|Dan La Botz April 8, 2015|
This article was originally written for the Swiss socialist newspaper solidaritéS for which I am a correspondent with the goal of giving activists there some sense of the recent fight for marriage equality in the United States. - DL
The U.S. gay rights movement won a tremendous victory in early April as governors and the state legislatures in Indiana and Arkansas were forced to back down and revise laws that would have discriminated against gay and lesbian couples.
|Lois Weiner April 8, 2015|
A headline in a recent news story about Los Angeles teachers, calling the district’s teaching force “old and costly,” is a companion piece to the New York Times front page article about the Success Academy chain headed by Eva Moskowitz.
|Dan La Botz April 4, 2015|
The strike by farmworkers in the San Quintín Valley of Baja California, which began on March 17 stopping production and shipments on 25 farms and costing the companies tens of millions of dollars, has been stalled as the Alliance of National, State, and Municipal Organizations for Social Justice (AONEMJS or Alliance) which leads the movement faces challenges from the state government, the employers, and corrupt labor unions.
|Michael Hirsch April 3, 2015|
Hilton Obinzenger is a poet and a long-time informed critic of Zionism and Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. His new poem, Treyf Pesach (Dirty Passover), is a blunt speaking and not unhumorous effort to ask fellow Jews how they can celebrate the slave insurrrection in Egypt millennia ago and yet be struck dumb by the Israeli government's dissembling and bloody practices toward "the stranger in our midst" today. You can read Obinzenger's smart, snappy work here, and visit his website here.
|Lois Weiner March 25, 2015|
It’s encouraging that US unions are acknowledging the deep crisis facing labor and even the need for union democracy, as Labor Notes contributor Mark Brenner observes in his March 2015 column about the conference organized and hosted by the Albert Shanker Institute, an arm of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
|Dan La Botz March 22, 2015|
Thousands of farmworkers in the San Quintín Valley of Baja California, just 185 miles south of the U.S. border, struck some 230 farms, including the twelve largest that dominate production in the region, on March 17 interrupting the picking, packing, and shipping of zucchini, tomatoes, berries and other products to stores and restaurants in the United States. The strikers, acting at the peak of the harvest, were demanding higher wages and other benefits to which they are legally entitled such as membership in the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS), the public health system. While there have over the last two decades been several large scale protests by workers in San Quintín, usually riots over the employers failure to pay their employees on time, this is the first attempt by workers to carry out a such strategic strike.
|Dan La Botz February 27, 2015|
Jacob A. Zumoff. The Communist International and US Communism, 1919-1929. Leiden / Boston: Brill, 2014. 443 pages. Bibliography. Hard Cover $167.
Jacob A. Zumoff has written an impressive scholarly tome that is perfectly described by the title: The Communist International and US Communism, 1919-1929. He makes a reasonably convincing case for a novel thesis that attempts to reframe the major question: the relationship between the Soviet and American Communists. Yet, in my view, he fails to address the central question, the Soviet domination of the Communist International, including its domination of the American Communists in the 1920s.
|Dan La Botz February 23, 2015|
Militant protests by teachers, students, and others, some of them violent, continue in Guerrero on Mexico’s southern Pacific coast where the state government seems to have completely lost control. Since six students were killed, 25 wounded and 43 kidnapped in Iguala, Guerrero on September 26, 2014--with the 43 still remaining still not credibly accounted for—there have been nearly continuous protests. Teacher protests over other issues have also taken place in Mexico City and in other parts of the country and have been militant, but not violent.
|Dan La Botz February 20, 2015|
Hugh Masakela, the great South African trumpet player was joined by Vusi Mahlasela, the guitarist and singer in a “Twenty Years of Freedom” concert at Queens College on February 19, 2015. They played many of Masakela’s classics of the 1960s and 70s such as the lovely 1968 hit “Grazin’ in the Grass,” the joyful and inspiring“Bring Back Nelson Mandela”, and the sad “Stimela – the Coal Train”, to an audience many of whom had been supporters of the freedom struggles against apartheid in South Africa until its overthrow in 1994.
|Dan La Botz February 18, 2015|
With the left by and large failing to provide political leadership in the critical political situation that has developed in Mexico following the kidnapping of 43 students in Iguala, Guerrero and the “white house” scandal surrounding President Enrique Peña Nieto, Catholic priests have been attempting to fill the void. Several Catholic priests—Padre Gregorio (Goyo) López, Padre Alejandro Solalinde Guerra, and Archbishop Raúl Vera most prominent among them—have in different ways been playing the role of spokespersons for the oppressed. These priests have been speaking out against government corruption and the politicians’ links to the drug cartels, defending local armed self-defense organizations, demanding an investigation into the role of the Mexican Army, and even calling for a constituent assembly to refound the country on a new and more democratic basis.
|Lois Weiner February 18, 2015|
I’m struck by how many of the skills and understandings good teachers acquire can also make them fine union activists. Though they may not realize it, teachers have already learned a great deal about organizing - through their work as teachers.
|Dan La Botz February 13, 2015|
Robert Joe Stout. Hidden Dangers: Mexico on the Brink of Disaster. Sunbury Press: Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, 2014. 209 pages. Notes. Bibliography.
Shannon K. O’Neil. Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead. A council on Foreign Relations Book. Oxford University Press, 2014 . 239 page. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Map.
“Mexico is undergoing economic and political changes that lie like landmines ready to explode beneath the troubled and often discordant impulses of the two countries to satisfy their divergent social and political needs,” writes Robert Joe Stout in Hidden Dangers: Mexico on the Brink of Disaster.
|Dan La Botz February 2, 2015|
Mike Alewitz, the internationally famous muralist, is fighting for the installation his mural “The City at the Crossroads of History” at the Museum of the City of New York. Commissioned by the Puffin Foundation, the museum has refused to install the piece because of objections to its content. Alewitz calls this a case of censorship, while the museum argues it is a question of “curatorial standards.” There is a petition campaign in support of the installation of the mural. (Find at the foot of this article links to a slideshow of the mural, an interview with Alewitz, and the petition site.)
|Dan La Botz February 1, 2015|
The Black Lives Matter Movement is alive and well. If it has for the moment—under political attack and facing the winter’s sub-freezing temperatures—withdrawn from the streets, it has done so to plan a new stage in the fight for justice for African American victims of police racism and violence. As many as 400 people, mostly young people of color, attended the eight-hour long Black Lives Matter Gathering at the famous Riverside Church in Manhattan on January 30 where in workshops, trainings, and plenary sessions it seemed that a new direction was being set for the movement.
|Lois Weiner January 29, 2015|
I have a long-time friend who recalls how, as a young teacher, she came to her Brooklyn school on November 7, 1960 to walk the picket line. She was terrified at breaking the law and was only one of a very few teachers in her school to strike. Fearful but also committed, she held hands with a gal pal for mutual support.