Let the river run
Let all the dreamers wake the nation
I'm noting that because the strikes are spreading -- globally -- and that's a good thing. But people often only know what's possible based upon what they see in the news. And so much of our news come from corporate news sources which really do not care about covering strikes and other worker efforts. With that in mind, I especially want to note Alice Herman's article for In These Times:
For workers organizing a union at Colectivo Coffee Roasters, the last five months have been a grueling exercise in waiting. “I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs, I’m so nervous,” Lauretta Archibald, a former Colectivo baker and union activist, texted me in early April. That day, she and other union supporters had expected to learn the results of a union election a year in the making. They would wait much longer. Although a majority of ballots were counted on April 6, the result was a tie (99-to-99) with seven contested ballots remaining unopened.
On Monday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) counted the remaining ballots and, by a margin of seven votes, the workers won union representation with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 494. The result will make Colectivo the largest unionized coffee chain in the country.
Like many restaurants and cafes, Colectivo, which operates shops in Illinois and Wisconsin, oversaw widespread furloughs and layoffs amid the pandemic. Workers allege that the chain also failed to adequately address a Covid-19 outbreak last year, and say that they are subject to unpredictable scheduling. During the union drive, the company contracted Labor Relations Institute (LRI), a prominent union busting consulting firm, to hold mandatory “captive audience” meetings and spread anti-union messaging throughout the workforce.
And with the need for us to be aware of what is possible, let me also note some of Paul Salstrom and Seven Stoll's article:
One hundred years ago this month, thousands of coal miners — along with hundreds of farmers, merchants and ministers — rallied south of Charleston, West Virginia, before marching southwest toward Mingo County to unionize its coal mines.
Their hero was Sid Hatfield, police chief of the town of Matewan in Mingo County. On a drizzly day in May 1920, Hatfield and some of his friends had gone toe-to-toe with security agents hired by the coal companies to evict miners from company housing. An ensuing gunfight left seven of the detectives dead on the main street of Matewan. A year later, Hatfield was murdered by coal-company security agents at a neighboring courthouse. As he climbed the steps, unarmed, they gunned him down. Hatfield’s murder set off the “March to Mingo,” the largest armed labor uprising in American history.
The miners experienced something that many of us learned from the Covid-19 pandemic. They were effectively essential workers, like those today who have risked their lives to keep hospitals and grocery stores functioning. No other peacetime occupation called upon men to subject themselves to the dangers mining entailed — the constant possibility of death from poisonous gasses, explosions and roof collapses that could entomb them deep in the earth. Yet no occupation was so central to the industrial power of the United States. And while we progressives now call on the United States to eliminate fossil fuels of every kind and shut down every coal mine to stave off the worst effects of climate change, we should recognize miners as brave and maligned workers who deserve retraining for new occupations — and financial security.
Since 1890, miners had been organizing locals of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), often at great risk. Politicians, managers, and the police all panicked at the idea of a multi-racial union made up of southern whites, European immigrants and African Americans. In violation of the state constitution, the political leadership of West Virginia allowed mining companies to brutally crush any effort by miners to unionize.
For decades, miners had endured beatings and murder by coal-company guards and hired agents. For decades they had attempted to improve their pay and safety through negotiation and strikes — with essentially nothing to show for it. The companies ignored the appalling rate of underground fatalities. “Kill a mule, buy another,” went a miners’ saying, “kill a man, hire another.” A dead miner’s family would be evicted from their company house so that it could be rented to the family of his replacement. Pushed to extremes, and seeing no other way to be heard, they met violence with violence. Nearly 60 years after the Civil War, thousands of Americans were about to fight for their right to unionize — and for the dignity of labor.
And fight they did.
Dream big. Know what we are capable of. Wake the nation.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday:
Thursday, August 26, 2021. The corporate press continues to ignore reality with regards to Afghanistan while Robert Pether faces what passes for 'justice' in Iraq.
Starting with Richard Medhurst demolishing the nonsense that US forces in Afghanistan would be protecting women.
Faux concern for women's rights, the fig leaf covering the empire's flaccid, dangling member. Imagine if media whores like Andrea Mitchell dealt in reality instead of attempting to outrage the public? On that, disclosure, a friend with the administration asked my advice re: the press tearing down of Joe Biden? My advice was right it out and do not give mixed messages. Stay consistent in the message. 42% approval is not great but it's also not the worst. The media has shredded Joe over Afghanistan. Ride it out because the media will find another topic soon enough. Americans truly opposed to Joe's decision were never going to vote for him to begin with. Most Americans grasp that the situation is much more complex than the media is allowing for. Barring another event that the media tries to shred him over, this should pass without any political harm to the presidency. I offer advice, playing out scenarios, to friends all the time, as you know if you've read this site for any length of time. I'm disclosing that one because it involves the messaging of a sitting president.
Realities on Afghanistan are offered by John Pilger (MINT PRESS NEWS):
In August, 1979, the US Embassy in Kabul reported that “the United States’ larger interests … would be served by the demise of the PDPA government, despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan.”
Read again the words above I have italicised. It is not often that such cynical intent is spelt out as clearly. The US was saying that a genuinely progressive Afghan government and the rights of Afghan women could go to hell.
Six months later, the Soviets made their fatal move into Afghanistan in response to the American-created jihadist threat on their doorstep. Armed with CIA-supplied Stinger missiles and celebrated as “freedom fighters” by Margaret Thatcher, the mujahedin eventually drove the Red Army out of Afghanistan.
Calling themselves the Northern Alliance, the mujahedin were dominated by warlords who controlled the heroin trade and terrorised rural women. The Taliban were an ultra-puritanical faction, whose mullahs wore black and punished banditry, rape and murder but banished women from public life.
In the 1980s, I made contact with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, known as RAWA, which had tried to alert the world to the suffering of Afghan women. During the Taliban time they concealed cameras beneath their burqas to film evidence of atrocities, and did the same to expose the brutality of the Western-backed mujahedin. “Marina” of RAWA told me, “We took the videotape to all the main media groups, but they didn’t want to know ….”
In1996, the enlightened PDPA government was overrun. The Prime Minister, Mohammad Najibullah, had gone to the United Nations to appeal to for help. On his return, he was hanged from a street light.
“I confess that [countries] are pieces on a chessboard,” said Lord Curzon in 1898, “upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world.”
The Viceroy of India was referring in particular to Afghanistan. A century later, Prime Minister Tony Blair used slightly different words.
“This is a moment to seize,” he said following 9/11. “The Kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us re-order this world around us.”
On Afghanistan, he added this: “We will not walk away [but ensure] some way out of the poverty that is your miserable existence.”
Blair echoed his mentor, President George W. Bush, who spoke to the victims of his bombs from the Oval Office: “The oppressed people of Afghanistan will know the generosity of America. As we strike military targets, we will also drop food, medicine and supplies to the starving and suffering … “
Almost every word was false. Their declarations of concern were cruel illusions for an imperial savagery “we” in the West rarely recognise as such.
He goes over the history at length. We're excerpting the above because of the US goal with regards to Afghanistan. Pilger notes the money poured in and the CIA elsewhere in his article. You can also refer to this 1998 interview with Mika's father who was known for being the priss-pot, fraidy cat of the Carter administration. ('Cigars from Fidel! They must be a bomb! Don't open the box until I'm out of the room!' That is not a made up story, that really did happen when Fidel sent a gift to Hamilton Jordan.) Killing never scared fraidy cat Zbigniew Brzezinski but the prospect of peace breaking out always left him peeing his panties.
Loss of money scares the War Crowd. Sarah Lazare (IN THESE TIMES) reports:
In August 12, the military contractor CACI International Inc. told its investors that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is hurting its profits. The same contractor is also funding a think tank that is concurrently arguing against the withdrawal. This case is worth examining both because it is routine, and because it highlights the venality of our “expert”-military contractor feedback loop, in which private companies use think tanks to rally support for wars they’ll profit from.
The contractor is notorious to those who have followed the scandal of U.S.-led torture in Iraq. CACI International was sued by three Iraqis formerly detained in Abu Ghraib prison who charge that the company’s employees are responsible for directing their torture, including sexual assault and electric shocks. (The suit was brought in 2008 and the case is still ongoing.)
In 2019, CACI International was awarded a nearly $907 million, five-year contract to provide “intelligence operations and analytic support” for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
During an August 12 earnings call, CACI International noted repeatedly that President Biden’s withdrawal from the 20-year Afghanistan War harmed the company’s profits. John Mengucci, president and CEO of CACI International, said, “we have about a 2 percent headwind coming into FY 2022 because of Afghanistan.” A “headwind” refers to negative impacts on profits.
Afghanistan was mentioned 16 times throughout the call — either in reference to the dent in profits, or to assure investors that other areas of growth were offsetting the losses. For example, Mengucci said, “We’re seeing positive growth in technology and expect it to continue to outpace expertise growth, collectively offsetting the impact of the Afghanistan drawdown.”
After the US troop withdrawal established conclusively that the Afghan “government” they’d spent twenty years pretending to nation build with was essentially a work of fiction, thus proving to the world that they’ve been lying to us this entire time about the facts on the ground in Afghanistan, you might expect those who helped pave the way for that disastrous occupation to be very quiet at this point in history.
But, far from being silent and slithering under a rock to wait for the sweet embrace of death, these creatures have instead been loudly and shamelessly outspoken.
The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change has posted a lengthy essay by the former Prime Minister who led the United Kingdom into two of the most unconscionable military interventions in living memory. Blair criticizes the withdrawal as having been done out of “obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars’,” bloviating about “Radical Islam,” and asking, “has the West lost its strategic will?”
It’s essentially a 2,750-word temper tantrum, authored by the same man who fed the British people this load of horse s**t after 9/11:
"The starving, the wretched, the dispossessed, the ignorant, those living in want and squalor from the deserts of Northern Africa to the slums of Gaza, to the mountain ranges of Afghanistan: they too are our cause.
This is a moment to seize. The Kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us re-order this world around us."
Blair promised that by helping the Bush administration usher in an unprecedented new era of military expansionism they could seize this unfortunate event to “re-order the world” in a way that would benefit all the world’s most unfortunate people. Mountains of corpses and tens of millions of refugees later it is clear to anyone with functioning gray matter that this was all a pack of lies.
Realities fall by the way side so that the corporate media can attempt to cause great alarm and fear in the American people. What they're forgetting is that the world isn't CNN's Amanpour -- constantly crying that the US won't go to war with this country or that. And, the greater distance between American and another country, the less important those people are, to be honest about it. (That's true of other countries as well and not unique to the US.) US corporate media has attempted to start a #AfghanLivesMatter but it just wouldn't trend. What's next?
Maybe to slowly get honest about their real concern which was never the Afghan people or even Afghanistan. As Ava and I noted at THIRD, the US government and corporations are both happy to do business with the Taliban and have before. Iraq, as we've said here for weeks now, is the real point of the Afghan hysteria the media's promoting.
At THE TIMES OF LONDON, Max Hastings is offering "We risk replaying the Kabul calamity in Iraq." At THE NATIONAL INTEREST, Farhang Faraydoon Namdarwonders "Will the American Pullout from Iraq Also End in Disaster?" Then there's the whoring. No one's done it better most recently than Paul Bremer (see Saturday's "A War Criminal Returns") who is clearly on a strict no-fact diet -- high in carbs, low in facts. The whoring includes this sudden move to claim Iraq -- specifically Mustafa al-Khadimi -- is a power broker for the region. See any REUTERS filing recently or this CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR article if you've missed the nonsense.
Let's rejoin the world of reality where you'll find Mustafa and his government struggling just to hold national elections. August is winding down. October 10th, the day parliamentary elections are supposed to take place in Iraq, looms.
How's that looking? From the United Nations:
With just 46 days until Iraq goes to the polls, the UN Assistance Mission for the country (UNAMI) is stepping up its communications to inform voters about their conduct, Special Representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert told the Security Council on Wednesday, stressing that it is up to the political parties themselves to refrain from attempts to distort the results.
Briefing Council members for the first time in over a year, Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert, who is also the head of the Mission, also called claims that UNAMI is advocating for a postponement of the elections “frankly absurd”.
She urged everyone to “stick to the facts”, focus on their own roles and refrain from using the United Nations as a scapegoat.
“Truth, discipline and, yes, courage, are required at this critical juncture”, said the UN official
Misinformation ‘risky business’
If misinformation overtakes reality, “it is not only an enormous energy-drain for those working hard for the greater good of Iraq,” she cautioned. “It is also risky business.”
The UNAMI chief urged media outlets to provide accurate, reliable and timely information, instead of fuelling “false perceptions to suit their backers”.
Stressing that Iraq “leads and owns” the 10 October elections, she reminded that their credibility would prove essential for its future.
Elections at hand
Detailing joint efforts, Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert said that the Independent High Electoral Commission has reached “several complex milestones” while noting that UNAMI has provided technical assistance wherever it can.
She outlined that candidate lists have been finalized; a ballot lottery conducted for all 83 constituencies; ballot printing is ongoing; and all ballot papers expected in country by mid-September.
Meanwhile, polling and results management systems are being reviewed by an independent audit firm.
In parallel, she said preparations for UN monitoring are moving rapidly, with most members of the preparatory team being deployed to Baghdad “as we speak” and regional teams due on the ground in early September.
The Special Representative emphasized that the October elections have “the potential to be different” from those in 2018, and noted that that five times as many UN personnel are currently engaged as were three years earlier.
To calls for a boycott, she cautioned that “a vote not cast, is in fact a gift to those you may be opposed to.”
“With the election date rapidly approaching – Iraq will have our support at every step of the way”, assured the UNAMI chief.
“These elections were hard earned. And I can only emphasize the importance of credible elections for the future of Iraq’s young democracy”.
Deep reforms needed
Iraq is desperately in need of deep, structural reforms, which require unwavering determination, immense patience, and lots of time, according to the UN official, who urged authorities, officials, political parties and candidates not to let the Iraqi people down.
“Understand that accountability is key to restore public trust”, she stressed.
Turning to the issue of missing Kuwaiti, third-country nationals and Kuwaiti property, including the national archives, Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert said that Kuwait “conclusively identified” the remains of a further 10 individuals from its list of those missing since 1991.
With a total of 30 cases of missing persons formally closed since November 2020, she expressed hope that “this important step will bring some closure to the families”.
Meanwhile DessyMac Tweets:
Of the ongoing plight of Robert Pether, Matthew Doran and Andrew Probyn (AUSTRALIA's ABC) report:
An Australian engineer ensnared in a dispute between the Iraqi government and his Dubai-based employer is facing five years in jail and a $US12 million ($AUD16.5 million) fine.
Robert Pether, 46, has been languishing in an Iraqi prison since April after he and his Egyptian colleague, Khalid Zaghloul, were arrested in Baghdad, while working for engineering firm CME Consulting.
Mr Pether's wife Desree said the court decision was a "soul-destroying" travesty of justice.
"It's just absolute hell," Mrs Pether told the ABC from her home in Ireland.
"We honestly thought that justice would prevail after nearly five months and we are so shocked that it didn't happen.
"It didn't matter what evidence they presented in their defence, which was scarce because they didn't have access to their laptops or their hard drives, and the accusations had no backup evidence at all.
“Because there’s no way they can raise $12 million and if it’s not paid they don’t get out.”
His wife, Desree Pether, said he was tricked into entering the country by the Iraq Central Bank, which was locked in a contractual dispute with his Dubai-based employer CME Consulting.
“At this moment, I just spoke to him, and he said ‘this is a life sentence’,” she said.
Ms Pether and her children, who are from Sydney but based in Ireland, had held out hope that justice would prevail.
She said the fraud charges against her husband and his colleague, which relate to misrepresentation and overcharging, were fabricated after the bank demanded the contractors return the money they had already been paid after cost blowouts.
Desree Pether, his wife, had maintained hope that he was going to be freed. Instead, she had to tell their three children, including her daughter, Nala, eight, that their dad was not coming home.
“I said ‘Daddy might not be home for a while because he’s been sentenced to five years’, and I explained it to her,” Desree told Guardian Australia.
“She looked down at her hands and looked up at me and said ‘that means I won’t see daddy until I’m 13’.”
“I just burst into tears.”
The two teenage boys, Flynn and Oscar, are shellshocked, Desree said.
“We just keep hugging and the boys just keep making me cups of tea,” she said. “We’re just walking around in shock.”
Desree said she had spoken to her husband on Thursday evening, Australian time.
His lawyers are planning to appeal against the ruling. The Australian government is also working on a way to respond.
“It’s so glaringly obvious they are completely innocent. Australia needs to get behind Rob,” she said.
Patrick Ryan (THE NATIONAL) notes of the inept Australian government:
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said it understood Mr Pether, along with an Egyptian colleague, was found guilty of fraud in an Iraqi court and sentenced to five years imprisonment and jointly fined $12million.
"DFAT has made repeated representations to the Iraqi Government on Mr Pether’s case, including to seek clarity on the nature of the charges, related to a business dispute," said a representative.
"The Foreign Minister has written and spoken to her Iraqi counterpart to advocate for Mr Pether’s case in the strongest terms.
"The Australian Government cannot intervene in other governments’ judicial processes. DFAT continues to provide consular assistance to Mr Pether and his family."
The following sites updated: