Hundreds of Frito-Lay workers in Topeka, Kan., are in their third week of a strike, citing so-called "suicide shifts" and poor working conditions at the manufacturing and distribution plant at a time when the company's net revenue growth has exceeded all of its targets.
Employees say sweltering 90-degree temperatures on the picket line are preferable to the 100-degree-plus heat that awaits them inside the manufacturing warehouse on any given summer day. They're demanding an end to mandatory overtime and 84-hour weeks that they argue leaves little room for a meaningful quality of life. They're also seeking raises that match cost-of-living increases.
The company, which is owned by PepsiCo, disputes their claims, calling them "grossly exaggerated" and says a recent contract offer delivered earlier this month more than met the terms put forward by the workers' union, Local 218 of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union.
Meanwhile, workers say they want more concessions before heading back into the factory. They have also called for a national boycott on Frito-Lay products, as well as those produced by PepsiCo, for the remainder of the strike. If successful, the boycott would mean living in a world without Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos, Tostitos and Sun Chips. Temporarily, at least.
This week's grocery trip? I got Pringles for the kids to snack on and I got Diet Coke. My grandkids love chips and I will explain why we are doing Pringles instead of the usual Lays and Cheetos, etc. Myself? I drink Pepsi. Have my whole life. Switched to Diet Pepsi about a year ago when I was concerned about diabetes (I do not have it but it does run in my family). But for the duration of the strike, I will be drinking Diet Coke. I will not knowingly bring any Frito-Lay-Pepsi products into my home during the strike.
This is Jimmy Dore covering the Frito Lay strike.
Now this is Richard Medhurst.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Thursday, July 22, 2021. As Muarafa al-Kadhimi prepares to meet with US President Joe Biden, many Iraqis make requests to Joe.
People in conflict are at risk around the world. 17-year-old Ali Adil is only one such person. Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports:
An Iraqi social media influencer has attracted the attention of top officials in Washington with a plea to President Joe Biden to help him seek refuge outside of the country.
High school pupil Ali Adil, 17, has been using social media platforms for the last five years to convey the struggles of young Iraqis as they experience few employment opportunities, electricity cuts, poor public services and deteriorating security.
His effort to publicise his plight was spotted by a top US diplomat in the Middle East, Joey Hood, acting assistant secretary at the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.
In his latest video posted on Instagram, Ali is seen standing on a rooftop on a hot summer's day with the sound of gunshots in the background, telling Mr Biden that he will “commit suicide and jump from the building” if he does not receive help from Washington.
“Biden if you don’t help me I will jump, I’m not joking with you, I’m on the rooftop, if you don’t help me I will die, can you hear the fire in the background? This is normal in Iraq,” the teenager said.
In addition to the global pandemic, there is widespread unemployment in Iraq, failing public services due to widespread political corruption and ongoing security concerns.
Protests have continued in the country since 2019 over various issues including frequent electricity shortages and power outages and lack of accountability for the targeting of activists.
Acting Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Joey Hood picked up on the video, recording his own response: "Please Allawi, we in America love you, do not jump, I'm not Joe Biden, but Joey Hood, and life is precious."
"Iraq needs you; your voice is important for Iraq, I cannot bring you to the US but if I ever visit Iraq I'll make sure to see you."
Joey Hood, acting assistant secretary of the US State Department Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, later responded to Adil, pleading with him not to jump.
“We in America love you,” Hood said, encouraging the young Iraqi to vote in elections to change the country’s future.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi hosted Adil at his office in Baghdad on Wednesday, stressing that he told the young man he had “complete freedom” to criticize the government.
Ali has "complete freedom" to speak his mind? The only ones with complete freedom in Iraq are the assassins in the security forces (militias) who kill with impunity. We'll note this Tweet:
That's the 'freedom' the Iraqi people see on the streets of their country, the 'freedom' of assassins. The people? They suffer.
July 26th, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kahdimi will visit with US President Joe Biden. Will anyone in the press pool for that photo-op dare to bring up Ali? Are they too scared to mention the 17-year-old's name?
They probably are too scared. They've gotten their marching orders, sell the failure Mustafa for a second term as prime minister. If you can't outright lie to create a positive buzz around him, just say he's the best that Iraq could have, right?
Mustafa's Iraq? Margaret Stanton (The Organization For World Peace) explains:
Dozens of people died in a fire at Al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in Nasiriyah, Iraq. There are various reports disputing the death toll, from the Health Ministry saying 60 to Iraq’s state news industry reporting 92 deaths. This is the second deadly fire to occur in one of Iraq’s coronavirus wards in three months. The police announced that sparks from a faulty wiring system caused an oxygen tank to explode, leading to the fire. Additionally, reports on the hospital’s condition highlighted the lack of basic safety infrastructures, like fire sprinkler systems and fire alarms.
An anonymous medic told Reuters, “[W]e complained many times… that a tragedy could happen any moment from a cigarette stub, but every time we get the same answer from health officials: ‘We don’t have enough money’.” According to Johns Hopkins University, Iraq has experienced over 17,000 deaths and 1.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases. It is experiencing a third wave due to the delta variant. The country’s hospitals, which were already neglected from decades of war and widespread corruption, have been severely overwhelmed and strained by the pandemic.
Iraq’s new isolation wards are missing crucial safety measures, causing doctors and patients alike to fear the hospitals. “[…When I’m on call I numb myself because every hospital in Iraq is at high risk of burning down every single moment,” said Hadeel al-Ashabl, a Baghdad doctor working in an isolation ward like the one in Nasiriyah. Although patients refuse treatment inside hospitals, “it’s also out of their hands.” Local media reported that 13 arrest warrants were issued, including one for the province’s health chief Saddam Sahib al-Taweel by the Integrity Investigation Court. As the government is trying to investigate and find out who is responsible for the fire, angry relatives clashed with police, setting fire to two police vehicles, a Reuters witness said.
Mustafa's Iraq? Fuwaz Turki (GULF NEWS) also details Mustafa's Iraq:
Why? Why has it come to this in so many countries in the Arab World, a world once known to an earlier generation as the Arab Nation, where Arabs were confident that one day, and soon, they would live as one united people possessed of a dynamic voice in the global dialogue of cultures?
[. . .]
Next Monday, US President Joe Biden will host Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi at the White House. Were I the American president I would have some rancorous words to say to the Iraqi prime minister, directed clearly not at the visiting diplomat personally but at the excesses that his government has allowed those “political parties” responsible for the tragedy in Nasiriya to get away with.
The fires in Al Hussein and Ibn Al-Khatib hospitals are symptomatic of the larger issue of systemic political corruption in Iraq. This has allowed the same political elites that were empowered by the US and its allies in 2003 to hold on to the reins of government for over 18 years, without providing even the most basic of services to their citizens.
The deterioration of public services in Iraq can be traced back to the Iran-Iraq war when spending on public goods was already being cut. This deficit was later exacerbated by the most comprehensive sanctions programme to be placed on any country in history, making it difficult to procure medicines and equipment from abroad or to provide comprehensive training to medical professionals.
Following the implementation of the Muhasasa Al Ta'ifia or the ethno-sectarian apportionment system in 2003, the health system began to deteriorate even further.
This new political system, which was supposed to ensure rights and representation for all, has actually meant that after every election cabinet positions and civil service jobs are divided between the dominant ethno-sectarian political parties. These same parties then appoint their most loyal civil servants to key positions within the ministries they gain. In turn, they use their positions to embezzle public funds and ensure that they end up in party coffers.
A recent Chatham House report revealed that senior civil service positions have become so lucrative that in recent election negotiations, parties opted to obtain these posts over cabinet positions as means of ensuring that public funds go back into their pockets. This means that instead of funding vital public infrastructure such as health services, political parties use public money to fund their own activities and interests.
Who among the US press will bring reality to the photo-op next Monday? Probably no one. They're not their to tell the truth, after all, they're present to advance a narrative and narratives are pre-determined.
Mustafa offers faux rage from time to time which always fits the narrative. He never does anything. He okays a US bombing of Iraq and then he offers public statements (a) pretending to be shocked by the bombing he knew about and (b) pretending to be outraged. He is in it for Iraq, he lies. When Iraqi citizens are shot down in the streets by Mustafa's own forces, he won't even bring the killers to justice. When Iraqi women are raped, he doesn't give a damn. Matthew Russell Lee (INNER CITY PRES) reports:
Hypocrisy on Iraq by the UN
under Antonio Guterres is on
display. Guterres has covered
up the rapes of Iraqis by UN
former staff member Karim
Elkorany, arrested then freed
on $500,000 bond on September
2, 2020 in connection with
drugging and raping women in
Iraq while working for the UN
in 2016, then allegedly lying
to the FBI about it in 2017.
July 21, 2021, with Guterres'
main spokesman / censor
Stephane Dujarric on extended
vacation, the UN Security
Council issued a boiler plate
statement while refusing to do
any oversight of UN rapes, or
Guterres' censorship: "The
members of the Security
Council condemned in the
strongest terms the cowardly
terrorist attack in Baghdad,
Iraq, on Monday, 19 July 2021.
The attack, which was claimed
by Islamic State in Iraq and
the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh),
resulted in at least 30 deaths
and at least 50
The members of the Security
Council expressed their
deepest sympathy and
condolences to the families of
the victims and to the
Government of Iraq, and they
wished a speedy and full
recovery to those who were
The members of the Security
Council reiterated their
support for the independence,
democratic process and
The members of the Security
Council reaffirmed that
terrorism in all its forms and
manifestations constitutes one
of the most serious threats to
international peace and
The members of the Security
Council underlined the need to
hold perpetrators, organizers,
financiers and sponsors of
these reprehensible acts of
terrorism accountable and
bring them to justice, and
urged all States, in
accordance with their
international law and relevant
Security Council resolutions,
to cooperate actively with the
Government of Iraq and all
other relevant authorities in
belatedly unsealed on October
29 said Elkorany raped a UN
contractor, in the US and
Dohuk, Iraq. And still the UN
9, another brief status
conference in the case, which
Inner City Press live tweeted:
says the US is reviewing more
Elkorany's lawyer Dawn Cardi asks for 90 more days' delay, since some of the discovery is marked "Restricted."
Mustafa is a failure. Fires are breaking out in hospitals due to lack of oversight. Hospital staff are quitting because Mustafa never fixes anything, just fires and arrests people. Installing fire alarms and fire sprinklers? Mustafa won't get off his lazy ass and order that. And, in the midst of a pandemic, there are no real precautions to protect the Iraqi people. Dijilah Tweets:
We're going to wind down with Black Alliance for Peace. First, BLACK AGENDA REPORT'S Margaret Kimberley speaking about whistleblower Daniel Hale.
And now this statement from BAP:
For Immediate Release
JULY 16, 2021—The Black Alliance for Peace stands in solidarity with the sentiments and positions the Black Lives Matter coalition recently expressed on U.S. policies on Cuba. The moral hypocrisy and historic myopia of U.S. liberals and conservatives, who have unfairly attacked BLM’s statement on Cuba, is breathtaking.
Their reaction comes on the heels of another in a series of annual votes in the United Nations, when most of the world’s countries—except for the United States and Israel—overwhelmingly supported ending the murderous six-decade-long economic embargo against Cuba.
Not only do Democrats and Republicans join hands to defy the world by refusing to lift the embargo. U.S. congresspeople as well as the anti-communist and anti-Black corporate press display their duplicity by continuing the subversion against Cuba. This only demonstrates for oppressed working-class and colonized people—once again—that the U.S. ruling class remains united in its hostility to any socialist project and sees all such attempts by global South nations as existential threats to the rule of capital.
BAP welcomes the principled stance taken by BLM and hopes BLM will continue to be a visible force in the ongoing struggle against war, subversion, militarism, intervention and the economic exploitation that is at the center of U.S. imperial policies. Too often, BAP has been a lone voice in opposition, a position fundamental to the Black Radical Tradition.
Progressive Black forces are making the connections between the U.S. reaction to Cuba, Haiti, Colombia and the United States deploying its military on the African continent in the form of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). That connection links back to the United States when we understand these policies are directly related to the militarization and violence of police forces in the United States and to the economic and social crisis of the capitalist system.
It is only by making those connections and building an effective unified Black working class-based opposition that real leadership can be given to the movement for substantial social change in the United States. BAP sees this as the historic task of the current Black revolutionary movement. Going forward, BAP hopes we will be able to find a way toward the unity of all Black, colonized, working-class and poor people in the United States.
The following sites updated: