JOURNAL OF THE 24TH YEAR
Japan's Fukushima Disaster
The Shura Case
Death Row Inmates Exonerated
NUGGETS FROM THE NUT HOUSE
From Netanyahu to Mladic
Edward S. Herman
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
Veterans Support Manning
Double Dip Recession
Iara Lee's Culture of Resistance
Len Weinglass (1933-2011)
Michael Steven Smith
Checkmate In The Great Game
Nicolas J.S. Davies
The Colonial Predator Legacy
Against Corporatocracy Rule
Bruce E. Levine
The Mideast & South Central Asia
Bin Laden and the Arab "Awakening"
From Poppies to Fentanyl Lollipops
The Lacandon Jungle and the Carbon Market
Displacing People for Profit
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
At the same time as U.S.-based corporations have been shifting
This latter belief has been hardened by disclosures that since 2000 U.S.-based multinational corporations have been cutting 2.9 million jobs in the U.S. while increasing their foreign employment by 2.4 million (Wall Street Journal 4/19/11). Despite these trends, President Obama in 2010 very consciously chose to discard a well-crafted Democratic political strategy drawing exactly upon this opposition to the off-shoring of jobs, designed to preserve a Democratic Congress during the November 2 mid-terms. The result: the unprecedented loss of 63 Democratic House seats and 6 in the Senate.
Disregarding the signals sent by the public in the election, Obama has since even more fully committed himself to “free-trade” agreements that undergird the off-shoring of jobs. However, as the 2012 election draws nearer, the economy’s sluggish performance is likely to make President Obama keenly aware of the extreme dangers of embracing the CEOs and their policies that promote off-shoring jobs.
Obama and his pro-globalization advisors may finally be forced to recognize that off-shoring jobs is extremely unpopular with the electorate, widely perceived as a principal cause of ongoing economic misery, and is thus a barrier to a second term. The most recent economic figures should be setting alarm bells off in the White House: growth of just 1.8 percent in the first quarter, accompanied by mounting layoffs in the public sector, gas prices well over $4 a gallon (thanks in part to Wall Street speculators), and unemployment still just under 9 percent.
Moreover, Republican control of the House means that any stimulus proposal that Obama might contemplate, however unlikely, would be blocked both on ideological grounds and to keep Obama on the hook for economic misery extending into 2012. The “free markets” praised by President Obama have failed to provide the “private-sector job growth” in permanent, middle-class jobs that Obama counted on almost exclusively. Obama’s “Win the Future” export-expansion strategy, which includes passage of free trade agreements, seems doomed to failure.
Battles With Base?
Moreover, the Democratic Party base of labor unionists and progressives—after remaining relatively quiescent during Obama’s first two years—is suddenly showing more signs of independence from Obama and the Democrats. Labor and the left spontaneously exploded into action most notably in Wisconsin with a month-long siege of the State Capitol capped by demonstrations of 100,000 or more people (see April Z), followed by states like Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and many others, in response to Republican governors’ efforts to revoke public-employee union rights and weaken the voice of democratic forces.
Obama’s drive for the passage of NAFTA-style trade agreements with
The battles in Congress over trade measures are likely to mobilize opposition from labor and the left, with populist right-wing groups jumping in as well, as they did in 1993 against NAFTA. Obama thus risks open conflict with labor and infuriating much of his electoral base at a time when much of labor is already disillusioned by his unwillingness to stand up to Wall Street.
But so far, Obama continues to embrace the corporate elite and their brand of economics—apart from the most extreme budget-cutting. Within a week of severe Democratic losses in manufacturing states especially vital to his re-election prospects in 2012—from
“Mr. Obama met privately with American chief executives, among them Jeffrey R. Immelt of General Electric, who has been critical of the White House in the past. ‘It’s unprecedented,’ Mr. Immelt said in an interview, praising Mr. Obama for talking up trade, a politically risky move for a Democrat.” To promote the growth of
Along with being premised on new NAFTA-style free trade agreements and no curbs on off-shoring jobs, the export program seems doomed to failure. First, much of
Finally, “It will take time for any growth of exports to add jobs in
Still, Obama is plunging ahead with an economic strategy that aligns him closely in the public view with CEOs like GE’s Immelt, who may acquire the same kind of notoriety as Wall Street’s bonus-grabbing bankers. Obama named Immelt as chair of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, stating, “He understands what it takes for
Moreover, under Immelt, GE’s tax department, staffed by 975 accountants and tax attorneys, managed to pay no federal income taxes for 2010 despite $14.2 billion in profits. GE, in fact, succeeded in accumulating $3.2 billion in tax credits. A NY Times article on GE observed, “While G.E.’s declining tax rates have bolstered profits and helped the company continue paying dividends to shareholders during the economic downturn, some tax experts question what taxpayers are getting in return. Since 2002, the company has eliminated a fifth of its work force in the
Perhaps no corporation more than GE—which the Times called America’s largest—embodies the breakdown of the post-war “social contract” where corporations traded union recognition, high wages, and an enlarged domestic market for labor enforcing workplace discipline and holding back from questioning investment decisions.
The breakdown of the “social contract” is evident in the radical shift in General Electric’s guiding philosophy. As quoted in Steven Greenhouse’s The Big Squeeze, in 1962, GE’s employee benefits manager wrote, “Maximizing employer security is a prime company goal.” The employee who can plan his economic future with reasonable certainty is an employer’s most productive asset. Compare that quaint attitude with the ruthless credo of Jack Welch, GE’s CEO from 1981 to 2001, who showed his disregard for employee loyalty when he declared, “Ideally you’d have every plant you own on a barge.” By that, he meant a readiness to seek out at a moment’s notice the lowest possible wages and most pliable governments (weak regulations, low taxes, hostile to unions, etc.) anywhere on the globe. Immelt, in a more civilized fashion, has embodied the same strategy. Now the norm across Corporate America, it has played a crucial role in transforming
The richest 1 percent now rake in nearly a quarter of all income, with their share rising 228 percent from 1979 to 2005. This privileged 1 percent holds 40 percent of all wealth, according to Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz. Those in the top 10 percent bracket command more than 90 percent of the nation’s net worth. The top 100 CEOs earn 1,723 times as much as their workers (Les Leopold, The Looting of America). Wall Street handed out an estimated $144 billion in bonuses for 2010. Corporate profits for 2010 soared to near-record levels.
Meanwhile, real wages have been dropping for workers since 1979, with
Profound Shift Vs. Free Trade
While U.S. elites continue to embrace corporate globalization and off-shoring, a tectonic shift has been taking place about “free trade” among the public, with those who see themselves shut out of the benefits of “free trade”—the majority of American citizens—now increasingly forming a rival consensus of their own: that corporate globalization benefits and empowers only major corporations at the expense of workers, environment, and democracy across the globe.
A WSJ/“NBC News” poll reported on October 2, 2010 showed “83 percent of blue-collar workers agreed that outsourcing of manufacturing to foreign countries with lower wages was a reason the
Those results were closely paralleled by a June 2010 poll for the
Public opinion shaping the 2008 elections also displayed the same concern over the flight of jobs to low-wage nations. Similarly, Fortune (1/23/08) reported polling results in 2008 where, “The explanation for the current economic slowdown most frequently cited by respondents: ‘
Throughout the 2008 primary season, both Barack Obama and rival candidate Hillary Clinton expressed outrage against the flight of jobs off-shore, in order to keep up with Democratic voters infuriated by corporations abandoning
But since becoming president, Obama has almost entirely jettisoned his critique of government and corporate policy on jobs and trade. Obama has surrounded himself with advisors like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, former Goldman Sachs executive Lawrence Summers, and Rahm Emanuel (a key player in Bill Clinton’s 1993 drive for NAFTA passage). These advisors hold “free trade” to be an unquestioned article of faith. In 2004, some of the same circle of Wall Street figures—like Robert Rubin and Roger Altman—persuaded Democratic nominee John Kerry to entirely drop his potent rhetoric about “Benedict Arnold CEOs” responsible for the export of jobs.
Carl Rosen, the Western District president of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine workers, said, with barely-suppressed exasperation, that Obama’s corps of Wall Street-based advisors has one driving loyalty: to a system that maximizes the power of corporations to extract profit. “Obama’s economic advisors’ loyalty doesn’t lie with workers or even getting Obama reelected but with Wall Street,” Rosen concluded.
President Obama’s unwillingness to stress the off-shoring issue surely contributed heavily to the Democrats’ electoral disaster in November 2010. Obama was unwilling to depart from his pro-“free trade” script and pick up the cudgel against corporate off-shoring of
The 2010 election was dominated by the Republicans’ incessantly repeated narrative that ongoing economic troubles were the responsibility of the Democrats’ “big-government” policies. Some Republicans even wove a rightist version of the off-shoring issue into their message. Obama countered with the technically correct but much less compelling argument that the unemployment situation would have been even worse without his economic stimulus, auto bail-out efforts, and continuation of the TARP program begun under George W. Bush.
Progressive pollster and author Ruy Teixeira of the Center for
Professor Jack Metzgar of the Center for Working Class Studies has observed the stunning nature of this electoral shift in 2010 evident in Midwestern factory towns toward candidates who had consistently opposed every palliative measure Obama had proposed to ease the Great Recession’s effects. That’s a huge move toward Republicans who were against saving the American auto industry and who voted against infrastructure investments and jobs, (very) partial bailouts of state governments, extensions of unemployment insurance, and health care reform and tax policies that benefit working-class whites.
Obama’s failure to put forth a coherent economic narrative produced muddled decisions about voting among working people. For example, one retired nurse in
In general, turnout of Democratic-leaning constituencies—workers, people of color, and young people—was weak in the middle of the nation, according to Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), who was among the Democratic casualties. Grayson contended on “Democracy Now!” that the Obama administration had followed a “strategy of appeasement” that left the Democratic base disoriented and demoralized.
Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, makes a convincing case (CommonDreams.org, 11/3/10) that Obama cannot hope to be re-elected without taking convincing action to stem the tide of off-shoring jobs and promoting an alternative “fair trade” model that protects and restores U.S. jobs and workers’ rights and the environment around the world.
Without winning back voters in the industrial
Roger Bybee is a Milwaukee-based writer, publicity consultant, and former editor of the
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.