The True Story Of Labor Day: Debunking The Myth

First Labor Day Union Square,  New York

As we enter the Labor Day weekend, many on the left will repeat the myth that Labor Day has no historical significance and is simply a “gift” from capitalist politicians to break up the international solidarity of American workers by providing an alternative to May Day. For many years, I accepted this myth, even while marching with my union comrades in the annual Labor Day Parades in Wilmington, California. Then I learned that the first Labor Day was in 1882, four years BEFORE Haymarket and eight years BEFORE the first international May Day in 1890. How, then, could it have originated as an alternative to May Day? A little historical research revealed a much different, and more complex. This research showed that both Labor Day and May Day grew out of American labor struggles in the 1880s and, surprisingly, that the same man, Peter J. McGuire (1852-1906), who founded the International Brotherhood of Carpenters, is claimed as the “father” of both Labor Day and May Day!

Ezell Ford Mourners Say Farewell, Call For Justice

Ezell Ford funeral

Mourners come by the hundreds to lay Ezell Ford to rest and to protest his fatal shooting by police ‘This is the breaking point,’ Maurice Bull, one of Ezell Ford’s cousins, said outside the funeral service On a breezy Saturday morning in southwest Los Angeles, they came by the hundreds to lay Ezell Ford to rest and to protest the fatal shooting by police of an unarmed black man struggling with mental illness. “This is the breaking point,” Maurice Bull, 46, one of Ford’s cousins, said outside the funeral service at First African Methodist Episcopal Church, the city’s oldest black pulpit. “It’s got to stop.” Conflicting accounts have emerged about the Aug. 11 killing of Ford, 25, who family said had been diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia. The funeral program described Ford as the life of the party in his younger years, who after the onset of mental illness became a “drifter” who walked the neighborhood “endlessly,” asking for cigarettes.

Climate Change Should Be Part Of Environmental Reviews

Climate change earth melting. Source Bruce Rolff, Shutterstock

The initial February 2008 legal petition issued by the plaintiffs was rather simple: the White House’s Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) should provide guidance to federal agencies it coordinates with to weigh climate change impacts when utilizing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on energy policy decisions. A legal process completely skirted in recent prominent tar sands pipeline cases by both TransCanada and Enbridge, NEPA is referred to by legal scholars as the“Magna Carta” of environmental law. In the midst of the procedural lawsuit filed against it, CEQ finally responded to the 2008 petition for the first time on August 7, writing a ten-page denial letter to the plaintiffs. The conclusion of this legal battle royale, at least for now, occurred just over a month after Judge R. Brooke Jackson struck down a coal mining expansion plan proposed in Colorado at the West Elk coal mine owned by Arch Coal. Jackson cited climate change in his judgment, saying several federal agencies that originally permitted the mine expansion proposal did not consider climate impacts when they did their NEPA analysis and accompanying environmental impact statement (EIS).

The Covert Origins Of ISIS

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The Islamic militant group ISIS, formerly known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and recently rebranded as the so called Islamic State, is the stuff of nightmares. They are ruthless, fanatical, killers, on a mission, and that mission is to wipe out anyone and everyone, from any religion or belief system and to impose Shari’ah law. The mass executions, beheadings and even crucifixions that they are committing as they work towards this goal are flaunted like badges of pride, video taped and uploaded for the whole world to see. This is the new face of evil. Would it interest you to know who helped these psychopaths rise to power? Would it interest you to know who armed them, funded them and trained them? Would it interest you to know why?

Protesters: Senators Menendez and Booker ‘No more blank check for Israel'

Protest blood on US senators hands

On Tuesday August 26, 2014, more than 50 demonstrators protested outside the Newark, New Jersey, offices of U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker demanding that the legislators stop providing a blank check for Israel’s crimes. Thirteen demonstrators were arrested inside the building as they read out the names of some of the nearly 500 Palestinian children killed in Gaza. The U.S. Senate has played a shameful role during the recent Israeli assault on Gaza, twice voting 100-0 to give its full support to Israel, saying nothing about its violations of international humanitarian law (indeed, condemning the United Nations’ Human Rights Council for deigning to investigate war crimes), nothing about the blockade of Gaza, and nothing about the occupation, while promising Israel still more weapons.

Labor Must Face Up To The Realities Of Climate Change

Climate Change protest Our Climate Our Future

Today the American labor movement — like the rest of American society and like labor movements throughout the world — is being forced to grapple with global warming, climate chaos, and climate protection strategies. The future of labor’s growth and vitality will depend on its ability to play a central role in the movement to build a sustainable future for the planet and its people. Climate change changes everything: Everything about how we organize society, how we conduct politics, even how we think of progress. For us in the labor movement, it must change how we envision the role of an organized labor movement in society. Society will change – either through the effects of climate degradation or through a colossal struggle to avert it. Labor has to decide whether to fight the transition to a climate-safe society or to help lead it.

First Time Protest At Bankers Meeting In Jackson Hole, WY

Protesters at Jackson Hole Fed meeting

This year’s Jackson Hole hobnob, once again hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, last week attracted the usual assortment of central bankers, finance ministers, and influential business journalists. But this year’s gathering also attracted something else: protesters. For the first time ever, activists converged on Jackson Hole — to let the Fed’s central bankers know, as protest organizers put it, that “it’s not just the rich who are watching them.” Over 70 groups and unions backed the protest and signed onto an open letter that calls on America’s central bankers to start nurturing an economy that works for workers. At one point, early on in the Jackson Hole gathering, protesters actually had a brief exchange with Federal Reserve Board chair Janet Yellin. “We understand the issues you’re talking about,” Yellin told them, “and we’re doing everything we can.”

Preserve The Evidence: Activists Guide To Video Archiving

Cell phone videos police

As we have seen recently with the police abuse cases across the country and as we saw during the occupy encampments, citizens video is critical not just to creating our own media but for documenting what occurs. Repeatedly citizens video has the made the difference between whether people are aware an injustice occurred and has been critical evidence in achieving justice. This guide describes how video should be archived. Who is this Guide for? You are a human rights activist, a small or grassroots human rights organization, or media collective; You are creating or collecting digital video to document human rights abuses or issues, and; You want to make sure that the video documentation you have created or collected can be used for advocacy, as evidence, for education or historical memory – not just now but into the future…. But you are not sure where to begin, or you are stuck on a particular problem. If this is you, then this Guide is for you.

Follow Government Corruption This Election Season

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Navigating the intricate webs in which money influences politics can be a tricky business. Some reporters try scanning state and federal electoral financial reports, for example, then balancing those numbers with politicians’ legislative agendas and voting records – a daunting task, to say the least. With an additional torrent of dark money contributions flooding the scene of late, and a proliferation of shadowy “non-profit” advocacy groups further muddying the waters, one’s tempted to give up the hunt for fiscal political truth altogether. However, even as those doling out cash in exchange for policies continue to inject more green into our elections with every passing Supreme Court decision, a group of watchdogs at Maplight has upped the ante by introducing a new interactive tool to track not only the level and location of political donations, but how the money impacts specific pieces of legislation.

Reform To Expose Big Political Donors Losing In California

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The biggest reason why it will be so hard to get money out of politics is that there’s so much money in politics. The system favors incumbents, from incumbent politicians to their incumbent funders. And they have little incentive to shake up the status quo that brought them to power, even if their constituents and their ideological principles call out for reform. This is precisely what’s playing out in California. One of the most liberal legislatures in the country has struggled to pass a campaign finance measure that would merely force disclosure on political advertising, because several labor unions that spend heavily on campaigns oppose it. This has infuriated progressive groups in California and across the nation. The bill, known as the California DISCLOSE Act, is based on the national DISCLOSE Act that came within one vote of passage back in 2010.

Over 1,000 Protest In Ferguson, Call For Highway Shutdown Monday

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More than 1,000 people protested in Ferguson today. There was a call to action at the event. Organizers at the rally called on demonstrators to drive on Interstate 70 and other area highways at 4:30 p.m. Monday, turn their hazard lights on and stop their vehicles for four and a half minutes to symbolize the four and a half hours that Mr. Brown’s body lay in the street. “We’re going to tie it down, lock it down,” Anthony Shahid, one of the lead organizers of the rally, told supporters from the stage at a park. The following week, if the coalition’s demands were not met, including that Officer Wilson be fired and arrested on charges of murder, another four-minute traffic shutdown would occur on two days instead of just one, he said.

The Biggest Tax Scam Ever

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This is the reality of our political system in 2014: In what should be a titanic battle between multinational corporate power and federal power, our elected representatives are hardly putting up a fight. Obama has been a sharp critic of corporate tax avoidance. Yet the offshore corporate earnings stash has nearly doubled on his watch. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has unleashed blistering attacks on corporations like Walgreens that have threatened to renounce their U.S. citizenship for tax purposes. And he has said he’s “ready to roll” on a vote for a (sure-to-fail) Democratic bill that seeks a two-year moratorium on inversions. Yet Reid has also been shopping a stand-alone tax-holiday proposal, rewarding multinational tax avoiders with a 9.5 percent rate. Reid’s partner in this effort? Kentucky Republican Rand Paul – who’s been courting right-wing billionaire David Koch.

Clear Demands Needed At People's Climate March

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A big tent, as in, the circus is coming to town… But this tent is so big that it even includes organizations that support fracking and the tar sands gigaproject. Yup, they’re in the tent, too. Call me crazy, but I think that tent is too damn big. According to some of the organizers, as long as everyone agrees that climate action is needed, then it’s all good. But are all climate actions created equal? No. In fact, there is another entity called The Climate Group that is planning a whole week of activities around the Ban Ki-moon summit to call for “climate action.” Who is this Climate Group? They are a self-described “campaign” whose goal is a “low carbon economy.” Okay, so? Well, their idea of action on climate change includes many “solutions” debunked as false by the global climate justice movement, including carbon capture and storage, and other technologies that allow business as usual to bounce happily along while the planet slowly burns. This is not surprising since The Climate Group’s corporate partners include Duke Energy, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Greenstone, Nike and many others.

Ferguson A 'Pilot Program' For Community Response

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The National Lawyers Guild had legal observers on the ground in Ferguson to monitor protests against the killing of unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, by a Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. They were also present to help with jail support for community residents. But, while working, four of the NLG’s observers fell victim to the police occupation they were trying to help Ferguson fight and were arrested. As Dennis Black, one of the legal observers arrested, commented, “Ferguson is a pilot program of what’s to come when communities respond to police brutality.” He and others had traveled from Detroit to see a preview of what police might do to squelch uprisings there. Black and two other volunteers were arrested on August 21 about 10:30 pm.

In Corporations, It's Owner Take All

IBM, cloudcomputing

With companies lavishing virtually all their net income on shareholders and executives, the way many of them cover their actual business expenses — their R&D, their expansion — is by taking on debt through the sale of corporate bonds. A number of companies, however — most prominently, IBM — borrow specifically to increase their payout to shareholders. And IBM is not alone. Friday’s Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. companies are currently incurring record levels of debt, much of which, the Journal noted, “is being used to refinance existing debt, being sent back to shareholders as dividend payments and share buybacks, or banked in the corporate treasury as executives consider how to potentially deploy funds as the economy expands.” Many of the companies that have spent the most on buybacks, Lazonick demonstrates, have also received taxpayer money to fund research they could otherwise afford to perform themselves.