“Swimming with the shark just isn’t working.”

Rescue Capsule in Mine Shaft

‘Capitalism Saved the Miners’? Only in Wonder Land

10/15/2010 by Steve Rendall
http://www.fair.org/blog/2010/10/15/capitalism-saved-the-miners-only-in-wonder-land/

After the miners’ rescue Wednesday, talk in Chile turned to mine safety and the  conduct of Compañía Minera San Esteban, the corporation that owns the San Jose mines where the miners were trapped. On Thursday, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera publicly addressed safety issues,  vowing “fundamental changes in how businesses treat their workers.”

Stories about San Esteban’s horrible record are legion (e.g., here and here). The company has been host to a number of deaths at its mines in recent years, and accusations of safety violations including the charge that it ignored orders to install safety equipment–a condition of its reopening after a previous accident–which might have made an earlier escape possible for some miners.

Moreover, during the debacle, San Esteban, which played no part in the miners’ rescue, pled poverty and claimed it could not pay the trapped miners wages. As London’s Independent reported, San Esteban “says it has no money to continue paying their wages, let alone cope with the lawsuits that will inevitably arise from the ordeal.”

Continue reading “Swimming with the shark just isn’t working.”

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The path to change: “make the connection to the future and hold on to the connection to the past”

Harry Targ

PROGRESSIVES NEED TO KNOW THAT HISTORY IS COMPLICATED

Harry Targ

I became a radical in the 1960s. I kept putting off being active until the late 60s but I slowly involved myself in the anti-war movement. When I started teaching around this time I noticed that many students became instant radicals; 19 year-old- kids going from lack of political awareness to militancy in a matter of weeks.

The Southern movement was inspiring; young people and their elders were transforming the system of Jim Crow. College campuses were bursting with energy, demanding “student rights” and “relevant” courses. Then the anti-war mobilizations grew bigger and bigger. Each massive mobilization in D.C., in New York, in Chicago, in San Francisco challenged organizers to produce larger and larger crowds and for a time the crowds did get bigger.

Many of us began to see the achievement of peace and justice as just around the corner. We were on the verge of building a new world, not unlike the world of altruism and love envisioned by Che` Guevara.

But then everything seemed to fall apart. The New Left split. African Americans sought to build their own movements. Women and gays began to argue that human liberation should be for them as well.

Nixon was elected. Vietnamization did not end the war but shifted the U.S. role from ground to massive air strikes across all of Vietnam. The Xmas bombing destroyed virtually all of North and South Vietnam. Black Panthers were targeted for assassination by the federal government and local authorities. Students were murdered at Kent State and Jackson State.

The youthful energy, the visions of socialism dissipated. Particularly the young became disillusioned. I remember one student telling me in the early 70s: “I tried the political thing and it didn’t work.”

Continue reading The path to change: “make the connection to the future and hold on to the connection to the past”

High School Students Join Union Workers in Massive Protest of Austerity Measures. Vive la France!

Protests attack France pension plan

More than 2.5 million demonstrators take to the streets, unions say, as fears of a fuel shortage loom.

Last Modified: 16 Oct 2010 19:11 GMT
Protesters in Paris as part of a national day of mass rallies against pension reforms [REUTERS]

The battle over a planned overhaul of France’s pension system has intensified, with hundreds of thousands of people taking part in the latest of a series of protests across the country.

Labour unions said that more than 2.5 million people joined the demonstrations on Saturday as strikes
at shut down oil refineries, sparking fears of a petrol shortage, and temporarily cut supplies to Paris’s airports.

“Both sides seem to be really digging their heels in. [President] Sarkozy wants people to know he’s not giving into pressure from the street,” Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from the French capital, said.

A broad alliance of unions, left-wing parties and students warned that another nationwide protest will be held on Tuesday in a final attempt to stop the legislation, which would raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and see state pensions not awarded until aged 67, ahead of a government vote on Wednesday.

About 300,000 people had marched from Place de la Republique to Place de la Nation in Paris on Saturday, the labour unions said, but the government has claimed that the protests might be losing steam.

The government said it had counted 850,000 marchers at Saturday’s protest, down from 899,000 at a previous demonstration on October 2.

“I think the French people have understood that pension reform is essential and necessary,” Eric Woerth, the labour minister, told French television.

Continue reading High School Students Join Union Workers in Massive Protest of Austerity Measures. Vive la France!

How the Banks Rushed to Foreclosure on Defenseless Homeowners

For foreclosure processors hired by mortgage lenders, speed equaled money

During the housing boom, millions of homeowners got easy access to mortgages. Now, some mortgage lenders and government officials are taking action after discovering that many mortgage documents were mishandled.

   

By Ariana Eunjung Cha and Zachary A. Goldfarb

Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, October 16, 2010; 12:57 AM

Millions of homes have been seized by banks during the economic crisis through a mass production system of foreclosures that was set up to prioritize one thing over everything else: speed.

With 2 million homes in foreclosure and another 2.3 million seriously delinquent on their mortgages – the biggest logjam of distressed properties the market has ever seen – companies involved in the foreclosure process were paid to move cases quickly through the pipeline.

Law firms competed with one another to file the largest number of foreclosures on behalf of lenders – and were rewarded for their work with bonuses. These and other companies that handled the preparation of documents were paid for volume, so they processed as many as they could en masse, leaving little time to read the paperwork and catch errors.

Continue reading How the Banks Rushed to Foreclosure on Defenseless Homeowners