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No Comparison: Thoughtcrime Reflections on the Latest Imperial Smackdown of the Nation’s Best Congressperson

Counterpunch Articles -

United States political culture is an Orwellian nightmare. Two plus two equals five in the propaganda spectacle that passes for “democratic” news and debate here. Take the latest bipartisan establishment disciplining of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the U.S. House’s most courageous and eloquent member, for saying this: “We must have the same level of accountability More

The post No Comparison: Thoughtcrime Reflections on the Latest Imperial Smackdown of the Nation’s Best Congressperson appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Can Critical Race Theory Reframe American History Successfully?

Counterpunch Articles -

For the first time in four decades, we have a new national holiday, the Juneteenth National Independence Day. It celebrates the liberation of Black American slaves from the last city enslaving them in Galveston, Texas. All the Senate Republicans, and all but fourteen of the Republicans in the House, voted in favor of establishing the More

The post Can Critical Race Theory Reframe American History Successfully? appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Losing Democracy

Counterpunch Articles -

“Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy . . .” – Plato, The Republic, circa 375 B.C. Leave it to the Republicans, and the “American experiment with fascism,” as a former White House official wrote, will become something permanent. Our democracy will be nothing more than a veneer, as in Hungary. And this un-American backdrop as More

The post Losing Democracy appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Vaccine Failings: The European Commission and AstraZeneca

Counterpunch Articles -

In the messy, underhanded world of global health responses to COVID-19 it was only appropriate that lawyers should find themselves enriched on respective sides of a dispute about vaccine supply.  The pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has been getting a good deal of bad press, with its COVID vaccines seen to be a riskier proposition, notably to More

The post Vaccine Failings: The European Commission and AstraZeneca appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Power, Wealth, and Justice in the Time of Covid-19

Counterpunch Articles -

Fifteen months ago, the SARS-CoV-2 virus unleashed Covid-19. Since then, it’s killed more than 3.8 million people worldwide (and possibly many more). Finally, a return to normalcy seems likely for a distinct minority of the world’s people, those living mainly in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and China. That’s not More

The post Power, Wealth, and Justice in the Time of Covid-19 appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Crackdowns in Washington Square Park, Then and Now

Counterpunch Articles -

Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village in New York City was one of the two epicenters of the youth movement of the middle to late 1960s and the early 1970s, the other being the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. I knew the Village and the park intimately since I was a graduate student at New More

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Remember to Forget the Alamo

Counterpunch Articles -

Mexico once had a problem with a local provincial government promoting illegal immigration from the United States into Mexico in order to engage in the illegal slavery of illegally trafficked people. The locality involved was called Texas. For years, Mexico let Texas get away with its lawlessness and immorality, including not paying taxes, and including More

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The Biden Administration Is Committed to Human Rights: Except When It Isn’t

AntiWar.com News -

President Joe Biden recently met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, causing some complaint in Washington. After all, the latter runs an authoritarian state. To highlight his public commitment to democracy, Biden told the press: "I made it clear to him that I believe the consequences of [opposition leader Alexei Navalny dying in prison] would be … Continue reading "The Biden Administration Is Committed to Human Rights: Except When It Isn’t"

The post The Biden Administration Is Committed to Human Rights: Except When It Isn’t appeared first on Antiwar.com Original.

The Economic War on Iran Needs To End

AntiWar.com News -

The U.S. economic war on Iran hasn’t ended, and one of the costs of that war has been the increasing authoritarianism of the Iranian government. The "maximum pressure" campaign is not solely responsible for empowering Iranian hard-liners and contributing to the rigged victory of Ebrahim Raisi, the head of Iran’s judiciary, but it has significantly … Continue reading "The Economic War on Iran Needs To End"

The post The Economic War on Iran Needs To End appeared first on Antiwar.com Original.

On the Podcast: Defending Speech We Hate

ACLU News -

The ACLU’s role in defending freedom of speech has been hotly contested by some critics recently — but these conversations are far from new. Throughout its history, the organization has had to balance its dedication to advancing civil rights for marginalized people and protecting First Amendment rights for those with whom it disagrees. This adherence to civil liberties is not always popular, as evidenced by the 30,000 members that left following the controversial time in the 1970s when the ACLU defended the rights of neo-nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois.

Watch Now:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlPUumsNQAQ&ab_channel=ACLU

On the other hand, contemporary critics accuse the organization of having abandoned its defense of free speech, opting instead to solely support liberal causes. So has the ACLU lost its way? A closer look at the history of free speech legislation — and the ACLU’s role in defending it — shatters the false dichotomy between the First Amendment and civil rights. While successfully upholding the right to speak freely sometimes means defending bigots, the biggest benefactors of free speech rights tend to be the most vulnerable populations.

In this week’s episode of At Liberty, ACLU attorney and former host Emerson Sykes is joined by former ACLU Executive Director Aryeh Neier, who oversaw the organization during the Skokie trials. The two discuss European hate speech laws, the organization’s reputation over the years, and why the present-day is not the lowest point for free speech in the US.

https://soundcloud.com/aclu/defending-speech-we-hate#t=0:00

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Kyrsten Sinema Once Called Joe Lieberman “Pathetic.” Now He’s Coming to Her Defense.

Mother Jones Magazine -

In a Washington Post op-ed published late Monday night, Kyrsten Sinema offered her most detailed statement yet on why she does not support abolishing or reforming the filibuster—the Senate rule that requires 60 votes to bring a piece of legislation to the floor for a final vote. While acknowledging that some measures she supports, such as the For the People voting-rights package, are almost certain to be filibustered, Sinema argued that the long-term benefits of keeping the supermajority requirements outweigh the drawbacks. “The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles,” she wrote.

Sinema’s stance won’t win her more friends among Democrats in Washington or her home state (where activists protested outside her office on Tuesday). But she drew praise from a source that would have once seemed unusual. In a visit to his old office, the former Connecticut Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Joe Lieberman told reporters that Sinema was right to defend the filibuster, even if he believed it was a fight she’d lose in the end.

Few moments illustrate so perfectly the personal and political evolution of Arizona’s junior senator. When Sinema was first becoming active in state politics as a lefty political activist—she ran as a Green Party member and as an independent before finally joining the Democratic fold—she viewed Lieberman as the embodiment of Washington sellouts. As I reported in a profile of Sinema for the magazine, Sinema even protested outside of a Lieberman campaign event when the senator was running for president in 2003.

“He’s a shame to Democrats,” she told a reporter from the Hartford Courant at the time. “I don’t even know why he’s running. He seems to want to get Republicans voting for him—what kind of strategy is that?” Lieberman, she added, was “pathetic.”

Sinema famously adjusted her rhetoric and her tactics as she climbed the political ladder, but the disdain for Lieberman lingered. Even in 2010—after she’d written a manifesto called Unite and Conquer about using radical acceptance to put aside personal differences and work across the aisle—she continued to take shots at Lieberman. At a town hall that year in Sedona after the party lost a Senate special election in Massachusetts, she tried to spin the loss of the Democrats’ filibuster-proof supermajority as a positive, in that it would eliminate the need to keep Lieberman on board. They could just come up with a process that netted them 50 votes.

“So what does that mean? Well, in the Senate, we no longer have 60 votes. Some would argue we never had 60, because one of those was Joseph Lieberman,” Sinema said, making a look of disgust, for comic effect. “But that’s—whatever. Yeah, and [Ben] Nelson too, but really”—she lowered her voice and shook her fist—“Lieberman.”

“So now…there’s none of this pressure, this false pressure to get to 60,” she continued. “So what that means is the Democrats can stop kowtowing to Joe Lieberman and instead seek other avenues to move forward with health reform. And so it’s likely that the Senate will move forward with a process called reconciliation, which takes only 51 votes.”

These two eras and senators aren’t fully comparable, but it’s quite a time capsule. To many Democrats today—and to Kyrsten Sinema then—the Democratic Congress of 2009 and 2010 was a cautionary tale about letting a handful of senators gum up the works. It was liberating to realize you didn’t have to bind yourself to arbitrary supermajority requirements, or spend months scrambling to find one or two Republican votes. But more than a decade later, Sinema is in Lieberman’s shoes. She has the power she wished she had then—and far less of an inclination to use it.

‘Having a Say Can Be Transformative’

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting -

 

Janine Jackson interviewed Real News Network‘s Jaisal Noor about worker cooperatives for the June 11, 2021, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

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Real News (5/21/21)

Janine Jackson: Covid laid bare a number of conflicts, hypocrisies and frank inequities that “normal times”—and corporate media—kept hidden (from some). Perhaps most depressing: The pandemic saw media openly suggesting that some workers could be both essential and expendable. Some faceless thing called “the economy” could demand that people return to work, but would not be responsible for protecting their lives and their health when they did. Other countries were guaranteeing wages while encouraging workers to stay home to protect their lives and those of others, but—Avert Your Eyes from those examples! Those models are not for us!

In the US, the economy simply had to restart, though it necessarily meant picking sides in a battle that one New York Times headline described as “Lives Versus Livelihoods.” A “moral trade-off,” the paper called it.

Well, important to maintaining the idea that such a trade-off is necessary is obscuring, erasing and denigrating other economic models. Jaisal Noor has been looking at co-op businesses, specifically during the pandemic. He’s senior reporter at the Real News Network. And he joins us now by phone from Baltimore. Welcome to CounterSpin, Jaisal Noor.

Jaisal Noor: It’s great to be back on.

JJ: Corporate media report the crises of corporate capitalism as flawed, and yet still the only game in town. They allow debate, but only up to a point: when you start asking questions about the structure.

And that’s why it’s so valuable to dig into other structures that exist. Co-ops are facts on the ground; you can’t say, “Well, if the workers were the owners, they would be lazy,” because there are real-world examples. So I just wanted to start you off by saying, what did you learn from this project on co-op workers, and, specifically, what did those workers tell you about their pandemic experience?

Jaisal Noor: “You can have a workplace with dignity, you can have profit-sharing, you can have a living wage. And these are all things we are told that you can’t have in America.”

JN: Yeah, and I really appreciate the invitation to have this important conversation, because a lot of what I ended up doing was media analysis in this project.

Because before I started this project, I was reporting on how other businesses and institutions dealt with the pandemic.  And you’re absolutely right: What workers were told, what the public was told, was that there was this choice: You can keep the economy going, or you can keep people safe; you can’t do both.

So that’s one of the reasons I wanted to look at how worker cooperatives responded to the pandemic. They’ve been around for decades, and fundamentally they work within the capitalist system, but their top priority isn’t profits. Now, they are businesses; they are for-profit businesses, they are seeking to make a profit, but because the workers are the owners, they’re not going to put profits in a higher importance over their lives.

That’s a deeply profound thing in our American society, where profit is God; where Jeff Bezos is God, where he gets thousands of these articles talking about how much his wealth has increased during the pandemic alone, and very few people are asking, “What cost does that come with? What social cost does it come with, to have this massive concentration of not only wealth, [but] power?”

So the amazing thing about cooperatives is that even though they are small businesses owned by workers—for the large part, that come from communities that don’t have a lot of wealth—most worker cooperatives in America (and I’m talking about, specifically, democratically controlled workplaces), are in frontline sectors, they are in service sectors: It’s low-wage work, it’s not going to generate massive amounts of wealth, but you can have a workplace with dignity, you can have profit-sharing, you can have a living wage. And these are all things we are told that you can’t have in America; you can’t have a profitable business while also protecting their workers.

JJ: Right

JN: And so, when these businesses were confronted with the same challenges other businesses were facing, where you had CEOs telling workers to go into the warehouse, no matter how many people were getting sick, ignoring—like in Amazon’s case—the thousands of workers that got sick, maybe the dozens that died.

When you have CEOs and managers making a decision, and they’re not accountable to the workers, they’re going to make very different decisions than democratic workplaces, where the workers can make their own decisions—can vote, debate and decide what is best for them and the business.

And it turns out that by taking those steps, your business has a better chance of succeeding. There’s reports of 100,000 small businesses closing because of the pandemic, and according to the figures and the numbers we have so far, what we know, worker cooperatives fared much, much better.

There are 60 worker cooperatives that work with a loan fund called Seed Commons, and none of them closed permanently due to the pandemic. The worker/owners at these cooperatives were able to work together. They still faced challenges, many of them had to close temporarily or had to pivot their business models, but they were able to stay open, they were less likely to lay off their workers, and they prioritized public safety, their workers’ safety and keeping their businesses sustainable.

That all goes to say that basically, what you’ve raised: This lie that we’ve been taught, that it’s profits and nothing else matters, is wrong. Even in our current society, even with this inequality, we can have successful businesses that exist, that pay a living wage, and that treat their workers with the respect they deserve.

And as you mentioned, these are the heroes, these are frontline workers that were.…  There were placards and billboards created to “honor” them while they were still being given substandard wages, not given PPE, not given sick leave, and these are all things that work and co-ops provide.

JJ: I think part of the story that media tell is that it’s “business owners versus workers.” And yet, I’ve spoken to numerous business owners and small business owners who aren’t about that—as you’re just saying—and who recognize that, if their workers can buy food and buy clothing for their kids, they’re more likely to stay at the job; it’s all very simple, if you just think about it. And yet, we’re overcome with a narrative about a conflict between profitability and workers’ lives that doesn’t really exist. So in other words, it’s part of about who people listen to; it’s part of about who gets to speak in the media.

So I guess I just want to ask you, as a media person, as well as a person who’s been researching co-ops: What would be the translation? What could journalists do that would lift up this model, that would complicate the narratives that major news media are telling about the economy? What would the intervention of actually knowing about cooperative businesses, what could that do?

JN:  So on a very simple level: One thing I was struck by when there were reports all across the country, I was looking at newscasts from local TV stations where they were talking about this “worker shortage,” and all the people they interviewed—and I watched dozens of these broadcasts—almost every single person they interviewed was a business owner, and in some cases, small business owners.

You know, you can talk to workers; you can talk to people that don’t want to work for low wages and put their lives on the line for a minimum wage and no benefits. On a simple level, talk to workers.

And if small businesses or restaurants are facing challenges in hiring workers, at this current time, find a local worker cooperative in your area, or any business that pays a living wage that has benefits, that has some type of profit-sharing or democratic control of their workplace; are they facing the same challenges? If not, then maybe you’re on to something.

What the workers told me is that it doesn’t feel like a job in a traditional sense—when someone is a master over you, over your work.

JJ: Right.

JN: When you are your own boss, when you get to create the job, you get to create the working conditions, and you get a share of the profit at the end of the day; that’s something that most jobs won’t offer.

And I think the biggest part of that is just bosses being unwilling to give over control, and thinking they know what’s best for their workers, what’s best for their business. And cooperatives prove that the people that are actually doing the work that the bosses and CEOs are profiting from—they actually know a little bit about what it takes to run this business. And having a say, and having power, can be transformative.

So yeah, so talk to workers, talk to worker/owners, talk to people in cooperatives, and see if their perspective is different than what CEOs are telling.

JJ: We’ve been speaking with  Jaisal Noor. He’s senior reporter at the Real News Network. You can find their work at TRNN.com.  Jaisal Noor, thank you so much for joining us this week on CounterSpin.

JN: Thanks so much for having me.

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