Monsanto: the Toxic Face of Globalization

By Alexander Reid Ross - Earth First! Journal, May 26, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s. 

The Stuff of Coups

To the rhythms of drums and chants, concerned people took to the streets across 436 cities in 52 countries yesterday. The message was clear: smash Monsanto. With thousands marching from coast to coast, Canada to Argentina, and around the world, the day of protest has emerged as one of the largest global events—and it has only been around for two years. However, more than small hopes for a mandatory labeling of genetically modified products, smashing Monsanto entails a larger transformation of the modern relationship between people and food.

It is not only GM products, but the continuing economy of globalization, that Monsanto represents. Thanks to major seed companies and agricultural conglomerates like Monsanto and Cargill, the very definition of farmer has changed throughout the world—from a person or group of people in a given community who specialized in producing food to a corporate, land-owning entity comprised more of machines, technological assemblages, and inputs than of people who work the land. Thus, the target of protest is not only GMs, although GMs are a central aspect, but also the supply chain of multinational corporations that transforms food into a commodity that many throughout the world cannot afford.

In the context of today’s historical epoch—the Global Land Grab, in which farmland is being grabbed by multinational corporations from vulnerable populations like small farmers, campesin@s, and Indigenous peoples throughout the world—the March Against Monsanto has taken on a particularly sharp edge. In Ethiopia, where Monsanto has taken up shop through the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, reports have emerged of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people flooding the streets of the capital city, Addis Ababa, to demonstrate against land grabbing.

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4 Worker Fatalities Linked to Used Fracking Fluid Exposure

By Cliff Weathers - Alternet, May 28, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s. 

Field studies conducted by the U.S. Government have revealed that hydrofracking fluids are responsible for the deaths of four field workers since 2010. 

The report, recently released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety, suggests that workers could be exposed to hazardous levels of toxic volatile hydrocarbons found in waste fracking fluids.

“According to our information, at least four workers have died since 2010 from what appears to be acute chemical exposures during flow back operations at well sites in the Williston Basin (North Dakota and Montana),” government researchers wrote. “While not all of these investigations are complete, available information suggests that these cases involved workers who were gauging flow back or production tanks or involved in transferring flow back fluids at the well site.”

The institute is also assessing worker exposure to other chemicals mixed into fluids that are injected into the earth during fracking. Those findings will be detailed in later publications, according to Max Kiefer, a NIOSH spokesperson. 

An Injury to One is an Injury to All! - May 31, 2014

By Doug G - May 31, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Comrades and Fellow Proles,

As many of you know, Elliot Hughes, member of the Industrial Workers of the World as well as the Stage Hands Union is involved in a variety of struggles and campaigns.

Elliot has thrown himself deep into organizing against the eviction of the Albany Bulb, in which many people have lived there for over 7 years. The push to 'cleanse' the Bulb is part and parcel to the ongoing attack on working, poor, and homeless people throughout the bay area. Elliot has organized events, brought out food and water, and faced down the police for several weeks now. I have personally been out to the Bulb and it is clear that the all of the police there are well aware of Elliot and his activism. Police Sergeant Chris Willis asked to take Elliot to coffee and talk about 'raising the minimum wage' and 'stopping the Keystone XL.' Elliot of course refused. Police have also attempted to ask young people involved in defending the Bulb if they know Elliot.

Yesterday, police raided the home of the last two remaining people on the Bulb with a large amount of police and weapons. They arrested one supporter and even put their name down as "Elliot Hughes." It is clear that they were eager to get Elliot - and do it quickly.

This morning, when Elliot was helping Amber and Phill move their belongings after the raid, police stopped Elliot and arrested him supposedly over an unpaid traffic ticket. They also booked him on two felonies. One, of having instruments that could be used for a jailbreak (?!) and also having stolen property (unclear as to what this is). While we do not expect these charges to stick, we need to raise money to get Elliot out of the clink.

Elliot comes from a working class family in the mid-west. His father is also in the stage hands union. In 2008, Eilliot was brutally arrested and beaten during the Republican National Convention by police, leading him to have residual trauma and damage. He's a tough kid and can hold his own, but we want to support our comrades - especially when we know the real reason why they've been arrested - their organizing!

Please, pitch in - help Elliot out!  

South America: How "Anti-Extractivism" Misses the Forest for the Trees

By Frederico Fuentes - Truthout, May 26, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

A recent spate of high-profile campaigns against projects based on extracting raw materials has opened up an important new dynamic within the broad processes of change sweeping South America. Understanding their nature and significance is crucial to grasping the complexities involved in bringing about social change and how best to build solidarity with peoples’ struggles.

Many of the campaigns that target specific mining, oil, agribusiness or logging ventures share common elements. They have raised public awareness around a variety of important environmental issues such as water scarcity, forest preservation and sustainable land usage.

In some cases, particularly in Ecuador and Bolivia, these campaigns have influenced existing discussions on issues such as climate change, the rights of Mother Earth and the kinds of alternative development models needed to achieve radical change.

Another common aspect has been the central role played by rural indigenous communities. This is due not only to the fact many of these extractive ventures occur in indigenous territories, but also the leading role indigenous movements have played in recent years in the global environment movement.

As a result, issues such as indigenous autonomy and the right to prior consultation on ancestral lands before embarking on extractive projects have become increasingly intertwined with debates over resource extraction and the environment.

Chapter 16 : I Like Spotted Owls…Fried.

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

“Then…Oh! Baby! Oh!
How my business did grow!
Now, chopping one tree at a time was too slow.

“So I quickly invented my Super-Axe-Hacker,
which whacked off four Truffula Trees at one smacker,
We were making Thneeds four times as fast as before,
And that Lorax?…He didn’t show up any more.”

—excerpt from The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss, 1971

Bill Bailey had a problem. The longtime Laytonville resident owned a logging equipment shop and mail order catalog from there and made hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, butfor him that certainly wasn’t a problem. [1] It wasn’t a lack of connections that plagued him. His wife Judith Bailey was the sister of Becky Harwood, who was married to young Art Harwood, whose father ran a profitable, local sawmill in nearby Branscomb. [2] It wasn’t a lack of wealth. Bill Bailey claimed to be just another working stiff, but this description was betrayed by the fact that he owned expensive furniture and several luxury cars, including a $50,000 Jaguar and a $100,000 Morgan. [3] It wasn’t even a matter of political perspective. Bailey had presented himself as conservative, but had been successfully pegged as one of the financial backers of recently exposed neo-Nazi and Mendocino supervisorial candidate, Jack Azevedo. [4] Bailey took a lot of heat for backing him, but refused to back down, even after being exposed as supporting the reactionary would-be candidate in the local press, but Bailey didn’t even that as a problem. [5] No, indeed, Bill Bailey had a real problem. It seems that in April of 1989, Bailey’s eight-year-old son, Sam, had recently come home from school one day and told his father that, “when loggers fall trees they are taking away the little animals’ homes, and they can’t live.” [6] That, for Bill Bailey was a huge problem.

On strike since Marikana Massacre, Hungry Workers Cut Production of World’s Platinum by Nearly Half

By Skyler Reid - San Francisco Bay View, May 27, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Marikana, South Africa – Nomfanelo Jali stirs porridge she hopes will quell her children’s chronic hunger. Food has been scarce since her husband joined 80,000 workers on strike with South Africa’s main mineworkers’ union, AMCU.

“It’s very difficult,” Jali said. “None of us has got food.”

The strike, now four months long, is the longest – and costliest – in the nation’s history. Platinum production in the country accounts for 40 percent of the global market, and the work stoppage has pushed up the price of the metal worldwide.

But workers say they’re determined to hold out until they get the raise they’re asking for – more than double what they currently earn.

Skyler Reid is a Freelance photographer and journalist based in the Johannesburg area of South Africa. His goal is to find new ways to make people interested in news stories, by introducing characters and narratives that can capture the interest of those who are turned off by the basic news formula. He can be reached via Twitter @skyreid. This story and video first appeared on GlobalPost.

Solidarity with Flaskô: a Factory Under Workers Control in Brazil

Press Release - Revolution News, May 16, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Flaskô is the only factory under worker’s control in Brazil, in Sumaré (São Paulo state). The workers have been occupying the factory since the bosses fled the country after the firm went bankrupt.

The factory has been occupied for 11 years, and was inactive for three months after the boss dismissed the workers and sold the machines. The occupation was made after occupations of two other factories (Cipla and Interfibra) of the same business group. In those factories, the state intervened, firing workers and dissolving departments.

The legal insecurity is severe – the machines and tools of the factory are being auctioned by the government – but luckily, there is no buyer.
The desired result of the bureaucratic process is the end of these concerns, and juridical instability of the workers. The former employer’s debts have made the worker’s fight end up necessitating nationalization, but under workers control.

There is a signature campaign online now to force the senators in Brazil to give Flaskô to the workers, and to nationalize it, absolving the workers of the debts accrued by their former criminal employers.

Read the entire article at this site.

Mistrust, Disagreement Over Oil Terminal Plan Aired at Meeting

By Courtney Sherwood - Columbian, May 22, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Controversial issue draws about 60 people

Mistrust and disagreement on the risks and benefits of a proposed Vancouver oil terminal were on display Wednesday night at a community meeting aimed at bringing all sides in the controversial issue together. And most of the mistrust seemed directed at Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies, the two businesses that want to handle as much as 380,000 barrels at the Port of Vancouver.

Wednesdays event, convened by the East Old Evergreen Highway Neighborhood Association, brought representatives of those two companies together with BNSF Railway officials, property developers who oppose the Tesoro-Savage proposal, an environmental group representative, a longshore union leader, and emergency responders.

About 60 people attended. The Port of Vancouver, which instigated the Tesoro-Savage project by seeking out oil export proposals, originally said it would also participate but later backed out.

Barry Cain, CEO of Gramor Development, outlined details of the planned Columbia Waterfront LLC downtown Vancouver waterfront development and his concerns that oil exports could put that project at risk.

Cain estimated that plans for the former Boise Cascade mill site along the north bank of the Columbia River could ultimately generate $844 million per year in economic activity. After eight years spent developing the property, building roads and improving rail along the site, Columbia Waterfront proponents are in negotiations with restaurants, and could have plans for the first residential and office construction at the site soon, he said.

When we first heard about the oil trains, we thought, well, theyre probably not pretty, but we didnt think that was necessarily a problem, Cain said. Then in July, the accident happened at Lac-Megantic in Quebec. That killed 46 people.

US Workers Demand Investment in Urban Public Transport

Statement from the International Transportworker Federation (ITF) - May 21, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Around 1,000 public transport workers from 40 states gathered in Washington DC, USA on 20 May to demand more investment in metros and buses in the country’s cities and towns.

At the rally, leaders of two ITF affiliates – the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU)and the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) – joined their members, legislators in the US Senate and Congress and other ‘Fund Transit’ campaign supporters to demand that the federal puts more money into better, safer transport for workers and passengers.

It was the centerpiece of a series of national activities for the ATU’s May Transit Action Month.

Afterwards campaigners descended on Capitol Hill offices to visit Members of Congress to urge increased funding for public transport in the nation’s transportation funding law, which is set to expire 1 October. The trust fund enabled by the legislation will run out of money to pay for highway and transit projects in August.

Addressing the workers at the rally, Mac Urata, ITF inland transport section secretary, said: “You are not alone in your fight.

Public transit systems and their workers are under attack all over the world because of privatisation and deregulation.

Workers’ rights and working conditions are being undermined and the travelling public see multinationals making profits while integrated transport systems are broken up.

The ITF and its affiliates stand together with you in your campaign.

Capital Blight - The Ghosts of Ayn Rand

By x344534, May 25, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

My path to green syndicalism was anything but a straight line. I was initially ignorant of anarchism and libertarian socialism, because what gets labeled "libertarian" in the United States of America is actually anything but anarchist or libertarian, but instead is the most extreme and dogmatic brand of capitalism.

Let's be absolutely clear here. Capitalism cannot survive without the state. It takes a massive, centralized, armed-to-the-teeth, authoritarian government to enforce business contracts, "private property" rights, virtual "intellectual property" rights (the idea that ideas can be owned and controlled), rent, usury, and the notion that corporations are individual people. Nobody in their right mind would voluntarily consent to a system of institutionalized inequality which results in starvation, homelessness, disease, squalor, wage slavery, sexism, racism, and ecological degradation if they had the freedom (yes, you heard me correctly, I said "FREEDOM!" that ever ubiquitous buzzword that capitalist ideologues cast so effortlessly about in defense of their way of life which is anything but free to those forced into subservience under its dictates) to choose.

What initially blocked my path to real libertarianism, meaning libertarian socialism was the twisted demented pretzel logic of the so called "libertarian" capitalists in their polysyllabic but ultimately empty peonage to their Laissez-faire capitalist religion.

One individual in particular, Bryan Caplan--who lived in the dorm room next to mine at the (state-funded) University of California at Berkeley--even tried to "convert" me to his faith by handing me a reading list if his holy prophets: Ludwig Von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Henry Hazlitt, F. A. Hayak, Robert Nozick, and--of course--Ayn Rand.

Naturally, I didn't bite. I had a good deal of exposure to the demented nonsense of Rand already, and any philosophy or economic theory that supported this crazy dingbat's contention that there's any "virtue" in selfishness or that big corporate business is "a persecuted minority" couldn't have anything useful to say to me.

Thanks to a combination of my intelligence, inquisitiveness, stubbornness, and some plain good luck, I found thinkers and philosophers who offered clues to real libertarian ideas. These included Noam Chomsky, Murray Bookchin, Vandana Shiva, Rudolf Rocker, Christipher Alexander, bell hooks, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Neil Peart (yes, that's correct, the drummer and lyricist of Rush), Chuck D (of Public Enemy), Graham Purchase, John Bellamy Foster, Carl Sagan, William Least Heat Moon, Bakunin, Marx, Engels, and Kropotkin (among others). Then, I met Judi Bari.

Judi Bari clarified matters for me greatly and showed me how one could be a radical environmentalist and an advocate for class struggle at the same time. Plus, she kept mentioning this group called, "the IWW."

I had no idea who the IWW was or what it stood for. For all I knew they were the International Socialist Organization (whom I was well acquainted with, but not at all interested in joining). Then, one day when seeking out a workers' collective to try and join as an alternative to the horribly depressing and soul killing capitalist retail job I had managed to get after graduating from that fabled weapons laboratory we call a "public university", a spokesperson from a network of such shops clued me in to what the IWW was and is.

I had heard Noam Chomsky (who would later join the IWW himself) describe himself as an "anarcho syndicalist" and a "libertarian socialist", but never fully understood what those terms meant or what an economy and political system organized around those ideas would look like. The IWW revealed to me how that would work in practice.

And, thanks to the influence of Judi Bari and Earth First!, the IWW was (and is) in many ways the first organization to promote green syndicalist ideas in practice (though the IWW is not limited to those concepts).

Over the following years, I came to realize how easy it was to prove just how flawed the thinking of so-called "libertarian" capitalists actually are, and really all I need to have done was read the following passage from the Preamble to the IWW Constitution:

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

As time passed and I gained life-experience I saw that capitalism and freedom are actually incompatible. Just to be sure, I read anarchist and socialist literature voraciously and the knowledge that I gained from doing so validated my experiences. My deepening understanding of the interconnectedness of the environment further showed me the flawed pseudoscience that the Ludwig Von Mises "Austrian" school of economics actually is, and I came to realize that ever more fully as I wrote my own book about the green syndicalist organizing efforts of Judi Bari.

As for Caplan, I assumed he'd passed into obscurity (after all, disciples of Ayn Rand are a dime a dozen. The capitalist class spares few expenses in funding ministries of propaganda to promote itself, and said ideologues serve that function all too effectively, but there's nothing particularly noteworthy about most of them). In this particular case, I was mistaken.

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