News Alerts

We’ve come a long way, Baby – but maybe not quite far enough.

In his Washington Post column, Richard Cohen has stirred up the media by exploring the the reactionary edge of Iowa’s Republican blogosphere.  He says “Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled,” he writes, “about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children.”

Yes, I think many of us would agree the GOP is certainly deeply troubled, but accusing the GOP of having conventional views – really?

Let’s look at some facts. Interracial marriages in the U.S. have soared to 4.8 million – that is 1 in 12!  Blacks are now substantially more likely than before to marry whites and Asian and Hispanic immigrants are expanding the potential spouse pools.

Pew Research Center (http://www.pewresearch.org) , released a study last week showing that these interracial couplings and the products of their unions are challenging the typical American notions of race. According to a July 2013 poll from Gallup,  87 percent of Americans approve of interracial marriage compared to only  4 percent in 1959.

Daniel Lichter, a sociology professor at Cornell University says “Mixed-race children have blurred America’s color line. “

In fact, Cohen mistakes “conventional views” for “culturally conservative views.” Webster defines “conventional” as “used and accepted by most people : usual or traditional“. So, according to Webster, the acceptance of interracial marriage is overwhelmingly conventional.  Now that we are clear on that point, we can scrutinize the mayor-elect of New York in other ways. Mr de Blasio is certainly and interesting character and one to watch, but not because of his wife and family. 

 

So, tell me again, who’s views are conventional?

 

 

Katy Boyd

Black Friday Walkouts for Walmart?

Walmart Workers Protest

Walmart Workers Protest

 

Well, I can’t say I blame them. Walmart has been at the forefront of the ‘unfair wage rage’ for months now, coming under scrutiny even more as the Affordable Care Act comes closer.

Four days after the end of a Southern California strike, Seattle-area Wal-Mart workers plan to mount their own walkout this morning. The one-day strike is the latest in the lead-up to a larger day of strikes and protests planned for Black Friday, the high-profile post-Thanksgiving shopping day at the end of this month.

“I don’t know if I’ll see it in my lifetime,” Washington Wal-Mart employee Mary Watkines told Salon in a pre-strike interview, but “I want all of the associates, including myself, to be able to walk into our workplace, you know, this place that they call our family…and not be physically ill, not just feel like you want to throw up or pass out or even just turn around and walk out” over “intimidation and humiliation.” Watkins added, “I want people to be able to live better, you know, like the commercial says…Nobody lives better except for the Waltons now.”

Today’s strike is the latest by the non-union worker group OUR Walmart, which is closely tied to the United Food & Commercial Workers union. As I’ve reported, OUR Walmart has promised major mobilization for this year’s “Black Friday” strike; organizers say last year’s drew four hundred-some strikers. Sub-contracted Twin Cities janitorial workers who clean stores for Target and other corporations plan to announce today that they’re prepared to strike that day as well.

“I need to be able to take care of my family,” Anthony Goytia told reporters on a conference call during last week’s SoCal strike. “And that’s why yesterday and today, I’m risking everything – my livelihood, my ability to provide for my family, my ability to pay rent on time, put food on the table – everything, by striking against a company that aggressively and illegally disciplines and fires workers who speak out for better jobs.”

Last week’s Los Angeles-area strike culminated in a downtown demonstration at which fifty-four activists were arrested in what the campaign called the largest act of civil disobedience in Wal-Mart’s fifty-one year history. Organizers said a count of the total number of workers who went on strike was not yet available. The same day as the civil disobedience, the OUR Walmart campaign unveiled a new website on which Wal-Mart workers can share stories and request protests anonymously or by name, and a petition to the president.

How could Pussy Riot member be ‘lost in transit’

Moscow (AFP) – Concern for jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova mounted on her 24th birthday Thursday, after her husband said she could not be found in the Russian prison colony where authorities reportedly sent her in October.

Tolokonnikova has not been seen since being moved on October 22 after protesting alleged prison abuses at her former colony in central Russia and holding a hunger strike.

Tolokonnikova is one of two Pussy Riot members now serving two-year prison terms for performing a protest “punk prayer” in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral in the run-up to presidential elections last year.

She and fellow bandmember Maria Alyokhina are due for release in March.

Russia’s human rights ombudsman said this week that Tolokonnikova was being transferred and was safe. Her husband Pyotr Verzilov believed that she was on her way to a new colony in Siberia.

However having made the trek to the snow-covered Krasnoyarsk region, Verzilov said on Thursday that his wife was not there.

“The authorities of the colony in the taiga (region) told us that they don’t have Tolokonnikova and don’t know when she will arrive. 19 days without contact with Nadya,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Snow, snow, snow, minus 20 degrees (Celsius) and camps where somewhere they are hiding Nadya,” he wrote, posting pictures near the colony where Tolokonnikova was said to be headed.

The search in Siberia went on as Tolokonnikova’s lawyers submitted legal documents contesting her verdict and sentence made by the Khamovnichesky court in Moscow.

“We are demanding the verdict be annulled,” lawyer Irina Khrunova told AFP. She added that her client’s transfer could “last a long time” since Russian law does not set any limits on how long its could take.

The conviction and sentencing of Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina on charges of hooliganism sparked an international outcry.

After being jailed, Tolokonnikova penned a letter published in Russian media listing alleged abuses in her old prison colony, including round-the-clock “slave labour” work, beatings, and lack of sanitary facilities.

She went on a hunger strike in protest, ending it only after having health problems and being placed on a drip in the prison hospital.

After that she was transferred, with officials giving no details of her destination.