While building solidarity between activists in the U.S. and Iran can be a powerful way of supporting social justice movements in Iran, progressives and leftists who want to express solidarity with Iranians are challenged by a complicated geopolitical terrain. The U.S. government shrilly decries Iran’s nuclear power program and expands a long-standing sanctions regime on the one hand, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes inflammatory proclamations and harshly suppresses Iranian protesters and dissidents on the other. Solidarity activists are often caught between a rock and a hard place, and many choose what they believe are the “lesser evil” politics. In the case of Iran, this has meant aligning with a repressive state leader under the guise of “anti-imperialism” and “populism,” or supporting “targeted” sanctions.
Hydraulic fracturing (often called fracking) is a form of drilling for natural gas that releases dangerous chemicals and radioactive toxic waste. Gas companies throughout Pennsylvania have been dumping this waste into our rivers and streams – our drinking water! There is currently a loophole that allows gas companies to drill without obeying the Clean Water Act, and they are not required to research the effects of their drilling or clean up the waste they cause.
The Delaware River Basin Commission is currently considering a draft that will allow for more unregulated fracking in the Marcellus Shale—a gas-rich rock formation which is also known to contain radioactive substances. These plans don’t address health and safety regulations to keep radioactive, carcinogenic chemicals out of the water that Philadelphia, New York, and all cities and towns downstream rely on for clean drinking water. Reports are already coming in from across Pennsylvania of wells being poisoned by toxic chemicals as a result of fracking. On March 8th, hundreds of people gave testimony before Philadelphia’s City Council in opposition to this draft – several were mothers who worried for their children’s health, some were scientists who argued for the need for safety measures and regulation prior to considering future drilling.
Following the election of Obama, many folks involved with a spectrum of different anti-racist work were left dumbfounded by the rise of the aggressive and often explicitly racist white Tea Party movement. Though the Tea Party Movement had been funded in the millions, enjoyed the enthusiastic backing of Fox News and was being manipulated by powerful forces on the right, it was also clear that the right was comfortably engaging with a sector of the North American working class largely abandoned by the broader left. In the throes of economic crisis many formerly enfranchised whites were looking at serious setbacks. In response the left for the most part smugly responded by dismissing the crazy tea baggers while white supremacists and conservatives moved into largely uncontested territory. In looking for exceptions, I decided to check out the John Brown Gun Club, a group of white working class anarchists who before the emergence of the Tea Party movement, had been sowing class struggle and anti-racist solidarity amongst mostly white gun enthusiasts in Kansas. Here Dave Onion interviews long time anti-racist gun slinger Dave Strano.
Translation of an article by Helen Álvarez Virreira about the Bolivian anarchist feminists, Mujeres Creando (from thecommune.co.uk)
To walk the streets of La Paz is also to walk through the story of Mujeres Creando (Women Creating) an anarchist and feminist movement which has used graffiti and creativity as its forms of struggle and has made the streets its canvas. “Women who get organised don’t have to iron shirts any more”, ”I don’t want to be the woman of your dreams, I want to be the woman of my dreams” and “Because Evo Morales doesn’t know how to be a father (he tried to disown his daughter), he doesn’t know what it means to be a mother” are among its graffiti.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's Anti-Union Bill, was signed into law on March 1, despite the objections and actions of the masses who took over Madison, staging the largest continual protest in Wisconsin history. Starting in mid-February, teaching assistants, teachers, nurses, other public sector workers and their supporters flooded the city, took over the capitol building, and rallied around the clock, in a resistance that grew and grew, garnering support in solidarity demos across the country. A report in The Guardian “US left finds its voice over Wisconsin attacks on union rights”(3) described “the atmosphere [as] part Glastonbury, part commune, part polite midwest. Drummers beat out rhythms all day long to chants of Union Power...there are sleeping bags piled in corners for the hundreds staying overnight, and piles of pizza cartons and water bottles donated by local businesses or paid for by supporters round the US and the world.”
"l have slain Pharaoh" were the words of the Egyptian military officer who led rebel army commandos that assassinated former Egyptian dictator Anwar Sadat while he was reviewing a military parade in 1981 for selling his country out to the West and abandoning the Palestinian people's struggle for independence. On February 11, 2011 Egypt's latest dictator, Hosni Mubarak, who replaced Sadat in 1982 and ruled for 30 years as a modern Egyptian Pharaoh, was pushed out of power by a people's revolt inspired by the January people's revolt in Tunisia that ended the dictatorship of Zine Ben Ali who ruled Tunisia for over 20 years. Mubarak ruled Egypt unchallenged for 30 years and was considered America’s Man in the Middle East. He was also America's partner in terror, allowing his country to be used in the C.l.A.'s rendition program the United States used to transfer so-called terrorist suspects to be tortured for information useful to the U.S. war on terror. Mubarak‘s regime relentlessly tortured and imprisoned members of the opposition in Egypt, and according to a classified U.S. diplomatic cable revealed by Wikileaks, torture was reported to be so widespread and epidemic that it affected every layer of Egyptian society. Under Mubarak Egypt also received over 2 billion dollars in U.S. aid. 70% of it is allotted to the Egyptian military which the U.S. used to prop up Mubarak's corrupt regime and the military equipment was aimed not at external enemies but rather at its own people.
Joel Beinin's analysis of the contribution of workers to the anti-Mubarak uprising and the possible consequences for both the social movement generally and the Egyptian working class specifically.
“Egyptian Workers Join the Revolution,” proclaimed the headline of Al-Ahram, the government-owned daily, the day before ex-President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. Tens of thousands of workers—in textiles, military production, transportation, petroleum, cement, iron and steel, hospitals, universities, telecommunications and the Suez Canal—participated in strikes or protests in the three days before Mubarak’s departure. Although it is too soon to render a definitive judgment, the demographic and economic weight of workers in the popular uprising was likely one of the factors that persuaded Egypt’s military chiefs to ask Mubarak to step aside.
Elyse Wilson unable to walk, denied food and medical care at Muncy: The Human Rights Coalition received a report from Elyse Wilson, a prisoner at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Muncy, Pennsylvania on Saturday, February 26th, describing the prison's refusal to provide her necessary medical treatment. Elyse is unable to walk after a pre-existing back injury worsened. Prison staff refused to take her to the medical department for treatment. As a consequence, Elyse had missed two meals since she cannot walk to the cafeteria.
Since last year, the state governments of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, along with Del Monte, a fruit and vegetable company, have tried to break the International Longshoremen's Association. In a move of blatant union busting, Fresh Del Monte Produce, which is owned by business tycoon Leo Holt, moved their business of unloading fruit from the port of Philadelphia to the “less costly” LLC Gloucester port downriver in Gloucester, N.J., which is privately owned by the Holt Family with a low-wage company union Dockworkers Local 1 (this fake union has its offices in a building owned by the Holt family). The workers receive less pay than they do at the plant in Philadelphia, which is publicly owned and unionized with the ILA. Before the company moved, Del Monte demanded that ILA Local 1291 take a 25%+ wage and benefit cut and that the State of New Jersey give it $25 million to improve its Camden, N.J. pier or else they would move operations. Del Monte gave the state and the union four days to make a decision. Apparently, both the state and the union agreed to the cuts. Despite this agreement Del Monte moved anyway, resulting in the loss of 200+ ILA jobs.
Among the numerous policies implemented by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, one requires Security Level 5 Inmates to move to a new cell every 90 days. This is one rule peaceful Old Heads on Death Row dread, having to move next to some idiot always running his mouth, trying to act tough, cursing, blasting his television and radio.