By choosing Chuck Hagel as his Secretary of War to head the U.S. killing machine, Barack Obama is intensifying a dogfight among bosses over war policy. The same struggle recently did in Obama’s beloved General David Petraeus and was an underlying issue in last November’s election. Neoconservatives are seeking to make war “on the cheap” (reliance on drones and special forces instead of heavy troop deployment). They are fixated on Iran’s threat to Israel. Obama’s camp, by contrast, is focused on longer-haul preparation for a broader global conflict. The neocons’ latest volley is a phony charge of anti-Semitism against Hagel, who has questioned whether the U.S. ruling class is best served by giving Israel a political blank check in its war of occupation against the Palestinians.
WESTERN CAPE PROVINCE, SOUTH AFRICA, January 12 — Thousands of farm workers toiling in this area’s vineyards and on grape and fruit farms have been wildcatting since October 30, demanding doubling of their starvation wages. The region is of huge financial importance to both wine production and tourism, but the farm workers still feel the brunt of Apartheid abuses, which is netting huge profits for the vineyard owners, in a $3.3 billion industry.
The strikers have clashed with bosses, scabs, private security goons and the police who have fired rubber bullets at the workers and called in helicopters for reinforcements. But the workers have answered back.
NEW YORK CITY, January 16 — The worldwide capitalist system is facing an economic crisis that the bosses are trying to solve on the backs of workers. Here, this means high unemployment, hospital and school closings and attacks against many of the few remaining good-paying jobs. Therefore, it’s significant that 8,800 school bus drivers and matrons are striking against cutbacks by New York’s ruling class.
Billionaire Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott pretend to care about students, but their lies shine through, given that they’ve slashed the budget for public schools. Furthermore, Bloomberg has overseen attacks on city workers, higher transit fares and less funding for hospitals — all of which means that the entire working class will suffer. Meanwhile the city spared no expense in getting Wall Street back up and running after hurricane Sandy. In this context, it’s a great thing that bus drivers and matrons are standing strong.
CHICAGO, January 3 — Racist police terror is a tool of the bosses to keep workers under control. Cops only serve and protect the capitalist class. On December 15, the Chicago kkkops shot and murdered 23-year-old Jamaal Moore. After crashing Jamaal’s car, the cops shot the young man twice in the back — all while the entire community watched in horror.
CPD (Chicago Police Department) claims he was involved with an armed robbery. Yet Jamaal was unarmed. His “gun” turned out to be a flashlight.
ALGIERS, January 11 — Ninety-five percent of Algeria’s postal workers are defying the government and continuing their illegal wildcat strike for the twelfth straight day. They’re demanding the firing of both the general director of Algérie Poste and the general secretary of the official trade union, an affiliate of the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA).
The strikers are demanding payment of a 30% wage hike due since January 1, 2008; payment of overtime hours worked in 2011; respect for all the demands won in their June 2011 strike; payment of the 2011 bonus; a wage raise and an investigation of Mohamed Laid Mahloul’s mismanagement, particularly of the promotions granted since he became general director. Eighty percent of the 30,000 postal workers say they’ve not received promotions due them.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, December 12 — Students, teachers, and other members of the working class here continue their struggles against violence, injustice, insecurity, unemployment, cholera, occupation, and the outrageous wasting of government funds. They are organizing sit-ins, press conferences and marches to wrest a response from the rulers. The teachers continue to mobilize for better working conditions and a salary that meets their basic needs. Sometimes all these forces meet together — an idea of how it will be when workers everywhere are united under a single flag for revolution.
BROOKLYN, NY, January 6 — Last year was one of struggle for workers at the State-run Downstate Medical Center, and 2013 will be another. We need to win thousands of workers, patients and working-class residents of our communities to fight back against the bosses’ plans to close hospitals and schools and save money on our backs. New York´s Governor Cuomo has already claimed that there’s “no money.” That’s why they plan to shut down or privatize this hospital, which serves a mainly black and Latino working-class community and provides more than 8,000 jobs.
LILLE, FRANCE, January 12 — Today some 200 supporters rallied to back the 71-day hunger strike by 41 undocumented workers who represent the demands of 161 of their sisters and brothers for work papers for all. The action of these immigrant workers has exposed the utter disregard of the working class by the racist, “lesser-evil” Socialist government which has refused to issue these papers. More support has come from other undocumented workers who occupied the royal cathedral in Saint Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, on January 9. The strikers initially occupied the Fives-Lille Protestant church but were evicted. Since then, about 40 have lived in a tent in front of Saint Maurice’s church in downtown Lille.
Jerusalem, Palestine, January 4 — Working-class activists from all over Israel-Palestine, both Jewish and Arab, have visited the East Jerusalem village-neighborhood of Issawiyye to show solidarity with the locals in the face of prolonged police terrorism against the villagers. Today, fifty activists of the Tarabut broad-left movement came to demonstrate against this police brutality. Three PLers, as well as an activist from Tarabut came to show solidarity as well and visited the homes of several villagers whose sons and daughter have been brutalized by the racist Israeli cops.
Before the 1967 war, Issawiyye was an agricultural village on what was then the border between Israel and Jordan, on the Jordanian side. In 1967, Israel conquered East Jerusalem (as well as the entire West Bank and Gaza) and soon annexed the villages in East Jerusalem to its territory. The villagers have blue Israeli IDs and can vote in the municipal elections, but cannot vote in the national elections. Many of the villagers’ lands were confiscated, forcing them to abandon agriculture and become low-paid workers for Israeli bosses in West Jerusalem.
NEW YORK CITY, January 14 — Gentrification is a racist policy used by real estate profiteers, landlords, bankers, investors, educational institutions and government politicians to transform mostly black and Latino low-income neighborhoods into high-rent, mostly white enclaves. Landlords empty buildings, abandon them and declare neighborhoods “blighted.”
Columbia University is currently building a satellite campus in Manhattan’s West Harlem that will raise rents in the surrounding areas.
Landlords spread racist lies, saying black and Latino tenants in low-income neighborhoods are “dirty” or “criminals,” or that too many people and children live in the apartments and destroy property. Facing harassment, tenants move, seeking a better situation but where conditions turn out to be worse, crowded and neglected. The new neighborhood is often further from workplaces and has large numbers of unemployed.
The average price of condos here is 1.4 million dollars. Monthly rents run from $2,000 to 10,000. Condo prices in lower and mid-town Manhattan can reach as high as $90 million. Meanwhile 60 percent of NYC tenants earn $50,000 a year or below, and 30% of those earn under $30,000.
Such tenants are forced to flee these high-rent areas.
Neighborhoods change, become “hip.” Businesses cater to high-rent tenants, opening pricey markets and stores. Williamsburg in Brooklyn has been gentrified and now it’s spreading to surrounding boro neighborhoods, especially Bushwick. Bushwick’s white tenant population has grown by 19.7 percent. Agencies sometimes no longer rent to Spanish-speaking tenants.
PL’ers are helping to build a fight-back in Bushwick. We must unite black, Latino, Asian and white working-class tenants.
Only low-rent housing
Turn vacant buildings into good low-income housing
Take over expensive condo buildings and change them into good low-rent apartments
Immediate low-income housing for families and individuals in shelters and for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Lower rents now! Low-income families can’t pay $1,200 to $2,600 and more in rent. There are thousands of multi-millionaires and scores of billionaires in NYC. Landlords and their agents are raking in obscenely high rents on the backs of the working class.
Capitalism can not and will not provide decent affordable housing for the working class, only profits for the capitalists. We need to overthrow capitalism with communist revolution.
Communists believe that consciousness of how capitalism works is a powerful tool in the hands of the working class. We believe it’s not for the working class to make reformist compromises with the capitalists. It’s our job to unite and fight for what we need. The working class must be bold and purposeful.
Communists believe that, over time, workers will join PLP in ever greater numbers and build the fight for communism, a society in which the working class will hold all power. We will provide housing for the working class in an egalitarian society. To this goal we dedicate ourselves now in the fight against racist gentrification.