In Minnesota, a strike by unionized high rise window cleaners at two companies has entered its second week — an example of the tensions growing across the country as workers seek to collect on promises that employers made to them before the pandemic.
Around 40 cleaners are on strike, representing about half of the city’s entire work force in the specialized industry. They are members of SEIU Local 26, a vocal and politically active union with 8,000 members in the Twin Cities. Though the window cleaners are few in number, they have been able to generate outsized attention locally thanks to the union’s well-honed ability to pull off visible strikes in and around Minneapolis.
Since the beginning of last week, the workers have rallied and held picket lines at major buildings in downtown Minneapolis and at the city’s airport, where some of them have worked cleaning handrails, walkways and glass. On Tuesday, they are rallying outside of the SEIU union hall with City Council members and other elected officials. They say they plan to keep up the drumbeat of strike activity until a contract is secured.
At issue is a contract with three of the city’s property service companies: Apex North, Columbia Building Services and Final Touch. Apex has already agreed to sign the contract, and its employees are working. The other two companies have not, and their workers are on strike. Columbia and Final Touch did not return requests for comment.
Fight Back News explains:
On August 20, the strike continued for around 50 SEIU Local 26 union members who clean the majority of the tall buildings in downtown Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Through their first five days of the strike the window cleaners picketed in locations all around downtown Minneapolis. They also held multiple larger events for members of other unions and the community to show their support for the workers and their strike over wages and safety.
Window cleaning is primarily done during the five-day work week, so the actions and picketing take place on those days. Their next planned action is at 6 a.m. Monday, August 23 at the Minneapolis/Saint Paul airport, where the companies have multiple contracts they clean. The window cleaners say they will not back down until they get a contract that values their work. Bargaining sessions are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday this week and the strike will continue unless management comes to the table with revised proposals that the window cleaners decide they can accept.
Eric Crone is a window cleaner with Columbia Building Services as well as a union steward and executive board member of SEIU Local 26. He states, “We’re striking because we’ve been fighting for years to improve our industry. We’re done with delays and we won’t back down. If you ask someone on the street how much someone who is up on the buildings gets paid or what level of training they think we get, they always guess higher than what we currently get. It feels like we have been disrespected. We kept going to work even after our original contract expired in 2020, but now they can’t be bothered to bargain with us in a fair way.”
And Filiberto Nolasco Gomez (Workday Minnesota) notes:
The window cleaners who hang from the side of Twin Cities skyscrapers and have also cleaned the inside of buildings during COVID began their open-ended ULP strike to stop the employers’ unfair labor practices and get a fair settlement that recognizes the sacrifices of essential workers and keeps them safe.
Recipe time, Janine notes South Of The Border Lunch Express, a recipe from Diabetes Self-Management:
1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato
1/4 cup chunky salsa
1/4 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans
1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon chopped garlic
Dash ground red pepper
1 cup cooked brown rice
Shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (optional)
1/2 of total recipe
Combine tomato, salsa, beans, corn, cilantro, garlic, and ground red pepper in 1-quart microwavable bowl. Cover with vented plastic wrap. Microwave on high 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until heated through; stir.
Microwave rice in separate 1-quart microwavable dish on high 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until heated through. Top with tomato mixture and cheese, if desired.
Variation: To make this vegetarian dish even more satisfying, add pinto beans.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday:
Wednesday, August 25, 2021. They're openly pimping Iraq's government as a success in their desperate move to keep Americans from catching on that the realities in Kabul will likely repeat in Iraq.
It's always interesting -- and telling -- who gets invited to the discussion. Yesterday, we noted that a retired US military colonel couldn't get invited to appear on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED but a pro-war man from an AIPAC funded 'think tank' could. Today, let's note that THE ECONOMIST has a whole world of people whose opinion that they can seek out but they choose to seat Robert Kaplan at the table instead of someone who has manners and doesn't need a tick bath.
No surprise, Kappy, scratching his ears with his hind legs, sees only good in the world of empire. He writes:
That geography helps explain why America can miscalculate and fail in successive wars, yet completely recover, unlike smaller and less well-situated countries which have little margin for error. Thus, stories about American decline are overrated. Geography has bequeathed America such power and with such protection that, integrated into an increasingly smaller world as it is, the country cannot help but remain in an imperial-like situation, with far-flung economic and military commitments around the world.
America may withdraw from failed ground interventions in the Middle East, but its navy and air force still patrol large swaths of the planet as the bulwark of alliance systems in Europe and Asia. This continues regardless of its failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Scenes of chaos at Kabul’s airport as America pulled out are arresting, but in strategic terms it’s more image than substance. Remember that following the fall of Saigon in 1975 the United States went on to win the cold war.
Even the obsession of American elites with human rights has a geographical basis, since the protection afforded by oceans has made them suspicious of the ruthless realpolitik always demanded of states with insecure land borders. The country still has the ability to stand aloof and make moral judgments accordingly.
People who've actually studied geography question whether or not Kappy even understands it. That's the least of his problems; however. His xenophobia is well documented. He's accused of misunderstanding empires and how they work. But he flatters a corrupt system that kills so he gets invited to write for THE ATLANTIC in a curious article that cites a lot of long dead thinkers but not one living Iraq or Afghan despite the words "Iraq" and "Afghanistan" appearing in his title. How can he grasp what's going on in the world right now? Maybe by holding a seance with Ernest Renan -- who died in 1892 but gets quoted while people actually pertinent to today's discussion are ignored.
The only thing more laughable than Kaplan's article is the illustration of Kaplan by Dan Williams. Even THE ECONOMIST knows Kaplan's an ugly soul so they commission a drawing of him that extends and slenderizes Kaplan's chunky face. Reality, no matter how hard they work to conceal reality, Kaplan still has to look into a mirror.
Meanwhile, some are going into Afghanistan. Caitlin Yilek (CBS NEWS) reports:
Two members of Congress secretly traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan, as the U.S. evacuates tens of thousands of Americans and vulnerable Afghans after the country fell to the Taliban.
Representatives Seth Moulton, a Democrat, and Republican Peter Meijer, both Iraq War veterans, made a stealth visit to the Hamid Karzai International Airport on Tuesday "to conduct oversight" on the evacuation, their offices said in a statement after they departed Afghanistan.
I'm told people can accomplish a great deal when their sex drive dries up. Our Sisters of Kabul issued a joint-statement which included this claim, "We left on a plane with empty seats, seated in crew-only seats to ensure that nobody who needed a seat would lose one because of our presence." Well, actually, boys, those two crew-only seats? If non-crew (including both of you) sit in them? No one explodes. Meaning that those two seats could, indeed, have been used for people wishing to leave Afghanistan. But let's pretend you did something on your for-show visit.
While big boy Seth's in Afghanistan 'investigating,' any chance he might look into the reality of US actions in Afghanistan. Branko Marcetic (JACOBIN) notes:
It’s worth remembering the United States is currently under investigation by the International Criminal Court, where prosecutors say they have evidence US troops and the CIA “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence” against Afghan detainees. A lot of this is along the lines of the typical kinds of stories we’ve heard come out of Guantanamo Bay, but it also went further, including beating men on their testicles, and forced “rectal feeding” of alleged hunger strikers that was so harsh, it gave one detainee “chronic hemorrhoids, an anal fissure, and symptomatic rectal prolapse.”
These kinds of atrocities have been carried out by US forces and their Afghan allies from the very start of the invasion, as compiled by Human Rights Watch, the premier liberal human rights organization that, within the human rights world, has mainly been criticized for being too friendly to Washington.
In 2004, the organization detailed how coalition troops would heavy-handedly arrest entirely innocent villagers and their children, in the process endangering and sometimes beating, insulting, and killing them — even robbing and destroying their property — before sending them to enjoy Guantanamo-like treatment for the days and weeks their families had no clue where they were. In a society where the inviolability of a man’s home has traditionally been a matter of personal honor, such raids — particularly when carried out with dogs or when women are present — were experienced as especially grave abuses.
The scale of civilian deaths, deliberately undercounted, were further laid bare by WikiLeaks’ 2010 release of the Afghanistan war logs, which detailed coalition forces killing and wounding hundreds of Afghan civilians from 2004 to 2009. The logs highlighted instances of shocking recklessness, as when a “smart bomb” malfunctioned and landed on a village, causing nineteen casualties; or when Polish troops violated protocol and rained mortar onto a villager near where a military vehicle had been attacked, killing six civilians, including a pregnant woman and three kids. (“If you see a fucking dude holding a weapon, you fucking hose him down!” one Pole recalled a US platoon sergeant briefing his men, about a largely rural populace where villagers regularly carry rifles).
Episodes like these were depressingly regular throughout the rest of the war: forty-five dead in an airstrike here, thirty dead in an air strike there; another forty-five killed in a strike on Taliban drug labs; forty-seven more when a wedding party was bombed. Each were justified as measures targeting the Taliban; each killed an appalling number of kids, besides innocent men and women.
Though they didn’t kill as many as all various anti-government forces (including the Taliban and ISIS) combined, the US military, its allies, and the Afghan government killed an average of 582 civilians a year from 2007 to 2016, before rising to more than 1,100 between 2017 and 2019. Since 2016, 40 percent of airstrike casualties have been kids.
In one infamous incident, US and Afghan forces attacked a Doctors Without Borders hospital, destroying its main building and killing forty-two patients and staff, even though they’d been given its GPS coordinates beforehand and hospital personnel had alerted the US military while they were being attacked. It was as unambiguous a war crime as you can find, which is presumably why Washington put the kibosh on any independent investigation, no matter the contradictory and evolving explanations offered. Eventually, both Afghan forces and the US military publicly agreed they had committed the atrocity on purpose, supposedly because the Taliban had used the hospital as a perch from which to attack them.
No, Seth won't look into that or even acknowledge it as he chases one TV personality after another promising a 'scoop!' if only they'll speak to him on air. Keep chasing, Seth, might take off a few of those pounds. It so sad, isn't it, how those pounds popped up after you were supposedly happy.
Seth's been jabbing constantly about what we owe the Afghan translators and the Afghans this and that.
What we owe?
Okay, do we only grasp the concept of traitor when it applies to us? We seem to grasp that Benedict Arnold was a traitor. But little snitches who informed on their fellow Afghans?
Leaving aside how they made money off the war, I believe that they were promised a pay check. Did they not get that pay check? If they didn't get it, we have a problem. But I'm unaware of any promise -- verbal or in writing -- that has been made to Afghans (or Iraqis) who worked with foreign military that they would be brought back to the US.
War is messy. That's why you need to give considered and reasoned thought to it. That's why you need to be factual and not lie about it or build it around lies. The media whored to get the wars -- Afghanistan and Iraq -- going. I guess it's a little too late to expect them to traffic in honesty and facts.
And the American people? Fortunately, most Americans are apolitical. Fortunately because we have some real idiots on my side -- or supposedly on my side.
These are the idiots who made a hero of Dan Rather, for example. Loony Tune Dan? Dan's entire career has been built around misreporting but, more to the point, there's his shameful appearance begging for 'marching orders from Bully Boy Bush on TV. Does history not matter or do people just love flaunting their stupidity? I have no idea but even the worst is suddenly rehabbed by too many idiots on my side. Tie an anti-Trump slogan around someone and watch a number of idiots on the left chase after him as though he had a pork chop around his neck.
Easy alliances with cheap whores really don't pay off but I guess we'll have to wait until the visits to the free clinic for so many claiming to be of the left to grasp that reality. Remember, boys and girls allergic to penicillin that there are a host of antibiotics that can be used to treat basic veneral diseases these days. Don't lose hope.
Meanwhile, we told you over and over in recent weeks that the true protected target was Iraq, that Iraq was the jewel the US government didn't want to let go of. As Ava and I noted:
But the drama the bobble heads are creating goes to one point: Don't leave Iraq.
They want the US occupation of Iraq to continue. Why? Because that's what their masters, the corporations who pay their checks, want. WAR IS A RACKET, Smedley Butler wrote about that decades ago (1935) and nothing has changed. The US is empire, like the Ottoman empire before it or the British empire or . . .
Afghanistan? Has natural resources but the corporations and US government know that they can work with the Taliban. They did so, after all, before 2001. Gore Vidal may be dead but his observations live on in his writings and in his interviews. Sadly, Hillary Clinton lives on. She does love to lie. She showed up on CNN to insist that what Joe was doing might put the Taliban in control!
Oh, Hillary, you need so much more than a podcast. You excel at lying to the American people so you really should be in the media. We know your daughter failed spectacularly. But you have a real gift for lying gab and you'd be the perfect new host of an MSNBC program, possibly one entitled TO HIDE A PEDOPHILE or TO HIDE A RAPIST.
When was the Taliban not in charge? Outside of Kabul, it's controlled the country for some time. Hillary leaves that out because it undermined her screeching. We're sure Hillary's heard of the Council on Foreign Relations. They say, that in July 2021, the Taliban controlled 54% of Afghanistan. (And, of course, the US signed a peace treaty with the Taliban in 2020.) So before Joe's actions this month, the Taliban already controlled half the country. To be the red headed girl on KIDS IN THE HALL, it's a fact.
And it's one that the high drama really doesn't convey.
Again, you're being lied to.
And we said at THE COMMON ILLS for the last two weeks that the response (the lying) would be about Iraq. It's the jewel. The corporations can work with the Talbian -- as Union Oil -- based in California -- did when they signed a contract with the Taliban before 9/11. Again, read Gore Vidal, pay attention to the how the riches can be pipelined through the region and how Unical was all ready to do so.
Can they work with Iraq?
To work with Iraq, they'd have to figure out who would be in charge when US forces left? That puppet government will most likely collapse. It's deeply unpopular. It's corrupt. It doesn't represent the Iraqi people.
Iraq has no group like the Taliban that's consolidated and powerful. So control would be up for grabs. Therefore, they can't risk it so let's sell Iraq to the American people one more time!
At the pro-war Council of/for/on Foreign Relations, Stephen A. Cook shows up to sell Iraq as a country with a powerful government:
Now, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who gets high marks from almost everyone for his determination to alter Iraqi political and economic fortunes, has come to believe that to have a chance at resolving the problems inside Iraq, he must play a role in helping to settle the problems around it. He may be onto something. Instability in Iraq’s neighborhood contributes to the country’s multiple problems—but does Baghdad have the influence, resources, and prestige to forge a more stable region? The Iraqi leader has some assets to work with here, mostly his own prestige and the relationships he fostered as the head of Iraq’s intelligence service between 2016 and 2020, but it remains unclear why the Saudis, Emiratis, or the Egyptians need Iraq’s help.
The first indication of the Iraqi government’s new and more constructive approach to the region actually predates the arrival of Kadhimi to the prime ministry. In the spring of 2019, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq announced their intention to establish a mechanism for economic and geopolitical cooperation.
I know ONLY FANS is banning porn, why can't COFR? I have sympathy for Opal Lee (previous link) but none for Stephen Cook. While Stephen lies and tries to sell America a lemon of a government, Khazan Jangiz (RUDAW) reports some realities about the Iraqi government that Cook omits:
Iraq’s fields and orchards are drying up. Mismanagement of water
resources has left the country’s environment vulnerable to climate
change, the deputy minister for the environment told Rudaw, resulting in
fragile food and national security.
“Diyala used to be a food basket for all Iraq, from fruits to dates. Baqubah is famous for oranges, but now you see what it has come to. This pomegranate has dried up inside. The grapes and dates were also damaged due to the drought. We are now buying fruits and vegetables from neighboring countries while we have fruits and vegetables here in Iraq,” Omer Abdulaziz said as he was walked through his orchard in Baqubah, in southern Diyala province.
The head of Diyala’s agriculture directorate said he expects the problem will likely to extend into the next seasons and years.
“Some of the farmers have resorted to digging wells to get through this period successfully. We don’t want to take a risk and make early predictions for the climate, but the signs indicate that the next season will also face drought,” said Hussein Khadhir Abbas.
Iraq is the fifth-most vulnerable nation in the world to the effects of climate change, including water and food insecurity, according to the UN, yet it lags behind its neighbors in creating a plan to better manage its water resources.
Present-day Iraq is the ancient Mesopotamia, the land of two rivers - Tigris and Euphrates. “Life in this country and the continuity of its civilization depends on this water,” Jassim al-Falahi, undersecretary at the Ministry of Environment and Health, told Rudaw in an interview on August 16.
“Ninety percent of our water source comes from out of Iraq, and you know water security is essential for food security and that is fundamental for national security. The environment security includes all these, which means Iraq’s environment security is very fragile,” he said.
“That’s why this country is one of the most damaged among countries of the world in climate change, due to lack of rain, due to the decrease of the water from building dam projects, such as Ilisu dam [in Turkey] and the dams Iran has built, in addition to our problems in terms of not having a suitable mechanism for water distribution among the provinces,” he added.
The majority of Iraq’s water supplies come from outside of the country, from rivers that are being dammed by Turkey and Iran, which are also seeing drought. Water levels in the Euphrates and Tigris rivers - shared by Iraq, Syria, and Turkey - have dropped by more than half, the spokesperson for Iraq’s water ministry said on Sunday.
Domestic failures such as a lack of policy to guides water usage and little public awareness have worsened the issue, “not only in daily use of water at home, which takes eight percent of our total water income, but the real problem is we are still practicing agriculture like our Sumerian ancestors where a lot of water is being wasted,” said Falahi.
Maybe the next time Stephen Cook wants to write, he can do a piece on what it's like to be a dirty ass liar?
Let's wind down. First, check out Jackson Hinkle's discussion with Scott Horton about Afghanistan and Max Blumenthal's discussion with Scott Horton..
Second. let's note Liza Featherstone's latest at JACOBIN:
In 2014, faced with a progressive female challenger, the legal scholar Zephyr Teachout, [Andrew] Cuomo and his lieutenant governor, now-governor Cathy Hochul, founded the Women’s Equality Party to attract more female votes to himself and his centrist buddies, many of whom were men.
Some fifty thousand voters were fooled into voting for the Cuomo-Hochul ticket on the Women’s Equality line in 2014, and who can blame them? “Women’s Equality” sounds like something progressives would want to support. But it was a sham.
In 2015, a group of women led by former state senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, a dairy farmer who had represented an upstate district in western Schenectady County, sued to gain control of the party. Tkaczyk said at the time, “I didn’t think women needed to be told what to do by a man,” explaining that she wanted to put control in the hands of the members. That challenge failed.
In 2018, the party was briefly under new leadership: Susan Zimet, who was not otherwise politically worthless. A former New Paltz supervisor who led protests against fracking, she had also been executive director of the Hunger Action Network of New York State. There was some speculation that under her leadership, the party would develop some independence from Cuomo. But that didn’t happen.
Indeed, it was under Zimet’s leadership that the cynicism of the project became especially obvious, as the Women’s Equality Party endorsed Cuomo over a much more progressive woman, this time democratic socialist Cynthia Nixon, former Sex in the City star and a dedicated education activist.
“Yes, Cynthia is a woman, and yes, she represents a lot of our values, but we have a governor who literally created the party,” Zimet whined to Ginia Bellafante of the New York Times. Equally mortifyingly, the WEP supported incumbent Congressman Joe Crowley against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the famous democratic socialist from Queens, who ended up winning the race. Again, the party supported a man. Notice a pattern?
The Idiot Bellafante. Who knew she still had a career? Hmm.
That's 7 to 9 pm Pacific time. It's too early for me to do math. I think that''s five to seven pm central time and four to six pm EST.
The following sites updated: