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wmtc: things i heard at the library: digital divide edition (#20)

In library school we talked a lot about the digital divide, the ever-increasing gap between those who have access to information and communication technology, and those who do not. Public libraries are one of the very few institutions that exist to bri… . . . → Read More: wmtc: things i heard at the library: digital divide edition (#20)

wmtc: bernie sanders, the pope, and the politics of amnesia

I see a lot of excitement online, in places like Common Dreams and The Nation, and in my Facebook feed, about Bernie Sanders, supposedly remaking US politics, and Pope Francis, supposedly remaking the Roman Catholic Church.

About Sanders, I shake my head and wonder why long-time Democrat voters do not see him and his candidacy for what it is. About the Pope, I wonder why progressive people allow themselves to care.

Sanders is the new Dean

Bernie Sanders has been praised as a maverick, an independent, and a socialist. All of which may have been true at various points (Read more…)

wmtc: wmtc 2015-06-21 17:00:00

I stumbled on this letter to the New York Times Book Review from a few weeks ago. It’s in response to a review of two books about precarious work – one about technology threatening jobs of even the most educated people, and another about the rise of unpaid labour. Barbara Ehrenreich’s chilling review of Martin Ford’s “Rise of the Robots” and Craig Lambert’s “Shadow Work” (May 17) is the best evidence-based response I’ve seen to all the headlines announcing that a recovery is “just around the corner.” But if it isn’t, and unemployment and part-time employment can (Read more…)

wmtc: what i’m reading: salt sugar fat by michael moss

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss is an excellent addition to a bookshelf that includes works by Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Marian Nestle and others who write about the health of our food and the un-health of the industrial food system. Moss lifts the curtain on the giant corporations that engineer and market convenience foods and processed foods. What he reveals is largely invisible to us on a daily basis, yet affects our society significantly – and catastrophically.

Moss is a seasoned investigative reporter – he was the first to expose trans fats, (Read more…)

wmtc: mcdonald’s announces phony wage increase: workers rising on april 15

The resurgent workers’ movement scored a huge victory earlier this year, when Walmart announced it was raising wages - a step on the road to a true living wage and the right to unionize without fear of harassment. Other big corporations, such as Target, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls, followed with similar wage-hike announcements.

Naturally, it sounded like another important victory when McDonald’s announced it was raising wages to $10/hour… until we read the fine print. On Wednesday, McDonald’s followed the lead of fellow low-wage employer Walmart, announcing a small raise that puts its starting pay at $1 above the (Read more…)

wmtc: walmart increases wages: workers united are winning, and the struggle must continue

Workers in the US have won a significant victory in their struggle for dignity and a living wage.

This week Walmart announced that within one year, all current Walmart employees will be paid at least $10/hour, and that newly-hired workers will start at $9.00/hour, with a real opportunity to earn $10/hour with six months.

While still far below a basic living wage of $15/hour, the increase does represent a recognizable improvement over the poverty-level $7.25/hour (the US federal minimum wage) that most Walmart workers now earn. And because Walmart is the largest private employer in the country – (Read more…)

wmtc: what i’m reading: pro: reclaiming abortion rights by katha pollitt

Katha Pollitt’s new book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, is a powerful gust of fresh, clean air that blows away the toxic stench of the current discourse about abortion.

Pro is a thorough, no-holds-barred takedown of the hypocrisy of anti-abortion-rights movement – not only in the most obvious sense that people who claim to be “pro-life” also (usually) support war and the death penalty, oppose gun control, and encourage lethal terrorism against abortion providers and clinic staff, and of people who claim to care about women and children, but oppose all social supports that might improve the lives of actual (Read more…)

wmtc: rtod

Revolutionary thought of the day: Hunger isn’t about the amount of food around. It’s about being able to afford and control that food. After all, the U.S. has more food than it knows what to do with, and still 50 million people are food insecure.

Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved and The Value of Nothing, quoted by Naomi Klein in This Changes Everything

wmtc: rotd: this changes everything

Revolutionary thought of the day: …if there is a reason for social movements to exist, it is not to accept dominant values as fixed and unchangeable but to offer other ways to live – to wage, and win, a battle of cultural worldviews. That means laying out a vision of the world that competes directly with the one on harrowing display at the Heartland conference and in so many other parts of our culture, one that resonates with the majority of the people on the planet because it is true: That we are not apart from nature but of it. (Read more…)

wmtc: 150 cities + 500 arrests = whatever it takes for $15

Last Thursday, fast-food workers in more than 150 US cities went on strike. Some 500 workers were arrested for civil disobedience, including this man, José Carillo, an 81-year-old McDonald’s worker.

In Detroit, there were so many arrests that the police gave up: they ran out of handcuffs.

There’s a very short video compilation of some highlights from the day here on Facebook. And here’s another good video, this one of the Chicago action, where 51 workers were arrested.

wmtc: fast-food workers are on strike today. you can support their cause.

Fast-food workers all over the US are on strike today, demanding a living wage and the right to form a union without retaliation. Did you know that the majority of fast-food workers are adults trying to support families on those crap wages? Their pay is so low, they qualify for food stamps! So taxpayers are subsidizing McDonald’s, as the fast-food industries rakes in billions in profits.

If you’re in the US and you pass a fast-food outlet today, especially a McDonald’s, please stop by to show support for these courageous workers. They are the cutting edge of the labour movement (Read more…)

wmtc: revolutionary thoughts of the day: kareem abdul-jabbar, the new yorker, howard zinn

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has an excellent essay in Time, something only a big-name writer can get away with in the mainstream media. Abdul-Jabbar names the stark truths behind the uprising in Ferguson, Missouri. And the mere fact that this appears on is reason for hope. This fist-shaking of everyone’s racial agenda distracts America from the larger issue that the targets of police overreaction are based less on skin color and more on an even worse Ebola-level affliction: being poor. Of course, to many in America, being a person of color is synonymous with being poor, and being poor (Read more…)

wmtc: dark times in canada, part 3: adding my voice to oppose andrea horwath’s rightward shift

I’m quite sure that Canadians who read this blog already know about this, and for others, it’s not relevant. But I want to add my small voice to the chorus of progressive Canadians who are angry, hurt, and disgusted at the Ontario New Democratic Party. Thousands of Ontarians who would normally vote NDP are either voting Liberal, not voting, spoiling their ballot, or considering one of those options in the upcoming provincial election.

If you are not Canadian and you are are interested in our once-progressive politics, you can read the email sent by 34 prominent NDP supporters to ONDP (Read more…)

wmtc: mcdonald’s? mcbullshit!


wmtc: the ndp: so sad, so frustrating, so maddeningly predictable

Where oh where has the NDP gone?

One of the most wonderful things about Canada, for me, has always been the presence of a viable third party on the left. When we first moved here, it was so amazing to hear Jack Layton, Libby Davies, Peggy Nash, Paul Dewar, Olivia Chow, Linda Duncan, and many others defend the rights of working people, speak out against war, stand up for democracy, and in general represent the interests of average Canadians. Sometimes I would hear a speech and think, that’s an elected MP speaking! People say things like that in Parliament here!

(Read more…)

wmtc: open letter to james moore

To the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Industry:

In answer to your recent question, yes, it is your job to feed your neighbour’s child. And it’s my job, and it’s my neighbours’ jobs, too. It is all of our jobs to feed every hungry child, because we live in a society, and that’s what society is for. It is appalling that anyone in government would ask such a question.

Mr. Moore, you may have been cornered into an apology by public outcry, and of course you tried the old “I was quoted out of context” route, but we know (Read more…)

wmtc: former walmart executive leads covert smear campaign against activist workers: watch their hilariously awful video

From The Nation: Last night, Worker Center Watch – a new website dedicated to attacking labor-affiliated activist groups like OUR Walmart, Restaurant Opportunities Center, and Fast Food Forward - began sponsoring advertisements on Twitter to promote smears against the protests planned for Black Friday. In one video sponsored by the group, activists demanding a living wage and better working conditions for workers are portrayed as lazy “professional protesters” who “haven’t bothered to get jobs themselves.”

“This Black Friday, just buy your gifts, not their lies,” instructs the Worker Center Watch narrator. . . .

Worker Center Watch has no information its website (Read more…)

wmtc: what i’m reading: nw by zadie smith

If you haven’t read anything by Zadie Smith, I highly recommend finding White Teeth, her debut novel, and diving in. Smith wrote White Teeth while still attending university, and it was published to great acclaim when she was only 25 years old. It’s a wonderfully sprawling novel, by turns wry, satirical, and poignant, crammed full of vibrant characters, multiple themes and threads, and brilliant, surprising language. It deals with the cultural clashes and changes of immigration, generations, and class differences.

If you read White Teeth and didn’t like it, stop right there; you’re not going to like anything else (Read more…)

wmtc: more moyers: democracy and plutocracy don’t mix

I found the preceding rtod post buried in Blogger drafts, something Allan saved there years ago. I never got around to posting it, but I never had the heart to delete it, either.

If you’re not familiar with Bill Moyers, he is an American independent journalist, producer, and public intellectual. Earlier in his career, Moyers served as White House Press Secretary under the Johnson administration, but he’s better known for the many shows he has produced and hosted on PBS.

Moyers has always been liberal, but over the past decade, he has become increasingly radicalized as he reacts to (Read more…)

wmtc: rtod

Revolutionary thought of the day: The Gilded Age returned with a vengeance in our time. It slipped in quietly at first, back in the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan began a “massive decades-long transfer of national wealth to the rich.” As Roger Hodge makes clear, under Bill Clinton the transfer was even more dramatic, as the top 10 percent captured an ever-growing share of national income. The trend continued under George W. Bush – those huge tax cuts for the rich, remember, which are now about to be extended because both parties have been bought off by the wealthy (Read more…)

wmtc: faludi: corporatist pseudo-feminism vs radical change for women and all working people

I would like to draw your attention to an excellent article by Susan Faludi in The Baffler: Facebook Feminism: Like It or Not.

Faludi contrasts the corporatist, individualistic, me-first, privileged, self-centered, pseudo-feminism of “Lean In” with the collective, cross-class activism of some of the original feminists: the “Mill Girls” of Lowell, Massachusetts, who fought for human rights and labour rights for all women. Describing the links between feminism, class struggle, the labour movement, and even the abolitionist movement, Faludi demonstrates how all oppression is interconnected, and how only collective solutions can affect change. She shows how an effective women’s (Read more…)

wmtc: hedges: "when harper passes right-to-work, you must go on a massive general strike, or you’re finished"

Last night, I heard author, journalist, and activist Chris Hedges speak at the Bloor Street United Church in Toronto, sponsored by the excellent Canadian Dimension.

Hedges is a radical intellectual, in the Chomsky vein, also compassionate and fearless, in the mode of Howard Zinn. He touched on many subjects – and credited the work and thoughts of many others. I can only hope to impart a few snippets of the many threads Hedges wove.

“A seismic moment”

Hedges called the recent US debate on Syria a “seismic moment”. The Obama administration pulled out all the familiar mechanisms used to sell (Read more…)

wmtc: rtod

This Revolutionary Thought of the Day brought to you by my abiding hero, Clarence Darrow. Darrow dismissed many of the remedial bandages that he and the labor movement had battled for: eight-hour-day laws, women’s suffrage, child labor legislation. “We are busy patching and tinkering, and doing a poor job patching and tinkering at that.”

The working class must seize the earth’s natural resources and the means of production, he said. “There can never be any proper distribution of wealth in the world while a few own the earth – a few men own the mines, the railroads, the forests, (Read more…)

wmtc: hey mcdonald’s: the working poor don’t need financial advice or higher banking costs. they need higher wages.

Part 1: McDonald’s version of company scrip (Part 2 below)

Any minute now we’ll see the return of company scrip.

In the bad old days before labour unions forced reforms, companies – especially in industries where workers were isolated, like mines, lumber, and farming – would pay their workers in scrip. Scrip was a credit that was only accepted at the company’s store – a store that charged wildly inflated prices. What a great deal for the owners, eh? They paid meagre wages, then recovered every penny, while ensuring they retained a steady supply of labourers who were (literally) hungry (Read more…)

wmtc: what i’m reading: the casual vacancy by j. k. rowling

The Casual Vacancy, J. K. Rowling’s first non- Harry Potter book, received almost universally poor reviews, ranging from tepid to savage. Reviewers found the book too long for the subject matter, too slow, poorly paced. They thought the plot was a soap opera. They found the writing cliched, studied, heavy-handed. In a book full of characters, they found few noteworthy. As one reviewer put it: “Unfortunately, the real-life world she has limned in these pages is so willfully banal, so depressingly clichéd that “The Casual Vacancy” is not only disappointing — it’s dull.”

I disagree.

Backlash? Impossibly (Read more…)