The story of the past two years has been, in many ways, one giant
labor story — played out against the backdrop of a global pandemic. But
when we took a look at the labor stories In These Times published over the past 12
months, what stood out most were how inspiring and hopeful many of them
ultimately were. These are stories of people organizing together, at
great risk, in the most precarious of times and against long odds,
We invite you to take some time this holiday weekend to revisit some of these stories — or read them for the first time. They’re a snapshot of the year that was, but they also point the way to what might be coming in 2022 and beyond.
A beaten-down workforce took on a powerful company — and won.
Workers made a fortune for shareholders over the last six-year contract. They should demand that they get paid their true worth before shareholders get a penny.
A union set to be wiped out by layoffs says politicians are missing in action.
4. Columbia Students Wage the Largest Tuition Strike in Nearly 50 Years
By Indigo Oliver
Students are demanding the university lower the cost of attendance and boost financial aid.
In 10 months, baristas at White Electric, a coffee shop in Providence, went from unionizing their workplace to starting one of only a few dozen worker-owned cafes in the country.
For the first time, Amazon is experiencing a multi-site U.S. work stoppage. It comes at the end of a year marked by union organizing and labor militancy at the retail giant.
McGraw Hill is clawing back 2.2% of every invoice, and a worker says it feels like “wage theft.”
8. Against Loving Your Job
By Sarah Jaffe
“We need a politics of time. A political understanding that our lives are ours to do with what we will.”
With little national attention, a Connecticut Dollar General store could soon help unions crack a vital low-wage industry.
10. In Middle America, Unions and Democrats Are Sleepwalking Into the Grave
By Hamilton Nolan
By not organizing in decimated post-industrial towns, we’re ceding ground to the right wing.
The Labor Movement Has a Game Plan for the Biden Era
By Jeff Schuhrke
This time, unions intend to get something done.
A Worldwide Workers’ Revolt Against Amazon Has Begun
By Luis Feliz Leon
Amazon workers from Italy to India are uniting to form a global movement that may have found Jeff Bezos’s Achilles heel.
A group of non-unionized workers at the Chicago-based chain staged a week-long walk out, part of a growing wave of strikes in the area.
If you missed any of those stories, make a point to check them out now.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Monday:
Monday, January 3, 2022. A base with US forces in Iraq comes under drone attack this morning, the western media rushes to turn a small group demonstrating into something large, a leopard is captured in Kurdistan, what's the deal with THIRD, and much more.
Two armed drones were shot down on Monday as they approached an Iraqi military base hosting US forces near Baghdad’s international airport, Iraqi security sources said, adding that nobody was hurt in the incident.
AFP goes on to note the assassination by drone in 2020 (by the US government) of terrorist Qassen Soleimani. Solemani'ss actions of terror go to why SUnnis weren't bothered by his death and wh most Shi'ites weren't bothered. He was a fundmantelist who was behind terrorizing many of Iraq's marginalized people -- including LGBTQ persons.
They leave that out. They leave so much out. Including the fact that combat has not ended for US forces. Two drones tried to attack today and they were shot down. That's combat, boys and girls. Joe Biden and the press are lying to you when they maintain otherwise.
US forces shouldn't be in Iraq. But they are. And those in Iraq better be recieving combat pay becuase they are in a combat zone.
Below you can see the handful that turned out on a busy street.
If you wtch the whole video, you'll note that the protest/demonstration collects more observers than it has participants but, hey, so what if the US media is pimping as a huge turnout -- while repeatedly ignoring protest against the Iraqi government -- since when did reality belong in what passes for reality?
Hasn't that always been how the western media has covered Iraqi gatherings? With lies. They ignore the real ones -- such as all the ones that took place in 2021. As we noted Saturday, in the year in review "2021: The Madness of the Partisan Left (The Year of Silencing Speech):"
December saw two resignations. Most Americans have no idea. The governor of Dhi Qar, Ahmed al-Khafaji resigned right before Christmas due to protest. And, at the same time, the governor of Najaf, Louai al-Yasseri, resigned -- also due to protests.
When these protests aren't covered, I guess it's easier for the media to pretend that the ongoing Iraq War is a success. After all, if the US truly 'liberated' the Iraqi people, all would be fine and dandy and Iraqis would have no reason to take to the streets.
But all is not well and that's why Iraqis are making their voices heard -- heard on the streets, heard via social media and heard via the Arabic press. Sadly, the US press really doesn't pay attention to what's actually going on in Iraq. It's so much easier to just write 500 words or so of nothing while tossing around the term "king-maker."
Not only did the US press refuse to cover those protests, it also has never informed their readers and viewers that, at the end of last month, not one, but two, governors resigned their positions due to protests. Kind of an important news item. But the US press has always lied about protest going back to when the US military, in 2003, pulled down a statue of Saddam in Baghdad and the press worked overtime to lie that the Iraqi people had done it.
At THE GUARDIAN, Alex von Tunzelmann wrote a lengthy piece about that propaganda:
A number of international journalists who were covering the invasion moved into the Palestine Hotel on Firdos Square, where Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf held his amusing press conferences. They had been relocated from the Al Rasheed Hotel, closer to the city’s political centre, after much of it had been destroyed by bombing. Though the Palestine Hotel was known to be a media refuge, an American tank fired a shell at it on 8 April, mistaking a camera on a balcony for an Iraqi spotting device. Two journalists were killed, three were injured, and the rest were outraged.
It was fortunate, then, that a story would come along to distract them from their anger at the Pentagon the next day, and that it would happen on Firdos Square – right outside their hotel. Fortunate, but not planned by the Pentagon. The story was created spontaneously by American soldiers on the ground. It was spun into a full-blown global event by the international news media.
On 9 April 2003, Lt Col Brian McCoy, in charge of the 3rd Battalion 4th Marines, was told by a journalist at the Palestine Hotel that there were no Iraqi forces in Firdos Square. Simon Robinson, a reporter for Time magazine, said McCoy knew that journalists would be there, so “there were going to be opportunities”.
Capt Bryan Lewis, leader of McCoy’s tank company, blocked the streets leading to the square. Gunnery Sgt Leon Lambert, in an M-88 armoured recovery vehicle, radioed him with an idea: should they pull down Saddam’s statue? Lewis replied: “No way.”
McCoy went into the Palestine Hotel to meet reporters. Just after 5pm, Lambert radioed Lewis again, telling him that now local Iraqis themselves wanted to pull down the statue. There were a few of them in the square, and a lot of journalists.
Lambert’s claim that some Iraqis wanted to pull down the statue is corroborated to some extent by Kadhim Sharif Hassan al-Jabouri, a local mechanic. Kadhim claimed that he had once fixed motorcycles for Saddam and his son Uday, but there had been a dispute over money. Uday had him thrown in prison. “Fourteen or 15 people in my own family were executed by Saddam,” Kadhim told the BBC. When he heard American forces were coming, he was happy. He says he took his sledgehammer and left his nearby garage to go to Firdos Square.
Lambert asked Lewis: “If a sledgehammer and rope fell off the 88, would you mind?”
“I wouldn’t mind,” Lewis replied. “But don’t use the 88.”
Lambert says he gave the Iraqis his sledgehammer, though Kadhim claims to have brought his own. It is unclear, then, whether the idea to attack the statue came from a relatively low-ranking US soldier, from an Iraqi civilian, or from both.
Kadhim began to hammer at the statue, but all he could really do was get a couple of plaques off the base. Lambert’s rope was thrown around the statue’s neck. There was little chance of this small crowd toppling such a large bronze. An hour went by.
Saddam was not budging. “We watched them with the rope, and I knew that was never going to happen,” Lambert told journalist Peter Maass, who wrote a detailed investigation of the felling of the statue in 2011. “They were never going to get it down.”
At this point, the handful of Iraqis having a go at the statue seemed inclined to give up and go home. Just then, McCoy came out of the hotel. “I realised this was a big deal,” he said. “You’ve got all the press out there and everybody is liquored up on the moment. You have this Paris 1944 feel. I remember thinking, the media is watching the Iraqis trying to topple this icon of Saddam Hussein. Let’s give them a hand.”
McCoy radioed a senior officer, who authorised him to involve troops directly in pulling down the statue. McCoy told his troops they could use the M-88 recovery vehicle after all, providing there were no fatalities.
Around 6.50pm the M-88 drove away from the statue, dragging it face forward with the chain around its neck. Slowly, the bronze bent forward at the knee and ankle, Saddam’s huge figure bobbing for a few seconds in a horizontal position as the modest crowd of Iraqis whistled and cheered. Finally, the statue snapped off its plinth, leaving its feet behind. Iraqis ran forward, jumped on it and danced. It was crushed to pieces.
[. . .]
Baz hurried back [from aonther assignment] to his room at the Palestine Hotel to send his pictures to his editors, then heard a commotion outside and witnessed the Firdos Square toppling. Only one of the Saddam topplings made the front pages, and it was not the one that Iraqis had done for themselves. There was a real story here about pulling down a statue in Saddam City. The world’s media preferred the simulation in Firdos Square.
As two hours of non-stop coverage of Firdos Square was beamed around the world that night, the news networks desperately wanted it to have a meaning. Wolf Blitzer of CNN described the footage as “the image that sums up the day and, in many ways, the war itself”. Over on Fox, the anchors agreed. “This transcends anything I’ve ever seen,” said Brit Hume. His colleague agreed: “The important story of the day is this historic shot you are looking at, a noose around the neck of Saddam, put there by the people of Baghdad.” But it was an American rope, put there by American soldiers.
Between 11am and 8pm on 9 April, Fox News replayed the footage of Saddam’s statue coming down every 4.4 minutes. CNN replayed it every 7.5 minutes. The coverage of Firdos Square – which heavily implied that the statue had been pulled down by a large crowd of cheering Iraqis – suggested that the war was over. The hated dictator was symbolically ousted when his statue fell. In reality, it was not the end. The fighting was still going on. Armed engagements were underway in Baghdad and northern Iraq while the pageant was proceeding in Firdos Square.
[. . .]
t the time, the fall of the Firdos Square statue was presented as a satisfying end to the story of the invasion of Iraq. In the weeks after it came down, coverage of the Iraq war on Fox News and CNN decreased by 70%.
Peter Hart was with FAIR for many years, this is the opening of one of the pieces he wrote about that media propaganda:
Remember the toppling of that Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad (4/9/03) that signified the “end” of the Iraq War? At the time, there were critics who pointed out that the extensively televised images of a jubilant crowd of Iraqis were misleading.The sense of media excitement was unmistakable; as FAIR pointed out, the Los Angeles Times ran a headline the next day, “Iraq Is All but Won; Now What?”
So the media treats a small turn out on the second annverisary of Qasem as a major event becuase he was so damn popular. Not popular enough to result in a big turnout two years later. Oh and how about that October 10th election that the US press refused to cover. Day after day, candidates campaigned. Who was the group using Qasem in their campaign material -- including posters? That's right, the group that suffered the biggest loss at the polls. Granted, members of the Shi'ite militias linked to Iran had trouble voting since they weren't allowed to vote when other members of the security forces voted. But they didn't make that their case to Iraq's supreme court. Had they done so and noted the last minute decision that said they were not able to take part in early voting, they might have won. But might have isn't really important now -- the Court has ruled. Posters of and references to Qasem did not turn out the votes but I guess that's reality and, of course, the US press isn't interested in reality. Nor, really, is the western press.
Here's some context on today's attack via Mina Aldroubi and Robert Tollast (THE NATIONAL):
In May, explosive drones struck the coalition's sprawling Al Asad base in western Iraq, a US base in Erbil – the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region – and a coalition facility in the Baghdad airport complex.
There were more drone attacks on Al Asad base in June, prompting US air strikes against suspected drone sites on July 27. In December, armed drones were used in an unsuccessful attack on the US consulate in Erbil.
The US has used a range of systems, including the C-Ram system, which can fire 4,500 rounds a minute, and new laser systems to defend joint facilities and its embassy in Baghdad. These are more advanced systems than Iraq's government currently possesses.
Changing topics . . .
MEMO notes, "An endangered leopard has been captured in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region after it was caught in a shepherd's trap. The endangered Persian Leopard needed to have its hind leg amputated on Friday due to the injuries sustained caused by the trap, an AFP photographer said." World Land Trust explains:
The Caucasian Leopard, also called the Persian Leopard, is one of the biggest of the eight recognised sub species of leopard. All the leopards have stocky bodies with comparatively short legs; their total body length (including tail) can be up to 190cm and their weight up to 70kg. Coats have a range of base colours from yellow to golden brown with paler fur under the chin and across the belly. They have black spots on the head, limbs and belly and spots arranged in rosettes across the back and flanks. Their spots give unique coat patterns which can be used to identify individuals.
Diet will vary across their range and leopards can adapt what they eat to the available prey species. Across Armenia, Iran and Turkmenistan typical prey will include species such as Bezoar Goats, Wild Boar and Mouflon. Leopards use vantage points such as rocky outcrops to locate their prey and will then stalk them, waiting until they are within 3-10m before attacking.
Generally leopards are nocturnal although, in the absence of other large predators such as lion and tiger, they are reported to be less nocturnal.
Little research has been done in the regions inhabited by the Caucasian Leopard. They are solitary, males and females only come together to mate, and females usually give birth to one or two cubs that stay with her for up to 18 months. They communicate by making a rough, rasping sound which they use to advertise their presence and for contact between individuals. They also growl, roar and hiss and mark their territory with urine, faeces and claw marks.
The female leopard, believed to be three-years-old, was found after she
attacked the goats of Khwaja Yahya in Zreza village. The man who
captured the creature initially did not know his livestock were killed
by the leopard, so he set up a trap and was suprised to discover on
Tuesday that the culprit was a leopard. She was injured in the leg after
being stuck in the trap.
A number of villagers attempted to capture the animal but they could not. She attacked them, injuring two.
Ranger police, accompanied by environmentalists, were able to calm the animal and sent it to Duhok Zoo for treatment.
“It has lost too much blood. Therefore we need to provide it with antibiotics for 20 days or a month … We have lost its leg,” Sulaiman Tamar, Head of Kurdistan Environmental Organisation, told Rudaw.
BBC NEWS' Sebastian Usher Tweets:
Due to the amputation, it will not be released back into the wild but will instead remain at the zoo.
We'll cover the controversy over War Criminal Tony Blair being knighted next time.
Year in review coverage withint the community:
Kat's "2021 in music" went up here, Ruth's "Ruth's YOUTUBE Report" went up here, Martha and Shirley's "2021 in Books (Martha & Shirley)" went up here as die my "2021: The Madness of the Partisan Left (The Year of Silencing Speech)" and we reposted Rebecca's "sexiest men of 2021" (as "Rebecca eyes the hottest guys of 2021") and Stan's "2021 in films (Ann and Stan)" and Ann's "2021 in films (Ann and Stan)" (as "Ann and Stan on 2021 in film")
I have no idea. Ava and I wrote a piece last week that was time sensitive. We were told late Christmas Eve we could go ahead and post it, that there was no other content to go with it. At that point, it was really too late. It was outdated. The bulk was.
We did have one topic in there that we could still keep but we had to refashion it to ask why one woman could hate her mother so much That's the piece we finished yesterday. SUpposedly, there will be other content to go with it. If there isn't by the time I go to bed tonight, probably midnight PST, Ava or I will go ahead and post it here. I have no idea what's going on with THIRD. A few e-mails to the private account are asking if THIRD's going to fold? Maybe. I don't know. If it does, Ava and I can carry our weekly media coverage over to this site.