we are ready to recognize them.” Yet Israel rejected Haniyeh’s overture, just as it rejected the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, in which the Arab League offered to sign a peace agreement with Israel and recognize its right to exist in exchange for a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders and a just resolution to the refugee crisis.

What can I say, folks? It’s a sad sad sad sad world.

Molly’sBlog 2009-07-31 17:59:00

The upcoming 2010 Vancouver/Whistler Winter Olympics are drawing nearer, and the cost overruns are also becoming clearer. In the meantime the organizers of Olympic protest are continuing their efforts. Here's the latest news from the Olympic Resistance Network (see also their No2010 site).
Upcoming meetings and events:‏
Upcoming ORN general meetings: (Every 2nd Sunday)
Sunday, Aug. 2, 6pm @ Spartacus Books, 684 E. Hastings (The first meeting of each month includes time for new member orientation and Olympic issues background.)
Sunday, Aug. 16, 6pm and Sunday, Aug. 30, 6pm @ Spartacus Books, 684 E.Hastings
** If you are interested in ORN, but unable to attend Sunday meetings,consider getting involved in one of the subcommittees planning popular education/outreach, legal defense, fundraising, communications, etc. and contact for more information.
---------- Upcoming events of interest in Vancouver: ----------
Sunday, August 9 ORN at UNDER THE VOLCANO: 19th Annual Festival of Art and Change Sun., Aug. 9, 12pm to 9:30pm
@ Cates Park, North Vancouver,
Tsleil-Waututh territory
Under the Volcano is a progressive musical and community festival at Cates Park. 30+ artists, 4 stages, workshops, artisans market, community info fair, and more - rain or shine! (No alcohol, no pets – except guidance/assistance dogs. Wheelchair accessible.)
ORN will have a table in the info fair, as well as members participating in some of the workshops. Please come out and visit our table while enjoying the day!
**2:15-3:45 (90 mins): Resisting 2010 - Chris Shaw, ORN, Dustin Rivers +Micheal Vonn (BCCLA)
**4:00-5:15 (75 mins): Gaza 2 Gustafsen - Hanna Kawas, Gord Hill + Invincible
**5:30-7:00 (90 mins): People's History of Kanada - Mona Oikawa, Kat Norris, Hari Sharma, Chin Banerjee
Gates open at 12pm.
General admission by donation: $10-20.
Low-income admissions by donation: $5 at Main gate ONLY
Free Shuttle bus from Broadway/Commercial Skytrain Station starting at11am (roughly every 30 minutes).
Valet Bike Parking – at the top gate (west gate) from 12pm onwards. Directions:
(** Extremely limited parking! Please do not drive. **)
Take the 2nd Narrows Bridge towards North Vancouver; take the first EXIT, Dollarton Hwy; follow Dollarton East until you see signs for Cates Park (right side of the highway).
More info:
Sunday, Aug. 16 and 23
Sun., Aug. 16, 12-4pm at the Main Street Car-Free Days
@ Location TBD
Sun., Aug. 23, 12-6pm at the Commercial Drive Car-Free Days (last one of the summer!)
@ Charles and Commercial intersection (next to Granview Park)
The Vancouver Renters At Risk group want to collect stories and interviews about some of the housing impacts of the Games; anyone with contacts, personal stories, ideas, etc., please send to: "Renters At Risk Campaign
- Subject: renters on video
I'm looking for BC renters who have been affected/experienced evictions, renovictions, and/or huge rent increases in the lead up to the Olympics. If that's you, are you willing to allow me to film you in a short 15-45 sec segment? If you're interested in hearing more, please write:
Olympic Resistance Network: contact -
The Olympic Resistance Network is primarily based in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories and exists as a space to coordinate anti-2010 Olympics efforts. In doing so, we act in solidarity with other communities across 'BC' - particularly indigenous communities who have been defending their land against the onslaught of the Olympics since the bid itself. Our organizing is largely being done under the slogan of "No Olympics on Stolen Native Land," while creating an opportunity for all anti-capitalist, indigenous, anti-poverty, labour, migrant justice, environmental justice, anti-war, and anti-colonial activists to come together to confront this two-week circus and the oppression it represents.


Kevin Carson:

A business model based on suing online news sources (not to mention search engines!) for linking to your stories makes New Coke look like a work of genius.

Read la enchilada entera.

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