Sex Witch-hunt – Now #MeToo is coming for your thought crimes – By Karol Markowicz – 23 Sept 2018

The #MeToo movement’s search for demons to slay has expanded well beyond just those accused of sexual misbehavior. Now, if you’ve done anything to disseminate the accused’s side of the story, they’re coming for #YouToo.

Last week, Ian Buruma not so quietly left his position as editor of The New York Review of Books. The mob had descended on him days earlier for publishing an essay by Jian Ghomeshi. Ghomeshi was a Canadian broadcaster who’d been accused of sexual assault early on in the #MeToo movement. Ghomeshi stood trial in Canada for sexual assault of six women and was acquitted of all charges in 2015.

Ghomeshi’s piece attempted an apology and an explanation of how he became a person he despised. “I wore the right ribbons, used the right hashtags, hosted the right guests. I did interviews with everyone from Toni Morrison to Gloria Steinem, Drake and Maya Angelou. I attended demonstrations and spoke at progressive fund-raisers,” he wrote. “And at some point, when it came to women, I began to use my liberal gender studies education as a cover for my own behavior. I was ostensibly so schooled in how sexism works that I would arrogantly give myself a free pass.”

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He describes the helplessness, shame and fear he felt after the accusations hit. He admits he behaved atrociously toward women, he’s regretful and he is looking for a path back. The public can deny him one, of course — but apparently the public must deny him one.

In a new front for the mob, it’s not enough to target the perpetrator of the misdeed. They are now targeting those who offer them a platform like Buruma did, or say anything warm about them at all.

Norm Macdonald learned this recently when he urged forgiveness for his friends Louis CK and Roseanne Barr. “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” canceled Macdonald’s upcoming appearance. Fallon told Macdonald that producers were “crying” over allowing Macdonald to appear.

Macdonald had an appearance on “The View” a few days later where he pointed out that he had not actually been accused of any action and his offense was words on behalf of those who were. “I don’t want to be tossed in with people who did, not crimes, but sins,” he said. “I barely have consensual sex.”

Too late: The mob has grown impatient with making distinctions between acts and thoughts.

The mob was particularly enraged by Buruma because of an interview he gave to Slate magazine explaining his decision to publish the Ghomeshi piece.

“I have absolutely no doubt that the #MeToo movement is a necessary corrective on male behavior that stands in the way of being able to work on equal terms with women. In that sense, I think it’s an entirely good thing,” he said. So far so good.

But he added that, “like all well-intentioned and good things, there can be undesirable consequences. I think, in a general climate of denunciation, sometimes things happen and people express views that can be disturbing.”

It’s not enough to support the existence of the #MeToo movement; the mob demands that support take a very specific shape.

Margaret Sullivan in the Washington Post, among others, criticized a “cavalier” comment Buruma made during the interview: “The exact nature of his behavior — how much consent was involved — I have no idea, nor is it really my concern.” It sounded like Buruma was dismissing the importance of consent, but he was actually making a larger point about someone being legally acquitted while still considered guilty by the public. The preceding comment was “All I know is that in a court of law he was acquitted, and there is no proof he committed a crime.”

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We find a way back into society for the worst criminals, for murderers. A poignant story went viral recently about a police officer who had forgiven, and befriended, the man who shot him. We love those stories of redemption and forgiveness, but the idea of absolution for an accused, and in this case acquitted, #MeToo man is too much for us to consider.

People are right to be concerned that #MeToo has gone too far. There are few who don’t think the movement has done good work in exposing predatory men and encouraging victims to come forward.

But when an editor is forced out of his job because he published something controversial, or a friend of the accused suffers professionally for his kind words, we’ve gone to the crazy place and need to come back from it.

Source: NYPost

Policebook Signs on with US ‘Big Brother’ propaganda outfits to monitor foreign election ‘fake news’ – by Winston Smith (Ministry of Truth) 24 Sept 2018

‘Orwellian’ move: Facebook teams up with US government to police ‘fake news’ in foreign elections

‘Orwellian’ move: Facebook teams up with US government to police ‘fake news’ in foreign elections
Facebook has teamed up with two US government-funded think tanks as part of a new initiative to bolster the social media giant’s “election integrity efforts” around the globe.

The new partnership with the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) was revealed by Facebook in a call with reporters last week and reported by Reuters — but the company’s choice of partners has since raised a few eyebrows. Both think-tanks are funded by the US government, through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Tweeting about the initiative, Mark Weisbrot, a co-director at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, called Facebook’s decision to work with the US government-funded organizations “Orwellian” and said that they “specialize in overseas propaganda.” Weisbrot also criticized Reuters reporting of the news which focused on Facebook’s supposed fake-news busting efforts and seemed lacking in “any awareness” of who the two groups were.

policebook

During the telephone Q&A with reporters focusing on the upcoming elections in the US and Brazil, Facebook’s Elections and Civic Engagement Samidh Chakrabarti, said that “preventing election interference” on the platform has been “one of the biggest cross-team efforts” the company has seen. But is teaming up with government-funded think tanks really the best way to prevent election interference on Facebook?

Asked by CNBC reporter Salvador Rodriguez to elaborate on the partnership, Katie Harbath, who heads up Facebook’s Global Politics and Government Outreach team, said she wanted to be clear that Facebook’s work with the IRI and NDI is only focused “internationally” and that it has nothing to do with domestic elections in the US. Harbath said the two organizations have “a lot of experience in working in elections and in many countries around the globe” and that Facebook can learn from them about “election integrity risks” that exist in other countries.

That knowledge might prompt a sign of relief from American journalists, but given the US government holds a very real stake in the outcome of many other elections worldwide, it still seems a little odd that Facebook should be using US government-funded organizations to help it decide what constitutes fake news in foreign elections, or to “slow the global spread of misinformation” as Reuters put it.

It’s not the first time Facebook has chosen a dubious partner to help it out in its fight against fake news, either. The social media giant also entered a similar partnership with the Atlantic Council, a think tank funded by the US and other NATO governments, as well as by a slew of US weapons manufacturers.

Shortly after its partnership with the Atlantic Council was revealed, Facebook temporarily deleted the English-language page of the Venezuela-based news outlet Telesur without explanation. Telesur is one of the only English-language media sources providing an alternative view on events in Venezuela.

Facebook has also been criticized for capitulating to demands and threats made by the Israeli government by deleting the accounts of a number of accounts run by Palestinian activists.

 

Nonetheless, Facebook has said it is setting up a “war room” ahead of major elections in Brazil next month. The war-like rhetoric echoes a Washington Post op-ed by Facbook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last month, in which he said Facebook was in an “arms race” against “bad actors” and that the platform needed to improve its “defenses”.

Amy Studdart, a senior advisor at the IRI, told Reuters that the details of its partnership with Facebook had not been fully worked out, but said the organization would help Facebook employees “understand how their platform is being used on the ground all around the world.”

The NED and its affiliates have been criticized as engines of “regime change” around the world, and one of its founders famously noted in 1991 that “a lot of what we do now was done covertly by the CIA 25 years ago.”

https://www.rt.com/usa/439249-facebook-us-funding-fake-news/

Laughing With the Secret Policemen – Luke Harding – the hack who came in from the cold – by BlackCatte – 9 Sept 2015

Luke Daniel Harding (born 1968) studied English at University College, Oxford. While there he edited the student newspaper Cherwell. He worked for The Sunday Correspondent, the Evening Argus in Brighton and then the Daily Mail before joining The Guardian in 1996. He was the Guardian’s Russia correspondent from 2007-11.

Aside from his more publicly known achievements, it’s worth noting Harding was accused of plagiarism by Mark Ames and Yasha Levine of the eXile for publishing an article under his own name that lifted large passages almost verbatim from their work. The Guardian allegedly redacted portions of Harding’s article in response to these accusations.

According to his own testimony, Luke Harding is the guy who realised he was in the siloviki cross hairs one day when, during his stay in Moscow as the Guardian’s bureau chief, he came home and found one of his bedroom windows open.

A less situationally-aware person would have made the fatal mistake of thinking one of his kids or his wife had done it, or he’d done it himself and just forgotten, or that his landlord had popped in to air the rooms (a bit of a tendency in Russia apparently). But Luke was sure none of his family had opened the window. So it had to have been the FSB.

You see, Luke isn’t confined as we are by the constraints of petty mundanity. That was why it had been so clear to him, even without any evidence, that the FSB had murdered Litvinenko. And that was why Luke took one look at that open window and realised the entire Russian intelligence machine was out to get him….

The dark symbolism of the open window in the children’s bedroom was not hard to decipher: take care, or your kids might just fall out. The men – I assume it was men – had vanished like ghosts.

And that was only the start of the vicious campaign that was to follow. Tapes were left in his cassette deck, when he knew he hadn’t put them there. An alarm clock went off when he knew he hadn’t set it. Luke was filled with ” a feeling of horror, alarm, incredulity, bafflement and a kind of cold rational rage.”

Luketalking

Things developed rapidly. Luke went to visit a woman called Olga who warned him to take care, because he was “an enemy of Putin.” He was sure someone had hacked his email account. Whenever he said the name “Berezovsky” his phone line would go dead, so he started using the word “banana” instead. A person from the Russian president’s office called and asked for his mobile number. Unable to imagine a single good reason why a Russian government official would need a cell phone number for the Guardian’s Russia bureau chief, he refused.

That wily Putin wasn’t going to catch him that easily. The game of cat and mouse had begun.

A middle-aged woman with a bad haircut knocked at his door at 7am, and walked away when he opened it. Had she just gone to the wrong door? Of course not, it was the FSB taunting him. At the airport on his way back to London a man with a Russian accent (in Moscow!) tapped him on the back and told him there was something wrong with his jacket. Noticing the man was wearing a leather coat, which meant he must be from the KGB, Luke immediately rushed to the gents and took off all his clothes to find the “bugging device” the man had planted on him. He didn’t find one, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t there.

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When the Russian government launched its prosecution of Berezovsky for fraud, someone from the FSB phoned Luke and asked him to come in and make a statement about the interview he’d conducted with the man a short time before. They also advised him to bring a lawyer, which seemed sinister to Luke. A man called Kuzmin interviewed him for 55 minutes. Luke got quite thirsty, but wouldn’t drink the fizzy water he was offered, because he was pretty sure it had been tampered with. Surprisingly Kuzmin didn’t interrogate him as expected, but Luke decided this was because the FSB were trying to intimidate him. They probably didn’t need to do an interrogation, thought Luke, since they’d been breaking in to his flat almost every day for like – ever, switching on his alarm clock and probably also bugging his phone.

After the western-backed Georgian invasion of South Ossetia Luke was amazed to note there was widespread antagonism toward western journalists in Moscow. And the FSB just would not leave him alone. Worried by this “campaign of brutishness” he decided to keep a log of the dreadful things they were doing. Reading this we find not only did they continue to regularly open his windows, they once turned off his central heating, made phantom ringing sounds happen in the middle of the night (Luke couldn’t find where they were coming from), deleted a screen saver from his computer and left a book by his bed about getting better orgasms.

All this would have broken a lesser man. But Luke didn’t break. Maybe that’s why in the end, they knew they’d have to expel him like in the old Soviet days. Which is what they did. Well, they didn’t renew his accreditation, which is the same thing. They pretended it was because he didn’t have the right paperwork for an extended visa and offered him a short extension so his kids could finish up at school. But Luke knew it was actually a Soviet-style expulsion. Because Luke can always see the real game when most of us just can’t.

He demanded to know if President Medvedev had been told – personally – that Luke was going home. The person in the press department he was speaking to just sort of looked at him and didn’t say anything.

Luke was pretty sure he worked for the FSB.

So he went home, got on the lecture circuit and wrote a book all about his terrible experiences in Vladimir Putin’s neo-Stalinist hell. But just when he thought all his espionage problems were over, they started up again when he began his book about Edward Snowden.

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This time it was the NSA, GCHQ and a host of other western agencies stalking him. The PTB obviously realised that Luke’s book would be much much more of a threat to national security than even Snowden himself, and did everything they could to try to stop him writing it. They followed him around (he knew they were agents because they had iPhones) and even used spy technology to remote-delete sentences from his computer – while he was typing them. Especially when he was writing mean things about the NSA. But after he typed “I don’t mind you reading my manuscript… but I’d be grateful if you don’t delete it”, they realised they’d met their match and stopped.

He wasn’t sure if the culprits were NSA, GCHQ or a Russian hacker, but one thing it definitely wasn’t was a glitchy keyboard.

I mean that would just be stupid.

NOTE: In case any of our readers are (understandably) inclined to think we must be making this up or exaggerating, we encourage them to read about it here and here in Luke’s own words. You’ll find we have merely summarised them.

Yes, he really does believe everything attributed to him in this article. He really does think the FSB were opening his windows. And he really did run to the public toilet and take all his clothes off because a man tapped him on the back in an airport.

We also recommend you take in this opinion piece by Julian Assange, and this one by a Brit ex-pat in Moscow.

After that feel free to complete the following questionnaire:

Is Luke Harding:

  1. “the reporter Russia hated”
  2. an “enemy of Putin”
  3. a borderline psychotic paranoiac, whose narcissistic delusions have been deliberately encouraged and exploited by an intelligentsia that will use any old crap it can find to further its agenda
  4. a bit of a tosser

…………………….

https://off-guardian.org/2015/09/09/luke-harding-enemy-of-the-state/

Archive

Revolt in Haiti Against IMF-Dictated Austerity – (The Internationalist) Aug 2018

Unite with Dominican and U.S. Workers to Defeat Imperialist Attack!

https://archive.is/bWrPP


Protesters build barricade in street of Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, on July 7 during rebellion against fuel price hikes ordered by imperialist agencies. 
………………………………

At 4 p.m. on Friday, July 6 while Haitians watched the World Cup of soccer on television, the right-wing government of Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant announced that, effective the next day, it was raising the price of gasoline by 38%, diesel fuel by 47% and kerosene by 51%. Kerosene is used for lighting and cooking by Haiti’s poor, most of whom do not have access to electricity. This massive price hike would result in a huge increase in the cost of living anywhere in the world, but in Haiti, a deeply impoverished country with widespread malnutrition, it spells disaster for several million people living on the edge of survival. And it was ordered straight from Washington, where the virulently racist U.S. president declared Haiti a “shithole country.”

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(US Late Night TV Host Connan O’Brian Went to Haiti to Disprove Trump’s “Shit-hole Country” Remark)

Haiti Conan O'B

To no one’s surprise but that of Haiti’s government and its imperialist overlords in the U.S., the country exploded in protest. Two days of flaming barricades rattled the tiny ruling class as angry crowds besieged upscale hotels, burned cars, gas stations and banks, and sacked a chain of supermarkets owned by the wealthiest family in Haiti. Some of the rich were evacuated from their rooftops by helicopter. In less than 24 hours, by the afternoon of July 7, Lafontant announced the “suspension” of the fuel price hike “until further notice,” later confirmed by President Jovenel Moïse. But that didn’t stop the popular uprising, as a general strike shut down transportation nationwide. It was the biggest upheaval in Haiti in years.


Protesters burned Delimart supermarket to the ground in Port-au-Prince, during rebellion against fuel price hikes. 

The raising of fuel prices was dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the international bankers’ cartel, as part of a deal reached in February with the Haitian government for a “staff-monitored program.” In exchange for promises of $96 million in loans, the IMF demanded cuts to fuel and electricity “subsidies” and further privatization of Electicité d’Haiti, the state electric utility. These are the same brutal austerity policies that the IMF and other imperialist institutions like the World Bank and the European Central Bank have regularly imposed on countries in difficult economic straits, from Latin America to Greece.

The cynicism of the operation was stunning. In preparation, at a cost of millions of dollars the government distributed 3,000 large (65-inch) and expensive flat-screen television monitors to every senator and deputy (a little under 20 TVs each), supposedly so that in every town and village people could watch the World Cup.

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The Moïse/Lafontant government figured that, with all of Haiti rooting for Brazil – the powerhouse of world soccer – in its match with tiny Belgium, the masses wouldn’t pay attention to the fuel price hike in the euphoria after Brazil’s predictable victory. But to everyone’s surprise, Brazil lost. Big miscalculation.

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Within minutes of Brazil’s defeat, enraged Haitians took to the streets in protest. Massive crowds erupted in the capital, Port-au-Prince, spreading to the cities of Les Cayes, Cap-Haïtien, Jérémie, and Petit-Goâve. Barricades of burning tires and vehicles on the roads shut down transportation. The police were ordered to suppress the upheaval, but, overwhelmed by the size and militancy of the protests, they retreated, leaving the crowds in control of the streets.

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International telephone and internet service was disrupted and all flights in and out of Toussaint Louverture International Airport were cancelled. A small contingent of Marines arrived to stand guard at the U.S. embassy. Several people were killed, and in coming days over 100 arrested.

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As the rebellion continued the next day and the government backed down, protesters demanded more. A coordinating committee composed of transportation unions and social organizations called a general strike on July 9 and 10. Demands of the strike included: permanent suspension of the fuel price hike; reinstatement of workers fired from state-owned companies; the arrest of corrupt officials implicated in the theft of funds from the Petrocaribe program, in which Venezuela provided oil to Caribbean countries on favorable terms; and the ouster of both Lafontant and Moïse. Protesters marched on parliament, where they were stopped by police.

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Meanwhile, the Private Sector Economic Forum, representing Haiti’s capitalists, denounced the “barbarity” of the masses in revolt, even as it called for the resignation of the prime minister.

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The Haitian legislature, hoping to demobilize the protests and restore bourgeois order, prepared to remove Lafontant through a vote of no confidence. The “Core Group” of the U.S., Canadian and European ambassadors demanded that Haitians “respect the constitutional order” – i.e., the prime minister can go but the president must stay. Finally, in the midst of a heated legislative debate on July 14, Lafontant suddenly announced that he had already resigned.

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But nothing has changed that will restore stability. Even after the revolt, the IMF is insisting on an end to “fuel subsidies,” to be implemented more gradually. Yet fuel prices in Haiti are not subsidized. Even at the current average price of roughly $70 per barrel of crude oil (up sharply from $43 a year ago), the production, refining and distribution cost of gasoline is around $2.50 a gallon. The current price per gallon to users in Haiti is US$3.45 (compared to $2.99 in the U.S.). With the IMF-ordered “adjustment,” that would have risen to $4.75 a gallon, in a country where the top minimum wage is $5.15 a day and half the population lives on less than $2.40 a day.1

Imagine paying almost a full day’s wage to pay for a gallon of gasoline, or of kerosene for cooking and lighting! The fuel price increases would also raise bus fares. The Miami Herald (13 July) calculated that: “A domestic worker with two children, for example, who makes the daily $4.39 minimum salary and lives in the city of Petionville, would spend almost half of her daily wages just to get the children to and from school at a cost of $1.82.” To deal with that, the geniuses at the IMF called for “compensatory mechanisms” like transportation vouchers for the poor. But Haiti has no apparatus to distribute such vouchers (which would, of course, soon be counterfeited), nor to force bus operators to accept them, which they wouldn’t.

U.N. peacekeepers and Haitian national police officers attend a briefing before a patrol in Cite Soleil, Port-au-Prince

What this is all about is the financial dictators of the IMF imposing an additional tax of 85 gourdes (Haiti’s currency), or the equivalent of 1 € (euro), or US$1.30 per gallon on fuel in order to increase government revenue by US$160 million. This is almost exactly the size of its budget deficit. Other measures could have been taken instead. An article by the Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, noted: “For example, last year, Haiti lost almost the exact same amount of money from tax exemptions granted to free trade zones, businesses, NGOs and diplomatic missions.”2 This is a deliberate, massive attack on the living standards of the poor and working people.

And increased government revenue will surely not finance “badly needed public investments and a better social safety net,” as an IMF spokesman claimed. This was driven home by a report of a parliamentary investigation last November that some US$3.8 billion in the Petrocaribe program, loaned funds from Venezuela’s state oil company intended for infrastructure and other development, was mostly embezzled by Haitian politicians and officials, as well as scamming business owners. The accused include two former prime ministers. Such corruption has been business-as-usual among Haiti’s rulers, but particularly since the July uprising against the fuel price hikes, an anti-corruption campaign called #petrocaribechallenge has taken off.

Already before the current revolt, Haiti was simmering with protests against rising food and transportation costs and for higher wages. As Kim Ives reported in Haïti Liberté (11 July), the Kreyól watchword of the revolt was “‘nou bouke,’ meaning ‘we are fed up’.” Last year, garment workers’ unions waged militant strikes calling to more than double the minimum wage.3 The minimum wage in Haiti is set at various levels for different types of workers – the highest rate being 350 gourdes (US$5.15) per day, which is a little over 50 cents an hour for a ten-hour day. In 2009, Hillary Clinton, Obama’s Secretary of State, directly intervened to stop a proposed increase in the minimum wage in Haiti.4


Garment workers of SOTA union, led by Batay Ouvriye, march on May Day 2018. To defeat imperialist-dictatedausterity it is necessary to mobilize workers power, from Haiti to the Dominican Republic and the U.S.
(Photo: Rapid Response Network)

Wage increases have been fought by President Moïse, who is a puppet of U.S. imperialism. A banana plantation owner, Moise was elected in a 2016 election farce (financed by the Obama administration) in which less than one in five Haitians voted, following 2015 elections that were scrapped due to massive fraud. Moïse was the candidate of the Haitian Bald-Headed Party (PHTK) and hand-picked successor to pop singer Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, who in his younger days was a supporter of the bloody, U.S-backed Duvalier dictatorship (1957-86), and later continued to maintain ties to Duvalierist coup plotters.5 Martelly won the presidency in 2011 after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton intervened to change the election results. Clinton threatened that if Martelly was not inserted into the runoff election the U.S. would withhold relief funds – in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake!

Martelly repaid the Clintons (Bill was designated as Haiti’s colonial overseer by the United Nations in 2009) with support to the interests of foreign investors as well as imperialist military occupation. In 2012, Martelly and the Clintons held a glitzy ceremony celebrating their “great achievement,” the opening the Caracol industrial park, which houses textile sweatshops and was built through diverting earthquake relief funds. During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Donald Trump declared, accurately: “Hillary Clinton set aside environmental and labor rules to help a South Korean company with a record of violating workers’ rights set up what amounts to a sweatshop in Haiti.” 6

One reason protesters could dominate Haiti’s streets for four days is that United Nations MINUSTAH troops were withdrawn last October. The 13-year (2004-17) military occupation by U.N. “blue berets,” acting as mercenaries for the U.S. under Brazilian command, was notorious not just for repression of popular struggles but also for sexual assaults against Haitian women and men. Amid the devastation after the 2010 earthquake, United Nations troops introduced cholera to Haiti in the deadliest epidemic in recent history, an ongoing tragedy that has killed almost 10,000 Haitians and sickened over 800,000. Finally acknowledging responsibility in 2016, the U.N. has provided almost no compensation to its victims.


MINUSTAH troops under Brazilian command patrol Cité Soleil neighborhood, February 2006. Six months earlier the mercenary imperialist occupation force carried out massacre in the neighborhood, killing scores.
(Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP)

Today the MINUSTAH has been replaced by MINUJUSTH, which has brought in hundreds of police to beef up Haiti’s National Police. Meanwhile, the month after U.N. troops departed, President Moïse refounded the Haitian Armed Forces (FAdH). In mid-March, the names of the Army high command were announced, all of whom were former officers of the FAdH before it was disbanded in 1995 (by U.S. occupation forces). Of the six, three were leading members of the early 1990s military junta, one was the mastermind of the notorious 1994 Raboteau massacre and a fifth helped cover it up. 7 Now, following the July uprising, army and police commanders have been meeting with the president to plan for heavy-duty repression of the next revolt.

The United States itself has sent in troops itself to Haiti many times since 1891, including the 1915-34 occupation and the 1994 invasion ordered by the Clinton administration to reinstall the former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president – after Aristide agreed to ditch his populist program in favor of U.S.-approved “structural reform.” His Fanmi Lavalas party retains some populist tinge, but it is a party of a wing of the bourgeoisie, including Aristide. Petty-bourgeois leftists in Haiti and the U.S. have tailed after Aristide for decades. Following the January 2010 earthquake, the Obama administration sent troops again to take over Haiti while blocking Haitian refugees at sea, with Bill Clinton as U.N. plenipotentiary and de facto gouverneur.8

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The July uprising staved off the imposition of the IMF-dictated fuel price hike … for now. But given the powerful array of forces determined to keep Haiti under the imperialist boot, the Haitian masses cannot win on their own. Nor are they alone in experiencing the depredations of decaying capitalism and it “neo-liberal” policies of “free trade,” privatization and destruction of social and labor gains. In January 2017 Mexican truckers struck against fuel price increases imposed as part of an imperialist-ordered “energy reform.”9And this past May, truckers in Brazil revolted against the unelected government’s attempt to raise diesel fuel prices to international levels.10 In both cases, the government backed off, temporarily.

If, however, as the Grupo Internacionalista in Mexico and the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil, sections of the League for the Fourth International, called for, a powerful independent workers movement had taken over leadership of the largely petty-bourgeois protests, they could have dealt a heavy defeat to the imperialist-backed privatizers. This, in turn, could have launched a proletarian counteroffensive against the privatizers and tax gougers in Washington (IMF, IADB, IBRD, World Bank) and Wall Street. Building proletarian opposition in major industrial countries is how to stop the arrogant imperialist economists from foisting their “soak the poor” policies on Haiti. But such a class struggle requires revolutionary internationalist leadership.

That should begin by joining together with workers next door in the Dominican Republic, where there have been numerous (unsuccessful) strikes against fuel price hikes, and where the gasoline price at the pump is currently around US$4.80 a gallon. Haiti – home of the only successful slave revolution in history, overthrowing French rule at the end of the 18th century – shares the island of Quisqueya (Hispaniola) with the DR. Both have populations of around 10 million, both are mired in poverty (Haiti much more so) and both have been repeatedly occupied by the Yankee imperialists. But for Dominican and Haitian workers to unite requires a head-on struggle against the virulent anti-Haitian racism that has poisoned Dominican politics for years.

Instigated by the U.S., which brought Haitians into the Dominican Republic to work on the sugar plantations in the 1920s when both countries were occupied by U.S. expeditionary forces, Haitian immigrants and descendants of immigrants number up to a million people, one-tenth of the Dominican population. In 2015, the Dominican government began a program of deportation and enacted a racist nationality law that deprived citizenship to hundreds of thousands of Haitians. In the first six months of this year alone, 70,000 thousand Haitians were deported from the DR. In 2015, the League for the Fourth International called an emergency protest and campaigned for Haitian/Dominican workers solidarity against the mass expulsions.11

Above all, it is necessary to wage the struggle against imperialism inside the United States, where there are hundreds of thousands of Dominican and Haitian immigrants. In fact, in 2017 the Haitian diaspora sent US$2.4 billion back to the island, making it Haiti’s single largest source of revenue. Last November, the U.S. Trump administration announced that it was stripping Haitian refugees (and refugees from Central America and Sudan) of Temporary Protected Status, forcing tens of thousands of Haitians in the U.S. to fear that they will be seized by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement cops.12 Trump’s policy is a follow-up to Obama’s 2016 policy of stopping Haitian refugees, who had travelled from Brazil across nine countries, at the Mexican border, to be flown back to Haiti. At the time, the LFI held protests in Brazil, Mexico and the U.S.13

Today, the rightist majority and rightist opposition in Haiti’s legislature have yet to approve Moïse’s nominee for prime minister (Jean-Henry Céant, a former Aristidiste turncoat). The hot shots at the IMF are waiting for their next opportunity to strike. In the aftermath of the July revolt, even left populists point to the absence of, and urgent need for, “important class organizations” and a “vanguard party” to realize the potential of a “popular insurrectionary breakthrough” (Haïti Liberté, 29 August). But a party to lead a proletarian fight for a workers and peasants governments in Haiti and the DR, and for a socialist federation of the Caribbean, must be built internationally. As we wrote on the workers’ strikes last year (The Internationalist No. 48):

“In the face of the colossus of Yankee imperialism, whether the immediate struggle is against starvation wages, racist immigration laws, or repression by imperialist occupiers, the poor and working people of Haiti must not stand alone. The small Haitian proletariat must join with workers across the border in the Dominican Republic and inside the United States to wage a common class struggle. As the Russian Bolshevik Leon Trotsky explained in his theory and program of permanent revolution, in this epoch of decaying capitalism, even to achieve basic democratic gains, it is necessary for the working class to take power and spread the socialist revolution to the imperialist centers. At every turn, the key is to forge a proletarian, internationalist and revolutionary leadership.” ■


  1. 1. In contrast, in Venezuela, where there is a huge fuel subsidy, the price for gasoline at the pump is roughly US$0.12 per gallon.
  2. 2. Jake Johnston, “Own Goal: Fuel Price Increase Generates Crisis in Haiti,” CEPR, 11 July.
  3. 3. See “Haitian Workers Brave Repression in Fight Against Starvation Wages ,” Internationalist No. 48, May-June 2017
  4. 4. See “Haiti: Battle Over Starvation Wages and Neocolonial Occupation,” The Internationalist No. 30, November-December 2009.
  5. 5. Including the late Haitian Army colonel, national police chief and kingpin of the 1991 and 2004 coups, Michel François, also known as “Sweet Micky.”
  6. 6. Quoted in Johnathan Katz, “The Clintons Didn’t Screw Up Haiti Alone. You Helped,” Slate, 22 September 2016. Of course, Ivanka Trump’s clothing and shoes are made in (U.S.-owned) sweatshops in China, where inspectors found numerous violations of international labor standards.
  7. 7. Jake Johnston, “Meet the New Haitian Military – It’s Starting to Look a Lot Like the Old One,” CEPR, 16 March.
  8. 8. Shamefully, the ex-Trotskyist Spartacist League and its International Communist League (SL/ICL) hailed the U.S. invasion as humanitarian aid. After three months of vociferously defending this grotesque support for imperialism, and denouncing the Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International for our Leninist demand that the Yankee occupiers get out, the centrist SL/ICL did an about-face and agreed with our characterization of their line as a social-imperialist betrayal. See “Spartacist League Backs U.S. Imperialist Invasion of Haiti” (January 2010), “SL Twists and Turns on Haiti” (April 2010) and “Repentant Social Imperialists: Open Letter from the Internationalist Group to the Spartacist League and ICL” (May 2010) in The Internationalist No. 31, Summer 2010.
  9. 9. See “For Workers Mobilization to Smash the Gasolinazo! The Internationalist No. 46, January-February 2017.
  10. 10. See “Let Haitians Stay! Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants!The Internationalist, January 2018.
  11. 11. See “Stop Expulsion of Haitians from the Dominican Republic,” The Internationalist No. 40, Summer 2015. Also “New York Protest Against Persecution of Haitian Workers in the Dominican Republic” (August 2008) in The Internationalist No. 28, March-April 2009.
  12. 12. See “Let Haitians Stay! Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants!” The Internationalist, January 2018.
  13. 13. See “Stop Exclusion of Haitians! Stop All Deportations! Occupation Troops Out of Haiti!”The Internationalist No. 45, September-October 2016.

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McDonald’s Workers and Allies Protest Sexual Harassment – by Al Neal – 19 Sept 2018

McDonald’s workers walk off the job in strike against sexual harassment

ST.LOUIS – Barbara Johnson, an 18-year-old McDonald’s worker and leader with Show Me 15, part of the national Fight for 15 campaign, had a message to deliver to her employer yesterday afternoon: “I am a victim of sexual harassment.”

Speaking from a podium surrounded by several dozen fast-food workers and community members, McDonald’s iconic “golden arches” in the background, Johnson recounted her traumatic, on the job sexual harassment experience.

“It was November 2017. I had only been on the job a few days, but I felt today was going to be different,” she said. “I clocked in and that’s when he (her shift-leader) started saying that I had ‘juicy lips,’ was ‘thick in all the right places,’ that my ‘body looked good in the uniform’ and just kept going. After a while, he would just look over at me and start licking his lips while making threatening gestures at me.

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“I was only 17-years-old then…and it terrified me,” she continued. “I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to. During my orientation sexual harassment was never brought up—we were never prepared for this and shouldn’t have to experience it in the first place. I’m here to let McDonald’s know that enough is enough. Our voices will be silent no more and we will not stop until every single voice is heard.”

“Hold the burgers, hold the fries…Keep your hands off our thighs”

Like Johnson, the other McDonald’s workers supporting and surrounding her, went on strike demanding McDonald’s strengthen and enforce its zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment; hold mandatory trainings for managers and employees and create a safe and effective system for receiving and responding to sexual harassment complaints; and the  formation of a committee that includes McDonald’s workers, McDonald’s corporate and franchisee representatives, representatives of leading national women’s rights groups like the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, the National Women’s Law Center and Equal Rights Advocates to address sexual harassment issues at the company.

Tuesday’s strike took place in nine other cities—Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando, Kansas City, Mo., Milwaukee, and San Francisco—and found workers themselves adding on a last minute demand: Drop Seyfarth Shaw at Work, a subsidiary of the historic anti-union law firm Seyfarth Shaw, who defended the Weinstein Company in harassment issues, and was retained by McDonald’s to address workplace sexual harassment issues.

McDonald’s did not comment on the strike but released a statement saying. “We have policies, procedures and training in place that are specifically designed to prevent sexual harassment at our company and company-owned restaurants, and we firmly believe that our franchisees share this commitment.”

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The fast-food workers “MeToo” strike was coordinated nationally by each campaign’s “Women’s Committee” and comes four months after McDonald’s workers nationwide filed 10 sexual harassment charges, supported by the TIME’s UP legal defense fund, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—each individual charge describing the cringe-worthy harassment experienced by female workers.

In St. Louis, fast-food workers loaded up their vans, hit the gas pedal, and sped down Interstate-64/HWY 40. Their destination was the local EEOC office, inside the Robert A. Young federal building downtown.

Johnson was ready to march in and file her complaint against McDonald’s.

With around 30 workers and community members following behind, Johnson and her mother, Latasha Chapple, marched up the ramp only to be met by security blocking the door.

“I’m just here to file my complaint with the EEOC,” Johnson said.

“We understand, but we can’t have all of you go up into the office…this isn’t an issue for us, we’re just waiting to hear from the EEOC staff if everyone going inside is ok.”

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After 15 minutes, and several private conversations and phone calls, Johnson, her mother and nine other workers were able to go inside. Only a few moments later, Johnson walked back outside, a small grin spreading across her face, as cheers went out.

“I did it…I just filed my complaint to let McDonald’s know we won’t be silent anymore.”

When asked about her daughter taking a stand and speaking out, Chapple said: “I’m hurt because it happened to my daughter, but I am so proud of her for coming out and speaking about what happened. I know it’s never easy speaking out about these things, you can see on their faces how much it hurts them, but I’m proud. I’m also angry at McDonald’s for letting it continue and I’m ready to fight back until we see real change come. As a mother…I would never want this to happen to any child, female or male, and I will keep fighting until we get justice.”

A 2016 Hart Research survey showed 42 percent of women in the fast-food industry who experience unwanted sexual behavior feel forced to accept it because they can’t afford to lose their jobs. The report found that 40 percent of female fast-food workers experience sexual harassment, and more than one in five (21 percent) who file complaints experience negative actions, including schedule changes, additional duties, reduced work hours, and denial of wage increases.

Keep that in mind next time you bite into a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

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US Postal Workers Labor Unions Plan Day of Protest – 8 Oct 2018 – Opposing Privatization of US Postal Service

Postal Workers extend bargaining, plan mass action Oct. 8

APWU President Mark Dimondstein speaks at an anti-privatization rally. | Joe Piette/Flickr

WASHINGTON – The Postal Workers (APWU) and Postal Service management agreed Sept. 20 to extend bargaining for a month after the old contract expired that day, union President Mark Dimondstein announced.

And in the middle of the talks, APWU, the Letter Carriers – each of whom have at least 200,000 members – the Mail Handlers, which is a Laborers sector, and the Rural Letter Carriers will take to the streets on Oct. 8 for a national day of action against the GOP Trump administration’s postal privatization plans.

APWU started bargaining over a new pact with USPS on June 26, with frequent sessions leading a 10-day round-the-clock sprint as the old contract’s deadline approached.

Those last talks “identified important issues that the union believes deserve more time to discuss and explore before declaring an impasse and ending negotiations for a voluntary agreement,” APWU said.

“Our goal is to reach a negotiated settlement that can be voted on by the members” said Dimondstein, the lead bargainer. “National negotiations are always challenging. At this point in time it is in the best interest of the members to stay at the bargaining table rather than declare a hard and fast impasse.”

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(Florida postal protest – 2 March 2018)

The union’s goals of “fighting today for a better tomorrow” include: Fair pay hikes, retaining cost of living increases, job security and continued no lay-off protections, closing the gaps of what APWU calls a “divisive three-tier wage structure,” addressing hostile work environments, expanded postal services and “seeking better career and full-time opportunities” for part-timers.

“Negotiations are never easy. Especially in the current political environment, they will be extremely challenging. The APWU’s success will depend on how much power and leverage can be mustered with member involvement and support from the public,” Dimondstein warned.

But hanging over the bargainers’ heads is the Trump administration plan to privatize the Postal Service, a scheme first laid out in the president’s budget and due to be amplified by a report from a special committee he appointed earlier this year.

The panel, which includes various top Trump administration officials – but no workers – had an original August 30 reporting deadline, but the White House decided to push the divisive issue back until after the mid-term elections.

That will send the workers out into the streets under the theme: “The U.S. Mail – Not for Sale!!”

“Privatizers – those who want to sell the public postal service to private corporations – are hard at work. Together we can stop them in their tracks. Get ready to hit the streets with our sister postal unions, family, friends, and community allies to Save Our Service. Rallies will take place at many congressional offices throughout the country. Check with your local and state leaders for more details and for the exact time and location in your area,” the unions said in a joint statement.

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(Boston MA postal protest – 27 Nov 2017)

Dimondstein warned his convention delegates, meeting in August in Pittsburgh, of that coming conflict. At least one prior report says privatization might also include an end to USPS’ exclusive franchise to carry first-class mail.

“This White House, the Heritage Foundation, and their billionaire backers, the Wall Street investors, they want their greedy hands on the public till and the public good – but they’ve started something that they’re not going to be able to stop. They think this is their time…We’re going to show them this is truly our time,” Dimondstein said.

The unions are already gathering congressional support against privatization, the Letter Carriers reported.

Led by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., 28 senators introduced a non-binding anti-privatization resolution, SRes 623, on September 20. The solons include both independents – Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a longtime postal workers supporter – and five Republicans: Jerry Moran of Kansas, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.

Several backers of the anti-privatization resolution are in tough races this fall: McCaskill, Jon Tester, D-Mont., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. – the top target of a radical right “dark money” spending spree – and Tina Smith, DFL-Minn.  An identical House anti-privatization measure, HRes 993, was introduced on July 16.

“NALC is proud to see such a strong bipartisan defense in both the House and Senate against what amounts to an attack not simply on Letter Carriers and other postal employees, but the American people as well,” union President Fredric Rolando said.

“Privatization of the U.S. Postal Service would hurt both low-income and rural Americans especially who live in areas where it might not be profitable to deliver to them.” He’s urging workers to contact lawmakers to get them to sign on as cosponsors.

The union “hopes Congress progresses with sensible postal reform” to improve Postal Service “finances instead of resorting to hack-and-burn privatization policies.”

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American Postal Workers Union site  – http://www.apwu.org/issues/excessing

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A Great Idea at the Time: the Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books by Alex Beam – book review – By Kasia Boddy – 20 Feb 2009

Kasia Boddy investigates the history of the Great Book

This is the story of great books; not just any great books, mind you, but the 54 volumes launched in Chicago in 1952 as the Great Books of the Western World. In the course of just over 200 brisk pages, Alex Beam explains how, and why, such an entity came into being.

 

The story reveals a lot, not only about the cultural aspirations and anxieties of Fifties America, but also about our desire to identify and preserve cultural value. Last month, The Bookseller reported that, against the general half-year trend, sales of the publisher CRW’s Collector’s Library – hard-backed classic novels with sewn cloth bindings and ribbon markers – were up 47 per cent. When times are hard, customers want ‘‘the quality of a bygone era’’.

 

Beam locates the origin of the Great Books project in two late-19th-century developments: middle-class anxiety about what the newly literate working classes were reading, and the introduction of specialisation in the university curriculum. At the very moment that Charles Eliot was transforming Harvard from a gentleman’s college into a modern university, he launched Harvard Classics, a popular version of the broad education he had argued was obsolete.

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In the universities, a different role was envisaged for the Great Books – as specialisation increased, so did nostalgia for the time when students shared a common intellectual ‘‘core’’. In 1920, Columbia University instituted a foundation course which, renamed and reshaped, continues to this day. The form of the class was as important as the content.

In 1929, Mortimer J Adler left Columbia to set up a similar system at the University of Chicago, invited by its new president, Robert Maynard Hutchins. Beam presents them as a comic duo – an ‘‘intellectual Mutt ’n’ Jeff’’. Chicago quickly gained a reputation as an ‘‘eccentric’’ place, ‘‘where they talked about Plato and Aristotle and Aquinas day and night’’.

 

It took many years for Hutchins and Adler to turn their beloved syllabus into a rival to the Harvard Classics. Chicago’s 54 volumes boasted two important differences. First, and important to Adler, Harvard’s set lined up at 60 inches, Chicago’s – ‘‘32,000 pages of tiny, double-column, eye-straining type’’ – was 62. Secondly, while Harvard Classics promised social mobility, Chicago promised deliverance. ‘‘I am not saying that reading and discussing the Great Books will save humanity from itself,’’ said Hutchins, ‘‘but I don’t know anything else that will.’’

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Hutchins said the choice of what to include was ‘‘almost self-selected, in the sense that one book leads to another, amplifying, modifying, or contradicting it’’. What was offered was the Western World’s ‘‘Great Conversation’’, as it developed from Homer to Freud, via another 72 dead white men. No contextualising introductions or explanatory footnotes were provided. If the work could not speak for itself, and for ever, it was not a Great Book. Nevertheless, two of the 54 volumes were taken up by the Syntopicon, a glorified index of 102 Great Ideas, assembled by college graduates, directing readers to the best sources on Good or Evil, Necessity or Contingency, Pleasure or Pain. Debates like these, the editors believed, would ward off ‘‘one of the greatest threats to democracy’’: the ‘‘reduction of the reader to an object of propaganda’’. Great Books, in other words, were promoted as part of the Cold War defence against totalitarianism.

During the Fifties, a growing middle class embraced Great Books alongside other commodities, like the Reader’s Digest condensed novels and the Book of the Month club. Dwight Macdonald mocked the ‘‘book of the millennium club’’ as fetishism, but the fetish sold a million copies.

In the wake of the Civil Rights and Women’s movements of the Sixties and Seventies, the Great Books idea increasingly came to be seen as wrong-headed.

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The Chicago Great Book sets no longer sell, (Editor – yes they do – on Amazon new $1000) but our desire to identify, preserve and, above all, to talk about the best in literature and thought remains strong. But who shall tell us what that is? In 2001 Jonathan Franzen complained when the Oprah Book Club stuck its glitzy label on his novel; The Corrections, he said, was ‘‘in the high-art literary tradition’’. Three years later, Oprah championed Anna Karenina and a million copies were sold.

Telegraph

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