Four days after his confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama’s new Secretary of War Ashton Carter traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan, and “opened up the possibility of slowing the withdrawal of the last American troops in the country to help keep the Taliban at bay” (New York Times, 2/22/15). His speech was yet another signal that the U.S. capitalist class is accelerating toward the next round of slaughter over oil and gas in Afghanistan and Iraq. The bosses’ urgency to defend ExxonMobil’s profits in Central Asia points to a sharpening rivalry with the capitalists of Russia and China, who are vying to control the same region. A new infusion of ground troops seems inevitable. Once again, the U.S. rulers will send workers to do the fighting and dying—especially immigrant youth who have few other options in an economy with permanent, massive unemployment.
CHICAGO, February 7 — PLP medical workers club organized a “Racism, Police Violence, and Health Teach-In,” with two public health student organizations at a major university. This teach-in was built on the growing antiracist momentum against police terror. It was developed for participants to draw connections between racism and public health, capitalism and police violence, and to strategize on how to build the antiracist struggle among the masses. The teach-in provided an opportunity to fight anti-communist attacks and sharpen our relationships with friends.
NEW YORK CITY, January 24 — With the weather snowy and wet, the streets icy and slippery, a forum “Ferguson: Causes, Events, What Happens Now?” took place in the sanctuary of our church. Ten minutes before the beginning of the forum, it appeared that almost nobody would show up, but soon there were almost 100 people sitting in the pews awaiting the start of the forum.
Following the official welcome to the church, a worker sang a song that named and honored many victims of racist police murders. There was tremendous applause for the words and the beauty of the song.
The forum began with introductions of the five speakers: a representative of the New York Civil Liberties Union, a Baptist minister, a mother whose daughter had died in police custody, and two young fighters who went to Ferguson to take part in the struggle. Questions followed.
Brooklyn, February 21 — “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now!”
“No justice, no peace! No racist police!”
“We want justice for Kyam Livingston killed in a prison cell.”
And so the chants continue now for 18 months. Kyam Livingston’s mother, along with many church members, teachers, union members, activists and PL’ers, have stood strong fighting for justice.
Because of the recent outbreak of measles among some children who visited Disneyland, the mass media have focused on parents who are afraid to have their children vaccinated. Measles can kill, but many parents have been fooled by widespread disinformation that measles vaccinations may lead to autism. This is a blatant lie. No one knows what causes autism, but we have voluminous proof that vaccines do not.
New York CITY, February 18 — “A Little Cold, A Little Pain, That Won’t Stop This Justice Train!” That was the chant today as about 150 workers and professionals held a very spirited picket line on the coldest day of the year, in support of the 56 attorneys, paralegals and secretaries who are on strike at Mobilization For Youth (MFY) Legal Services. They are represented by the Legal Services Staff Association (LSSA)/UAW Local 2320. After almost four weeks on strike in record-breaking cold weather, on February 24, MFY’s union signed a new contract with their bosses.
From the moment the vicious murders of the Ayotzinapa teachers took place, PLP members in Mexico have participated in the massive protests. At these protests, we distributed flyers criticizing the Mexican government, and every reformist and electoral “alternative” group being promoted among workers. The attack, which took place in Iguala, Guerrero State last September 27, is a reflection of the violence that the ruling class is willing to use to enforce its plans against the working class as the bosses consolidate and assert their power. Six other people, three of them students, were killed in a police and paramilitary attack. To this day, 57 youth are still missing.
Our club recently discussed the election of Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) to lead the government of Greece. In the last few years, Greek workers have been hit with a 25 percent unemployment rate, and a one-third average reduction in household income. It therefore isn’t surprising that many supported a party that promises to lessen the pain — reduce austerity conditions by raising the minimum wage, shifting property taxes to the wealthy, and beginning a jobs program.
Los Angeles, February 21 — While 13,000 West Coast dock workers returned to work today, another 1,350 oil refinery workers walked out at the Motiva Enterprises refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, the largest refinery in the U.S.
The dock workers, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have been waging a work-to-rule campaign against the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), in a nine-month contract fight. Once a communist-led union, the ILWU remains the most militant, left-wing union in the U.S. They struck the docks during the Occupy movement and again over the issue of racist police terror and the killing of Oscar Grant. They also refused to unload Israeli ships during the bombing of Gaza last summer.
The week of February 16 was a banner week for oil catastrophes — oil train derailments in West Virginia and Ontario, Canada, and a refinery explosion south of Los Angeles.
In Ontario, a train carrying Alberta tar sands crude derailed and exploded. In West Virginia, a train carrying light, volatile crude from the huge Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, derailed in the town of Mt. Carbon. At least 15 cars were set on fire, and at least one house burned down. It took five days to put the fires out, forcing an evacuation of many homes, and potentially contaminating a river used for drinking water.