What We Stand For

The Communist Party of Indiana CPUSA struggles for socialism: to better the lives of Indiana's working families, to protect and extend labor's ability to organize, for the needs of women, children, immigrants (documented and undocumented), the disabled, LGBT, and all people who strive for affordable quality health care, housing, and education. We stand against racism in all its forms. We stand for jobs for all. We stand for peace. We support all who struggle world wide for the dignity and self-determination of the majority of their nation's people and against imperialism, occupation, and exploitation for private profit.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

AFL-CIO NOW BLOG | AFL-CIO Executive Council Calls for Round 2 of Economic Recovery

The nation’s working families and the economy desperately need a second installment on the Obama administration’s economic recovery plan. That plan, says the AFL-CIO Executive Council,

must focus like a laser beam on job creation.

Along with approving an economic policy statement outlining the urgent need for more economic recovery initiatives, the council, convening for a one-day meeting yesterday in Washington, D.C., also welcomed two new members, Letter Carriers (NALC) President Fredric Rolando and AFGE Vice President Rogelio Flores.

The council honored former council members William Young, who recently retired as NALC president, and AFGE Vice President Andrea Brooks, who died in April. To help support the work of the Alliance for Retired Americans, the council proposed the creation of the Preserving Union Values Charitable Foundation.

Although the first round of economic stimulus has made huge strides is shoring up our economy, the council pointed out in its statement that the Bush administration’s economic legacy created such “economic devastation—in finance, housing and jobs,” that

The challenge of fixing this economic mess is enormous—and urgent. Creating good jobs that cannot be outsourced is central to the solution.

Unemployment is expected to hit 10 percent later this year and remain high in 2010. So far 6.6 million jobs have disappeared since the beginning of the recession in 2007, including 1.9 million manufacturing jobs and 1.3 million construction jobs. For those with jobs, wages are stagnant or shrinking and many workers face forced furloughs. As the council statement says:

It is crystal clear that urgent action from the federal government is needed to boost economic growth and jobs, and invest in America’s future.

Among other investments, a second recovery plan should:

Extend unemployment benefits immediately, by at least seven weeks, to help the hundreds of thousands of workers who would otherwise exhaust their benefits in the near term.
Increase food stamp spending as needed to help families cope with the downturn.
Increase aid to state and local governments.
Bolster the financial stability of independent government agencies such as the U.S. Postal Service.
Increase spending for needed infrastructure and clean energy projects, even for those projects with a time horizon longer than two years.
Click here to read the full statement.

New council member Rolando served as the union’s executive vice president before taking over from Young, who retired earlier this month. In its statement honoring Young’s service, the council says Young, who became NALC president in 2002, took the reins at a time when

the NALC—and the entire union movement—were fighting hard to resist a viciously anti-union White House and Congress….Young is widely recognized as a leader not only of the NALC but of the entire union movement.

Flores joined AFGE in 1968 and held various local and district offices until he was elected as a national vice president in 1996. He takes over the council seat that Brooks occupied from 2005 until her death in April.

Brooks began her union career at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, rising through the ranks of AFGE while working at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She served for 10 years as president of AFGE Local 490 at the Veterans Affairs regional office in Los Angeles; She was also vice president of the California Labor Federation.

In 2000, she was elected as AFGE’s vice president for women and fair practices in 2000. In its statement, the council says:

Brooks’ name became a synonym for the good causes she believed in and fought for: civil rights, human rights, women’s rights. She declared that she wanted to help mobilize a civil rights movement of every race, culture, orientation and gender identity. She did exactly that…we honor the legacy of more justice and fairness and equality she left behind for us.

In the statement proposing the new charitable foundation, the council says many union workers are concerned that their children and grandchildren may not be able to experience and “cherish the richness of a life of involvement with the labor movement.”

The Preserving Union Values Charitable Foundation would allow active and retired union members to make tax-exempt contributions for

the purpose of preserving and carrying forward the proud heritage of the union movement. We believe many people associated with the labor movement would choose to leave a legacy in this way if given the opportunity….The proposed charitable foundation would ensure that current and future generations of Americans have an opportunity to benefit from the values that made the labor movement a defining force in American history.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney has agreed to head the proposed foundation following his upcoming retirement. Funds raised would be split between the National Labor College (NLC) and the Alliance, which, says the council statement, “has consistently excelled with the quality and effectiveness of its field work.”

Afghanistan: Another Untold Story

Afghanistan: Another Untold Story
By Michael Parenti

December 05, 2008 "Information Clearinghouse" -- Barack Obama is on record as advocating a military escalation in Afghanistan. Before sinking any deeper into that quagmire, we might do well to learn something about recent Afghan history and the role played by the United States.

Less than a month after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, US leaders began an all-out aerial assault upon Afghanistan, the country purportedly harboring Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist organization. More than twenty years earlier, in 1980, the United States intervened to stop a Soviet “invasion” of that country. Even some leading progressive writers, who normally take a more critical view of US policy abroad, treated the US intervention against the Soviet-supported government as “a good thing.” The actual story is not such a good thing.

Some Real History

Since feudal times the landholding system in Afghanistan had remained unchanged, with more than 75 percent of the land owned by big landlords who comprised only 3 percent of the rural population. In the mid-1960s, democratic revolutionary elements coalesced to form the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In 1973, the king was deposed, but the government that replaced him proved to be autocratic, corrupt, and unpopular. It in turn was forced out in 1978 after a massive demonstration in front of the presidential palace, and after the army intervened on the side of the demonstrators.

The military officers who took charge invited the PDP to form a new government under the leadership of Noor Mohammed Taraki, a poet and novelist. This is how a Marxist-led coalition of national democratic forces came into office. “It was a totally indigenous happening. Not even the CIA blamed the USSR for it,” writes John Ryan, a retired professor at the University of Winnipeg, who was conducting an agricultural research project in Afghanistan at about that time.
The Taraki government proceeded to legalize labor unions, and set up a minimum wage, a progressive income tax, a literacy campaign, and programs that gave ordinary people greater access to health care, housing, and public sanitation. Fledgling peasant cooperatives were started and price reductions on some key foods were imposed.

The government also continued a campaign begun by the king to emancipate women from their age-old tribal bondage. It provided public education for girls and for the children of various tribes.

A report in the San Francisco Chronicle (17 November 2001) noted that under the Taraki regime Kabul had been “a cosmopolitan city. Artists and hippies flocked to the capital. Women studied agriculture, engineering and business at the city’s university. Afghan women held government jobs—-in the 1980s, there were seven female members of parliament. Women drove cars, traveled and went on dates. Fifty percent of university students were women.”

The Taraki government moved to eradicate the cultivation of opium poppy. Until then Afghanistan had been producing more than 70 percent of the opium needed for the world’s heroin supply. The government also abolished all debts owed by farmers, and began developing a major land reform program. Ryan believes that it was a “genuinely popular government and people looked forward to the future with great hope.”

But serious opposition arose from several quarters. The feudal landlords opposed the land reform program that infringed on their holdings. And tribesmen and fundamentalist mullahs vehemently opposed the government’s dedication to gender equality and the education of women and children.

Because of its egalitarian and collectivist economic policies the Taraki government also incurred the opposition of the US national security state. Almost immediately after the PDP coalition came to power, the CIA, assisted by Saudi and Pakistani military, launched a large scale intervention into Afghanistan on the side of the ousted feudal lords, reactionary tribal chieftains, mullahs, and opium traffickers.

A top official within the Taraki government was Hafizulla Amin, believed by many to have been recruited by the CIA during the several years he spent in the United States as a student. In September 1979, Amin seized state power in an armed coup. He executed Taraki, halted the reforms, and murdered, jailed, or exiled thousands of Taraki supporters as he moved toward establishing a fundamentalist Islamic state. But within two months, he was overthrown by PDP remnants including elements within the military.

It should be noted that all this happened before the Soviet military intervention. National security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski publicly admitted--months before Soviet troops entered the country--that the Carter administration was providing huge sums to Muslim extremists to subvert the reformist government. Part of that effort involved brutal attacks by the CIA-backed mujahideen against schools and teachers in rural areas.

In late 1979, the seriously besieged PDP government asked Moscow to send a contingent of troops to help ward off the mujahideen (Islamic guerrilla fighters) and foreign mercenaries, all recruited, financed, and well-armed by the CIA. The Soviets already had been sending aid for projects in mining, education, agriculture, and public health. Deploying troops represented a commitment of a more serious and politically dangerous sort. It took repeated requests from Kabul before Moscow agreed to intervene militarily.

Jihad and Taliban, CIA Style

The Soviet intervention was a golden opportunity for the CIA to transform the tribal resistance into a holy war, an Islamic jihad to expel the godless communists from Afghanistan. Over the years the United States and Saudi Arabia expended about $40 billion on the war in Afghanistan. The CIA and its allies recruited, supplied, and trained almost 100,000 radical mujahideen from forty Muslim countries including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, and Afghanistan itself. Among those who answered the call was Saudi-born millionaire right-winger Osama bin Laden and his cohorts.

After a long and unsuccessful war, the Soviets evacuated the country in February 1989. It is generally thought that the PDP Marxist government collapsed immediately after the Soviet departure. Actually, it retained enough popular support to fight on for another three years, outlasting the Soviet Union itself by a year.

Upon taking over Afghanistan, the mujahideen fell to fighting among themselves. They ravaged the cities, terrorized civilian populations, looted, staged mass executions, closed schools, raped thousands of women and girls, and reduced half of Kabul to rubble. In 2001 Amnesty International reported that the mujahideen used sexual assault as “a method of intimidating vanquished populations and rewarding soldiers.’”

Ruling the country gangster-style and looking for lucrative sources of income, the tribes ordered farmers to plant opium poppy. The Pakistani ISI, a close junior partner to the CIA, set up hundreds of heroin laboratories across Afghanistan. Within two years of the CIA’s arrival, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland became the biggest producer of heroin in the world.

Largely created and funded by the CIA, the mujahideen mercenaries now took on a life of their own. Hundreds of them returned home to Algeria, Chechnya, Kosovo, and Kashmir to carry on terrorist attacks in Allah’s name against the purveyors of secular “corruption.”

In Afghanistan itself, by 1995 an extremist strain of Sunni Islam called the Taliban---heavily funded and advised by the ISI and the CIA and with the support of Islamic political parties in Pakistan---fought its way to power, taking over most of the country, luring many tribal chiefs into its fold with threats and bribes.

The Taliban promised to end the factional fighting and banditry that was the mujahideen trademark. Suspected murderers and spies were executed monthly in the sports stadium, and those accused of thievery had the offending hand sliced off. The Taliban condemned forms of “immorality” that included premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality. They also outlawed all music, theater, libraries, literature, secular education, and much scientific research.

The Taliban unleashed a religious reign of terror, imposing an even stricter interpretation of Muslim law than used by most of the Kabul clergy. All men were required to wear untrimmed beards and women had to wear the burqa which covered them from head to toe, including their faces. Persons who were slow to comply were dealt swift and severe punishment by the Ministry of Virtue. A woman who fled an abusive home or charged spousal abuse would herself be severely whipped by the theocratic authorities. Women were outlawed from social life, deprived of most forms of medical care, barred from all levels of education, and any opportunity to work outside the home. Women who were deemed “immoral” were stoned to death or buried alive.

None of this was of much concern to leaders in Washington who got along famously with the Taliban. As recently as 1999, the US government was paying the entire annual salary of every single Taliban government official. Not until October 2001, when President George W. Bush had to rally public opinion behind his bombing campaign in Afghanistan did he denounce the Taliban’s oppression of women. His wife, Laura Bush, emerged overnight as a full-blown feminist to deliver a public address detailing some of the abuses committed against Afghan women.

If anything positive can be said about the Taliban, it is that they did put a stop to much of the looting, raping, and random killings that the mujahideen had practiced on a regular basis. In 2000 Taliban authorities also eradicated the cultivation of opium poppy throughout the areas under their control, an effort judged by the United Nations International Drug Control Program to have been nearly totally successful. With the Taliban overthrown and a Western-selected mujahideen government reinstalled in Kabul by December 2001, opium poppy production in Afghanistan increased dramatically.

The years of war that have followed have taken tens of thousands of Afghani lives. Along with those killed by Cruise missiles, Stealth bombers, Tomahawks, daisy cutters, and land mines are those who continue to die of hunger, cold, lack of shelter, and lack of water.

The Holy Crusade for Oil and Gas

While claiming to be fighting terrorism, US leaders have found other compelling but less advertised reasons for plunging deeper into Afghanistan. The Central Asian region is rich in oil and gas reserves. A decade before 9/11, Time magazine (18 March 1991) reported that US policy elites were contemplating a military presence in Central Asia. The discovery of vast oil and gas reserves in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan provided the lure, while the dissolution of the USSR removed the one major barrier against pursuing an aggressive interventionist policy in that part of the world.

US oil companies acquired the rights to some 75 percent of these new reserves. A major problem was how to transport the oil and gas from the landlocked region. US officials opposed using the Russian pipeline or the most direct route across Iran to the Persian Gulf. Instead, they and the corporate oil contractors explored a number of alternative pipeline routes, across Azerbaijan and Turkey to the Mediterranean or across China to the Pacific.

The route favored by Unocal, a US based oil company, crossed Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. The intensive negotiations that Unocal entered into with the Taliban regime remained unresolved by 1998, as an Argentine company placed a competing bid for the pipeline. Bush’s war against the Taliban rekindled UNOCAL’s hopes for getting a major piece of the action.

Interestingly enough, neither the Clinton nor Bush administrations ever placed Afghanistan on the official State Department list of states charged with sponsoring terrorism, despite the acknowledged presence of Osama bin Laden as a guest of the Taliban government. Such a “rogue state” designation would have made it impossible for a US oil or construction company to enter an agreement with Kabul for a pipeline to the Central Asian oil and gas fields.

In sum, well in advance of the 9/11 attacks the US government had made preparations to move against the Taliban and create a compliant regime in Kabul and a direct US military presence in Central Asia. The 9/11 attacks provided the perfect impetus, stampeding US public opinion and reluctant allies into supporting military intervention.

One might agree with John Ryan who argued that if Washington had left the Marxist Taraki government alone back in 1979, “there would have been no army of mujahideen, no Soviet intervention, no war that destroyed Afghanistan, no Osama bin Laden, and no September 11 tragedy.” But it would be asking too much for Washington to leave unmolested a progressive leftist government that was organizing the social capital around collective public needs rather than private accumulation.

US intervention in Afghanistan has proven not much different from US intervention in Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, and elsewhere. It had the same intent of preventing egalitarian social change, and the same effect of overthrowing an economically reformist government. In all these instances, the intervention brought retrograde elements into ascendance, left the economy in ruins, and pitilessly laid waste to many innocent lives.

The war against Afghanistan, a battered impoverished country, continues to be portrayed in US official circles as a gallant crusade against terrorism. If it ever was that, it also has been a means to other things: destroying a leftist revolutionary social order, gaining profitable control of one of the last vast untapped reserves of the earth’s dwindling fossil fuel supply, and planting US bases and US military power into still another region of the world.

In the face of all this Obama’s call for “change” rings hollow.

Michael Parenti’s recent books are Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader and the forthcoming God and His Demons. For further information, visit www.michaelparenti.org.

This article also available on Michael Parenti's web site here.


Subject: 103+ million minorities suffer disparities in health care system

More struggle is necessary, lets keep it growing! Health Care Reform Now!

The Wilmington Journal
Originally posted 7/28/2009

A newly released report this week by progressive advocates for health care reform cites higher infant mortality rates, lower quality of care, and shorter life expectancies for blacks and other communities of color as just some of the reasons why they fully support President Obama's public option proposal to improve health care, and drive down costs, and provide greater access overall.

The study comes as the Senate Health committee chaired by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) passed a $600 billion health care reform bill Wednesday. The Senate Finance Committee will now have to wrestle with how to pay for the plan. A totally different health care reform package is over in the House with a controversial surtax on the wealthy.

President Obama reiterated this week that he wants health care reform before the August Congressional recess.

The report, "Unequal Lives: Health Care Discrimination Harms Communities of Color in North Carolina," is sponsored by Health Care for America Now (HCAN), a national grassroots movement of progressive organizations.

According to the study, over "103 million people of color [nationally] suffer disproportionately in the health care system." The quality of life and life expectancy for African-Americans, non-white Latinos, Native American and other communities of color is thus considerably less compared to non-Latino whites.

"Communities of color too often have fewer opportunities for regular health services, fewer treatment options, and lower-quality care. People in communities of color are also less likely to have access to comprehensive health care since they have lower incomes and higher rates of uninsurance and underinsurance," noted Dr. Leroy Darkes, director of the Rex Senior Health Center.

In North Carolina, "the infant death rate for whites is 6.3 per 1,000 live births, compared with 11.8 for African Americans," the report says. "Overall life expectancy for African Americans in North Carolina is 6 to 10 years shorter than that of whites. About 54 percent of Hispanics and 22 percent of African Americans in North Carolina are uninsured, compared with 14 percent of whites."

Tar Heel state health disparities, according to the HCAN report, are even grimmer yet:

* In North Carolina, about 14 percent of African-American adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, more than two and a half times the rate for Latinos, and more than 50 percent higher than for whites.

* Among adult African Americans in North Carolina, 10 percent have asthma, compared to 8 percent of whites and 3 percent of Latinos.

* In North Carolina, 31 percent of babies born to Latina women received no prenatal care, compared with 23 percent for African Americans and 10 percent for whites.

* The infant mortality rate for African Americans in North Carolina is more than two and a half times that of whites.

* The mortality rate for blacks in North Carolina is 20 percent higher than for whites and more than three times the rate for Latinos.

* Despite growing evidence of racial disparities in health status and medical services, no system exists in state for collecting comprehensive state and local data on disparities. As a result, many questions about the health of people of color in state remain unanswered. For example, it is not known how many African Americans or Latinos (compared to whites) have forgone care because they can't afford it.

* The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 11.1 percent of North Carolina's labor force is unemployed.

*In North Carolina, 1,547,212 people were uninsured in 2007.

*About 54 percent of Latinos in North Carolina are uninsured, almost four times the rate for whites.

*Health insurance premiums for North Carolina working families have skyrocketed, increasing 75 percent from 2000 to 2007.

*The full cost of employer-sponsored health insurance in North Carolina is projected to grow at an annual rate of 6.9 percent, compared to a 0.6 percent decrease in income.

*About 790,000 working non-elderly adults in North Carolina lack health insurance. That comprises 65 percent of the total non-elderly uninsured population.

The report's facts came from the US Census bureau, the National Center for Health Statistics, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Public Health and Sciences.

Nationally, according to the HCAN study, "Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer account for two-thirds of all U.S. health care costs. African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans and others who tend to live in neighborhoods with limited opportunities for healthful lifestyles have higher rates of all these diseases, and they fare worse in treatment. Were racial disparities absent from our society, the deaths of more than 880,000 African Americans would have been averted from 1991 to 2000, according to a recent analysis of mortality data."

"Compared to non-Latino whites, African Americans and Latinos are more likely to go without health care because they can't afford it," the report continued. "A larger share of African Americans and Latinos lack a usual place of health care, and they are less than half as likely as whites to have a regular doctor."

"Low-income Americans and people of color always score lower in measures of preventive health, such as frequency of cancer screenings and other well-visit checkups, ''the HCAN report states." Inequities in health are accompanied by disparities in health insurance coverage. They also have the highest rates of uninsurance. The lack of quality, affordable coverage makes these populations less likely to receive medical care and more likely to fall into poor health and die early, according to government analysts.''

"The implications…," the report maintains, given that the US Census Bureau projects that 62 percent of the US population will consist of people by the year 2050, ''…are profound.''

When it comes to fixing the disparities, the HCAN report recommends:
*Coverage should be backed by adequate reimbursement rates and effective performance incentives that promote provider participation, change the inefficient behavior of doctors and hospitals, and promote improved health for people of color.

*Substantial improvements in health and life expectancy will be achieved by addressing the social determinants of health, including a clean environment, occupational safety, safe neighborhoods and access to nutritious food.

*The nation must address chronic shortages of health professionals in communities of color and marginalized populations.

* Congress should implement mechanisms to support safety-net institutions and drive quality-improvement initiatives in all health care settings.

* Stakeholders and the public should be given good data by insurers and health care providers on race, ethnicity and ethnic sub-population, socioeconomic position, primary language, age, gender, and gender identity.

HCAN recently lobbied Congress to support Pres. Obama's health care plan, and specifically pressured Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) to join the effort.

"My colleagues and I on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee have been working on a plan to reform the health care system in this country," Sen. Hagan, whose office says she was always in support of Obama's public option, said in a statement last week. "We have crafted a plan that will stabilize health care costs and includes a Community Health Insurance Option, which I support. It is a backstop option for people without access to affordable coverage. Health care providers will not be required to participate, payment rates will be set in a competitive fashion, and the community health insurance option will compete on a level playing field with private health insurance plans in the gateway."

Hagan voted with the Democratic majority on the committee Wednesday to approve that measure.

Part of the pressure on Hagan came from a telephone conference call she had with NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, Lynice Williams, executive director of NC Fair Share, and community activist Stella Adams. It was during that call that it was made clear to the Guilford County Democrat that forcing private health insurers to compete with a government-run health care insurer would indeed allow more of the poor an communities of color access and the coverage that they need.

"Organizing works," declared Williams, whose NC Fair Share is one of the HCAN advocacy groups that released the report Wednesday. "It took a while, but after weeks of relentless pressure from her constituents, including busloads coming from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., Sen. Kay Hagan endorsed a strong public option."

Monday, July 27, 2009

CEOs Get One-Third of All Pay; Bank of America Uses Taxpayer $$ for Lobbying

by Tula Connell
July 22, 2009

Two news items out today highlight how far the nation needs to go in re-balancing the economy toward working people.

First, Think Progress points to a Wall Street Journal analysis that shows more than one-third of all pay in the U.S. now goes to executives and other highly-paid employees.

Highly paid employees received nearly $2.1 trillion of the $6.4 trillion in total U.S. pay in 2007, the latest figures available. The compensation numbers don't include incentive stock options, unexercised stock options, unvested restricted stock units and certain benefits.

The Wall Street Journal based its analysis on Social Security Administration data, which doesn't count billions of dollars more in pay that remain off federal radar screens that measure wages and salaries.

Next, it turns out that Bank of America, which received $45 billion in taxpayer-funded bailout support, has spent more than $1.5 million lobbying on Capitol Hill.

The Charlotte, N.C., company wants flexibility on spending the bailout funds and also wants to fend off restrictions on executive compensation, home mortgage lending and credit card fees. The bank also is lobbying on a consumer rights bill, on student lending issues, on a bill that would've allowed bankruptcy judges to alter mortgages and on a proposed federal regulatory oversight agency.

And none of its positions on any of these bills would help working families.

As we noted in April when we released the AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch data, the Bank of America lost nearly $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008 due to deeper than expected trading and loan losses. Even after receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer money, the bank plans to eliminate up to 35,000 jobs over the next three years-but CEO Kenneth Lewis collected nearly $10
million in 2008, more than 400 times the average amount a bank teller is paid each year. Since becoming CEO in April 2001, Lewis received $134 million in pay, bonuses,
stock awards and pension accruals.

As Think Progress notes, between 1979 and 2006, the inflation-adjusted after-tax income of the richest 1 percent of households increased by 256 percent, compared with 21 percent for families in the middle income quintile.

While U.S. worker productivity has skyrocketed over the past 30 years, wages have not kept pace.

America's working middle class made it clear last November that they wanted change-and reshaping the nation's economic framework to strengthen the middle class and close the wage disparity between the very top and the rest of us, is fundamental to that change.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Autoworkers Letter to Obama

To: President Barack Obama
From: Concerned Autoworkers, Retirees And Supporters
Re: Auto Industry Crisis & Global Climate Change

Date: July 14, 2009

Dear President Obama,

Your administration has reported that 400,000 jobs in the auto industry have been lost during the economic downturn. Though some jobs have been saved, many more will be lost through the bankruptcy restructuring implemented by the Auto Task Force at Chrysler and GM. Economists are predicting a slow recovery at best and, in any event, the market for autos and trucks will remain diminished for years to come. We in Detroit and in the automobile and manufacturing centers throughout the Midwest are faced with a major crisis for which a comprehensive solution is required.

We believe that the economic crisis is interwoven with an environmental one - that, in the words of NASA scientist Jim Hansen, we face an "irreversible tipping point" if we don't act swiftly to reduce our carbon footprint and therefore positively impact global climate change. We believe this fact requires rethinking our country's manufacturing priorities. Instead of laying off workers and devastating working-class communities, we believe the combination of crises demands a bold proposal that can put people back to work and address global climate change. We believe this
can be done, and done creatively.

Until the recent fall in vehicle sales, auto use was contributing 20% of all annual U.S.greenhouse gas emissions (more than four tons per person) and 40% of
all U.S. oil consumption. Yet of the 90% of Americans who drove to work in 2007, 76% drove alone. Fewer than 5% used public transportation. Eighty percent of the total U.S. population lives in metropolitan areas, with 30% in the cities. Yet few cities outside New York City have an adequate system of public transportation.

Clearly we must turn from an energy-inefficient, auto-centered society to one that increasingly uses mass transit along with energy-efficient vehicles. That means prioritizing buses, light rail, high-speed trains and the tracks they run on. Manufacturing also needs to
be geared toward building wind and water turbines as well as solar panels. Instead of attempting to resuscitate automobile companies, we should be building a Transportation and Energy Industry for the 21st century.

Your administration has taken a positive first step by creating two blue ribbon task forces; The White House Task Force on Middle Class Families, called "Promoting American Manufacturing in the 21st Century", chaired by Vice-President Biden, and the "White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers", under the leadership of Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis and Larry Summers, your Chief Economic Advisor. You have charged them with the tasks of preparing American industry for the future and supporting "manufacturing communities and workers."

We welcome these initiatives and urge you to ensure that the size of the ideas being considered match the size of the problems we face. The problems confronting us must be addressed holistically, the leadership must be visionary in its approach and the solutions must be innovative and far-reaching rather than politically expedient crisis management. To that
end, we offer the following ideas:

First, because, we the people are now major stockholders in GM and Chrysler, we believe that it
would be in the national interest to assume direct ownership of the GM and Chrysler plants that are closed or closing (as interest on our investment) to expedite
the retooling and conversion of these plants for the manufacture of the products that we have mentioned above.

We must start now, so that by 2010 we will be well on our way to creating the jobs of tomorrow. We have the facilities, the equipment, the skilled workers to be able to complete this in record time. All we need is the political will to do so.

We know this is not a pipe dream because it was at the start of U.S. involvement in World War II that a massive conversion of existing auto plants for war-time production was completed in just eight months. The obstacles that had to be overcome were not technical, but political. It behooves you and your administration to take on the threat of global climate change - and
the dislocations in the automobile industry - with the same sense of urgency and gravity that President Franklin Roosevelt acted upon then.

Additionally, it is our understanding that Chrysler and GM own a large number of patents for green technology. We encourage a thorough review of these patents and believe that any technology that GM and Chrysler own that they have no plans on utilizing in the next three years, be appropriated (again, as interest on investment) and uses found for these technologies.

Your administration is in a position at this moment of great peril, to create a new paradigm - for addressing the US role in industrial manufacturing and taking the
lead on combating global warming. We urge that - in this defining moment - you reiterate your pledge that "yes we can!"


Bill Alford, former President, UAW Local 235 (AAM),Detroit, MI
Theresa Barber, UAW Local 663, Anderson, IN
Al Benchich, former President, UAW Local 909 (GM), Warren, MI
Edward Blakley, UAW Local 653, Pontiac, MI
Michael Bloom, UAW 549, Mansfield, OH
Tony Browning, UAW Local 1700, Sterling Heights, MI
Brenda Caldwell, retiree, UAW Local 977, Marion, IN. Metal Fabricating Plant
Allen Cholger, Staff Rep., United Steelworkers, District 2
M. Crosby, UAW Local 2209, Ft. Wayne, IN
Connie DeVol, retiree, UAW Local 2151, Coopersville, MI(closed)
Dave Elsila,
Katie Elsila, UAW Local 1981
Dianne Feeley, UAW Local 235 (AAM), Detroit, MI
Bill FletcherJr., Center for Labor Renewal, co-author - SolidarityDivided
Lydia Fischer Ghana Goodwin-Dye, President, UAW Local 909, Warren, MI
David Green, Detroit Democratic Socialists of America,
Frank Hammer, UAW-GM International Representative, retired
Julie Hurwitz, Attorney
Michael Heaton, C.A.W Local 1285 (Chrysler)
Robert Ingalls, UAW (retired)
Barbara Ingalls, ITU/CWA
Glenn Jackson, UAW Local 5960, Lake Orion, MI
Cheryl Jameson, UAW Local 292, Kokomo, IN
Michael S. Japowicz Sr., UAW Local 594, Pontiac, MI
Florence Katroscik, UAW Local 909 Retiree, Warren, MI
John Kavanaugh, UAW Local 235(AAM) Detroit (retired)
Jack Kiedel, UAW Local 686, Lockport, NY
Thomas Lacas, G.M. Unit, CAW Local 199, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Sharon McAlpine, UAW Local 235, AAM, Detroit MI, Toolmaker
Lew Moye, UAW Local 110 Retiree, St Louis, MO
Elly Leary, UAW Local 422, Framingham, MA
Robert E. Niethe, UAW Local 686, Lockport, NY, retired
Hiroko Niethe, UAW Local 686, Lockport, NY, retired
Glenn Brian Reday, GM UAW recently retired, Local 435 Wilmington, DE
Eric V. Reuther, son of UAW pioneers, Victor and Sophie Reuther
John S. Reuther, son of UAW Pioneer, Victor G. Reuther
Alexander "Sasha" Reuther, grandson of UAW Pioneer Victor G. Reuther
Michael Rynca, UAW Local 5960, Pontiac, MI
Joretta Rynca, UAW Local 651, Flint, MI
Paul Schrade, former UAW International Executive Board Member
Clay Smith, UAW Local 2166, Shreveport, LA
Jeffrey Stallman, IUE798, GM Moraine (closed Dec. 23, 2008)
Sam Stark, UAW retiree
Thomas W. Stephens, Policy Analyst, City of DetroitCity Council
James Theisen, UAW Local 212, Sterling Heights, MI
Wendy Thompson, former President UAW Local 235 (AAM) Detroit, MI
Carole Travis, former President,UAW Local 719, LaGrange, IL (retired)
Jerry Tucker, former UAW International Executive Board Member
Brett Ward, UAW Local 1700, Sterling Heights, MI
L. M. Wittek, UAW Local 2151, Retired, Coopersville, MI
Robert M. Woods, UAW Local 699, Saginaw, MI

Please send all correspondence to:

Autoworker Caravan
c/o Frank Hammer
20033 Renfrew
Detroit, MI 48221

Reprinted from Portside

Media on ‘card check’ Wrong or just missing the point?

Author: John Wojcik
People's Weekly World Newspaper, 07/23/09 12:59

Just days after the New York Times and other media outlets reported recently that a group of senators “dropped” the majority sign-up provision of the Employee Free Choice Act, the Service Employees International Union responded with an online petition campaign demanding that both houses of Congress schedule an up or down vote on the provision, either as part of the EFCA or by itself.

When he released the petition SEIU President Andy Stern said, “By giving workers the fair choice to join unions and not their bosses, majority signup allows workers to have a voice on the job. Congress needs to hear about your support for majority signup.”

“As we have said from day one, majority signup is the best way for workers to have the right to choose a voice at their workplace,” he said.

When the stories about the “death of card check” broke, a spokesperson for Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who is shepherding the bill through the Senate, denied the existence of any such agreement.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney indicated that what he called “speculative reports” about the “dropping” of card check were not the main issue regarding the legislation.

“A bill will be signed into law this year giving workers – not their bosses – the choice about how to form a union,” he declared.

Stern pointed out, “The Employee Free Choice Act is going through the usual legislative process and we expect a vote on the majority signup provision in the final bill or by amendment in both houses of Congress.”

The so-called deal that the media reports claimed would scuttle “card check,” as majority signup is sometimes called, was just one of many “compromises” floated recently among senators. All the compromises considered seriously by Harkin, the senator has said, involve keeping the intent of majority signup while finding a way to get the 60 votes needed to prevent a Republican filibuster against the EFCA.

None of the media reports about the negotiations pointed out that majority signup has been the way workers designate a union as their representative since the Wagner Act was passed during the Great Depression. Taft-Hartley amended that after World War II to allow companies the option of requiring a “secret ballot” election.

There would be no need for any talks about compromise were it not for several Blue Dog conservative Democratic senators who claim they support labor law reform but want to preserve secret ballot elections in the process.

Some of the proposed compromises discussed involve workers mailing their signed union authorization cards or even completed ballots directly to the NLRB.

Senators Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania are among the senators Harkin and the unions have been pressuring, according to one of the People’s Weekly World’s labor sources who said, “The thinking there probably is that if Pryor goes along with something, so will Blanche Lincoln and the rest of the ones sitting on the fence.”

There are reports that among the revisions are ones that would require union elections five days after 30 percent of the workers signed authorization cards, another that would forbid companies from requiring workers to attend captive audience meetings, and one that would give union organizers access to company property.

The reports in the Times and elsewhere also neglected to mention that Harkin has said he will not agree to any measure that does not uphold three basic principals – workers getting the right to make an unhampered choice, stiffer penalties for companies that violate labor law, and provisions for arbitration when employers drag their feet in negotiations.

They also did not report that, according to Harkin, in the event of a move to gut any of the core principals, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has agreed that the original measure will be brought to the Senate floor for an up or down vote so “everyone can see where each senator stands.”

The pro-business Workforce Fairness Institute continues to churn out press releases indicating that even a bill without majority signup would be unacceptable. “We see it as a hostile act to have arbitrators telling businesses what they have to do,” the statement reads.

“Majority signup is based in a simple idea,” Stern said as he called for signatures on the SEIU petition. “If a majority of workers say they want a union, they should get a union. It’s the best way to make sure workers have a full and free choice to join a union without interference or harassment.”


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

International Indigenous Hip Hop Gathering - Which Side Are You On?

This is a great example of fighting working class culture in action. Which side are you on? Click here to listen.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Employee Free Choice Stuggle for Card Check

The New York Times today reported Democrats Drop Key Part of Bill to Assist Unions. Evidently,
A half-dozen senators friendly to labor have decided to drop a central provision of a bill that would have made it easier to organize workers.
Card check is the most important provision of the legislation, and would have "required employers to recognize a union as soon as a majority of workers signed cards saying they wanted a union."

Efforts continue to add provisions to the revised legislation that would offer some protections to workers involved in union drives. One would require employers to give union organizers access to company property. Another would bar employers from requiring workers to attend anti-union sessions that labor supporters deride as “captive audience meetings.”

While these provisions may be helpful, the struggle for card check may continue if the AFL-CIO leadership and rank and file organized labor maintains the focus on that important initiative.

In a period of a continuing attack on real wages, the importance of working people uniting to fight to meet our needs and limit or end exploitation at the work place is vital. The claims by business forces that card check is anti-democratic can only be characterized as cynical and hypocritcal, coming from people who do everything possible to limit democratic rights in the work place and in the larger society in favor of their own self-interest.

The New York Times article can be found here.

In a related statement on July 13th, a few days before the Senator's statement, "President Barack Obama is telling labor leaders he remains committed to passage of a bill that would make it easier to form unions, but he's not offering any timeline." This reinforces the need to continue to struggle for card check. A strong union force in the United States is a key component to dealing with many of the social challenges we face today, balancing the power of big business, and bringing millions of people's voices to the table.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hard-hit Gary stops garbage pickup

Paul S. Kaczocha
People's Weekly World Newspaper, 07/15/09 16:19

GARY, Ind. – In another sign of the economic crisis hitting working class cities around the country, angry residents and laid off city workers rallied in front of this city’s new General Services building. The crowd brought uncollected garbage and dumped it in front of the building sign. This was only the second day of a stop in the collection of household waste here.

The issue started in October last year when Mayor Rudy Clay announced that the city was going to privatize the garbage collection and start charging its over 28,000 households a $12 monthly fee for trash pickup, under a no-bid contract with Allied Waste, a subsidiary of RSG Inc. which made over $2 billion last year.

The citizen group, Miller Citizen Corporation (MCC), took the city to court, arguing that garbage collection was part of the property taxes residents pay. Ultimately the courts ordered the city to bid the contract, declaring that the fee had to be approved by the City Council and that people’s water could not be cut off for lack of payment of the garbage fee.

Another citizens group, the Central District Organizing Project (CDOP), also joined the fight supporting the 49 laid-off city workers, many of whom were at the rally.

The MCC charged that according to the city’s own figures it cost only $2.9 million annually to pay the workers with benefits, pay for fuel and maintain the equipment, while Allied Waste was charging over $5 million on top of the $2 million tipping fee the city already pays to them. The city argues that it is trying to save money and close a $26 million dollar gap in the budget.

The issue came to a head last week when the City Council voted 6-3 against charging residents the $12 fee, many arguing that there was not even a signed contract yet with Allied. As a result garbage collection ceased this week.

The head of the MCC, attorney Douglas Grimes, charged at the rally that the city “did not need to privatize a basic service that had been done by the city for over 100 years.” He also charged that Allied had a 36 percent profit margin.

“Private enterprise is not here to help you unless they can help themselves, privatization is rarely cheaper,” he added. “The city can rehire these workers and begin to collect garbage again. Just walk down the street and you can see the garbage trucks behind the fence.” The MCC and CDOP, which organized the rally, urged citizens to take their garbage to City Hall.

Lori Peterson, from the CDOP, charged the city with dereliction of duty for saying that they were no longer going to pick up the garbage. “It’s like saying they won’t send out an EMT, fireman or police if someone calls in need,” she stressed.

The workers also spoke about how they had taken 23 percent in cuts to save their jobs and had been lied to when the city laid them off. The Teamsters Union is fighting the layoffs, which did not occur by seniority amongst other issues. Allied had rehired some of the younger, less experienced workers.

“We all live here in Gary, and they hired a company from out of the city and hire outside the city,” the workers charged.

Both the MCC and CDOP are demanding a rehiring of the workers, an end to the fee and the resumption of city-based collection.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Healthcare: Change the Debate Support a Real Public Option

Dear Friends,

In mid-May, in an effort to reach consensus, President Obama secured a deal with the health insurance companies to trim 1.5% of their costs each year for ten years saving a total of $2 trillion dollars, which would be reprogrammed into healthcare. Just two days after the announcement at the White House the insurance companies reneged on the deal which was designed to protect and increase their revenue at least 35% The insurance companies reneged on the deal because they refuse any restraint on increasing premiums, copays and deductibles - core to their profits. No wonder a recent USA Today poll found that only four percent of Americans trust insurance companies. This is within the margin of error, which means it is possible that NO ONE TRUSTS insurance companies.

Then why does Congress trust the insurance companies? Yesterday HR 3200 "America's Affordable Health Choices Act," a 1000 page bill was delivered to members. The title of the bill raises a question: "Affordable" for whom?.

Of $2.4 trillion spent annually for health care in America, fully $800 billion goes for the activities of the for-profit insurer-based system. This means one of every three health care dollars is siphoned off for corporate profits, stock options, executive salaries, advertising, marketing and the cost of paper work, (which can be anywhere between 15 - 35% in the private sector as compared to Medicare, the single payer plan which has only 3% administrative costs).

50 million Americans are uninsured and another 50 million are under insured while for-profit insurance companies divert precious health care dollars to non-health care purposes. Eliminate the for-profit health care system and its extraordinary overhead, put the money into healthcare and everyone will be covered, everyone will be able to afford health care.

Today three committees will begin marking up and amending HR3200. In this, one of the most momentous public policy debates in the past 70 years, single payer, the only viable "public option," the one that makes sound business sense, controls costs and covers everyone was taken off the table.

In contrast to HR3200 ... HR676 calls for a universal single-payer health care system in the United States, Medicare for All. It has over 85 co-sponsors in Congress with the support of millions of Americans and countless physicians and nurses. How does HR-676 control costs and cover everyone? It cuts out the for-profit middle men and delivers care directly to consumers and Medicare acts as the single payer of bills. It also recognizes that under the current system for-profit insurance companies make money NOT providing health care.

This week is the time to break the hold which the insurance companies have on our political process. Tell Congress to stand up to the insurance companies. Ask members to sign on to the only real public option, HR 676, a single-payer healthcare system.

Hundreds of local labor unions, thousands of physicians and millions of Americans are standing behind us. With a draft of HR3200 now circulating, It is up to each and every one of us to organize and rally for the cause of single-payer healthcare. Change the debate. Now is the time.

The time to act is now!

Sincerely Yours,

PS - Over the next several months, I will be engaging all of you with frequent updates and will ask you to continue a movement to fight for what needs to be done now; ending this war in Iraq and stopping the escalation in Afghanistan, attaining true single-payer healthcare for all Americans, standing up for my brothers and sisters of organized labor.

After you have contacted your member of Congress, please tell us your thoughts and ideas on how you are organizing your friends and neighbors towards a single-payer movement and all of the other issues that are important to us.

Contact us at feedback@kucinich.us.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Jobs or Income Now for Working Families In The Current Economic Crisis

Ok, here are the facts as reported on July 9 in the New York Times and elsewhere:

The official national unemployment rate is 9.5%. That is huge. Unofficial figures run closer to 15% unemployment.

The count for continuing unemployment claims is 6.88 million people today, many of those people part of a struggling family and community. This is the most people officially unemployed since records started to be kept in 1967. And this doesn't include the many millions of people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits.

GM has emerged from bankruptcy. After receiving over $30 billion tax dollars to help it deal with the economic crisis, the "new" GM plans to layoff between 30,000 and 40,000 people in the USA.

The New York Times in a different article on July 1 reported "In the first report, construction spending fell more than expected in May, a sign the problems facing the nation’s builders are far from over."

In a report entitled Joblessness Hits 9.5%, Deflating Recovery Hopes, on July 2 the New York Times reported
“The numbers are indicative of a continued, very severe recession,” said Stuart G. Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services in Pittsburgh. “There’s nothing in here to show that the economy and the market are pulling out of the grip of recession.”
What is the point of all this doom and gloom? Something is wrong with the way we are responding to the current economic situation.

People need to be working. We have a social responsibility to ensure that the basic needs of working families are met by providing work at living wages or equivalent funds to keep us going while unemployed.

Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman wrote on July 2 that,
[s]ince the recession began, the U.S. economy has lost 6 ½ million jobs — and as that grim employment report confirmed, it’s continuing to lose jobs at a rapid pace. Once you take into account the 100,000-plus new jobs that we need each month just to keep up with a growing population, we’re about 8 ½ million jobs in the hole.

And the deeper the hole gets, the harder it will be to dig ourselves out. The job figures weren’t the only bad news in Thursday’s report, which also showed wages stalling and possibly on the verge of outright decline. That’s a recipe for a descent into Japanese-style deflation, which is very difficult to reverse. Lost decade, anyone?

Wait — there’s more bad news: the fiscal crisis of the states. Unlike the federal government, states are required to run balanced budgets. And faced with a sharp drop in revenue, most states are preparing savage budget cuts, many of them at the expense of the most vulnerable. Aside from directly creating a great deal of misery, these cuts will depress the economy even further.
As a society we have to take care of our working families. We have, in my opinion, a social responsibility to provide work or wages to all our unemployed regardless of legal status or country of origin, bar none. Families should not be homeless. People should not be forced to beg for food money on the medians between traffic lanes. Our youth should graduate high school and college with work available to them.

The brutality of the current situation is not a result of the policies or practices of working people in the United States. The current crisis is a crisis of overproduction. It is not a result of the lack of foresight or lack of savings by working families. It is a result of the internal systemic problems endemic to capitalism.

The situation has to be addressed with urgency. Families are suffering. People are going hungry. Foreclosures and evictions continue to run rampant.

A program for Jobs or Income Now is needed today.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sign the Petition for a National Cesar E. Chavez Holiday!

The United Farm Workers and the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation are proud to support the grassroots efforts of the Cesar E. Chavez National Holiday Coalition.

Cesar was in Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s words, "one of the heroic figures of our time." He led the historic non-violent movement for farm worker rights and dedicated himself to building a movement of poor working people that extended beyond the fields and into cities and towns across the nation.

He inspired farm workers and millions of people who never worked on a farm to commit themselves to social, economic and civil rights activism. Cesar’s legacy, like the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., continues to educate, inspire and empower people from all walks of life. He is a role model for all Americans and for generations to come.

Please help us ensure all Americans learn about Cesar’s life and work. The Cesar Chavez National Holiday Coalition is gathering signatures on petitions asking Congress to designate March 31, Cesar’s birthday and the day the UFW was founded, as Cesar Chavez Day. Sign the petition today. Help ensure Cesar's legacy is recognized and celebrated throughout our nation with a federal paid holiday and a day of service and learning in our public schools.

The petition is available here.

Full Petition Text:

Petition to President Obama and members of the U.S. Congress

I call on the U.S. Congress to establish an official federal paid holiday in honor of Cesar E. Chavez, the late president of the United Farm Workers, on his birthday, March 31. This should include a Cesar Chavez day of service-learning and community action.
Signed by:

[Your name]
[Your address]

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Let Senator Bayh Know We Stand for HR676 and S. 703

As the discussion on health care moves forward, its important to participate in the process, and not to leave it to the big business interests to define what kind of health care system reforms are enacted. Please take a moment to call Senator Bayh and let him know you stand with the thousands who have expressed support nationally for HR676 - the National Health Care System, also known as Medicare for All. The senate version of this bill is called S. 703.

Senator Bayh can be contacted at:

1650 Market Tower
10 West Market Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 554-0750


131 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-5623

Contact information for the Senator's other regional area addresses are available here.

Background information on this issue is available from Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan and Physicians for a National Health Program.

Tell Senator Bayh that single-payer health reform is the only practicable way to achieve his stated goal of universal, comprehensive coverage at an affordable price.

Only single payer, by redirecting the vast sums wasted annually on bureaucracy and paperwork back into care, can assure high-quality coverage for everyone with no net increase in U.S. health spending. Only single payer can rein in costs.

Lesser reforms, with or without a “public option,” won’t fix our broken system.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The World Condemns the Coup in Honduras, Supports Zelaya's Return

The struggle to reunite the Honduran people with their democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya, continues today.

Many in the United States find ourselves watching aghast and angered as the Honduran coup criminals act with flagrant brutality against the people of Honduras to try to achieve an anti-democratic strike against the Honduran working people's struggle.

The coup leader's desperate attacks on the Honduran people in an attempt squash support for President Zelaya is resulting in many woundings and deaths.

As reported in El Pais:
A nurse whose name cannot be mentioned guided him through rooms full of people wounded by bullets. "They have been arriving for several nights," she explained, "the police bring them and leave them here. All of them were shot during the coup. Some of them are in very bad shape. ... None of this is reported in the newspapers."

Did President Zalaya break Honduran law, as the coup leadership claims? No!

As reported by ALBERTO VALLENTE THORENSEN in CounterPunch's article Behind the Honduran Coup: Why Zelaya's Actions Were Legal:
The Honduran Supreme Court of Justice, Attorney General, National Congress, Armed Forces and Supreme Electoral Tribunal have all falsely accused Manuel Zelaya of attempting a referendum to extend his term in office.

According to Honduran law, this attempt would be illegal. ...

Nevertheless, this is far from what President Zelaya attempted to do in Honduras the past Sunday and which the Honduran political/military elites disliked so much. President Zelaya intended to perform a non-binding public consultation, about the conformation of an elected National Constituent Assembly....

Furthermore, the Honduran Constitution says nothing against the conformation of an elected National Constituent Assembly, with the mandate to draw up a completely new constitution, which the Honduran public would need to approve. ...

...The National Constituent Assembly’s mandate would come directly from the Honduran people, who would have to approve the new draft for a constitution, unlike constitutional amendments that only need 2/3 of the votes in Congress. This popular constitution would be more democratic and it would contrast with the current 1982 Constitution, which was the product of a context characterized by counter-insurgency policies supported by the US-government, civil façade military governments and undemocratic policies.

For what crimes against the rich is President Zelaya being persecuted? As reported by Interconnect:
Since Zelaya became president Honduras has:

a.. Increased the minimum wage.
b.. Improved working conditions of teachers.
c.. Instituted measures to re-nationalize energy-generating plants and the telephone system.
d.. Joined Petrocaribe, the oil-sharing plan begun by Venezuela.
e.. Joined ALBA, the Venezuelan-led trade bloc.
f.. Delayed formal accreditation of US Ambassador Hugo Llorens.
g.. Called for a national referendum to replace the Honduran constitution.

Zelaya has worked to loosen the death grip of US capital and Honduran oligarchies on the country's resources, supported labor, and tightened relationships with regional partners.

The Organization of American States, the European Union, and most Latin American countries have denounced the coup. President Obama has not yet called the coup a coup, which would have legal ramifications in the United States, but he has expressed support for the people protesting against the coup. Some Honduran towns have declared they do not recognize the coup government, and two army battalions are standing against the coup.

It is urgent to express support for the democratic rights of the people of Honduras. Please call President Obama at 202-456-1111 and ask that he call for the return of President Zelaya and Chancellor Rodas, and denounce the coup as a coup, which would result in ending US aid to Honduras until President Zelaya's return.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Central Indiana Club Asks Indianapolis' 7th Congressional District To Support HR676

The Communist Party CPUSA Central Indiana Club is initiating a letter writing campaign to request of our Congressman, Andre Carson, that he renew his support for a single-payer national health insurance system by co-sponsoring HR 676, the U.S. National Health Insurance Act. HR 676 is also known as the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act.

Single-payer national health insurance would save enough on administrative paperwork - more than $300 billion per year - to provide comprehensive coverage to all Americans. It would provide full choice of doctor and hospital for patients, and unleash physicians from arbitrary corporate dictates over patient care. It would control the health expenses currently crippling our economy and provide for a wholesome revitalization of our democratic values.

Congressman Carson, like his grandmother Julia Carson, has a proud history of strongly supporting HR 676. Congressman Carson co-sponsored the bill in the 110th Congress.

More information on HR676 is available at Hoosiers for a Common Sense Health Plan, Physicians for a National Health Program, and HealthCare-NOW!.

Please write personal letters and snail mail them to Congressman Carson at:

Congressman André Carson
Julia Carson Government Center
300 East Fall Creek Parkway North Drive, #300
Indianapolis, IN 46205
Phone: (317) 283-6516
Fax: (317) 283-6567

We believe that a personal letter is the best way to get your support for HR676 heard by the Congressman.

Reforming health care requires getting rid of the insurance companies. Anything less may have some positive overall effect but won't get to the heart of the matter; the health insurance companies siphoning off billions of dollars for useless administrative fees and big dollar executive pay. HR 676 reinstates the patient-physician relationship as the primary health care relationship, increases democratic control over one of the biggest and most expensive sectors of our economy, and removes a layer of parasites from the health care system. Retraining for current workers in that sector is included in the bill.

We hope that you will take the time to write to Congressman Carson and ask that he again endorse HR 676, the National Health Insurance Bill.

A sample letter is included below.

Thank you.

Sample Letter:

Congressman André Carson
Julia Carson Government Center
300 East Fall Creek Parkway North Drive, #300
Indianapolis, IN 46205

Dear Congressman Carson:

Thank you for your past support for HR 676, the United States National Health Care Act.

Now that Democrats control Congress, the time is ripe to rally round a comprehensive solution for America’s failed, fragmented, irrational, cruel, wasteful, and costly health care system.

While the elderly and the disabled are covered by popular Medicare and the poor have Medicaid, most working families must rely on the shrinking value of employer-based private health insurance or they are among the 46.6 million who have no health insurance at all. This disarray persists even as we spend more than two trillion dollars a year on health care, two to three times per capita of any other country.

Reforms around the edges of the system won't work. The administrative cost of keeping the many insurance companies, with their redundant and complex paper work and costs, must be removed from the system in order to use that money to provide actual health care benefits.

Currently, unions worry about the affordability of adequate coverage and businesses struggle with the soaring costs of coverage while foreign competition, mostly countries with national health insurance, is totally free of that expense.

Please renew your support for the comprehensive solution, HR 676, the Conyers Medicare For All Bill, also known as the United States National Health Care Act. Huge savings would accrue from drastically simplified administration plus the proven efficiency of a universal risk pool. In the last Congress, you joined with at least 79 other Democrats in resisting the well-financed opposition of the insurance industry and signed on as a cosponsor of HR 676. Please let me know you are now ready to renew your commitment to a single-payer health system or, if not, why not. I look forward to your response on this most pressing domestic issue.

As Martin Luther King said in 1966, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."


Your Name