Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Red Republic Strikes Back!

After so much delay The Red Republic is back online, some things have made it difficult to post but rest assured all is well. This will still be a place to promote Marxism-Leninism, International and National News, Labor and Communist History, opinion and some translations of articles from the ICMLPO and will be a supporter of the APL. While I am no longer a member of the American Party of Labor I do support its line, and while not perfect(no party is) it is the only Anti-Revisionist Marxist-Leninist Party in the United States.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This Goes on Everyday in Iraq and Afghanistan!

I would say that most people in our company didn't consider the Vietnamese human.

—Dennis Bunning

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Danger On the Job

From Labor Notes

Behind the Headlines: The Workplace Kills 14 Per Day—One by One

Tom O’Connor

| June 14, 2010

It’s been a very bad couple of months for worker safety: Seven dead in Anacortes, Washington, following the explosion of the Tesoro refinery. Six dead in Middletown, Connecticut, in the Kleen Energy power plant explosion. Twenty-nine dead in West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine disaster. And 11 dead in the Gulf of Mexico oil rig collapse (a fact almost completely overlooked in media coverage of the spill’s environmental consequences).

But behind the headlines on the latest disaster is a far quieter but equally disturbing story of daily carnage. In the same week as the human-created disaster in the Massey mine in West Virginia, local media outlets around the country carried dozens of stories with headlines like “Man Killed in Trench Collapse” or “Fall from Roof Fatal.”

The toll of these routine incidents—14 deaths a day from injuries alone—is obscured because most occur one death at a time.

Month after month, year after year, workers die in trench collapses and falls from roofs. OSHA cites the employer, slaps it with a modest fine (a median penalty of only $3,675 per death in 2007), and points out that simple methods exist to prevent such tragic loss of life. Yet some employers continue to ignore the hazards and workers continue to lose their lives due to this criminal neglect.

Like the high-profile workplace disasters, the vast majority of deaths on the job are entirely preventable. The problem is not a technical one of chemical concentrations, safe machinery, and ventilation, but a political one—simply put, our national system for enforcing health and safety regulations in the workplace is broken.

We know how to prevent trenches from collapsing—by using trench boxes to shore them up. We know how to prevent falls from roofs from becoming fatal—by properly using safety harnesses. We know how to prevent coal mine explosions by minimizing the build-up of coal dust and monitoring methane concentrations. But employers routinely refuse to use these established precautions, and OSHA does not force them to.


First, it’s a problem of resources: OSHA’s budget for enforcement is pitifully inadequate, a situation that has worsened since deregulation began in the Reagan era. In the late 1970s, OSHA had one inspector per 30,000 covered workers; today it’s one per 60,000.

Second, obstacles to any new workplace safety rules, put in place by deregulation ideologues in Congress, have effectively brought the OSHA regulatory process to a complete standstill. As the Center for Progressive Reform puts it, “In the nearly 40 years since its enactment, the OSHA Act has been exposed as a virtually useless tool for establishing occupational health and safety standards.” In the last 13 years, OSHA has issued exactly one new health standard establishing the maximum safe exposure to a chemical, and that under the duress of a court order.

Third, OSHA’s promise that all workers have the right to speak up about unsafe or unhealthy conditions without retaliation has proven to be a cruel joke to those who have risked their jobs by calling OSHA. The agency’s whistleblower protection program is so ineffective that worker advocates cannot in good conscience advise a non-union worker to file an OSHA complaint if he or she wants to keep the job.

The Massey mine explosion demonstrated clearly that the combination of de-unionization, lack of enforcement of safety regulations, minimal penalties for violations, and lack of whistleblower protections is lethal. As several current and former Massey workers noted, the mine was a time bomb waiting to explode, but in a non-union mine, it was keep your mouth shut or lose your job.


The solutions to this sorry state of affairs are not complex:

1) Congress should amend the OSH Act and the Mine Safety and Health (MSH) Act to protect whistleblowers and to require serious monetary and criminal penalties for egregious violators whose willful neglect of safety results in workers’ deaths.

Under current law, even the most egregious case of employer neglect can result in no more than a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum six months in jail. Civil penalties also lag far behind those for violations of other federal law.

New OSHA chief David Michaels noted in a recent Congressional hearing that when a Delaware refinery worker was killed in a sulfuric acid explosion, OSHA assessed a fine of $175,000, while the same incident resulted in EPA fines of $10 million for violations of the Clean Water Act.

2) Congress should dramatically increase the budget for OSHA enforcement.

3) OSHA should fundamentally rework its system for regulating hazards. It should issue a broad “Health and Safety Program Standard” and cite employers under the “General Duty Clause” for unsafe conditions.

These measures would require employers to develop worksite-specific health and safety programs and allow OSHA to enforce the employer’s duty to provide a safe workplace—without having to navigate the endless bureaucratic obstacles to issuing safety or health standards on a one-by-one basis.

4) Congress should close the loophole in the MSH Act that allows companies like Massey to avoid paying fines by contesting most MSHA citations, effectively shutting down the penalty system. Massey contested 3,601 citations in 2009, creating a logjam that prevents MSHA from collecting on assessed penalties.

5) Congress should enact labor law reform so that workers who want to join a union and speak up about unsafe conditions are able to do so.


But these changes won’t come about because Congress simply decides to do so. Despite much fist-pounding by senators at recent hearings on the mine disaster, they will likely soon forget about worker safety and move on to the next crisis.

A bill introduced in 2009 would go a long way toward strengthening OSHA’s ability to protect workers. The Protecting America’s Workers Act would increase maximum civil and criminal penalties, expand protections for whistleblowers, and extend OSHA protections to public employees, many of whom are now excluded.

Unfortunately, a timid Democratic-controlled Senate Labor Committee appears unwilling to move the bill without Republican support. (Can someone explain to me why it’s not a good idea to force Republicans to cast a vote against worker safety after the recent disasters?)

So perhaps we can expect little from Congress—unless the labor movement and its allies turn up the heat on our representatives. Now—in the wake of a slew of highly publicized and preventable disasters—is the time to demand action, before more workers die.

Tom O’Connor is executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, the umbrella organization of 20 state and local COSH groups.



Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Tea Party Movement, the Obama Regime and the Growing Fascist Danger in the USA

From the Revolutionary Organization of Labor 

The Tea Party Movement, the Obama Regime and the Growing Fascist Danger in the USA

“What is the source of the influence of fascism over the masses? Fascism is able to attract the masses because it demagogically appeals to their most urgent needs and demands. Fascism not only inflames prejudices that are deeply ingrained in the masses, but also plays on the better sentiments of the masses, on their sense of justice, and sometimes even on their revolutionary traditions.”
–Georgi Dimitroff (Political Report of General Secretary to the

Seventh Congress of the Communist International, August 1935)

Introduction: The USA in Crisis

For the past eighteen months, the world capitalist economy has been in crisis. Within the USA, this crisis has had several distinctive features.

The most striking fact of life in the USA in this period has been the naked give-away by the federal government of at least a few trillion dollars to the criminal Wall Street gang of finance capitalists, the dominant section of the U.S. ruling class, whose frenzied greed was most responsible for the current crisis. Most of this rescue money was provided to Wall Street in two multi-billion dollar bailouts. Both bailouts had the blessings of both the Republican and the Democratic Party. The first was provided under the Bush Regime and the second under the Obama Regime.

At the same time, the U.S. working class as a whole has experienced massive layoffs – eight million new unemployed and more millions chronically underemployed. As in the past, the monopoly capitalists today use the vast “army of the unemployed” as a club with which to beat down the workers still lucky enough to have jobs, to lower their wages, speed up their work, etc.

The oppressed nationality workers are the hardest hit. The Afro-American workers are still the last hired and first fired, and the epidemic of Black youth unemployment is a major source of the devastation being visited upon the Afro-American communities throughout the USA. As the situation of the rest of the working class is becoming increasingly desperate, the ability of the U.S. monopoly capitalist ruling class to mobilize significant numbers to support open attacks on Latino and other immigrant workers is also increasing. And this can only result in the weakening of the position of the working class vis-à-vis capital in each part and as a whole.

On top of all this, many working class families, as well as middle class families, are losing their homes in the epidemic of home foreclosures. And with the drastic reduction in home values and the stock market shocks, manipulation and decline that have accompanied this crisis, many more working class and middle class people have seen their main sources of old age security disappear. This is forcing more elderly workers to remain in jobs and further aggravating youth unemployment and the already parasitic youth culture. Finally, there is an epidemic of small business failures, aggravated by the unwillingness of the big banks that received the Bush and Obama billion dollar bailouts to grant loans to the hard pressed middle class business people. For the U.S. middle class, spoiled by decades of U.S. imperialist hegemony in the capitalist world economy, this calamitous state of affairs has traumatized them.

The Rise of the Tea Party Movement

In this setting, over the past year, a reactionary, right wing, mainly white middle class movement has emerged on the U.S. political scene. The Tea Party Movement has arisen in fits and starts, in one guise or another, under the leadership of one Republican Party politician or right wing media talk show personality and then another. Sometimes

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mexican Capitalist Police Attack Miners on Strike

Israel's Security Cannot Come at Any Price

From the National Lawyer's Guild International

Legal Analysis of Flotilla Attack by Dr. Ben Saul 

Israel's response to the Gaza flotilla is another unfortunate example of Israel clothing its conduct in the language of international law while flouting it in practice. If you believe Israeli government spokesmen, Israel is metabolically incapable of violating international law, placing it alongside Saddam Hussein's Information Minister in self-awareness.

Raid Illegal Under San Remo Manual

Israel claims that paragraph 67(a) of the San Remo Manual on Armed Conflicts at Sea justified the Israeli operation against the flotilla. (The San Remo Manual is an authoritative statement of international law applicable to armed conflicts at sea.)

Paragraph 67(a) only permits attacks on the merchant vessels of neutral countries where they "are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture".

Israel argues that it gave due warnings, which were not heeded.

What Israel conveniently omits to mention is that the San Remo Manual also contains rules governing the lawfulness of the blockade itself, and there can be no authority under international law to enforce a blockade which is unlawful. Paragraph 102 of the Manual prohibits a blockade if "the damage to the civilian population is, or may be expected to be, excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the blockade".

The background to that "proportionality" rule is the experience of past world wars where naval blockades had devastating effects on civilian populations.

There is little question that Israel's blockade of Gaza is disproportionate in legal terms. The proportionality rule requires an assessment of the military advantage against the harmful effects on civilians. Israel claims that the blockade is necessary to prevent Hamas from mounting indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.

Such attacks were well documented by the UN's Goldstone Report and are a serious security threat to Israel. Israel has every right to protect its civilians from indiscriminate terrorist attacks by Hamas.

The proportionality principle requires, however, that Israel's security cannot come at any price. A balancing of interests is necessary to ensure that civilians should not pay too dearly for the security needs of others.

Safeguarding the precious lives of innocents and respecting their dignity as fellow humans is the necessary burden that international law imposes on war. That is why Israel reveals its contempt for international law when, for example in the past, its leaders have pledged to "destroy 100 homes for every rocket fired".

Gaza Blockade Itself Illegal

The harmful effects of the blockade on Gazan civilians have included the denial of the basics of life, such as food, fuel, and medicine, as well widespread economic collapse.

The UN agency on the ground, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), has described a "severe humanitarian crisis" in Gaza in relation to human development, health, education, "the psychological stress" on the population, high unemployment (at 45 per cent) and poverty (with 300,000 people living beneath the poverty line), and the collapse of commerce, industry and agriculture.

Such effects are manifestly excessive in relation to Israel's security objectives and cannot possibly satisfy the conditions of a lawful blockade. Disrupting wildly inaccurate rockets from being fired at relatively underpopulated areas of southern Israel cannot possibly justify the acute disruption of the daily lives and livelihoods of more than one million Gazans. Nor is it lawful to seek to pressure Hamas by instrumentally impoverishing its civilian supporters.

It seems that Israel is the only entity incapable of recognizing the effects of its blockade. The United States, European Union and numerous independent sources have deeply criticized the disproportionate harm to Gazan civilians.

The UN Secretary General has condemned the "unacceptable suffering" caused by the blockade. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has criticized it for violating the law of armed conflict. The UN Human Rights Council, UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator, Oxfam, and Amnesty International have all strongly condemned it.

The UN's Goldstone Report found that blockade may even amount to international crimes: "Israeli acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country… could lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been committed."

Israel's Offers on Cargo Not Credible

Israel has further argued that it offered the Gaza flotilla an opportunity to deliver aid through the proper Israeli channels.

It is very difficult to regard that offer as sincere given Israel's track record. Israel's practices concerning the transit of goods through Israeli entry points has been arbitrary at best and deliberately obstructive at worst.

The UN notes that everything from crayons to soccer balls to musical instruments has been denied entry into Gaza - hardly rocket components. Goods sit idle for months or are never delivered at all. In such circumstances, no-one could have any confidence that the goods would ever reach Gaza.

Clear Violations of International Law

As yet, it is still unknown exactly what happened on board the flotilla vessels boarded by Israeli forces. Even at this early stage, however, some international law matters are fairly clear.

First, absent any intention by the flotilla to attack Israel, or any suspicion of piracy, it was unlawful for Israel to forcibly board foreign merchant vessels in international waters.

Secondly, such action amounted to an unlawful interference in the enforcement jurisdiction of the "flag-States" (countries of registration) of those vessels, such as Turkey.

Thirdly, it violated the fundamental principle of freedom of navigation on the high seas, codified in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982.

Fourthly, under international human rights law, the apprehension and detention of those on board the vessels likely amounts to arbitrary, unlawful detention, contrary to article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, since there is lawful basis for detention.

Fifthly, if Israeli forces killed people, they may not only have infringed the human right to life, but they may also have committed serious international crimes. Under article 3 of the Rome Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation of 1988, it is an international crime for any person to seize or exercise control over a ship by force, and also a crime to injure or kill any person in the process.

Ironically, that treaty was adopted after Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, in 1985, in which a Jewish American was killed.

In such cases, any claim of self-defense by Israeli forces is irrelevant. The treaty necessarily adopts a strict approach. One cannot attack a ship and then claim self-defense if the people on board resist the unlawful use of violence.

Legally speaking, government military forces rappelling onto a ship to illegally capture it are treated no differently than other criminals. The right of self-defense in such situations rests with the passengers on board: a person is legally entitled to resist one's own unlawful capture, abduction and detention.

Whether doing so is wise, in the face of heavily armed commandos, is a different question. Whether running the gauntlet of an Israeli military blockade is sensible or foolhardy is another.

Israel Has Become Its Own Worst Enemy

This latest sad and shocking episode is a reminder of Israel's recklessness towards the lives of others, its utter disregard for international opinion, and its incivility as an outlaw of the international community.

Israel has become its own worst enemy. It prioritizes its own interests with a callous lack of empathy for others. It is simply unable to imagine the suffering it inflicts upon others, and treats harm to Israelis as the only game in town. Its absolutism of mind and politics has crushing consequences for Palestinians.

Far from ensuring its own security, Israel is unraveling it: no-one should be surprised if Israel has just succeeded in recruiting the next generation of martyrs keen to attack it.

Absolutism, violence, and the evaporation of peace in the region will continue as long as the international community continues to handle Israel with kid gloves.

Dr. Ben Saul's op-ed was originally published June 2, 2010, on "Unleashed," the blog of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's news site.

Dr. Ben Saul is Director of the Sydney Centre for International Law at Sydney Law School and a barrister (including in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia). His book, Defining Terrorism in International Law (Oxford), is the leading work on the subject and his research has been cited in international criminal tribunals, United Nations bodies and the Australian High Court.