Thursday, September 30, 2010

Their recovery, our depression

Gov’t admits big jump in poverty

Published Sep 22, 2010 9:24 PM

The official U.S. poverty rate is now 15 percent which amounts to 44 million people or one out of seven. This is the highest number of people in poverty on record. Despite claims that the recession in the United States has been over now for 16 months, the Census Bureau’s findings show that the entire working class has been deeply impacted by the loss of jobs, pensions, health care and housing. Among the most oppressed segments of the U.S. population, women and the internally colonized people of color, the situation is far worse.

The Wall Street Journal reports, “The longest recession of the post World War II period now has an end date.” It continues, “The National Bureau of Economic Research announced Monday that the downturn started in December 2007 was longer than the 1973-1975 and 1981-1982 recessions.” (Sept. 20)

The NBER did not say that the economy had improved but only that the recession had ended. NBER stated that it was impossible for there to be “a double-dip recession and that any downturn in the U.S. would be another recession and not the one that they said had already passed out of existence.”

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development predicted that the U.S. economy would grow only 2.6 percent and not the 3.2 percent rate that had been earlier announced. It reported that the current crisis could result in long-term structural damage to the economy.

Impact on women and African Americans

These forecasts and summations based on the most current economic data illustrate that the U.S. capitalist system is not out of the recession as far as working people are concerned. Even though large banks and corporations are reporting higher profits, these optimistic figures do not translate into job creation or social benefits for workers, particularly those within the oppressed nations.

The data show that many more women have been thrust into poverty over the last several years, which only reinforces existing patterns of oppression, exploitation and inequality. The National Women’s Law Center reported on Sept. 16 that “the rate of poverty for women rose 13.9 percent last year, the highest rate in 15 years.” (

NWLC noted, “The data show that over 16.4 million women were living in poverty in 2009, including nearly 7 million women in extreme poverty, which means that their incomes were below half of the federal poverty line. Poverty among men also rose from 9.6 percent in 2008 to 10.5 percent in 2009, but these rates remained substantially lower than poverty rates among women.” Also noted was that the traditional wage differential between men and women remained unchanged from 2008 to 2009.

Nonetheless, when the poverty rates among women within the oppressed nations in the U.S. are taken into consideration, they reveal that historical discrimination based on race and gender is still evident in the second decade of this century. Although women and peoples of color have made tremendous strides in fighting and winning concessions related to civil rights and employment opportunities, the social imperatives of U.S. capitalism continue to be based on the superexploitation of the most oppressed workers.

The NWLC states, “Poverty rates were substantially higher for women of color, approaching one in four among African-American women (24.6 percent compared to 23.3 percent in 2008). Hispanic women experienced a similar increase from 22.3 percent in 2008 to 23.8 percent last year.” Nearly four in ten single mothers (38.5 percent) were living in poverty in 2009, an increase from 37.2 percent in 2008. In 2009, 15.4 million children lived in poverty, representing an increase of 1.4 million in one year.

A 29 year-old, unemployed African-American woman was driven to an extreme act of tragic desperation when she smothered her two-year-old and 18 month-old children to death in Orangeburg, S.C. Aug. 17. Shaquan Duley has been charged with two counts of first degree murder and could face the death penalty. Poverty and unemployment as well as racism should be put on trial, not its victims like Shaquan Duley.

Women from 15 to 44 experienced widespread job losses that resulted in the termination of health care benefits. The Guttmacher Institute analyzed the census data related to private insurance and found that 2.3 million women within this age group lost their coverage between 2008 and 2009, forcing many onto the Medicaid roles but increasing those without health insurance by 1.3 million. (, Sept. 17)

The Women’s Health News Digest states that the decrease in coverage affected family planning support services. Their publication states, “We also found that publicly funded planning providers were struggling to meet a growing need for subsidized contraceptive care, even as they had to make do with fewer resources.” (, Sept. 17)

For African-American workers, who have the highest unemployment statistics in the U.S., the rate of poverty is twice as high as the general figures for the overall population. The Washington Informer reported, “In 2009, the poverty rate for African Americans reached 25.8 percent.” (Sept. 18)

What these figures indicate is that any serious effort to address the economic crisis in the U.S. must pay special attention to the plight of African Americans, Latinos/as and women. The Obama administration’s refusal to acknowledge the disparate impact of the economic crisis on women and the oppressed nations dooms his existing policies to failure.

The recently released census data also have serious implications for organizing around the worsening plight of working people and the oppressed. If the special oppressions of women and people of color are not taken into consideration, it will not be possible to build a fighting movement that can effectively take on the capitalist system.

Oppression and exploitation based on race and gender must be uprooted in order to build a society devoid of institutional discrimination. True equality among working people can only be achieved by destroying all forms of inequality based on gender and nationality.

Articles copyright 1995-2010 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Labour re-triangulates

No 'lurch to the left' for Labour

National Shop Stewards Network Lobby of TUC congress 2010, photo Paul Mattsson

National Shop Stewards Network Lobby of TUC congress 2010, photo Paul Mattsson

Editorial from The Socialist, issue 640: Does the victory of Ed Miliband over his elder brother David - a modern Cain and Abel drama in reverse with the younger brother 'knifing' the elder - represent the dreaded 'lurch to the left' feared by the right-wing press...

False confessions do not happen simply by happenstance

Cop interrogations
force false confessions

Since 1989 more than 250 people who were convicted of crimes in the United States have been exonerated by post-conviction DNA testing. Forty-two of them had “confessed.” Sixty percent of those exonerated are Black.

“How could innocent people convincingly confess to crimes they knew nothing about?” asks a recent article in the Stanford Law Review by University of Virginia law professor Brandon Garrett.

“False confessions do not happen simply by happenstance,” Garrett concludes. “They are carefully constructed during an interrogation and then reconstructed during any criminal trial that follows.”

Garrett details how cops feed facts to the accused to get them to make statements that will stand up in court. While the Virginia law professor states that police who obtain false confessions “may not have done so intentionally or recklessly,” the facts he cites tell a different story.

Some of the confessions were wrung from the accused before they were informed of their Miranda right to remain silent. The cops claimed the interrogations were being conducted before the person was officially in their custody.

One of the cases described is the frame-up conviction of Jeffrey Deskovic, 17 at the time, for rape and murder. Deskovic “was interrogated for hours over multiple sessions, including a session in which police had a tape recorder, but turned it on and off” whenever it suited them, the article says.

DNA tests conducted before the trial provided strong evidence that Deskovic was not involved. The district attorney told the jury to ignore the DNA evidence.

Deskovic, who is suing for violations of his civil rights after spending 16 years in prison, explained that believing “in the criminal justice system and being fearful for myself, I told them what they wanted to hear.”

According to Garrett, pressures brought on the accused ranged from “threats combined with offers of leniency, to threats of physical force. Many described harrowing interrogations lasting many hours or days.” This was sometimes combined with denial of food or sleep deprivation. In almost all of these 42 cases, the defendants later asked the court to suppress the confessions. Each time the judge refused.

To get a person to confess, the cops sometimes falsely stated they already had physical evidence or eyewitness testimony proving the person was guilty. That was the case in the 1989 “Central Park Jogger” case where five teenagers were framed up on charges of raping and beating a woman. Their convictions were overturned in 2002.

Garrett provides proof in case after case how the cops, once they forced an admission of guilt, worked, and reworked, the statements to tell the story they needed for conviction.

In the latest case, Phillip Bivens was freed from prison in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, September 16 after 30 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit. DNA evidence exonerated Bivens and two codefendants, one of whom died in prison. Bivens had confessed after he was told he could get the death penalty if he did not plead guilty.

Tea party wins a hearing for voting out incumbents from both parties

Gains by tea party unnerve
Republicans and Democrats

NEW YORK—Tea party-backed real estate millionaire Carl Paladino routed former congressman Richard Lazio to win the Republican nomination for governor in the September 14 primaries here. While shaking up the Republican establishment, Paladino’s win and other tea party victories also have sections of the Democratic Party on edge.

In Delaware, tea party candidate Christine O’Donnell won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. She handily beat Michael Castle, a congressman since 1993, who had the support of state and national Republican leaders. These follow earlier tea party victories in gaining Republican Party nominations in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Nevada, and Utah.

Channeling the resentment felt by many middle-class voters and some workers, Paladino promised to “clean out Albany with a baseball bat” to dislodge what he calls “the ruling class.”

“We are mad as hell,” Paladino said in his victory speech September 14. “The people have had enough.”

Like other tea party candidates, Paladino emphasized fiscal responsibility and opposition to big government and its meddling in individual’s private affairs. He didn’t say much about his opposition to legalizing undocumented workers and abortion rights, as well as his views on other social issues.

As the U.S. economy falters and unemployment continues to clobber working people—and in the absence of forces moving in the direction of a mass working-class party independent of the Democrats and Republicans—the tea party wins a hearing for voting out incumbents from both parties. According to the Washington Post, “poll after poll” shows that both the Democratic and Republican parties are “deeply unpopular with the electorate looking for something new and different.”

While the tea party is a heterogeneous grouping, its supporters often rail against the Republican “establishment” as much as they do against the Democrats. “George W. Bush and many incumbents, including President Obama, are the reason we even have the Tea Party movement,” said Fox news commentator Andrea Tantaros, a tea party proponent. She complained that Bush was responsible for “open borders, tax cuts that expire, Medicare Part D, and busted budgets.”

Paladino’s “combative style” has unnerved his opponents. Paladino challenged Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Cuomo to “come out and debate like a man.” Cuomo, so far, has skirted Paladino’s challenge.

“I’ve been saying everything you just said from the beginning of this campaign,” Cuomo told the New York Post, referring to Paladino’s economic proposals. “You’re going to have to cut the programs because you’re not going to be able to pay the amount.”

Some Democratic Party tops are hoping that the fracture lines in the Republican Party will bolster their chances in the November elections. But many union officials and others see the tea party successes as a threat to the Democrats too.

“Labor leaders, alarmed at a possible Republican takeover of one or both houses of Congress, promise to devote a record amount of money and manpower to helping Democrats stave off disaster,” the New York Times wrote September 17.

“The problem for us is to really re-excite the rank and file to the greatest degree possible,” Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told the Times, noting that union members were “disappointed” at the lack of government action, “especially to create jobs.”

“We heard everything was going to change,” Mike DeGasperis, a steelworker from Martins Ferry, Ohio, told the Times, referring to the election of Obama. “But there hasn’t been much change and the unemployment is still bad and the area we live in is still really depressed.” He said he had not decided which candidates he will support.

Union officials and the NAACP are pulling out the stops for the October 2 march for “jobs, justice, and education” they have called for Washington, D.C. They hope the event will convince unionists and other workers to get out the vote for the Democrats. March organizers say they are expecting hundreds of thousands to turn out for the action.

An injury to one is an injury to all

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 28, 2010

New York–The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and its Mass Defense Committee provides legal defense and educational resources to activists, including those subjected to the September 24 raids and grand jury subpoenas in Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois. The Guild denounces the attacks on free speech, freedom of association, and the right to dissent that these actions represent. The raids and summonses reflect escalating hostility toward individuals and groups working in solidarity with the Palestinian and Colombian people and are blatantly political attacks on peaceful activists.

National Lawyers Guild lawyers, in their continuing efforts to protect the right to dissent, are coordinating defense of these activists. The NLG offers several resources for activists who are subject to similarly aggressive and politically motivated breaches of their rights.

NLG Hotline: 888-NLG-ECOL (888-654-3265)

-A hotline for U.S. activists who have been contacted by the FBI. Callers are matched with NLG defense attorneys in their states who have experience dealing with similar cases.

Know Your Rights Brochure:

-A two-page brochure that summarizes the rights of citizens when they are contacted or stopped by the police or federal authorities. Available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Farsi and Punjabi.

Operation Backfire:

-A booklet that discusses government attacks on activists and subsequent prosecutions. Available for free download.

The National Lawyers Guild recommends that activists consult and make use of these resources. The Guild advises anyone visited by the FBI to assert your right not to answer any questions, to get the card of the FBI agent and state that you will have an attorney contact the agent on your behalf.

The way forward

By Alan Woods

European Day of Action: Protests and strikes all over Europe – “We are many, you are few”Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across Europe as strikes and demonstrations caused widespread disruption. The main action came in Belgium, Greece, and Spain with trade unions fighting against austerity measures that will have devastating consequences for the jobs and lives of working people. Strikes or protests took place in 37 countries, including Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia and Lithuania.