Archive | August 21, 2011

Verizon Workers Strike

Verizon Workers Strike

From A.N.S.W.E.R

 

Two weeks ago, on Aug. 7, 45,000 members of the CWA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) went on strike against communications giant Verizon from Massachusetts to Virginia—the largest private sector work stoppage in the last seven years.

Workers took action after Verizon refused to drop a long list of demands amounting to over $1 billion in concessions. These concessions include the freezing and elimination of pensions, reduction in health care benefits, replacement of regular wage increases and replacement with a scheme dictated by the whims of management, and the elimination of paid holidays and sick days.

Since then, pickets and street actions have rocked cities along the East Coast and inspired mass solidarity actions across the country. Thousands of workers and their supporters are heroically taking a stand against corporate greed and exploitation.

Verizon reaps billions in profits each year. It reported $10 billion in profits in 2010 and net income of $6.9 billion during the first half of 2011. CEO Ivan Seidenberg was paid over $81 million dollars between 2007 and 2010. This is 300 times what an average Verizon worker earns.

Verizon greed is nothing new. CWA and IBEW walked out in 1986, 1989, 1998 and 2000 to maintain decent employer-paid medical coverage. In 2003 and 2008, they waged militant contract campaigns over the same issue, narrowly avoiding a strike.

The attack on Verizon workers is being replicated across the country. From New York to Wisconsin to California, both private and public sector workers are expected to take wage and benefit cuts, while corporate profits are skyrocketing. And local, state and federal budget cuts are doing away with much needed social services.

During the ongoing economic crisis, those who created the crisis—the billionaire bankers, corporate owners and their political allies in Washington—are asked to sacrifice nothing. Instead, working families are asked to suffer. What’s happening is a multi-pronged assault on workers and poor people.

Verizon workers are standing up to this assault. They are standing up not only for their rights, but for the rights and needs of working people all over the country. We urge all progressive people to stand with them and take action to support this important struggle.

 

Contact: ANSWER Coalition LA at answerla@answerla.org or 213-251-1025

Website: http://www.answerla.org

Related Topics:

Demonstrations in Wisconsin Over the Worker’s Rights

Wisconsin Police Join the Mass Protest

Wall Street Assault on Working Families

Life or Death: Humanity Runs Awry in Somalia

Life or Death: Humanity Runs Awry in Somalia

By Hwaa Irfan

Somalia has been a part of U.S. African policy since WWII as a conduit to the Middle East. In the 1960s tensions grew as a result of the colonial mentality of creating new borders. Mogadishu fell under the new colonial boundaries which cut through Somali territory dividing kith and kin, undermining the economy, compromising the delicate ecological balance, and undermining the development of Somalia as a whole. This led to territorial disputes as the concept of colonial borders as designed by the Washington Consensus was unacceptable increasing tensions and conflicts between Ethiopia, Kenya, Eritrea, and Somalia which was complicated by the Cold War, the U.S. refusal of the presence of “rival” countries in Somalia, and the constant flow of U.S. humanitarian aid.

However, Somalia did once enjoy prosperity and at the same time managed to resist 14 foreign-backed governments, and did have a fully functional civil society when the state was banished in 1991 along with the newly constructed U.S. embassy leaving the U.S backed warlords in place, and farmers unable to plant or harvest. By 1992, the image of Somalia as a famine struck country was projected by the UN which lead to a U.S. military led humanitarian relief in Somalia which lasted 6 months, with the U.S. military placed throughout the country with the U.S. handing over control to the U.N. Fearing control, as Somalis were exposed to the type  non-lethal weapons that removed the skin, Somalis forced the U.N. out of the country.

After 9/11 the U.S. formed a naval blockade, then denied Somali self determination by denying them statehood, which allowed for the U.S. supported Ethiopian incursion into Somalia.

Today

Now, 30,000 children died in one month – one month alone! Why? Because they were starving, and they were Somalian! Countries turned their back because of Somali piracy, ignoring the initial reason behind the piracy being the dumping of toxic waste on their shores in a country that suffers droughts once in every five years. In an ecologically delicate environment pressure has been added by the U.S. so-called war on terror, Al-Shabaab, Ethiopian interference, and the UN.

In none of the mainstream media was it acknowledged that for the past two years foreign aircraft was shooting and killing their cattle. As the famine spreads 400,000 Somalis have been displaced in Afgoye settlements near the capital Mogadishu. The monsoons have begun, but to buy water costs $700 (£430) for 10,000 litres.

Not even their neighbours did anything including their neighbours in the midst of Ramadhan! We demand mercy, but in the month of mercy we are not merciful. Instead of going on Hajj again, the money put aside can be given to prevent more Somalis from dying from hunger in a world that has a growing problem with obesity. Instead of paying zakat, and sadaqat (charity) to some self interested entity help push the balance away from death towards life!

The famine in Somalia is the responsibility of Africans, of Muslims, of Arabs, and the developed world for the famine in Somalia is a result of climate change, a change that is a product of greed and excess, which also includes the exploitation of African natural resources to build western capitalism. The millions that have “appeared,” to support Japan, to bail out banks and Greece again (because Greece was a way of “processing money for Europe), to give undesired aid to Egypt, and to carryout CIA operations in Somalia.

With foreign presence there long before the “official” UN declaration that there is in fact a famine is a crime in itself, because the severe drought was known many months before in the Bakool and Lower Shabelle.

The warlords that were wreaking havoc across the country were creations of the U.S. so-called war on terror – funded and armed by the U.S. to fight  “al-Qaeda” which also happens to have some American members! Al-Shebaab for all their crimes, is the excuse which has justifiable reasons to not want foreign aid entering the strategic country of Somalia, which in the long term will prove to be a threat, but that does not include Africans, Arabs, and Muslims. This has been evidenced by the fact that Islamic Relief, Unicef, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are operating in Al-Shebaab controlled areas alongside Somali NGOs. Muslim Aid have distributed food aid to the internally displaced from Somalia and Ethiopis in Hargiesa National Stadium where they have found shelter.

Yet with the huge machinations and networks of the UN and the World Food Program seem unable to get food and medical aid to Somalia!

Type of Food Aid

Everyday, unsold fruits and vegetables are wasted, while UNICEF can only provide 20 day supply of questionable soy-blend products that do not add to the health and proper nutrition of Somalis. Muslim Aid has distributed rice, wheat-floor and vegetable oil.

Channeling unwanted foods through food aid has been a notorious practice including the introduction of western foods to ‘convert’ the diet of the people turning them into long term consumers undermining local food production as dependency on food imports increase.

Leading By Example

To know the truth about Somalia, leading by example an unprecedented visit by a top non-African official, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu occurred on Friday 19th 2011. The PM was accompanied by his wife and daughter to what is painted by the corporate media as a war zone. They have broken the myth that no one can go there.

“They have shown they can share the hardship and the feelings that the Somalian people have – and this sends a signal to the rest of the world, ” said Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed to Deustch Welle reporter Dorian Jones in Istanbul. Ahmed was attending an emergency meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference called by Turkey to address the growing crisis. What has taken place since is a commitment:

  • Prime Minister Erdogan pledges to raise U.S$200mn for Somalia in a public appeal by the end of the Ramadhan
  • African Union and Somali forces drove out Al Shebaab from Mogadishu
  • Turkish aid has been airlifted to Somalia
  • Ships carrying supplies are en route.
  • Intention to open an embassy in Somalia as a part of its global outreach/influence
  • A banner erected in the middle of Mogadishu depicting Erdogan and Ahmed states:

“We are grateful to Turkey for not forgetting us in these difficult times”.

  • Turkish public has raised U.S$115mn to aid Somalia
  • Prime Minister Erdogan promises to build a road from the airport to the capital.

Somalia offers the world the opportunity to give back what it has taken without permission. Not to give money, but to give real food for real lives, to give in terms of skill to rebuild the agricultural industry, and to give by allowing Somalis to benefit from their agricultural, from self determination, and from statehood, and also to stop the land grab which provides food insecurity for the countries the land is “taken”, and food security for the investing country.

Want to help?

Sources:

Farzin, Y. H. “Food Import Dependence in Somalia Magnitude, Causes, and Policy Options.” http://www.mbali.info/doc216.htm

“Hargeisa: Muslim Aid Distribute Food to 100 Families.” http://somalilandpress.com/hargeisa-muslim-aid-distribute-food-to-100-families-18029

Jones, D. “Turkey pledges aid to famine-stricken Somalia.” http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15331391,00.html

Mahadalla, H.O. “Us-Somalia Relations; Some Complicating Factors.” http://www.somalitalk.com/2007/mahadallah/index.html

Noor, M.S. “Turkey’s Erdogan Visits Famine-Hit Somalia In Islamic Aid Push.” http://www.english.rfi.fr/africa/20110819-turkeys-erdogan-visits-famine-hit-somalia-islamic-aid-push

Rice, X. “Somalia Famine Relief Effort Hit Harder By Food Aid Delays Than By Rebels.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/04/somalia-famine-food-aid-unicef-al-shabab

Samatar, A. I. “Genocidal Politics and The Somali Famine.” http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/07/2011726135256169831.html

Sapienza, J. “Media Muddle Cause of Somalia Famine.” http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2011/07/19/media-muddle-cause-of-somalia-famine/

“Somalia Famine: Turkish PM to Open Embassy in Mogadishu.” http://m.ibtimes.com/somalia-famine-turkey-erdogan-visit-mogadishu-200878.html

Related Topics:

Tears for Somalia

Food Revolution: Taking Control of One’s Food Supply

Our Africa: Europe’s Debt Pt.1

Ramadhan Reflections: I Am Not Racist, Some People Just Aren’t Good Enough.‏

Ramadhan Reflections: I Am Not Racist, Some People Just Aren’t Good Enough.‏

 

Text Summary:

Allah says in the Qur’an that He created us in “nations and tribes so that we may know each other”. Sometimes we hear people say, that it’s ok to interact with certain groups of people UP TO A POINT. So it’s ok if you pray with some people, work with them etc but the line comes for example when it is time to get married. If you get married, you should get married to someone from your country, city, community…etc.

In the time of the prophet peace be upon him, his community was very diverse. Bilal, was a black man who gifted us with the Adhan which is called all throughout the world today, Salman was a Persian…Allah did not create diversity so that we may isolate each other. Instead, diversity helps us grow in humility, learn from each other and to help us understand our interdependence and need for each other.

In the Prophet peace be upon him told us that an Arab is not better than a non-Arab, a man is not better than a woman. In the sight of God, the best person is the one who is most God Conscious in their deeds and actions.

If we keep this in mind, we should realize that the only One Who will truly be able to know this is God. So this should remind us to walk with humility and NOT judge each other because it may be that someone whom we may look down upon may be better in the sight of God than we are.

An example of this, we know in the story related of a prostitute who climbed down a well and filled her shoe with water to save the life of a dehydrated dog. In doing so, God forgave all her shortcomings.

This should help us remember that we should be humble, ask God to forgive our shortcomings and try to increase the good that we do. And instead of using race, class, gender and all other sources of difference to divide us, let us remember that it is a sign of the Greatness of God and within it, are opportunities for growth, kindness and mercy. So let us do away with restrictions we put on our children when it comes to getting married outside their race or ethnicity or restricting women from being on the boards of mosques or their involvement in the community, or restricting youth to servile tasks instead of preparing them for leadership. We should look to those who keep trying to please God in their actions- not perfection because no one is perfect, but those who continue to try and improve themselves. God created us differently in order to keep balance in the world. Let us learn to value each other’s humanity as it was intended by God.

Related Topics:

Ramadhan Reflections: Every Soul Shall Taste of Death are You Ready?

Ramadhan Reflections: What you see in others IS a reflection of who YOU are.‏

Ramadhan Reflections: It’s Not Really My Problem

Ramadhan Reflections: Why Do The Same Issues Keep Coming Up In My Life?‏

Ramadhan Reflections: Should I Be Interacting With People Who Aren’t Muslim?‏

Ramadhan Reflections: Why does Islam Seem So Hard and Boring All the Time!

Ramadhan Reflection: Of course I Care About Others…Sort of!

Ramadhan Reflections: Does God Make Mistakes?

Why Does God Let These Things Happen To Me?

Ramadhan Reflections: Are You Worthy of God’s Forgiveness?‏

Do You Really Trust Allah?

Ramadhan Reflections: Does God Think About You?‏

Ramadhan Reflections: Memorizing the Qur’an is Not Enough

Ramadhan Reflections: What Do Your Actions Say About You?‏

The World Does NOT Revolve Around Me.‏

Stuffing Ourselves and Sleeping All Day…

Ramadhan Reflections: Do My Prayers Benefit Me?

Ramadan Reflections- We begin with Mercy‏

Pre-Ramadhan Reflections

Keep Ramadhan Simple!

Ramadhan 2011

Iftar…

Letter to the Self #30 Remember Me

Letter to the Self #29 Forgiveness

Letter to Self # 28: Those We Ignore
Letter to the Self # 27: Destination or the Journey!
Letter to the Self # 26: Change
Letters to the Self #25: Window of Opportunity
Letters to the Self #24: More Than You Think You Are Able
Letters to the Self #23: Submission
Letter to the Self #22: Do You Have Trust Issues?
Letter to the Self #21: Possessions
Letter to the Self #20: Sacred Spaces