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Leid Stories – 09.23.15

Auto Workers Begin Voting on New Contracts. Deal or No Deal?
Starving for Education in Chicago: Hunger Strikers Fight for A School
About 40,000 workers are voting this week on whether to ratify a new four-year contract their union, the United Auto Workers, has worked out with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. All eyes in the auto industry are looking for the outcome, which might predict how contract negotiations with General Motors and Ford Motor Co. will go as well. The industry employs 141,000 people.
Two longtime union workers discuss their concerns about the contract-negotiation process, the concessions they say the UAW has made, the definitive change in workers’ rights and benefits, and the outsourcing of jobs.
It took a 34-day hunger strike by 15 activists to force Chicago Public Schools to reopen the historic Dyett High School, shut down last year. But the fight’s just beginning, say the strikers, who envision the creation of the Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology High School, and the rebirth of community control over education in the City of Chicago.

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Economic Update – Precarious Work = Capitalism’s Inefficiency – 09.13.15

Updates on economics of refugees, Ford buys French political wife, LAs homeless, Labor Day history, Seattle Teachers strike, and Japan’s jobs ever more precarious. Response to listeners on why rising wages need NOT mean rising prices. Interview with Dr. Harriet Fraad, mental health counselor, on the psychological pains, personal suffering, and huge social costs of imposing uncertainty and precarity on job security, hours and days of work, benefits, and wages.

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Eric London – A portrait of life in America’s Rust Belt

Spread out across the prairies of north-central Indiana are dozens of towns and small cities whose streets and industrial parks once buzzed and hummed with the sound of automobile production. Over the highways and railroad tracks linking places like Muncie, Kokomo, and Marion to the industrial capitals of Detroit and Chicago there passed millions upon millions of loads of car …

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Leid Stories – 09.01.15

Labor Pains for 137,000: The Auto Workers Union and Detroit’s Big 3

It’s six weeks since the United Auto Workers union began hardball negotiations with Detroit’s Big Three—General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US—over a slew of issues related to a new contract for some 137,000 workers.

The current contract expires Sept. 14, and with no agreement yet struck on the top grievance—a two-tiered wage system that pays workers hired after 2007 about half what senior workers warn—union members have voted to authorize a strike against all three manufacturers in the event of “bad-faith” negotiations.

Frank Hammer, a retired 32-year GM worker and former chairman and president of the UAW’s 3,500-member Local 909 in Warren, Mich., for 12 years, takes us behind the scenes of the current negotiations, but with a blistering critique of the UAW. The union’s leadership has been capitulating to the dictates of the auto industry for more than a decade, Hammer contends.

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Racialized Poverty in America has Nearly Doubled in 21st Century

Discriminatory housing, zoning, and other policy choices are driving the dramatic rise of racialized poverty and segregation across the United States, with the number of people residing in low-income “ghettos, barrios, and slums” nearly doubling in the 21st century alone, a new report finds. Architecture of Segregation, authored by the Century Foundation fellow Paul Jargowsky, concludes that midsized cities of …

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Sherwood Ross – The Water Crisis is Here

From Brazil to India and from California to Detroit, taps are running dry, as the water crisis goes global. Detroit grabbed headlines when the city cancelled the water and sewerage service for more than 50,000 residents for lack of payment. But Detroit’s trials are not unique. “Caught between unaffordable rising water rates and the imposition of European-wide austerity measures, thousands …

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Nature Bats Last – 07.28.15

Pauline Schneider interviews Cliff Weathers who comes to Riverkeeper after 30 years as a writer, editor and multimedia producer. He served as a deputy editor of Consumer Reports for 10 years, focusing on automotive reliability, green technologies and product safety. As AlterNet’s senior editor, Cliff documented how communities are impacted by extreme forms of fossil fuel extraction and crude oil …

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Black Agenda Radio – 07.13.15

Austerity Rendering Detroit Unfit for Habitation

A serious fire raged out control due to chronic low water pressure in Detroit, despite the majority Black city’s location in one of the world’s major fresh water regions. “The whole process of so-called rebuilding of Detroit has not been clearly thought out,” said Abayomi Azikiwe, veteran activist and editor of the Pan African News Wire. “How can you rebuild a city when you don’t have fundamental infrastructure, such as fire services, public safety, education, emergency services, simple things like being able to go to a supermarket?” The economic elite are “doing everything possible to drive out the African American population,” he said, but poor infrastructure discourages white resettlement. “What you have is the anarchy of capitalism.”

Big Business Tries to Roll Back Socialist Alternative in Seattle

Corporate contributions are pouring into Seattle Urban League chief Pamela Banks’ campaign to unseat Kshama Sawant, the Socialist Alternative councilwoman who championed the city’s $15 an hour minimum wage law. “It’s not so much about my opponent’s qualities,” said Sawant, “It’s because corporations, billionaires, the people who have an incentive to uphold the status quo, recognize that if we win re-election this year, then it really confirms to working people in Seattle and everywhere that we can prevail against the full might of big business and the political establishment.”

Mumia: “Flags and Rags”

The heritage of the Confederate battle flag is “one of terror and violence in support of a system of organized theft of Black labor, in the name of white supremacy and Black subjugation,” said Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner, in a report for Prison Radio. “Dylan ‘Dumb and Dumber’ Roof knew, instinctively, what the flag stood for.”

Justices OK Painful Death Drug

The U.S. Supreme Court ended its term by allowing states to continue lethal injections with a cocktail that can cause horrific pain for condemned persons. “Prisoners remain less than human” in the High Court’s eyes, said Kenneth A. Hartman, a writer and prison activist serving life in California. “How else can a decision that allows for deliberate torture be explained?”

Fear of Blacks Triggered 1776 War of Independence

White settlers turned against the their mother country partly in fear that the British Crown would put guns in the hands of Blacks, according to Dr. Gerald Horne, chairman of history and African American Studies at the University of Houston and author of more than 30 books, including The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America. In 1775, the British colonial governor of Virginia established an “Ethiopian Regiment” to counter rebellious white settlers. “One of the factors that caused formerly patriotic British subjects to revolt against British rule was this ‘Black scare’ that, I argue, led to the formation of the United States of America,” said Dr. Horne, in a lecture at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

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Leid Stories – 07.08.15

Bleeding to Debt: As With Detroit, So With Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico is in a “death spiral,” Gov. Alejandro García Padilla has declared, unable to pay off an estimated $72 billion in debts. Padilla’s plea to creditors for concessions and more time on overdue notes isn’t playing well with bondholders, and Puerto Ricans have had it with government cutbacks and runaway increases in the cost of living to service the debt.

Padilla sees a way out—declaring bankruptcy. The problem is, by law only U.S. municipalities and states can seek bankruptcy protection from the courts, and Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory; it must first seek special dispensation from Congress.

Padilla has hired former federal judge Stephen Rhodes as a consultant on restructuring Puerto Rico’s debt. For many, it’s a troubling sign. Rhodes, now in private practice, was the judge who presided over Detroit’s contentious $18-billion bankruptcy, sanctioning wholesale plunder of the once-prosperous city.

Abayomi Azikiwe, editor in chief of Pan African News Wire and our correspondent on Detroit’s bankruptcy, says Padilla’s hiring of Rhodes is an indication that the Detroit bankruptcy model is about to be applied to Puerto Rico.

8 Stupidest Economic Ideas GOP Presidential Candidates Are Hearing from Their Experts By Zaid Jilani

There’s an old saying going back to the Reagan years: “personnel is policy.” It means that the sort of advisers and staff public officials surround themselves with are key indicators of the sort of policy regimes they will put into place. The New York Times recently named [3] a number of economic advisers who are currently advising or are interviewing to begin working …