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Michigan health department hit with lawsuit over refusal to share nursing home data comparable to Cuomo’s cover-up

RT | March 11, 2021

A local reporter is suing Michigan’s health department after it denied repeat requests for its nursing home data amid the Covid-19 outbreak, piling pressure on the government as lawmakers demand a probe into its pandemic response.

Journalist Charlie LeDuff launched a Freedom of Information suit against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday, accusing the agency of withholding data linked to coronavirus deaths in nursing homes without legal basis.

“Not only does the public have the right to know this information, we have the need to know,” said LeDuff, who won a Pulitzer for his reporting for the New York Times in 2001 and later returned to local coverage in Detroit. “If we’re going to fix end-of-life care moving forward, it’s going to require a hard look at how the state’s policies treated our most vulnerable population.”

Represented by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, LeDuff says numerous FOIA requests to the state government have been denied without justification. The first inquiry, submitted in late January, was rejected only an hour after it was submitted on grounds that it would divulge sensitive health records – an argument the journalist rejects.

While LeDuff said the state had previously published “certain statistical information” related to Covid-19 deaths, he argued it is lacking in transparency. He drew parallels to the New York state government, which has also come under fire for unwillingness to share its nursing home statistics.

“The need for transparency in this particular area has already been established, in another state, thanks to recent revelations that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration had intentionally withheld data from disclosure due to concerns about the resulting political fallout,” LeDuff’s complaint said, noting that he saw “significant similarities” between Cuomo’s policies and those of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Whitmer has also faced fierce criticism over her pandemic response, namely a directive early on in the outbreak that incentivized nursing homes to accept Covid-positive patients, despite the risk they posed to the facilities’ aging residents. Cuomo and several other Democratic governors imposed similar policies, which critics say contributed to thousands of unnecessary deaths in elderly populations most vulnerable to the virus.

Among the most vocal of Whitmer’s detractors is county prosecutor and former GOP state Senator Peter Lucido, who suggested on Monday that the governor could be slapped with criminal charges over her handling of nursing homes and “willful neglect of office.”

Whitmer later responded, castigating the prosecutor for “shameful political attacks based in neither fact nor reality” while insisting her administration “carefully tracked CDC guidance on nursing homes, and we prioritized testing of nursing home residents and staff to save lives.”

GOP lawmakers also called on Michigan AG Dana Nessel last week to investigate Whitmer’s nursing home policies in a formal letter to the state Department of Justice. Nessel, however, has signaled unwillingness to launch a probe, saying “bad policy” does not equate to “violations of the law.”

“I think oftentimes it is appropriate for the office to investigate. But not just when you say, ‘We don’t like what this policy is,’” she said of the request.

Whitmer’s administration was previously taken to court by Republicans alleging her “temporary” emergency pandemic powers had been extended indefinitely without approval from the legislature. While the state Supreme Court ultimately ruled against the governor, she simply sidestepped the decision by having her health director extend the orders instead, citing a legal loophole stemming from the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak.

March 11, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump flips Michigan county after ‘error’ initially had Biden in the lead

RT | November 7, 2020

Donald Trump has won a recount in a Michigan county, after election officials questioned Joe Biden’s lead in the Republican stronghold. Another error elsewhere in the state also skewed down-ballot results in the Democrats’ favor.

Preliminary results in Antrim County showed a decisive victory for the Democratic challenger, who was up more than 3,000 votes with 98 percent of precincts reporting. Trump won the county by 4,000 votes in 2016, raising questions in this deep-red area of Michigan. Local election officials decided to carry out a partial hand recount, which showed Trump ahead in the county by nearly 2,500 votes.

The strange tabulation error was mentioned during a press conference held by Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox in which she raised questions about an alleged “glitch” in the election software used in 47 Michigan counties.

Antrim County had to hand-count all of the ballots, and these counties that use this software need to closely examine their results for similar discrepancies.

The software, Election Source, is used by Antrim County, and the incorrect results were initially blamed on the program. However, the county’s election officials now say human error was behind the problem, explaining that it’s likely a small change made to the ballot resulted in the miscalculation, according to local 9&10News. The Detroit Free Press reported that the issues were the result of both human and software errors. Officials stressed that there was always a clear paper trail that allowed for any errors to be corrected.

Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers is now verifying a full audit of the county’s ballots, 9&10News said.

Antrim isn’t the only Michigan county to report counting issues. In Oakland County, a computer glitch erroneously handed victory to a Democratic candidate for commissioner. The Republican incumbent was declared the winner on Friday. Some state officials and voters have raised concerns that the faulty tabulations could have occurred elsewhere in Michigan.

The problems come amid accusations from the Trump campaign that voter fraud linked to late or improperly marked mail-in ballots tipped the scales in Biden’s favor. Trump was initially leading in Michigan before the state flipped blue. On Wednesday morning, the president was ahead by about 1.3 points with 83 percent of the votes tallied. Biden now has a 3-point lead.

November 7, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | 1 Comment

Despite Billion-Dollar Budget, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Cancels Project Studying Cancer near Nuclear Facilities

By Ken Broder | AllGov | September 12, 2015

A five-year federal pilot program to determine levels of contamination around eight nuclear facilities in the United States was cancelled this week because, apparently, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is already doing such a fine job of oversight.

“The NRC continues to find U.S. nuclear power plants comply with strict requirements that limit radiation releases from routine operations,” agency spokesman Scott Burnell wrote in defense of the decision. “The NRC and state agencies regularly analyze environmental samples from near the plants. These analyses show the releases, when they occur, are too small to cause observable increases in cancer risk near the facilities.”

There is nothing to see, so why waste the time and money. “The NRC determined that continuing the work was impractical, given the significant amount of time and resources needed and the agency’s current budget constraints.”

The cost was $8 million, $1.5 million of which has already been spent. The NRC has a budget of more than $1 billion. Results from the testing were not expected until at least the end of the decade. The study, led by National Academy of Sciences (NAS) researchers, was meant to update a 1990 National Cancer Institute (NCI) report that focused on cancer mortality, with limited occurrence of the disease in two states.

The NRC decided in 2007 to update the report and contacted the NAS to commence a two-phase study of cancer risks in populations living near NRC-licensed facilities. Phase 1 was to determine if doing the study was feasible. The conclusion reached in 2012 was “Yes.”

Phase 2 was to be broken into two parts: planning and execution. The commission killed it on Tuesday. Nuclear sites to be studied included active and decommissioned plants in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey. A nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Tennessee was also on the list.

Supporters of the program are not happy. “Study after study in Europe has shown a clear rise in childhood leukemia around operating nuclear power facilities, yet the NRC has decided to hide this vital information from the American public,” said Cindy Folkers, radiation and health specialist at Beyond Nuclear.

Folkers blamed nuclear industry manipulation. Beyond Nuclear points to the NRC staff recommendation (pdf) that the commission drop the program. The policy issue document mentions a cheaper, crummier project pitched by the president of the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), but the staff concludes that no study is worth doing.

U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts), who pushed for the cancer study in 2009, also did not sound happy. He said,

“We need a thorough, accurate accounting of the health risks associated with living near nuclear facilities so residents can know if there are any adverse health impacts. But the NRC has decided to take a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ approach to this public health concern by ceasing work on what could be a lifesaving cancer risk research study.”

To Learn More:

Cancer Risk Study Canceled at San Onofre (by Morgan Lee, San Diego Union-Tribune )

Regulators Halt Study of Cancer Risks at 7 Nuclear Plants (by Stephen Singer, Associated Press )

NRC Pulls Plug on Cancer Study near Nuclear Plants (by Christine Legere, Cape Cod Times )

Memo on Analysis of Cancer Risks in Populations near Nuclear Facilities Study (Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff) (pdf)

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Detroit and the International War of the Rich on the Poor

By RICH GIBSON – CounterPunch – March 28, 2013

Every Detroit teacher was fired in the fall of 2012.

Apparently, the nation did not notice. Hence, this story.

On March 26, 2013, 78% of the voting members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers ratified a contract which DFT president, Keith Johnson, called, “terrible.”

The contract mirrors, does not improve, an edict imposed on the union by an “Emergency Manager,” Roy Roberts, a black 74-year-old former manager at the failed General Motors corporation, once the most powerful company in the world now commonly called Government Motors. Roberts was appointed by Michigan Governor Snyder, effectively setting aside all the key actions of the elected Detroit School Board–the third state takeover in 25 years. None of them repaired the school system.

The DFT contract, though, does allow the union to continue to collect dues, the pacified labor of its members sold to Roberts for the term of the contract. DFT president Johnson will continue to receive his $142,000 salary as the rank and file accept another set of wage and benefit concessions.

Concessions, DFT members should have learned, don’t save jobs. Beginning in 1996, the DFT made concession on concession until, in the fall of 2012, every Detroit public school teacher was effectively fired and forced to reapply for a position. Hundreds of them, including teachers with 20 years and more seniority, one of them a former DFT vice president, have never been recalled.

Even before Roberts arrived, Detroit Public Schools had been shifted into a “Good School/Bad School” system, somewhat parallel to the “Good bank/Bad Bank” plan of the bailout days. Good schools get funded. Bad schools organize decay.

GM, at nearly the time of Robert’s birth, was, faced down in the Great Flint Strike of 1937 by the militant, class conscious, United Auto Workers union–seizing buildings, fighting back cops and troops. The first industrial contract was won by direct action. Where is the resistance today?

We shall see how the DFT, UAW, Johnson, Roberts, and the union movement reflect one another as the world, Detroit, and Michigan, writhe in a rising tide of barbarism–booming inequality and a real promise of endless war–that can only be combated by the potential of a mass, activist, class conscious movement which connects reason to power–for equality and justice.

The parent body of the DFT, the American Federation of Teachers, was among the first, along with the UAW, to openly redefine the relationship of unions, their members, and employers. Once defined best by the term, “contradiction,” both unions at the top adopted what once AFT president Al Shanker, and later NEA presidents, called “New Unionism.” The UAW was more direct: “Partners in Production.” Long before the 2008-09 bailouts, the union tops joined government officials and corporate bosses to declare their unity, not noting that meant the rank and file, and most of the rest of the world, would be on the other side.

The DFT now has but 4,000 members, one-third its size a decade ago, while the UAW looks at the same fate, but about 25% of its size in the union’s heyday. Wages for Detroit school workers, like auto workers, have collapsed while, in the schools and the factories, new hires work for half what the more senior employees earn.

The Detroit Public Schools were once heralded as the finest urban school system in the US, serving more than 299,000 students. Those schools, like all capitalist schools, were never truly public but always segregated by class and race, even within the city. Depending primarily on birth-class, students were taught different “facts,” by teachers (whose dress differed) using different methods, in distinctly different facilities.

Today, the divide is even more glaring. The Detroit Federation of Teachers, in 90% black Detroit, is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, the smaller of the two national teachers’ unions, representing for the most part, urban areas.

Suburban Michigan, overwhelmingly white, is represented by the Michigan Education Association, linked to the larger National Education Association. The racial divide between DFT and MEA hasn’t been demolished by the union leaders, and now it’s being used to demolish their members. MEA stood aside and let Detroit rot, doing nothing. Detroit’s conditions, and management demands for concessions, spread throughout the state–an injury to one preceding an injury to all, a slogan too dangerous for today’s labor bosses.

The same conditions prevail nationwide. Eighty percent of the US teaching force is white. Minority teachers mostly remain located in the most urban areas while suburban school kids are taught by a white teaching force. The national school system is as segregated as it was at the time of Brown vs. the Board of Education; white students being the most fully segregated body.

Not too long ago, most youth could project a somewhat better life than their parents. No more. The false promise of the Obama ruse, “Anyone can make it,” is statistically shattered by the fact that the generation exiting school will do worse that their elders; probably much worse.

It follows that the commonplace call to “Save Public Schools,” is rooted in myth. It’s a demand to more deeply empower what is now a full blown corporate state, promoting a unity which never existed, insisting on a tax increase that will invariably be aimed at those working people who still have jobs, and, importantly, it is a fountain of school worker opportunism: “Save my job, pay me, and I will implement the national curriculum, proctor racist high-stakes exams, and be silent about the militarization of every level of schooling.”

Inherent in “Save Public Schools” is the nationalist view that we all share a common goal to educate all kids in a democratic society. That’s never been the case. It is, though, a good way to make a war popular.

Better: Rescue Education from the Ruling Classes! 

“Save Public Schools” is usually followed by: “Stop Privatization;” targeting charter schools.

But privatization misreads reality.

The education project is an imperfect, but true, merger of the corporate, government, and military levels of US government–as were the bi-partisan bailouts of 2008 and the current bi-partisan wars.

Nearly all charter schools are, in fact, publicly funded, subject to public–if corporatized regulations.

In a word: state fascism. It cannot be made gentle nor more democratic. Why offer this perverse structure a cover of legitimacy and more power still?

Today, in fully segregated Detroit, there are less than 55,000 students. A charter system, mostly owned by private operations but funded with public money, holds another 55,000–if internal DPS figures can be trusted. Typically, they cannot. In DPS, for example, every employee at every level has had an interest in inflating attendance numbers. In capitalist schools, every child actually in a schoolroom represents a dollar value.

Corruption and incompetence ran rampant at every level of public life in Detroit for a century, but it hurt more as wealth left the city.

Days before the March 26th DFT contract ratification, the Council of Foreign Relations, led by war-hawk Condoleeza Rice (“We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,”) issued its Education Task Force Report, demonstrating in clear terms that the education agenda is a war agenda: class and empire’s wars.

“Human capital will determine power in the current century, and the failure to produce that capital will undermine America’s security…Large, undereducated swaths of the population damage the ability of the United States to physically defend itself, protect its secure information, conduct diplomacy, and grow its economy.”

In the midst of World War I, a general demanded that the schools become “human munition factories.” That capitalist schools serve a capitalist state is key to grasping the war project at hand.

We can restate that the education agenda is a war agenda from another standpoint: The school unions’ relationship with The National Endowment for Democracy and Education International. NED is a well-recognized CIA front while EI is the inheritor of the CIA sponsored international teacher unions.

Leaders from both school unions retire to Education International where their salaries are not disclosed. But NEA’s ex-president, Reg Weaver is there. He was paid $686,949 for his last year in office, in a union where many teachers live in house trailers. Former NEA president Mary Hatwood Futrell is at EI. Current NEA president Dennis Van Roekel ($465,000 a year and an expense account he can live on) will surely be there. He’ll join Ed McElroy who “serves on the board of directors of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Education International, and ThanksUSA. McElroy is a member of the board of directors for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)-a private, nonprofit organization created to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts.” (AFT web site).

The vacillating reactionary, current for-profit press and education “reform” favorite, Diane Ravitch served at the NED and is still saluting the flag and God-blessing America with the best of them.

Labor imperialism, theoretically propelled by the idea that US workers will do better if the world’s workers do worse, and in practice the AFL-CIO’s backing of CIA-corporate adventures all over the world, may have served a relatively tiny number of US workers for a short time, but at the end of the day, it inevitably failed. The lack of international solidarity of working class people is destroying the lives of workers all over the world, and the members of the AFL-CIO as well. That the class war is also a classroom war is, due to de-industrialization, a significant particular, developing world-wide.

Inside the USA, both school unions’ leaders participated in the construction of the Bush No Child Left Behind Act, the Obama move of Race to the Top, and now the nationally regimented curricula, the Common Core standards which will redouble the frenzy around high-stakes testing–and merit pay. Elites know why they have schools, if the work force never considers it.

School workers produce value in capital’s markets. When educators and kids arrive in school, they confront a billion dollar business, more powerful than unorganized kids and teachers. This is part of the answer to the critical question that is rarely asked: Why have school? Educators shape the next generation of workers and military volunteers, labor power, and they generate hope, real or false; a lynchpin of social order, control. People in pacified areas become instruments of their own oppression.

In 2012, Michigan labor, the AFL-CIO and NEA combined, placed a bill on the state ballot to make collective bargaining a legal right. They were reacting to a legislative right-to-work bill the Governor said he would not sign. In effect, the bill sought to win by a vote what had never been won in that manner–rather, victory through building seizures a la Flint in 1937, strikes, and related job actions.

In an atmosphere in which unions had proved themselves to be concession machines on the one hand, and gobblers of the public treasury on the other, Michigan electors rejected the measure. Seeing that, Governor Snyder signed the right-to-work bill, which became law in 2013.

Instead of a vote; why not build for a statewide strike?

The last thing a labor leader in the US wants is a mass of truly class conscious workers who are ready to take direct action in order to control their work places on a daily basis. On one hand, if that was the case, the labor leaders would have nothing to sell the bosses, i.e., labor peace would not be theirs to peddle, but democratically controlled by the members and, on the other hand, such a conscious mass of people would never tolerate labor leaders who make four and five times the wages of average rank and filers, live completely different lives, more in common with employers.

Simultaneous to the issuance of the Council on Foreign Relations report, the Michigan legislature passed a bill that would spread “Emergency Manager” school powers throughout the state in an Education Achievement Authority. The EM is to identify and take over up to 50 state schools, those in the bottom five percentile on test scores. The school workers may be effectively fired, as in Detroit, and, if re-hired, have no collective bargaining rights. New hires would be placed outside the Michigan retirement system.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers, since 1997, did fight back. The members launched both authorized and wildcat strikes–the latter led by radical dissident Steve Conn, a teacher at Detroit’s Cass Tech High School. Conn led the 1999 wildcat, initiating it by shouting, “All in favor of the strike walk over here,” in a mass meeting in Cobo Hall. At least 90% of the members moved.

The DFT members struck again in 2006.  One of the more famous quotes by a teacher: “We asked for nothing and won less.” Time and again, DFT leaders lied about the nature of the contracts put up for ratification, until well after the votes were counted.

In each instance, the members were defeated, in the main, by their own elected leaders. In contract after contract, the DFT leaders, from John Elliot to Keith Johnson, urged concession on concession. Conn, who I believe was robbed of the DFT presidency in a fraudulent vote count in 2011, was “suspended” from membership for months–sidelined. He’s been silent since.

On the management side, a low was reached in 2010 when General School Superintendent Teresa Gueyser complained that Otis Mathis, school board president, “repeatedly fondled himself,” in front of her. Mathis was removed but not before current school board member Reverend (changed his name, not a “reverend”) David Murray complained, “well men do have these urges. He’s a young man. That’s just the way it is.” Murray has had his children removed from his care by Protective Services. And he was re-elected.

From the material angle, Detroit’s Takeover School boards, imposed by a succession of Governors beginning in the mid-nineties with former Wayne State University president David Adamany, did nothing to improve DPS by their own standard: test scores. School reform in the absence of social reform fails: think devastating poverty.

The Takeover leaders did build a dozen new schools in a district losing ten thousand students a year–and completely refurbished others, to the delight of suburban developers.

Now, the new schools sit empty, stripped by “Scrappers,” a respected local profession. When the district put fences around the empty buildings, scrappers took the fences.

In 2012, Arne Duncan, education attack dog for the demagogue Obama, called Detroit, “the worst school system in the country.” It’s a tough competition for the bottom, especially in Michigan, what with Flint, Benton Harbor, and other cities destroyed much like Detroit, but smaller.

When the Michigan right-to-work law banned dues check-off in 2012, DFT’s, Keith Johnson, complained in the union’s newspaper, the “Detroit Teacher,” that 86% of the teachers quit and wouldn’t re-sign.

Only a subsequent judge’s injunction now keeps the DFT financially afloat, a double-edged indicator-the courts want the union to exist since it has so helped heap concession on concession on the work force (10% pay cuts last year, gutted health benefits, etc., and this year, the contract imposed by the Emergency Financial Manager-EFM–even worse).

Interviewed in late 2012, Joel Scott, a former 15 year Cass Tech teacher, said, “Keith and AFT’s boss, Randi Weingarten, killed their own golden goose. What were they thinking? They must have known that even the last contract would kill the union, and now this one did. I think they must believe that the end is coming; they’ll grab whatever they can, keep deceiving people, and run away at the last moment. They’re the flip side of finance capitalists.”

Scott went on, “The real tragedy is for the kids and the rank and file members. Detroit kids will get doubly mis-educated, learn again not to like to learn, and the members are going to lose homes, after all their sacrifices.”

Now in Detroit, Scott says, “It’s a vampire city. All the lights on Warren are off; pitch darkness. [Warren is a major street on the west side]. Nobody is going to send their kids to a failed Detroit school. That will be the end of the system. It’s done.”

Emergency Manager Roberts projects a gloomy DPS future–but brighter than probably reality. He believes there will be 38,488 students by 2015. His predecessor, Robert Bobb, paid $450,000 a year, projected 58,000, but the slide continues while false hope in shape shifter forms is dangled before the kids and parents of the city–perhaps in real hopes of preventing another urban uprising.

The steady loss of students places the school system, like the city, on the edge of bankruptcy.

The ongoing sorting to the suburbs and to charters means that 20% of DPS kids are in special ed, requiring extra finances the system does not have.

In December 2012, the US Department of Education issued a report saying that only 7% of DPS kids in the 8th grade were “proficient in reading.” Only 4% were found proficient in math.

Schools, everyone from the Skillman Foundation to for-profit reporters to me, knew, are the key to the city’s survival. Detroit needed young people with kids, central to recreating the city’s tax system, filling the empty homes to overcome the scary crime rate and to make Detroit truly liveable, as it was, a delight, 40 years ago.

In the nineties, several literacy studies reported that nearly 50% of Detroiters are functionally illiterate. That is not my experience, not at that level, and having lived there half of my adult life, I say it’s a stretch, but I’ll agree the adult educational levels are more than troubling. A recent study concluded that half of Michigan residents read below the 6th grade level. In many cases, four generations of Detroiters never had a job. Unemployment among city youth is well over 50 percent.

Crime grows. Rapes and robberies were up 23% in the first months of 2013. Murders often do not get investigated: statistics are murky. Officially, murders were up about 10% at 379. A top official said, “We have lost respect for life in Detroit.”

Two-thirds of the buildings in the city, public and private, are vacant, the Mayor making unfulfilled promises year after year to bulldoze thousands of them.

Like the schools, Mayor Bing (yes, the suburban basket-baller) wants to divide the city into the Good Area/Bad Area zones. Pockets of the city are still peopled. Bing hopes to force those in areas which are mostly vacated to move into the more densely populated areas. But homes in Detroit are nearly worthless. Who will pay the moving expenses?

Detroit city government itself was taken over by an Emergency Manager on March 25th. The city, like the school system, is broke–in every conceivable way.

Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his father were convicted, in March, of a variety of felony embezzlement charges. The former police chief is in jail. Monica Conyers, wife of Congressman John, was just released. The chief of homicide has been charged with corruption and perjury. City Council President Charles Pugh had his home foreclosed.

The city has not produced a single honest and competent top leader since the death of popular radical lawyer Ken Cockrell Sr., more than twenty years ago: 1989.

Emergency Detroit Manager Orr is a bankruptcy specialist; worked on the auto bankruptcies. Many, probably most, see him using the weapon he plainly declared he held: a bankruptcy that could wipe out contracts, wages, benefits, and pensions, a la the auto bailout which cut auto workers pay by nearly half, with the UAW’s blessing and their cheers for the demagogue, Obama.

One way rulers stay in power is to choose and back the opposition’s leaders. Orr promised to keep City Council members’, and Bing’s, pay at current levels. A hug-fest ensued.

Poverty hustler Jesse Jackson quickly arrived in Detroit while the local preachers mounted a fake resistance. Mysticism, on the rise world wide, will not solve Detroit’s crisis. Proof? The counterfeit Arab Spring.

Other than the courageous fall 2012 Chicago Teachers Union strike, which has profound problems with its cries to “Save Public Schooling,” and “Save Our (sic) Schools” an ideological cul-de-sac which fails to address the whole of the problem, silent about the wars as well, there has been virtually no resistance from the US school worker force, the most unionized people in the US.

Indeed, even after four years of bashing from Democrat Arne Duncan, the personification of George W. Bush’s education program on hyper-speed, more than 95% 9,000 members of the NEA, rank and file teachers, voted to endorse an Obama second term. By the same percentage, they voted not to discuss the bi-partisan wars, an indicator of the power of the empire’s bribe.

What explains the absence of resistance in poor and working communities? Surely, there have been false flags. The Occupy movement, declaring neither leaders nor ideas, occupied nothing significant, was swept away by “hope and change!” and some minimal, if co-ordinated, police violence.

More:

*The initial anti-war marches involved hundreds of thousands of people early in 2002, yet they have vanished, evaporated. Why?

*The massive Mayday Immigrant Rights marches have been repeated, but only under nationalist and religious banners as they to begin to disappear.

*The anti-tuition hike actions, mainly in California but all over the US, were attacked, and seduced—gone.

*Wisconsin and Michigan were farcical electoral moves and both states are right-to-work bastions—where once unionism originated.

*The Arab Spring, posed in the corporate press as a series of revolutions, became the Muslim Brotherhood’s Summer.

Consumerism plays a role. With two-thirds of the US economy based on debt-driven consumption, American society is not likely to produce the solidarity built into industrial work places. Rather, the buyer faces the seller, at odds, each playing to get the better of the other.

Spectacles: the best in the Southwest being the annual Miramar (north San Diego) Air Show’s conclusion: The Wall of Fire. There, 250,000 people, adults holding babies aloft for a good view, witness a massive series of explosions, not merely a wall of fire, but burning napalm. Nobody seems to remember the burning children of Vietnam, echoing Chalmers Johnson’s thought: “Americans know so little history they cannot connect cause and effect.” Johnson predicted, before his death, the Drones would fly at home. Now they do.

Militarism: war means work and now, the military poses its mission as “a job, not an adventure,” as it moves to recruit women for combat because American men are too uneducated, too addicted, too convicted, and too unfit to fill the numbers needed for cannon fodder.

Nationalism. Racism. Sexism. The usual suspects added in do not sum up to a good explanation of the mass hysterical conversion crisis that produces a world of barbarians, top to bottom, Obama to Hillary to Kerry to Afghanistan’s Karzai to Morsi of Egypt to the guardians of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and the lowliest 14-year-old suicide bomber purchased by the Pakistan Taliban, or Al Qaeda, for $4,000.

With many people of the world rejecting Soviet-style socialism, never much more than capitalism with a party at the top promising benevolence in the distant future–which was all of socialism–and either rejecting, or failing to grasp, the West’s twins, capitalist exploitation and imperialist war, the project noted at the outset, connecting reasoned class conscious to unified power for equality and justice, is more urgent than ever, and surely more interesting than the shopping decade of the nineties.

More united than ever by systems of capital–transportation, communications, technology, science, exploration, marketing and more–the world is as divided as ever through nationalism, racism, sexism, mysticism, and the rise of fascism as a popular movement in varying forms–picking sides perhaps for World War III.

Even so, school workers are situated at the centripetal organizing point of North America’s de-industrialized life. They do not have to operate the school-to-war pipeline. Indeed, if they begin to recognize the contradiction between why they think they are there, and why elites want them there, perhaps those educators can rescue education from the ruling classes—then help to expose the false mandate from heaven that offers dishonest and incompetent leaders legitimacy they do not deserve,

At base: it’s vital to grasp the whole of why things are as they are and that it is right to rebel. Justice, however, demands organization. It is that, or barbarism.

Dr Rich Gibson is emeritus professor of Social Studies at San Diego State University. He lived most of his adult life in Detroit, most of that at Ardmore and Seven Mile Road. He worked as a foundry worker, an ambulance driver, a pot and pan washer, a teacher, a social worker, and as a Wayne State University professor in the College of Education. With about ten other people, he helped to found what is now the largest local in the UAW, local 6000, not auto-workers, but state employees. He can be reached at rgibson@pipeline.com

March 28, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Standing Up Against Sexual Assault By the State

By Mie Lewis, Women’s Rights Project | April 12, 2012

Today, 34 civil rights, religious, and health organizations and experts joined together to condemn an extraordinarily degrading body search used on women prisoners. After every meeting with a family member, religious worker, or lawyer, and at other times, prisoners confined in Michigan’s Women’s Huron Valley prison are forced to remove all of their clothing and use their hands to spread open their vaginal lips as a guard peers into their vaginal cavities. This search — used routinely only in Michigan and in no other jurisdiction — has devastating emotional effects on women prisoners, the majority of whom are survivors of sexual or physical abuse.

A striking fact about Michigan’s spread-labia vaginal search is that it doesn’t serve any practical purpose, in part because the procedure is piled on top of two standard strip search maneuvers that already permit officials to detect any items smuggled in body cavities. Despite being even more degrading than those methods, the spread-labia search doesn’t add any measure of security. It’s therefore not surprising that the search doesn’t appear to yield any contraband. When we asked for records of contraband found during these searches, the Michigan Department of Corrections refused to turn any over, claiming that no log of recovered contraband is kept. In fact, subjecting women to such a humiliating search actually endangers security, because it traumatizes the women and risks increasing tensions between prisoners and staff.

But is it fair to characterize the spread-labia search as sexual assault by the state? Yes, for many reasons. Although the search doesn’t serve any legitimate purpose, women are forced to submit through the threat — or the actuality — of force. If a woman resists taking off her clothing or opening her vagina, she can be physically subdued and searched, or punished with solitary confinement. In most cases, the threat of force is enough to coerce women to comply. It’s important to note that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and courts, define sexual assault as a violation of the sexual integrity or dignity of the victim. It doesn’t have to give sexual gratification to the perpetrator, or even involve touching. The point of sexual assault is domination and control, asserted by means of the victim’s body. Decades ago, the eminent sociologist Erving Goffman described how body searches are used in prisons and similar institutions to humiliate and degrade inmates through what he called “forced interpersonal contact.” By breaking down a person’s sense of self, compulsory body searches make prisoners easier to control.

The similarities between the spread-labia search and sexual assault don’t end there. The effects of degrading body searches on the women forced to undergo them are uncannily similar to the effects of rape. In studies, both rape survivors and prisoners subjected to invasive searches reported damaged self-esteem, a sense of helplessness, anger, and feelings of disgust toward their own bodies. Both groups experience repetitive phenomena like flashbacks and nightmares. And without proper care, both can respond to the intense pain with self-destructive coping behaviors like self-harm and drug abuse. The words of the women themselves show that they experience the spread-labia search as sexual assault.

A broad coalition of rights and religious groups has given Michigan’s prison officials a clear choice: If officials are truly interested in rehabilitating prisoners and thereby reducing crime, they must stop sadistically undoing the hard work of rehabilitation through this patently abusive search. You can stand up against the spread-labia vaginal search by learning more about this extreme civil rights violation, and taking action to end the search for good.

April 12, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment