Friday, October 5, 2012

Stop the War on Women -- 15th in Series on Key Questions in 2012

Jobs * Social Security * Labor Rights
Medicare and Medicaid * Peace and Justice

Stop The War on Women!

No doubt about it, women are under attack. The popular term "war on women" accurately describes what is going on in the U.S. today. Though many use this term to refer to Republican proposals, the attacks are in most cases bipartisan, with Democrats either supporting anti-woman policies or agreeing to "compromises" that undermine women's legal rights, health, and economic and social status.

Lower-income women, who are disproportionately women of color, are the hardest hit. The current economic crisis and the war on women weigh heavier and in differing ways on women who face additional forms of oppression (race, immigration status, etc.) -- the vast majority of whom are also working class.

Employment Discrimination

While the range of employment options for women is one of the few lasting victories of the women's movement, equal pay is still a dream. U.S. women make only 77% of what men make. When race is added, this figure is even worse: Black women make 67.5% compared to all men, and Latinas make only 57%, which was the average wage gap for all women in 1963 when pay discrimination was first addressed by law. Besides, much of the narrowing of the wage gap has been due to reductions in male wages, rather than improved wages for women, due to declines in unionization and the loss of well-paid blue-collar jobs.

Though the wage gap persists largely because women are concentrated in low-paying jobs, it crosses races, educational levels, and most occupations. Even within the same employer, in jobs where women dominate, their pay is typically 20% less than in jobs dominated by men requiring comparable education and skill sets (an issue referred to as "comparable worth"), showing continuing discrimination in women's wages.

While women have had a legal right to equal pay to men in any specific job classification since 1963, a Paycheck Fairness Act that would have addressed comparable worth was recently rejected by the Senate. The right to equal pay, even where legally protected, is routinely ignored and hard to enforce, since employment in the U.S. is largely "at will" and employees can be fired without any reason given.
Only women with union contracts can truly expect to be paid the same as equivalent men, and, even in union jobs, comparable worth rarely is addressed and discrimination may affect women's ability to be hired, pass probation periods, or get promoted into higher-paying positions. Union women, though, usually have some job protection and a grievance process.

Though women also are impacted by the current economic crisis for reasons not exclusive to gender, the crisis does have different and often worse impacts on them than on men. For example, women and people of color have much less accumulated wealth compared to white men, and most wealth they do accumulate is via home-ownership only. Thus, the foreclosure crisis hit them harder, wiping out the entire net worth of many families. A higher percentage of women and people of color than of white men find work in the public sector, so they are impacted more directly by government cutbacks and privatization. Public-sector unions, especially the majority female teachers' unions, are under extreme attack right now.

Reproductive Rights -- the Most Direct Attack

Given that only women can give birth, it is not surprising that the most direct and blatant attacks on women are in the area of reproductive rights. Without the ability to control if, when, and how they give birth, women have little control over the rest of their lives. Yet, the right to choose legal abortion has been under attack ever since it was established by Roe v. Wade in 1973.

At the federal level, the most prominent restriction is the Hyde Amendment, which denies any federal funding for abortion, except for cases of rape, incest, or to save a woman's life. Hyde ensures that women dependent on federal funds, including active-duty service women, are routinely denied access to abortion, since they often can't afford, locate, or visit private providers. Also, the Supreme Court upheld the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which prohibits a certain method used for medically necessary late-term abortions, inaccurately referred to as "partial birth," even when there is no chance of fetal viability and the method is in the best medical interests of the woman.

Restrictions at the state level are quite numerous. Most states require parental consent for minors and many require spousal consent for married women, waiting periods up to 72 hours, and exposure to anti-abortion films, literature, and counseling.

Current efforts, already successful in many states, focus on:

* Outlawing private insurance coverage for abortion.

* Denying state funding for abortion and to Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide abortions.

* Requiring that abortions be performed only in hospitals (where they are more expensive).

* Requiring that women hear the fetus' heartbeat, even though that often requires using an invasive transvaginal ultrasound.

* Putting medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers.

* Allowing medical providers to refuse to perform abortions, regardless of circumstances.

Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota have passed "trigger" laws, which will outlaw abortion if Roe vs. Wade is overturned. In 2012 alone, some 39 restrictions on abortion have been enacted by states, and 2011 saw a record-breaking 80.
In addition to legal attacks on the right to choose, nine abortion providers have been murdered and many clinics have been fire-bombed and vandalized. Aggressively hostile pickets trying to prevent access are common, though the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), an important victory for women, outlaws outright blockades and provides additional legal recourse against persons with threatening behavior.

In most parts of the U.S., providing abortion is quite dangerous, requiring expensive security measures, which add to the cost. 87% of U.S. counties have no abortion provider. 25% of women seeking abortion have to travel over 50 miles and 8% over 100 miles.

Attacks on Contraception

Contraception has been fully legal throughout the U.S. since 1965, and 99% of all sexually active U.S. adults have used it at least part of the time, including 98% of Catholic women in this category. It is hardly controversial, regardless of objections by some religions. Yet, contraception is also under attack. Efforts to restrict it are usually posed as protecting religious freedom, as a means (proven ineffective) for delaying sex among teens.
Many public schools are now limited to teaching that abstinence is the only effective way to avoid pregnancy, despite the fact that abstinence-only education programs have resulted in higher teen pregnancy rates wherever they have been implemented. Refusing to teach young women how to protect themselves is a direct attack on their futures.

Many states allow pharmacists to refuse to fill contraceptive prescriptions if they have a religious objection to doing so. Efforts are underway to require women to tell their employers if and why they are seeking contraception, if covered by employer-provided insurance. Opposition to contraception indicates that the most important issue for the extreme right isn't abortion, which contraceptive use obviously helps prevent, but restoring the traditional patriarchal family model.

Violence Against Women

Personal safety is another area where women continue to face attack. Despite some significant legal progress, such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), passed in 1994, domestic violence, rape, and sexual harassment remain significant problems in the U.S. Government surveys indicate that 22% of U.S. women report having been physically assaulted by an intimate partner or date.

Women who kill or injure abusers in direct self-defense are often convicted and incarcerated, sometimes even with life imprisonment. Over half of all restraining orders are violated. Mothers are reluctant to report domestic violence because of a growing trend to prosecute battered women for neglect and/or take away their children on the grounds they have endangered them by being in abusive relationships. Though it has been renewed twice, VAWA faces constant defunding efforts. The most recent attempt to reauthorize the Act is now stalled, as Congress has yet to agree on a unified version.

What Can the We Do About the War on Women?

Thanks to a lot of effort on the part of union women, labor generally supports women's rights, but the political approach currently predominant within organized labor doesn't work well to protect them. Plus, labor support is often compromised by a fear of alienating members who may oppose abortion rights, sexual freedoms, and non-traditional families. We must push our unions to do a better job educating members why support to the conservative "moral" agenda works against their economic interests. Like racism, sexism divides union workers and the working class as a whole, making it harder for all of us to fight back.

On the political front, it is critical that union members and leaders -- and women's rights activists -- realize that the attacks on all of us are bipartisan. The current wave of austerity led by the Obama administration is a brutal attack on the whole working class, with women, particularly from oppressed communities, being hit the hardest.

In general, the Democratic Party does have a better voting record on specific women's rights issues -- such as the right to choose -- than the Republicans, but is not a reliable ally for any sector of the working class. Democrats undermine women's rights by their refusal to support them fully or vigorously. Without strong opposition, extreme right-wing positions opposed by the vast majority of voters are presented as mainstream by the media, promoted disproportionately to their actual public support, and eventually implemented. At a time when what we need are firm positions backed up by a real fight, what is presented as bipartisan compromise is, at best, cowardice and capitulation, and, at worst, backhanded, intentional approval.

Politicians of both parties receive their money from the same source: the 1%. Ultimately, they will implement whatever is expected of them by their donors, unless we organize a massive enough movement to make them fear losing our votes. Even if some Democrats sincerely support choice, only millions of people willing to take to the streets and withhold their labor if need be, will be enough to beat back the right-wing attacks.

In the broader community, we need to join with women's rights groups, especially to defend reproductive choice. Within our unions, we can and must:

- Fight for improvements for women in our contracts.

- Conduct educational campaigns about women's issues.

- Defend women against discrimination and sexual harassment.

- Encourage the participation and leadership of women.

- Support or oppose legislation affecting women.

Even with all its present weaknesses, organized labor is still the sole force in the U.S. based on representing only workers; that is, representing working-class people as a class. Thus, it is the only currently existing force objectively capable of politics truly in the interests of the entire working class, half of which is women.
Because no other movement or institution represents working-class people exclusively, other forces are more objectively vulnerable to ideas that reinforce racism, sexism, and other divisions. For example, a focus on getting women into corporate leadership does not promote equality for everyone; rather, it allows a few women, in the name of equality, to benefit directly from such practices as exploiting immigrants or polluting communities of color.

Sadly, dependence on the Democrats has led the U.S. labor movement to one defeat after another. Therefore, the most important contribution labor could make to women rights would be to break our own political chains. The Emergency Labor Network's call to create a movement for a Labor Party has never been needed more. The hard-won rights of women are on the line today, as is the very survival of the labor movement. Given the disastrous global trajectory of capitalism, with its wars, genocides, and environmental degradation, it is no exaggeration to argue that the very survival of humanity depends on independent working-class political organizing throughout the world. Building a Labor Party in the U.S. is a key component of that effort.

-- Issued by the Emergency Labor Network (ELN)

[For more information write or P.O. Box 21004, Cleveland, OH 44121 or call 216-736-4715 or visit our website at Donations gratefully accepted. Please make checks payable to the ELN and mail to the above P.O. Box.] 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

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September 29rd, 2012
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From making galimoto toys to making galimoto'kali - the first locally made car in Tanzania
Sometimes in life fiction story do come true..!
Have you heard the popular story of kondi, the young boy who was eager, determined and persistent to make his own toy car-the galimoto?
It is in the book titled "Galimoto" (1990) by Karen Lynn Williams about which a child main character- a seven years old boy named kondi had dreamed of making a toy car. This was seen as impossible for a little boy of his age. Nevertheless he did all he could, going places to places, taking risks to collects materials things for same and then actually built one to the admiration of everyone..!
The story is based on the experience of the writer while living in neighbouring country - Malawi in 1980s. She saw and was fascinated by the creativity of Afrikan children there, in making their own play toys – called "galimoto" out of necessity of lacking the ready-made ones. Thus a book, "galimoto", ever popular since its first publication in 1990.
Now in real life in Tanzania, a young man named Ntubanga has just done that. He kept his childhood "kondi dream wish" and has ended up building the first ever locally made car in Tanzania.
Surprisingly like kondi, he is a grassroots person with only limited education, thus one seemingly impossible of making a car..!
He becomes Tanzanian "Henry ford" Car maker, the first one in 50 years post uhuru..!
It is to be named"Galimoto'kaliNtubangaBariadiTz1"-after the inventor (Ntubanga), his childhood dream of making same (galimoto-kali) and place where he comes from (Bariadi Tanzania), 1 being the first one of its (this) kind..! [CONTINUE FOR MORE]
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Remembering Walter Rodney 40 Years After How Europe Underdeveloped Africa
Guyanese activist and academic Walter Rodney, the author of 'How Europe Underdeveloped Africa' was not just a Guyanese figure. He was known worldwide, especially in Africa, where he enjoyed great popularity for his solidarity with the struggles of the working people. This year marks 25 years since his assassination and efforts are underway to commemorate the life of a man who became known as the 'prophet of self emancipation'.
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Dr. M's Revolution on the Rocks East Coast Book Tour
At the suggestion of international event planner, Muhammida El Muhajir, coordinator of the east coast leg of Marvin X's national book tour, this phase is entitled Revolution on the Rocks, with the focus on night clubs as well as colleges and universities. He is not excluding addressing youth in academia as he was at University of Houston and Texas Southern, and will participate at Howard University's Black Power to Hip Hop Conference, November 2-4, and may speak at Morgan State University, Baltimore, late October.
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Open Letter to the North American Africans in Houston's Third Ward
Dear Brothers and Sisters, it is with great joy, deep affection yet a heavy heart that I depart from you this morning. The last two weeks that I have shared with you has been most enlightening and enjoyable.
It has renewed my faith in the notion of a Black Nation, or what we used to call Nation Time! Swimming in your sea of Blackness has been an awesome experience, especially not having to apologize for or even afraid to say the word Black, an almost punishable offense where I come from, the so-called multi-cultural land of the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area, where, as Paradise says in his classic poem, they like everything about us but us, and where we were once in great numbers but our population has been in decline the last few decades, especially do to gentrification.
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Malcolm X Grassroots Movement releases "Every 36 Hours" CD Project: In 2012 the police kill a Black man, woman, or child every 36 hours!
In July, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) and the Malcolm X Solidarity Committee (MXSC), issued "Every 36 Hours: Report on the Extrajudicial Killing of 120 Black people", that documented this tragic and disturbing fact.
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Invitation to Support the Continental Delegation to the UN for the Non-Renewal of UN-MINUSTAH Troops in Haiti

Guadeloupe-Haiti Campaign USA
52 St. Nicholas Place #23
New York, N.Y. 10031
Tel. 646-657-7207

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We are writing to everyone who has backed our various efforts in solidarity with the struggling people of Haiti to invite you to join us in supporting an important continent-wide delegation that will be traveling to New York City on October 10-13 to demand that the United Nations refuse to renew the mandate of the UN-MINUSTAH occupation troops in Haiti.

We have called on the UN to receive this delegation on Thursday, October 11 -- one day before the scheduled vote on this question by the UN. At this writing, the delegation organizers have not received confirmation that the delegation will be received. A major campaign has been launched across the Americas at the initiative of the "Committee To Defend Haiti Is to Defend Ourselves" in Brazil to demand that the delegation be received at the UN and that their uncompromising message be heard.

As of this writing, the following people will be part of this Continental Delegation to the UN:

* Mr. Pablo Micheli, General Secretary, Argentine Trade Union Confederation / Confederación de los Trabajadores de la Argentina (CTA)

* Mr. Julio Turra, National Executive Committee representative, United Trade Union Central of Brazil / Central Unica dos Trabalhadores do Brasil (CUT)

* Mr. Adriano Diogo, (PT/SP), Deputy of the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil

* Mr. Fignolé St Cyr, General Secretary, Autonomous Workers Federation  of Haiti / Confederation Autonome des Travailleurs Haitiens (CATH)

* Mr. Yves Pierre Louis, Haiti-Liberté, Haiti (actually Brother Pierre Louis is still struggling to get his visa so that he can be on the delegation; a campaign on his behalf is under way)

* Mr. Jocelyn Lapitre, Representative, LKP and ATPC, Guadeloupe

* Ms. Colia Clark, Guadeloupe-Haiti Campaign Committee USA

* Mr. Alan Benjamin, US Committee, International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples (ILC)

Other activities are being planned jointly with Haiti-Liberté newspaper and a broad coalition of Haitian organizations for the delegation during their stay in New York.

There will be a Public Forum with Haitian activists and members of the Continental Delegation in Brooklyn, hosted by Haiti-Liberté , at 7 p.m., Thursday, October 11. The event will be held at the hall of Haiti Liberté, 1584 Albany Ave., Brooklyn, Tel. 718-421-0162.

Plans are under way to organize a Labor Breakfast, hosted by the US Support Committee of the International Liaison Committee of Workers and People (ILC) the morning of Friday, October 12. [Program, time and place to be announced.]

There will be a Picketline / Rally at the UN organized by Haiti-Liberté, other Haitian organizations, and a broad coalition of union and political organizations to protest the UN decision to renew its occupation mandate in Haiti. The protest action will take place at Ralph Bunch Park across from the UN from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, October 12.

We need everyone's active support to ensure the success of the delegation, beginning with help in raising funds for housing, food and transportation for the delegation during their stay in New York.

We are including below a Pledge Coupon, which we ask you to fill out and return to us as soon as possible so that we know that your check is in the mail.

Also below is the Initial Appeal issued by organizations in Haiti for this Continental Delegation to the UN.

Thanks in advance for your urgently needed support,

In unity and struggle,

Colia L. Clark and Alan Benjamin
Haiti-Guadeloupe Campaign Committee

* * * * * * * * * *



[   ]  I pledge $ _____ (list amount) to help defray the costs of the Continental Delegation to the UN for the Non-Renewal of the UN-MINUSTAH mandate. I will make my check payable to "OWC" and mail it to Open World Conference, c/o San Francisco Labor Council, 1188 Franklin St. #203, San Francisco, CA 94109.





(please fill out coupon and return asap to

* * * * * * * * * *

Continental Delegation to the United Nations in NYC on Oct. 11, 2012 for the Non-Renewal of UN-MINUSTAH Troops in Haiti

To the organizations across the Americas
To the democratic and labor movements
Call for a Continental Delegation to the United Nations Headquarters on October 11, 2012
For the Non-Renewal of UN-MINUSTAH Troops in Haiti

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

As you know, this past June 1st, date of the 8th anniversary of the occupation of our country by the UN-MINUSTAH troops, scores of trade unions and political, popular, peasant and women's organizations in about 15 countries across the Caribbean and Western Hemisphere participated in a Continental Day of Action to demand:

- The immediate departure of the occupation forces;
- Reparations by the United Nations for all victims of MINUSTAH.

This mobilization and the issues/proposals that were raised during the Day of Action show that more and more voices are being raised against the occupation and its wide range of abuses (cholera, rape, repression, hangings, etc.).

They beckon us to continue to fight tirelessly to secure the immediate withdrawal of the occupation forces and reparations for all the victims.

That is why we appeal to you so that together we can organize in unity a delegation to the UN headquarters in New York on October 11, 2012 -- the day before the renewal of troops will be put to a vote of the United Nations.

Initial Signatories in Haiti:

* Raymon Dalvius, President of GLOBS: Gouvernail de liaison des organisations de base et des syndicats;
* Delva, Coordinator of OPLB: Organisation pour la libération des paysans de Bas Gros-Morne;
* Fignolé St-CYR, General Secretary, CATH: Centrale autonome des travailleurs haîtiens;
* Archelus Charles Auguste, President of CFOH: Confédération des forces ouvrières haîtiennes;
* KOCIJID: Kollectif des citoyens pour juger Duvalier;
* Pierre Léonel, Coordinator of GIEL: Groupe d'initiative des enseignants des Lycées;
* Numa, Guy, On behalf of the Kolektif  Mobilizasyon Pou Dedomaje Viktim Kolera yo, a coalition that includes the following organizations: Batay Ouvriyé, UNNOH, MODEP, TËt Kole Oganizasyon Popilé yo, MOLEGHAF, Bri Kouri, SËk Gramsci, ACREFH, GREPS, KRD, AVS, DOP


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