Because I am just hitting a dry well tonight, I am going to note something from Workers World instead:
Fast-food worker: Strike is our main weapon
By Tommy Cavanaugh on November 23, 2014Talk by Tommy Cavanaugh at the 2014 National Conference of Workers World Party in New York on Nov. 15.
It really is an honor to address this conference as a McDonald’s worker and striker. Instead of the self-blame and lack of dignity the bosses and bourgeois media try to instill in us, I stand proud as a fast-food worker and owe this in great part to the thousands of other fast-food and low-wage workers who have risked what meager income they have by fighting back against exploitation. These workers have also started to show the path of struggle for the entire working-class movement.
It has now been two years since the fast-food strikes began and the “$15 an hour and a union” slogan was firmly raised, starting here in New York. Since then, there have been countless demonstrations, seven strikes nationally and some internationally, with more to come. Hundreds of workers and supporters shut down McDonald’s headquarters in May of this year. Mass meetings have involved thousands of McDonald’s and other low-wage workers all over the country.
Some workers, like myself, have participated in civil disobedience and taken arrests, showing that we are serious when we say we will do whatever it takes to win. Though slow to emerge, there has also been the start of cooperation with other low-wage workers, like those at Wal-Mart, who have also been fighting the bosses to organize.
The steady growth of the fast-food workers’ movement has forced a serious discussion in the corporate media and the recognition by bourgeois politicians that it is a force they need to navigate. So much so that President Obama has commented on the issue in two consecutive State of the Union addresses. On Labor Day he gave words — and only words — of support for our struggle for the right to a union.
Beyond winning recognition as an emerging political force, we have also won some city- and state-level victories to raise the minimum wage over the coming years and national victories in the courts against McDonald’s.
Instead of contract negotiations, electioneering or similar tactics, which tend to pull the workers out of the debate and leadership roles, the strike has emerged as the main tool in our fight.
Without recognized unions, avenues for collective bargaining or discussion with management, the workers were left with few other paths of struggle. This has exposed a whole new section of workers, previously inexperienced with any sort of union activity, to the strongest weapon we have: the withholding of our labor power from the bosses.
While still mostly symbolic in character, the strikes have captured national attention, particularly the attention of other low-wage workers, and have temporarily shut down certain locations.
The participation in civil disobedience has been a sign that workers are willing to escalate the struggle and go outside the limits of bourgeois legality. It’s the role of communists to develop this beyond symbolic acts, displaying our dedication as a force that is independent of bourgeois parties and able to confront the state.
Labor organizations and lawyers have protected fast-food strikers, allowing us to return to work, and there’s growing support in the communities. A recent Pew Research Center poll showed that over 70 percent of those questioned supported increasing the minimum wage. This means workers should grow even bolder and so should the left’s solidarity and agitation.
Larry Holmes’ April document about the need to forge a revolutionary pole in the new working-class movement shows the correct perspective on the character of the low-wage workers and our position in the entire working-class movement. Low-wage workers are now the majority and the fastest-growing section of workers in the U.S. Low-wage workers are not a marginal group that can be ignored by unions or revolutionaries.
Some question whether socialist agitation and consciousness among fast-food workers is possible. But if not fast-food and other low-wage workers, where else? Capitalism has placed side-by-side some of the most oppressed and exploited segments of the population, who are most in need of a revolutionary change towards socialism. They participate in an international web of production in which millions of workers all around the world are under common bosses who reap billions from their labor.
This emerging movement of fast-food workers has great potential. It has shown what can happen when organized labor puts even small amounts of resources into it.
Look at how fast this movement has been advancing. We are by no means at a decisive point of victory, but just a few years ago the workers and much of the left did not expect the slogan of $15 an hour and a union to take such a hold in the national discussion. The conditions are there for it. Even some liberal sections of the bourgeoisie have been forced to recognize this.
But raising the minimum wage in certain localities is not enough. Linking up with other sections of low-wage workers is necessary to advance the $15-an-hour fight.
And building greater classwide solidarity is the basis of socialist organizing. In this period of capitalism at a dead end, with unprecedented attacks on all fronts, it is our only option to build a fighting movement capable of tearing down this disgusting profit-driven
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This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Chuck Hagel is now the departing Secretary of Defense. His rumored resignation is now official and AP notes that the resignation "comes as the president's national security team has been battered by crises including the rise of Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria and Russia's provocations in Ukraine."
This afternoon at the White House, US President Barack Obama and Hagel announced the Secretary of Defense's resignation. We'll skip Barack's repeated use of "Chuck" and instead note Hagel's words:
Mr. President, thank you -– thank you for your generous words, for your friendship, for your support which I have always valued and will continue to value. And to my not old, but my longtime, dear friend Vice President Biden, who I have always admired and respected, and both the President and I have learned an awful lot from the Vice President over the years -– thank you. And I want to thank the Deputy Secretary of Defense who is here, Bob Work, and the Chairman and Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Marty Dempsey, who also is here. I want to thank them for being here this morning.
I also want to thank you both for your tremendous leadership of the Defense Department and what you mean to our men and women and their families all over the world; and for the honor I’ve had to serve with each of you and the privilege it’s been in every way.
And I want to thank the entire leadership team at the Pentagon. Without their support and wise counsel over the last couple of years our many accomplishments, and the President noted some, I have been part of that -– but it’s a team. It’s all these tremendous men and women, as you know Mr. President, that make this happen and I couldn’t be prouder of them and what we have accomplished over the almost two years that I’ve had the honor of serving in this position.
And as the President noted I have today submitted my resignation as Secretary of Defense. It’s been the greatest privilege of my life; the greatest privilege of my life to lead and most important, to serve -- to serve with the men and women of the Defense Department and support their families. I am immensely proud of what we’ve accomplished during this time. We have prepared ourselves, as the President has noted, our allies and Afghan National Security Forces for a successful transition in Afghanistan. We bolstered enduring alliances and strengthened emerging partnerships while successfully responding to crises around the world.
And we’ve launched important reforms that the President noted -- reforms that will prepare this institution for the challenges facing us in decades to come. I believe we have set not only this department –- the Department of Defense -– but the nation on the stronger course toward security, stability and prosperity. If I didn’t believe that, I would not have done this job.
As our country prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving I want to –- you, Mr. President, and you, Vice President Biden, -– acknowledge what you have done and how grateful I am to both of you for your leadership and your friendship and for giving me this opportunity to serve our country once again.
I will continue to support you, Mr. President, and the men and women who defend this country every day so unselfishly; and their families, what they do for our country, so unselfishly. And as I have said –- and as the President noted –- I will stay on this job and work just as hard as I have over the last couple of years, every day, every moment, until my successor is confirmed by the United States Senate.
I’d also like to express my gratitude to our colleagues on Capitol Hill -- my gratitude to them for their support of me, but more importantly their support of our troops and their families and their continued commitment to our National Security.
I also want to thank my international counterparts for their friendship and their partnership and their advice during my time as Secretary of Defense. Their involvement with me and their partnership with me -- in so many of these important areas as we build these coalitions of common interests as you have noted, Mr. President –- are so critically important and to them, I am grateful I will be forever grateful.
And finally I’d like to thank my family. My wife Lilibet, who you have mentioned, Mr. President, who was with me this morning as she has been with me throughout so many years, and during so many tremendous experiences. And this experience and opportunity and privilege to serve as Secretary of Defense has been one of those; and to my daughter Allyn and my son Ziller.
Mr. President, again, thank you. To you and to all of our team everywhere, as we know Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, it is a team effort. And that’s part of the fun of it, to help build teams and to work together to make things happen for the good of the country and make a better world. For all of that I am immensely grateful. And to all of you, your families, happy Thanksgiving. Thank you very much.
The repeated use of "Chuck" in Barack's remarks were most likely an effort to make shoving Hagel out of a moving car seem far kinder than it was.
Selena Hill (Latin Post) notes:
[. . .] inside sources say that the former Nebraska senator was forced out by the president, CNN reports. According to officials, the White House lost confidence in Hagel's ability to effectively lead in the Pentagon. Plus, the former Republican senator faced pressure as criticism of the president's national security team on a series of global issues mounted, including the threat of the Islamic State.
“This announcement shows when you don’t have a strategy, it’s hard to come up w/a team to help you implement a strategy,” said GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri on Twitter. GOP Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland tweeted, “Pres Obama’s national security policy is failing & world is in turmoil. It will take more than changing the Sec of Defense to fix it.” Similarly, House Speaker John Boehner thanked Hagel for his service but added, “New #SecDef isn’t enough…” And in an expanded statement, Boehner said Hagel’s replacement must accompany a “larger re-thinking” of the America’s military strategy, suggesting GOP lawmakers will take a tough-as-nails approach during the next confirmation process.
Hagel has agreed to hang on until his successor can be confirmed. That person will be number four. He or she will follow Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel. Four.
Since January 2009, Barack has required 4 US Ambassadors to Iraq as well: Chris Hill, James Jeffrey, Robert Steven Beecroft and Stuart Jones. Four.
When the US could have provided stability, it provided a non-stop state of flux.
Mark Thompson (Time magazine) speaks with a wide range of observers and insiders.
Retired Army general Jack Keane, who advocated for the surge in Iraq, says the White House has meddled with Pentagon prerogatives as the ISIS threat has grown over the past year, including videotaped beheadings of five Westerners, three of them American. “The policy is wrong and Hagel was pushing back on it,” Keane says, confirming what some Pentagon officials say privately.
Defense officials say White House meetings on dealing with ISIS often ended without a decision, which would be made later by Obama, aided by National Security Advisor Susan Rice and her deputy, Ben Rhodes. “That’s very frustrating for a secretary of defense,” Keane adds, “who feels on the outside when it comes to issues that are in their domain.”
Rice has long been a target inside the administration, even as she garnered sympathy as a Congressional scapegoat in the post-Benghazi hullaballoo. “The problems reach much higher than the secretary of defense,” a second Obama national-security aide said.
Medea Benjamin (at Antiwar.com) offers:
The talk about resetting President Obama’s security team is misplaced; we should be focusing instead on resetting his bellicose policies. Secretary Chuck Hagel’s resignation should be a time for the nation to step back and reexamine its violent approach to extremism, which has led to an expansion of terrorist groups, and inflated military spending. Let’s put more emphasis on the State Department and political solutions instead of continuing failed wars and starting new ones. We owe it to the youth of our nation who have never lived without war.
Saturday, we did a mini-scorecard on new Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi which included this:
In fairness, Haider al-Abadi can point to one bit of success. AFP reports, "The Iraqi government transferred $500 million to the autonomous Kurdish region on Wednesday as part of a deal aimed at ending long-running oil and budget disputes, the finance minister said." Press TV explains:
Hoshyar Zebari said in Baghdad on Wednesday that his ministry transferred the sum to the account of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) earlier in the day under the deal which requires Iraq to resume funding Kurdish civil servant salaries in return for a share of Kurdish oil exports.
He said the KRG began supplying 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day to State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) storage tanks in the Turkish port city of Ceyhan on Tuesday.
"This mutual implementation means that the two sides are ready to resolve all the other issues and all the issues are up for discussion," Zebari stated.
That isn't minor. For over a year now, the Kurds have been denied their part of the federal budget. Nouri al-Maliki, the former prime minister and forever thug, attempted to use the federal budget to blackmail the Kurds.
So resolving this isn't minor.
What's that smell?
Oh, thug and former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki emerged from the sewer he thrives in. Rudaw reports Nouri belched up a critique of the deal:
Iraq’s vice president and former prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has criticized a recent oil and budget agreement between Baghdad and Erbil, saying the deal “is merely a show of compassion.”
Rudaw notes Nouri is also using his TV channel, Afaq TV, to attack the deal.
Thug Nouri spent last week publicly meeting with various Shi'ite militias.
Why he's being allowed to sew dissent is beyond me. He needs to be kicked out of the prime minister's house because he's no longer prime minister and some of the laws he insisted upon should probably be applied to him and his actions -- if they are, he'll be behind bars.
He's very fortunate that Haider al-Abadi seems to have more respect for freedoms -- including freedom of speech -- than Nouri himself did or does.
Maybe justice will come to Nouri in the form of a bullet? Live by the sword and all of that.
Nouri is a criminal, a War Criminal. Let's drop back to the December 30, 2013 snapshot:
Sunday, December 22nd, Nouri yet again called peaceful protesters 'terrorists' and announced he would stop the protests.
He wanted to attack last Tuesday but a last minute flurry of meetings by various officials and political blocs caused Nouri to withdraw the forces he had encircling the Ramadi protest square. Then came Friday. From that day's snapshot:
Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports Nouri al-Maliki again threatened the protesters today. He declared this will be their last Friday protest and that he will burn the tents in the protest squares down. He declared that the protesters were guilty of sedition. Sedition? Nouri as William Bligh? I can see it. Kitabat notes that he made these remarks in a televised interview. Kitabat also notes Nouri's been insisting 30 terrorist leaders are hiding in protest tents.
We still can't get to today yet.
That's Falluja on Saturday as tons poured into the street to protest Nouri's latest stunt.
They were protesting the Saturday dawn raid that Nouri's forces carried out on an MP. MP Ahmed al-Alwani was illegally arrested. But there's more. Alsumaria reported that his home was stormed by Nouri's SWAT forces at dawn and that 5 people (bodyguards and family) were killed (this included his brother) while ten family members (including children) were left injured.
By now, we all know the drill.
What is al-Alwani?
Yes, he's Sunni.
And he's also, we all know this, a member of Iraqiya.
If you're targeted by Nouri, then you are both things.
Or, as conservative Max Boot (Commentary) put it today, "If it’s the end of December or the beginning of January, it must be time for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to arrest another prominent Sunni politician."
The people of Anbar did not respond well to Nouri breaking the law and arresting an MP.
Today, All Iraq News reports it's been decided to put former MP Ahmed al-Alwani to death. He was arrested December 29, 2013 the outlet notes. His brother was killed in the arrest ordered by thug Nouri al-Maliki, an arrest that was actually a raid in the early, pre-dawn hours of the morning.
This will have huge implications.
For example, the tribe he belongs to is one of the key tribes in the fight against the Islamic State. Equally true, his arrest (and the murder of his brother) outraged the Sunni community.
This is the wrong time to be executing a Sunni politician -- with the new prime minister Haider al-Abaidi having done nothing of significance to improve Sunni relations or to include them in the government.
Salam Faraq and Ammar Karim (AFP) report:
Sheikh Omar al-Alwani, a leader of the Albu Alwan, said that any decision about Alwani should be put on hold and that the verdict could harm the fight against IS.
"All the Albu Alwan tribe is standing against (IS) on the side of the government," but "half of the Albu Alwan fighters will withdraw if they actually executed Alwani in these circumstances," the sheikh said, adding that even the former MP's guards were fighting against IS.
He said the government should wait until the fighting is over and IS defeated, then "take any decision it considers appropriate."
Back to Nouri. NINA reports al-Abadia has dismissed Adman al-Asadi as Senior Under Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior. al-Asadi is a Nouri cohort/crony. Nouri needs to be kicked out of the government himself that. Throughout the weekend, he spoke in various parts of south Iraq and issued crackpot 'explanations' for the fall of Mosul that blamed the local government. Nouri stated the local government allowed Mosul to fall in an attempt to destroy Iraq. These baseless charges need to be called out and as Nouri continues to attempt to sew unrest in Iraq, his own post as vice president (he's one of three vice presidents) needs to be rethought.
Senator Patty Murray serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Johnny Isakson is a member of the Senate Finance Committee and also serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Senator Murray's office issued the following today:
For Immediate Release CONTACT: Murray (202) 224-2834
Monday, November 24, 2014 Isakson (202) 224-7777
Murray, Isakson Lead Bipartisan Letter Pressing Army Secretary on “Grave Concern” Over Retirement Benefits
In letter to Army Secretary McHugh, Senators call for immediate reversal of policy forcing officers to retire at highest enlisted rank
Current policy results in significant decrease in lifetime retirement benefits, for some as much as $1,000 per month or more
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) led a bipartisan group of colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh over the Army’s treatment of a significant number of captains and majors who are former non-commissioned officers and are being forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank as a result of the Army’s use of Enhanced-Selective Early Retirement Boards (E-SERB). This will result in a significant decrease in lifetime retirement benefits for the impacted soldiers, for some as much as $1,000 per month or more, or just over $1 million over a 40 year retirement in the case of a captain forced to retire as a sergeant first class.
“These former non-commissioned officers answered the Army’s call for volunteers to attend Officer Candidate School as the Army expanded its officer corps to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, despite having served for years as commissioned officers and rising through the ranks to become captains and majors, these dedicated soldiers will soon be forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank,” the Senators wrote in their letter. “To demote these soldiers in retirement is an injustice that devalues their service and will materially disadvantage them and their families for the rest of their lives… We strongly urge you to take the necessary steps to rectify this situation in order to allow these soldiers to retire at the rank they have earned and appropriately honor their service to our nation.”
Under current law a soldier must serve at least 8 years of active service as a commissioned officer in order to retire as a commissioned officer. Soldiers who serve 20 years total, but less than 8 years as commissioned officers are retired at their highest enlisted rank. During the “Grow the Army” effort the Army dramatically increased the number of officers commissioned via its Officer Candidate School (OCS). The Army expanded to a post 9-11 peak of 570,000 soldiers in 2010 and is currently executing an aggressive end strength reduction designed to shrink the Army to 450,000 soldiers. Many of those OCS graduates are now being forced to retire through the E-SERB process as the Army shrinks. Officers with more than 18 years active service are screened by E-SERB and those selected will be forced to retire on the first day of the month following the month they reach 20 years of service. These former non-commissioned officers stepped up and volunteered for OCS at a time the Army badly needed officers and served honorably for between 6 and 7 years. Now, many are being retired at enlisted ranks they have not held in years. This is particularly disturbing because had they ignored the Army’s call for officers most would have been promoted at least once more and been eligible to retire at a higher enlisted rank.
Senators Murray and Isakson were joined in sending the letter by: Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Bernard Sanders (D-VT) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
Read a one-page summary of the issue here.
The full text of the letter is as follows:
November 19, 2014
The Honorable John McHugh
Secretary of the Army
101 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-0101
Dear Secretary McHugh:
We write to express our grave concern over the Army’s treatment of a significant number of Army captains and majors who are former non-commissioned officers. These former non-commissioned officers answered the Army’s call for volunteers to attend Officer Candidate School as the Army expanded its officer corps to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, despite having served for years as commissioned officers and rising through the ranks to become captains and majors, these dedicated soldiers will soon be forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank. This will result in a significant decrease in lifetime retirement benefits for the impacted soldiers, approximately $1,000 per month or just over $1 million over a 40 year retirement in the case of a captain forced to retire as a sergeant first class. This is simply unacceptable.
These former non-commissioned officers have been placed in this untenable position as a result of the Army’s use of Enhanced-Selective Early Retirement Boards (E-SERB). Officers selected by the boards are forced to retire as soon as they reach 20 years of service. Unfortunately, under current law a soldier must serve at least 8 years of active service as a commissioned officer in order to retire as a commissioned officer. Soldiers who serve 20 years total, but less than 8 years as commissioned officers are retired at their highest enlisted rank. While this requirement makes sense in the case of soldiers who choose to retire, are passed over for multiple promotions, or are forced to retire due to misconduct, none of those cases applies to the soldiers in question. On the contrary, Army Human Resources Command has explicitly acknowledged that E-SERB will separate fully qualified officers “who have rendered quality service to the nation.” To demote these soldiers in retirement is an injustice that devalues their service and will materially disadvantage them and their families for the rest of their lives.
Rather than forcing these officers to retire as soon as they reach 20 years of service, the Army could modify its E-SERB policy to delay the mandatory retirement date of affected soldiers until the first month after they become eligible to retire as commissioned officers. For many of the affected soldiers this would extend their time in service by only a few months. We strongly urge you to take the necessary steps to rectify this situation in order to allow these soldiers to retire at the rank they have earned and appropriately honor their service to our nation.
United States Senator
United States Senator
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834
national iraqi news agency
the latin post