News from our members and committees
CCDS Holds it's 9th Convention
By Harry Targ

Despite the year of pandemic CCDS held its national convention online in August. Powerful presentations and workshops, coupled with extensive debate on the future of the organization occurred flawlessly as members and friends from around the country were able to participate electronically.

The Convention was opened with a welcome from Janet Tucker Co-Chair. She stated, "This convention comes at a critical time for CCDS, other socialist and the left in general. A time to step up and move forward. This is no longer business as usual". She went on to introduce the speakers for the morning. First was a stirring greeting from the co-chair of the Communist Party USA Rossana Cambron who called on left forces to work together to defeat Trumpism and its monumental threats to workers, people of color, and women.

Prominent activist Bill Fletcher followed with a keynote address drawing upon the experiences of the federation of Native Peoples in the early nineteenth century as an example of how individual tribes worked together to struggle against settler colonialism. And in the afternoon of the first day Paul Krehbiel, co-chair of CCDS forcefully argued that the November, 2020 election was of monumental importance. Left and progressive forces, he argued, must organize together to get out the vote and defeat Donald Trump. A Trump reelection, he warned, would be a disaster for workers, people of color, women, gays and lesbians, the environment, and the 99 percent of the world’s population.

Workshops discussed socialist education, peace and solidarity, labor, and the fight against white supremacy. In addition, three health care professionals, Dr. Renee Carter, Mildred Williamson, and Marilyn Albert presented a workshop on “The Politics of the Pandemic,” which covered the state of the pandemic, its impacts on people of color, policies to ameliorate it, and how it has been politicized by President Trump an his supporters.

During business meetings members discussed the future of CCDS, voted to continue CCDS educational and political activities, work on the elections, and recruiting younger and more diverse members. The convention also endorsed a resolution to continue conversations with Liberation Road about a possible merger of LR and CCDS. In addition, members supported the ongoing work to build left unity with other interested organizations. Finally the convention endorsed a resolution to prioritize the struggle against racism and white supremacy.

Tthe convention by acclamation, selected five co-chairs for the next three years: Gary Hicks, Paul Krehbiel, Rafael Pizarro, Harry Targ, and Janet Tucker. Fifteen members of CCDS were also elected to constitute the new National Coordinating Committee, and this was followed by nominations at large, by which 4 additional members were selected. Here is the now NCC:
  • Barbara Blong, Northern California
  • Erica Carter, South Carolina
  • Carl Davidson, Pennsylvania
  • Pat Fry, New York
  • Jay Jurie, Florida
  • Karl Kramer, Northern California
  • Carl Redwood, Pennsylvania
  • Ellen Schwartz, Northern California
  • Randy Shannon, Pennsylvania
  • Tina Shannon, Pennsylvania
  • Steve Willett, Northern California
  • Mildred Williamson, Illinois
  • Richard Wright, Texas
  • David Makofsky, Northern California
  • Kathy Sykes, Jackson Millissippi
  • Marilyn Albert, Northern California
  • Tom Gogan, New York City


About 80 members registered for the convention and at any one time attendance was about 50. The technology committee did a superb job so that there were virtually no flaws in the plenaries, workshops, or business meetings.
Get Out the Vote!
ELECTIONS MATTER FROM THE LOCAL TO THE NATIONAL
Harry Targ, CCDS National Co-Chair
 
I was a Sanders supporter but now see the necessity of defeating Donald Trump and his allies in the Congress. Trump and his faction of the Republican Party stand for white supremacy, removing all environmental regulations, increasing wealth for the few at the expense of the vast majority, dramatically increasing military spending, reinstituting patriarchy, and privatizing education, the post office, and health care. To pursue the Sanders vision, we need to defeat Trumpism and remain a voice for progressive policies after the victory of Joe Biden.
 
Also I endorse the inside/outside strategy. Use all political spaces: elections AND building mass movements with a Left that works for fundamental change. These need not be incompatible.
Urgent Attention Needed! Protect the Vote!
Last Thursday, 10/8/20, I participated in an important webinar sponsored by Indivisible and Stand Up America attended by close to 1,000 people. Together with over 110 partner organizations, planning is underway to anticipate the need for mass protest in the event that Trump loses the election and refuses to leave office. Please check out the information and the broad list of partners at www.ProtectTheResults.com There is also a map of locations that have already been planned.
 
If you live in an area that has not yet planned a location for a mass protest - should it be necessary - please help to plan one, sign up for rapid response alerts, and urge organizations you work with to sign on as a Partner.
 
I am sure we are all involved in getting out the vote in the coming 3 weeks leading to the November 3rd elections. We must also plan for actions after November 3rd. The Protect The Results coalition partners will meet on November 4th and decide on a course of action. We should anticipate that mass protest may be necessary at 5:00 PM in your time zone on November 4th.
 
If you are taking part in planning a protest in your local area, please send information to the CCDS National Coordinator, Janet Tucker (jlynjenks@gmail.com). We will gather experiences from around the country to report back to the CCDS membership.
 
Pat Fry
October 12, 2020
CCDS has signed on to Protect the Results

With the election just 17 days away it makes sense that people are gearing up their voter turnout and voter protection efforts. This is also the time to put plans into place to quickly move into public action if Trump interferes with or undermines the voting counting process and the results. The Protect the Results coalition is organizing a nationwide, decentralized mobilization with a clear demand: all the votes must be counted and there must be a peaceful transition of power.
We invite your group to participate in the NYC planning process that is getting underway, initiated by the NYC Protect the Results Coalition. We want to be ready to have people in the streets as early as Wednesday, Nov. 4…the day after the election. This is a tentative date and mechanisms to quickly get the word out with final dates and times are being developed. What we do in the aftermath of the election can be as important as what we’re doing before the election!
There are three ways your group can be a part of this effort. we encourage you to complete this short form to indicate how you can contribute to this effort. Will you: 
It’s Showtime: Rolling Up Our Sleeves to Beat Trump
By Paul Krehbiel, CCDS Co-Chair
reprinted from Organizing Upgrade

We are in an unprecedented moment in our country’s history. Will we move toward a more right-wing authoritarian fascist state, or will we defeat this threat? What we do between now and November 3 will answer that question.

Miles Taylor, former Republican chief of staff of Homeland Security under Trump, described a meeting with a Trump staffer who told him, “just wait until the second term. It will be no holds barred. It will be shock and awe. We will do whatever we want.” We got a taste of that with Trump’s encouragement of killer cops, armed vigilantes, and his Republican Convention’s hate-and-lie fest.


PHONE VOTERS IN BATTLEGROUND STATES
Our strategy debates will continue. But we must have a laser-like focus on getting down to nitty gritty work on five key tasks to defeat Trump and all Trumpists, and the armed neo-nazi white supremacists that he’s empowered:
  1. Generate the highest number of votes against Trump so that his defeat is so overwhelming that any attempt to contest the election will fail. This requires large-scale targeted contact with voters, especially in battleground states, to turn out votes for Biden-Harris. Keep pressure on Biden and Harris, but this is about defeating Trump.
  2. Combine this work by targeting vulnerable Republican Senators to end GOP control of the Senate. If we don’t, nothing good will pass.
  3. Turn out the vote for progressives and socialists running for office, especially workers, women, people of color, and youth.
  4. Intensify preparations underway to protect the outcome of the election by flooding the streets to show that the country will not stand for an election stolen by Trump, GOP-controlled state legislatures, courts, armed federal forces or rightwing vigilantes acting as Trump’s personal gestapo.
  5. Continue to strengthen the mass grassroots movements that prepare us for battle after Trump. We must ensure that Biden-Harris, from day one, make the right appointments, set the correct agenda, and open the doors to the people’s voices.

CONTACTING VOTERS, ONE-BY-ONE
The road to winning votes for Biden-Harris is direct voter contact. COVID-19 nixes door-knocking, so we must phonebank, text and send postcards.

Many groups are organizing phonebanking to voters, especially in battleground states. That is where the presidential election will be won or lost. Many unions, the Poor People’s CampaignGeneration RisingSeed the VoteWater for Grassroots, state-based organizations like Pennsylvania Stands UpLUCHA (Arizona) and New Florida Majority, and other efforts such as Flip the WestHeartland Rising, and Swing Left, have programs underway. So does Biden’s campaign, and Democratic Party organizations in every state. Activists can call from any state to voters in battleground states.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has launched an ambitious Black Voices Change Lives campaign to phonebank Black voters in 12 battleground states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

I decided to test the voter-calling program of the Biden campaign. I had some initial difficulty getting started, but once I got into the program and followed the prompts, it went more smoothly. The Biden campaign offers phonebanking training.

The Biden-Harris campaign has identified six battleground states: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Other battleground states will likely be added as November approaches. The phonebanking format has been changed slightly but begin by going to joebiden.com, and then on the first page at the top to “Continue to Joebiden.com,” then “Action Center,” and “Make Phone Calls for Joe.”

I live in California, but all my calls have been to voters in battleground states. I began calling on Monday, August 3, and spent one hour a day, five days a week. For those two weeks I made 192 calls to voters in Pennsylvania in nine one-hour shifts. I averaged slightly over 21 calls each shift. Many voters didn’t answer, but I left a voice mail message from the script to vote for Biden (and Harris when she was added) and “other Democrats up and down the ticket in Pennsylvania” for 133 other voters. I spoke directly to 25 voters. All 25 said they would vote for Biden. Twelve volunteered.

Trump won Pennsylvania by 44,292 votes in 2016. If we had 500 co-workers, friends and allies call Pennsylvania voters one hour a day for five days a week, from my first day until election day, we would have talked to or left a message with 79,000 voters. If we persuaded just over half of those voters to vote for Biden-Harris, who may not have voted otherwise, that could make the difference in defeating Trump in Pennsylvania and depriving him of Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral College votes. That could mean Trump losing the Electoral College and the election. Many other anti-Trump and pro-Biden people are calling voters in battleground states too, so Biden’s “yes” votes will be multiplied in all of them.

The Biden campaign changed to a broader universe of voters, so the responses are more varied, from supportive, to indifferent, and even some who are negative. But this allows us to weed out the negative and “No” voters so the campaign can concentrate on consolidating “Yes” voters and getting their commitment to vote

Freedom in the Fall
Freedom in the Fall builds left unity and moves forward the Electoral Struggle in North Carolina

by Janet Tucker

"Freedom in the Fall' was held October3-8 virtually in North Carolina.. This was sponsored by the Inside/ Outside Project. The Inside/Outside Project is a group that is comprised of Liberation Road, Left Roots, DSA, CPUSA, and CCDS. While initially planned as an in person event, as many other things, had to go virtual.

This event was hosted by Durham for All, Carolina Federation, and Down Home. A broad array of members and friends of the sponsoring organizations came together to do deep canvassing phone banking. Saturday October 3 was a day of orientation, presentations from the hosting groups, and small group discussions of sharing experience.

General Orientation.
Whitney Maxey from Liberation Road and the Inside/Outside Project opened the day with a moment of silence for those lost to COVID and police violence. People were encouraged to put the names in the chat.

After this she went on to explain that the Inside/Outside Project is looking at what a longer term impact would look like by creating more space for the left to develop strategy and tactics. The goals of the program are:
  • Provide theoretical skills and praxis training for the broad left
  • working to build independent political organizatioons (IPO) and defeat the far right.
  • Serve as a basis of shared praxis for putting the inside/outside ideas into practice
  • attract new layers of politically active organizers and activists to the strategic importance of the electoral arenas
  • part of a larger plan to cohere the socialist left and advance electoral strategy

Why North Carolina? North Carolina is a battleground state with 15 electoral votes. There is an important Governor and senate races, as well as key local races.

Some history of North Carolina.

NC was the first state to ratify the 15th Amendment. NC had a short period of reconstruction. In the1890's there was a “fusion” coalition which opposed the Democratic Party which was the party of the slave owning class. The fusion coalition was beaten back in 1898 by the white slave owning class.

In more recent history in 2010 Republicans seized control of both state houses. In 2012 redistricting took place. And the Supreme court striped the Voting Rights Amendment.

At this same time Reverend Barber started Moral Monday's. A Federal Court ruled against gerrymandering. In 2018 a Democratic Governor was elected and the democratic majority on the state Supreme Court was expanded.

Now in 2020 North Carolina is a swing state both for President and the Senate.

North Carolina is ¼ Black. The Latin x population is growing. The indigenous populating is 1.56% which is the largest on the east coast. 50% of the population in North Carolina was not born there.

Introduction to our host organization: Durham for All, Carolina federation, and Down Home

Carolina Federation. Carolina Federation is a new statewide formation formed from a few longstanding organizations. It goals are 1) base building 2) win elections 3) build key political alliances. They are working hard to build their organization and creating the capacity to run some candidates.

Down home is a membership led organization, in small towns and rural areas. These communities consist people of all races and backgrounds. These are mostly poor and working class communities exploited by race and capitalism. They have a goal of building relationships.

Principles:
  • Everyone is welcome. This is a multi racial working class organization.
  • Understand and unlearn the issues that divide us.
  • Build trust. Be honest and respectful.
  • Bring other people in –need more people.
  • We are all leaders. Everyone has experience.

They are working to elect 2 women as County Commissioners in Alamance County. Dreama Caldwell and Kristen Powers.

Durham for All is an independent democratic organization, learning how to get people in office and learn how to co-govern. It is a working class and POC organization working for homes for all, democracy, and justice.
Founding strategy. What is strategy? Why do electoral politics? Why to engage with the democratic party and how to do that? Strategy connects vision and tactics.

We need strategy because “it is our duty to win” Assata Shakur

The left is confused about strategy and tactics. Tactics are more immediate. One strategy is building a united front. Some examples of united front are reconstruction and the New Deal.

In the electoral struggle there 3 main strategies. 1) Form a 3rd party, 2) work inside the Democratic Party, 3) Build an independent mass base. The democratic Party is more of a loose coalition. Our strategy is to build independent political organizations. It's important to build a powerful base of members and leaders. Consolidate around a political vision.

Small group discussions. Following this we broke into small group to talk about our local work and our thoughts about the morning presentations. We also shared our experiance working with the Democratic Party and people's experience working with independent political organizations (IPO).

From David Schwartzman

The Global Solar Commons, the Future That is Still Possible: A Guide for 21st Century Activists
 Confronting the current deep crisis and mapping out a path to this future

Donations of any amount welcome suggested to the Green Eco-Socialist Network, https://eco-socialism.org/join-contribute/
(My older son Peter is on their SC)

Reviews are of course invited.
Internationalism

WHERE DOES THE FOREIGN POLICY OF DONALD TRUMP FIT? HOW DOES THE PEACE MOVEMENT JOIN THE DIALOGUE THIS ELECTION SEASON
by Harry Targ

The US Pursuit of Empire

Taking “the long view” of United States foreign policy, it is clear that from NSC-68; to the response to the Soviet challenges in space such as during the Sputnik era; to global wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq; to covert interventions in the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, and Africa, the United States has pursued global hegemony. And foreign policy influentials, such as a recent Council on Foreign Relations position paper suggests, regard the maintenance of global power the main priority of foreign policy in the years ahead. It is also clear that the pursuit of empire has, of necessity, involved the creation of a permanent war economy, an economy that overcomes economic stagnation by the infusion of enormous military expenditures.

It is also clear that justification for empire and military spending has necessitated the construction of an enemy, first the Soviet Union and international communism; then terrorism; and now China. The obverse of a demonic enemy requires a conception of self to justify the imperial project. That self historically has been various iterations of American exceptionalism, the indispensable nation, US humanitarianism, and implicitly or explicitly the superiority of the white race and western civilization.

In this light, while specific policies vary, the trajectory of US foreign policy in the twenty-first century is a continuation of the policies and programs that were institutionalized in the twentieth century. Three seem primary. First, military spending, particularly in new technologies, continues unabated. And a significant Council on Foreign Relations report raises the danger of the United States “falling behind,” the same metaphor that was used by the writers of the NSC-68 document, or the Gaither and Rockefeller Reports composed in the late 1950s to challenge President Eisenhower’s worry about a military/industrial complex, the response to Sputnik, Secretary of Defense McNamara’s transformation of the Pentagon to scientific management in the 1960s, or President Reagan’s huge increase of armaments in the 1980s to overcome the “window of vulnerability.”

Second, the United States continues to engage in policies recently referred to as “hybrid wars.” The concept of hybrid wars suggests that while traditional warfare between nations has declined, warfare within countries has increased. Internal wars, the hybrid wars theorists suggest, are encouraged and supported by covert interventions, employing private armies, spies, and other operatives financed by outside nations like the United States. Also the hybrid wars concept also refers to the use of economic warfare, embargoes and blockades, to bring down adversarial states and movements. The blockades of Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran are examples. So the hybrid war concept suggests that wars are carried out by other, less visible, means.

Third, much of the discourse on the US role in the world replicates the bipolar, super power narrative of the Cold War. Only now the enemy is China. As Alfred McCoy has pointed out (In the Shadows of the American Empire, 2017), the United States in the twenty first century sees its economic hegemony being undermined by Chinese economic development and global reach. To challenge this, McCoy argues, the United States has taken on a project to recreate its military hegemony: AI, a space force, biometrics, new high tech aircraft etc. If the US cannot maintain its hegemony economically, it will have to do so militarily. This position is the centerpiece of the recent CFR Task Force Report.

The CCDS Peace and Solidarity Committee signed on to this statement


A New Cold War against China is against the interests of humanity

We note the increasingly aggressive statements and actions being taken by the US government in regard to China. These constitute a threat to world peace and are an obstacle to humanity successfully dealing with extremely serious common issues which confront it such as climate change, control of pandemics, racist discrimination and economic development.

We therefore believe that any New Cold War would run entirely counter to the interests of humanity. Instead we stand in favour of maximum global cooperation in order to tackle the enormous challenges we face as a species.

We therefore call upon the US to step back from this threat of a Cold War and also from other dangerous threats to world peace it is engaged in including: withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces agreement; withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Accords; and its increasing disengagement from UN bodies. The US should also stop pressuring other countries to adopt such dangerous positions.

We support China and the US basing their relations on mutual dialogue and centring on the common issues which unite humanity.

Medicare for All
What is the Future for Healthcare Workers
by Marilyn Albert

Valeria Viveros, a 20-year-old nursing assistant, was “barely blooming”...when she first fell sick from the virus, she went to the hospital but was sent home with Tylenol. She returned several days later in an ambulance – her final journey.

August 11, 2020, The Guardian

No one knows exactly how many US health care workers have died because they cared for people with COVID19 disease.

Kaiser Health News and The Guardian have formed a project called “Lost On the Frontline”. That project counts, as of August 25, 2020, 1,080 health workers dead from occupational exposure to the virus in the United States. Other organizations have published somewhat higher estimates of worker deaths.

Health care workers of color are twice as likely to test positive for COVID19 than their white counterparts, according to Harvard Medical School. Such an impact is built into the racialized division of labor of the US health care system.

Although white workers dominate the higher paid health professions, the occupations at the lower end of the pay scale – those workers who are often physically closest to the patients and thus likelier to contract a higher infectious dose of COVID19 – are disproportionately African American and Latinx. According to a 2017 National Center for Workforce Analysis report, 26.1% of nursing assistants are Latinx, and 32% of nurses’ aides, psychiatric aides, and home health aides are African American. These figures significantly exceed both groups’ proportion of the general US population, which partially explains the disparity of death among health workers.
Masks Are Life!

Workers who have adequate Personal Protective Equipment still have three times the risk of infection with COVID19 as the general public has, according to the medical journal, The Lancet. Frontline workers are being forced to reuse PPE by state governments and their employers, with 87% of nurses surveyed by the National Nurses United union stating they had to reuse PPE equipment. The Food and Drug Administration is allowing the “decontamination” of used masks, even though there is no proof that this process is safe or effective (“N95 Respiratory Decontamination Methods Unproven and Unsafe”, National Nurses United, August 10, 2020).

There are many reasons for health workers to suspect their employers are hoarding equipment in storerooms and forcing the repeated use of masks that are supposed to be “single use only”. If hospitals are hoarding PPE equipment for use during a future worsening of the crisis, they are putting workers facing the present danger in great jeopardy. Some state governments say they are distributing millions of N95 masks to the industry. But, at the same time, frontline workers complain of being given a combination of surgical masks and only 1, 2 or 3 of the more protective N95 masks per week. (National Union of Healthcare Workers, www.nuhw.org)
The New Demand for Respirators to Replace N95 Masks from RN and Doctor s’ Unions

Two unions of Registered Nurses, and a coalition of physician’s unions in New York, are now campaigning for reusable PPE to replace the use of disposable masks. These more protective respirators are called Elastomeric Filtering Facepiece Respirators and Powered Air Purifying Respirators. The uncertainty of the length of the pandemic or even whether the COVID19 virus will be completely eradicated demands the most up to date equipment, which will save money and provide a superior level of protection. This issue is now under discussion among political leaders in New York State, forced by the health worker unions. (see “We Need A Sustainable PPE Strategy!”, August 8, 2020, www.nysna.org)

Understaffing Was Deadly Before COVID19

Understaffing has been a decades-long curse in health care facilities, often a deliberate policy of very profitable workplaces. “Just in time staffing” started years ago, so that workers often do not even know their work schedules for the coming week, and frequently are called into work at the last minute. A campaign to limit the number of patients each Registered Nurse cares for at one time is entering its fourth decade, despite strong research proving that additional patient numbers per nurse leads to higher numbers of patient deaths in hospitals. (Dr. Linda Aiken, University of Pennsylvania, “Hospital Nurse Staffing and Patient Mortality, Nurse Burnout and Job Dissatisfaction”, October 2002).

The failure of New York State to implement mandatory nurse to patient ratios, as California has had for years, proved catastrophic when the pandemic hit. According to testimony from Pat Kane, RN, Executive Director of the New York State Nurses Association, during the height of the crisis in New York City, hospitals were ordered to increase their bed capacity by at least 50% and thousands of ventilators requiring more intensive staffing were put into use. But the staff needed to meet the increased capacity was entirely inadequate. Dangerous differences in staffing between financially well-off hospitals who had better staffing pre-pandemic, and the “safety net” hospitals of the city sometimes made the difference between who lived and who died, according to the New York Times, July 1, 2020.

NEW RELEASE: A PANDEMIC NURSE’S DIARY
March 25, 2020
When I walk through the automatic doors into the ICU at 7 AM, I step into a war zone. There are overflowing trash buckets and debris scattered all over the unit. Four red crash carts sit outside the rooms, their drawers open and largely empty, witnesses to the chaotic night. One of the patients who coded survived, the three others died. One body in a white plastic shroud is still in a room on the bed waiting for a stretcher.
So opens the personal diary of Nurse T. She is one of the thousands of New York City health care workers who worked twelve-hour shifts day after day as the Covid-19 virus raged through the city. Nurse T has given us a personal, poignant and poetic account of her courageous co-workers and of the poor, largely immigrant patients who flooded her facility seeking treatment.

A series of Meditations and Writing Exercises for hospital and other essential workers accompanies the diary. These comforting and healing notations will help workers who were traumatized by their experience regain their inner peace and their hope for the future.

While review copies are traditionally sent out 3-4 months prior to release, this diary and the Meditations are needed so badly and so immediately, Hard Ball Press decided to put the work into print first and seek reviews after.

Thank you for considering this gripping and comforting work.
In solidarity, Timothy Sheard (RN, retired), editor and co-author

Title: A Pandemic Nurse’s Diary
Author: Nurse T, as told to Timothy Sheard
ISBN: : 978-1-7344938-4-9
Price: $15.00 (Discounts available to health care unions)
Format: Trade paper, E-book
Number of Pages: 152
Release date: September 15, 2020
Distributor: Ingram
Publicity contact: Timothy Sheard, 917-4281352, info@hardballpress.com, 415 Argyle Rd., 6A, Brooklyn, NY 11218

THE FARRELL STEEL STRIKE AND MEDICARE FOR ALL
By Tina Shannon

Just up the road from me in W PA workers at a local steel fabrication plant employing almost 500 have gone on strike. The main issue is their healthcare coverage.
But this also happened there. Imagine this. Your husband dies in a horrible motorcycle accident. You go to his workplace a week later, to fill out the paperwork for his life insurance and other paperwork requirements. The HR person informs you, that the company canceled your family’s health insurance the very day he died with no notification to you, the bereaved spouse. You and your family have been without healthcare coverage this whole time. The company did this even though Jackie Vezilli’s husband’s paycheck had been deducted for his share of the healthcare coverage.
In Jackie Verzilli’s own words, “This video is happening because the lack of respect and disregard for my husband, myself, and my family by this company is indeed all true. This video is happening because my husband worked for this company for 13 years, all the way back when it was called Gibraltar. He worked countless hours of overtime. He was in a really bad work accident for this company and survived.” Jackie is struggling with the company about this.
This steel mill, now owned by NLMK, has been in Farrell, PA for a long time. It is a generational workplace for many families in the area. People who work there have social ties from high school and even elementary school. It is an anchor for the community. People in this part of W PA have built good lives around good union jobs there.
Farrell is home to perhaps the last New Deal Club in the country. In the days before the steel mills were booming, the first-generation immigrants and their children weathered the great Depression. Because of that, when they were opening a social club for Democrats, to transcend all the ethnic clubs already in existence, they named it for FDR.
Justice for Breonna Taylor!

Report from Louisvelle and the Breonna Taylor Protests
By Ira Grupper

Your copy should address 3 key questions: Who am I writing for? (Audience) Why should they care? (Benefit) What do I want them to do here? (Call-to-Action)

Create a great offer by adding words like "free" "personalized" "complimentary" or "customized." A sense of urgency often helps readers take an action, so think about inserting phrases like "for a limited time only" or "only 7 remaining!"
In Louisville KY the killing by police last May of Breonna Taylor, and a string of murders by police across the U.S., have given rise to a multiracial outpouring of demonstrations, led by African Americans. As I write, people are demonstrating here in Louisville.
      
Come now attorneys for Breonna Taylor’s family, linking the raid to a gentrification plan, titled Placed Based Investigations.  People needed to be removed, and homes needed to be vacated, so that a high-dollar legacy creating real estate development could move forward, said the attorneys.
      
My health is compromised so I am unable to physically be at the demonstrations. But I am a board member of the KY Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression, one of the groups strategizing and leading the demonstrations. A few groups, from other cities, have actually moved to Louisville to assist.
      
The powers-that-be don’t know what to do. KY Attorney General Cameron, an African American who was among the first people being considered by Pres. Trump for the U.S. Supreme Court, had refused to release a Grand Jury’s findings for the longest time. 
      
Two jurors want to speak to the press, and Cameron has refused to allow this. But pressure is building.
      
Louisville’s mayor, who is also president of the National Conference of Mayors, has been sort of progressive over the years. But pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police seems to really have intimidated him. The Louisville Metro Council is likewise being pressured.
      
There are so many young people, black, white and Latinex, involved in the protesting—most previously unknown to the Louisville Left.
      
The Louisville Courier-Journal, decades ago a paper in the forefront of progressive advocacy, was bought out by the Gannett/USA Today conglomerate, and is mostly a limp rag. Yet even they, and the local TV stations, provide coverage every day.

Alex N. Press, Interviewer
October 6, 2020
reprinted from Portside

Protestors in Louisville, Kentucky have been demanding justice for Breonna Taylor for months. But on September 23, Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron announced that none of the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s murder would face charges
,
 
Breonna Taylor was killed by police in a late-night raid in her apartment on March 13 in Louisville, Kentucky. Here’s how the New York Times describes her death:
Breonna Taylor had fallen asleep watching TV beside her boyfriend when Louisville police officers punched in her door with a battering ram. Fearing an intruder, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, reached for his gun and fired one shot, wounding an officer.

The police returned fire: A barrage of bullets from different directions tore through nearly every room in Taylor’s apartment, then into two adjoining ones. They sliced through a soap dish, a chair and a table and shattered a sliding-glass door.

Taylor, a 26-year-old trained E.M.T. who hoped to become a nurse and kept her life goals written on Post-it notes around her apartment, was shot five times. She bled out on the floor of her own home.

On May 25, George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Protests emerged immediately in response to Floyd’s death, which was captured on video. Quickly, the protests spread. The entire country was in revolt, with some of the largest protests in history taking place over the summer. In Louisville, as details of Taylor’s death continued to leak out, the racial justice protests focused on her case, with activists demanding justice for Breonna Taylor.

On September 23, Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron announced the results of a grand-jury investigation into the events of March 13. Brett Hankison, one of the three officers present at the raid, would be charged for “wanton endangerment” for firing shots that hit an adjoining apartment in Taylor’s building. None of the officers would face any charges for Taylor’s death.

Jacobin’s Alex N. Press spoke with Robert LeVertis Bell, a political organizer, recent city council candidate, and Louisville native, about the events that have unfolded in the city since March
.
ANP
Before we jump into what’s transpired since the grand jury announcement came out, I was hoping you could take us back to the immediate aftermath of Breonna Taylor’s murder.

RLB
In the first days after Taylor’s death, a lot of people in Louisville didn’t notice the story. Protests didn’t really start. It was at the beginning of the nationwide shutdown and the story got a bit lost. I’m usually pretty up on things and I didn’t know much about the particulars, beyond that the killing had happened, until April or May. There wasn’t a lot of action at the start.

After a while though, stories started to leak out in the press that suggested there might be more to the story than people had realized. At the same time, there was the killing of George Floyd. If Floyd hadn’t been killed, and people hadn’t protested after it, I don’t think we would be talking about Breonna Taylor, not even in Louisville.
But as of today, it’s day 128 of protests
.
ANP
When the protests started, what organizations were involved?

RLB
At the time, I was running a campaign for city council, so I was there working on behalf of DSA (Democratic Socialists of America), and my campaign, etc. A few organizations took the lead in the protests.

One was a group called Kentucky Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression. The Alliance has been around since the 1970s; it was founded by, among other people, Angela Davis and Anne Braden. They started the National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression. I haven’t heard much about other branches of that organization, but the Kentucky Alliance has been a mainstay for my entire life, since the 1980s.

While I can say that they aren’t the force that they used to be, some of the people involved in that organization, particularly a woman named Shameka Parrish-Wright, who is a brilliant activist, bottom-lined a lot of the protests. It was her and another activist, mostly through the Kentucky Alliance, who started the daily protests based around what is now called Injustice Square Park or Breonna Taylor Park — its official name is Jefferson Square Park.

Shameka and the Alliance started doing daily protests, and there were other groups too. Shameka and the Alliance have always worked in collaboration with other groups. There were representatives of various anarchist groups, DSA, other ad-hoc groups — a lot of groups popped up and have shown up at the protests, composed of people who had never engaged before and were suddenly engaged. These groups, as is always the case in movements, form, split, and merge with other groups.

But the main group on one end is the people that have been around the Alliance. And on the other side is Black Lives Matter Louisville, who did a lot of work, especially with Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and with groups based on the University of Louisville campus. And there are lots of people who are just around and doing a lot of work without any particular affiliation.


The Trump Syndrome
by Seymour Joseph

Years ago I read a short story about Napoleon, “The Curfew Tolls,” by Stephen
Vincent Benét. Its theme was that Napoleon’s fate would have been different
had he been born fifty years before his actual birth. In Benét’s story, Napoleon
is a major of artillery who dreams of greatness, but the times were not ripe for
his true fate, and he dies young without having achieved renown or power.
Today we have the spectacle of Donald Trump as president of the United
States, despite his 2016 campaign platform of arrogance, racism, lies and
insults instead of rational argument.

Why then was he elected? The answer lies in the moment: We were stuck in
militarily-engagement in the Middle East; the threat of “terrorism” dominated
our political discourse; a widening economic disparity infected a recovering
economy. It was a moment when a bellicose bully outside the so-called
“political establishment” could insert himself into the political process and be
embraced by a sizeable swath of the population — the vast majority of whom,
against their own self-interests, were white male members of the working
class.

You hear the pundits say that Donald Trump has captured the Republican
Party. Not so. The Republicans were on the road to Trumpism years before he
stepped into the ring. The keynote to their sharp right turn was the statement
by Mitch McConnell during the early days of Barak Obama’s administration.
He said openly and before microphones that the Republicans will do
everything possible to prevent Obama from serving a second term.


IN THIS PENNSYLVANIA TOWN, RACISM ‘WAS QUIET.’ THEN TRUMP STOKED FEARS OF VIOLENCE

by Christopher Maag
a columnist for NorthJersey.com.
reprinted from Beaver County Blue


MILTON, Pa. — Kareem Williams Jr. sits on a park bench in the center of town and waits for the racists to attack. He tells himself he is ready. It’s a cool Saturday morning in fall, and the valley is alive with the rumble of pickups.

When the trucks stop, here at the red light at the corner of Broadway and Front Street, drivers gun their engines. Some glare directly into Williams’ eyes.

Williams is a Black man. The drivers are white. All their passengers are white. Williams returns their gaze with equal ferocity. He tells himself he is ready. He is not. His back faces the Susquehanna River. His car is parked a block away. If these white men jump from their truck, fists or pistols raised, Williams has nowhere to run.
The light turns green. Engine roar blasts the river. Williams follows each truck with his eyes until it’s gone.

“I always knew racism was here. But it was quiet,” said Williams, 24, a factory worker and a corporal in the Pennsylvania National Guard who grew up in Milton. “Now, in this election, people are more openly racist. The dirty looks, middle fingers, the Confederate flags.”
To Williams, and to many non-white people he knows in central Pennsylvania, this rise in overtly racist behavior is linked inextricably to the reelection campaign of President Donald Trump. In yards up and down the Central Susquehanna Valley, Williams sees Confederate flags and Trump flags flying side by side. People with the most Trump bumper stickers seem the most likely to shout hateful things.

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As the presidential election approaches, Williams said, such threats grow more common, more passionate.

“On election day I’m going to be in my house. I’m not going anywhere,” said Williams, known by his nickname K.J. “If these racists are looking to protest, they’ll go to Harrisburg or Philadelphia or D.C. If they’re looking to kill people, this will be the place. They’re gonna come here.”

Experts on American racial history agree. For Black people living in towns like Milton, they say, the threat of white terrorism is the highest it’s been in generations.
“Historically, most acts of racial terror have been enacted in rural communities, small towns or medium-sized cities,” said Khalil Muhammad, a history professor at Harvard University. “The conditions for wide-scale anti-Black violence are today more likely than at any point in the last 50 years.”

‘That’s a powder keg’
Within a month, 230 communities in Pennsylvania organized 400 anti-racism events, said Lara Putnam, a historian at the University of Pittsburgh who studies grassroots movements.
“That is an insane number,” Putnam said. “It’s an order of magnitude larger than the number of places that ever held a Tea Party event.”

Many protests happened in towns where African Americans and other non-white people constitute a tiny minority, surrounded by rural communities with virtually no people of color at all. Those areas are overwhelmingly conservative, said Daniel Mallinson, a political science professor at Penn State Harrisburg. Out of 6 million votes cast in Pennsylvania in 2016, Trump won the state by 42,000.

But in Milton he dominated, carrying the surrounding Northumberland County by 69%. In front yards and country fields, Trump flags and Confederate flags comingle.

“Traditionally when we think of political candidates, we think of yard signs. But a lot of Trump flags went up in 2016, and in a lot of places they didn’t come down. It’s a visual representation of tribalism in our politics,” Mallinson said. “There’s a lot of implicit and explicit racial bias in central Pennsylvania.”

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As local critics and defenders of the white establishment grow more engaged, state and national politics raise the stakes. Pennsylvania is the likeliest state in the nation to decide the presidential election, according to FiveThirtyEight, a polling and analytics aggregator. Statewide polls place Democrat Joe Biden ahead of Trump by 7%, the same as Hillary Clinton’s lead in Pennsylvania three weeks before the 2016 election.

Large-scale voting fraud has never been detected in modern American politics. Yet Trump often claims he can lose only if the 2020 election is fraudulent, which stokes fear and anger among his core supporters, experts said.

“They fully expect Trump will win,” said John Kennedy, a political science professor at West Chester University outside Philadelphia. “When they hear the results on election night, that’s a powder keg.”
Trump also app
ears to encourage the more violent factions of his coalition. The president repeatedly has declined to promise a peaceful transition of power. He defended Kyle Rittenhouse for killing an unarmed protester in Kenosha, Wisconsin. During the first presidential debate, Trump appeared to encourage white terrorists, urging the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” and insisting that “somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left.”

Some white people in central Pennsylvania appear to be following the president’s lead.
“Do I worry about right-wing vigilante violence against peaceful protests if people are protesting Trump after the election? Yes,” Putnam said. “It’s happening. And there’s every reason to think more of it will happen.”

In September, Trump proposed designating the KKK and antifa as terrorist organizations. Antifa is not an organization, however, but rather an idea shared by some on the left to aggressively challenge fascists and Nazis, especially during street protests.
“President Trump has unequivocally denounced hate groups by name on numerous occasions but the media refuses to accurately cover it because that would mean the end of a Democrat Party talking point,” said Samantha Zager, a Trump campaign spokesperson. “The Trump campaign will patiently wait for the media to develop the same intense curiosity on these actual threats to our democracy as it has with regard to hypothetical scenarios from the left.”

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In July, neo-Nazis rallied in Williamsport, 20 miles north of Milton. In August, a white person fired into a crowd of civil rights marchers in Schellsburg, Pennsylvania, wounding a man in the face. At a recent event for police reform in Watsontown, three miles north of Milton along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, white counter-protesters yelled that Black people “live off white people.”

Overlooking the protest, on the balcony of the Mansion House restaurant, white men stood armed with assault rifles.

“They looked like snipers,” Williams said. “Trump is the motivator in all of this. He has a huge following here.”

The last time America witnessed such an open embrace between white supremacists and the White House was the administration of Woodrow Wilson, said Muhammad.

“You have to go back 100 years,” Muhammad said. “We have every reason to be extremely vigilant about the possibility for violence over the next several weeks. Anywhere where people are flying Confederate flags are places where people ought to be mindful of where they move in public.”

Racism in the land of Chef Boyardee
The side streets of downtown Milton end in rich river bottomlands where the autumn corn grows 7 feet tall.

At the outskirts of town, Chef Boyardee controls the high ground.
Air in the valley was black with factory smoke when an Italian chef named Ettore Boiardi moved his pasta sauce canning company from Cleveland to Milton in 1938. Today the company is owned by Conagra Brands, but a brick smokestack still towers above town, “Chef Boyardee Foods” in tall white letters down the side. From Boiardi’s brick mansion on a nearby hill, views are hemmed by Appalachian ridgelines turning red and russet in the October sun.

Matthew Nolder walks with his wife Meagan and son Mekhi past a house with a Trump flag and yard sign in Milton, PA, on Friday, October 9, 2020.

A few blocks away lives Matthew Nolder, one of 112 people in this town of 6,595 to identify as African American, according to the U.S. Census. On a recent Friday evening, Nolder opened his front door to take his German Shepherd, Diamond, on a walk.

Directly across the street, Nolder saw the apartment of Milton’s best-known white supremacist, the same man who recently drove his truck through a crowd of protesters outside Milton police headquarters, according to news reports.

“He tried to run us over with his pickup,” said Nolder’s wife, Megan, who is white. “When we came home that day, I had a panic attack. I’ve got extra door locks that I’m buying. Deadbolts. We’re talking about security cameras.”

Diamond tugged Nolder down the street. On the next block they passed a red Dodge sedan that also charged the protesters. Further along is a house that flies the Confederate flag.
Two blocks from his home, Nolder stopped at another flag. This one features Donald Trump firing a machine gun with a bazooka slung over his shoulder, sitting atop a velociraptor.
Political signs in Milton, PA, on Friday, October 9, 2020.

“Our president is riding a damn dinosaur,” said Nolder, 35. “At first it’s funny. Then it’s terrifying.”

The arc of Nolder’s life shows what can happen when a Black person defies Milton’s majority. In the seventh grade, Nolder and two white friends told jokes that a teacher found offensive. The white students stayed in school.

Nolder was permanently expelled. He was 13.

Years later, six white Milton police officers tackled and tased Nolder as he experienced a panic attack. Afterward, he organized a protest at police headquarters. Only a handful of people came. None were people of color.

Nolder felt alone, vulnerable.

“That made me think maybe I should just stay in my house,” said Nolder, who later earned a master’s degree and became a family therapist.

In the wave of activism following George Floyd’s death, Nolder attended peaceful protests up and down the central Susquehanna valley. But the threat of violence hung in the air. At the Watsontown rally, one counter-protester approached Nolder while reaching for the handgun strapped to his belt. Megan Nolder noticed. She shoulder-checked the man, stalling his advance until a police officer intervened.


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Demanding a Nation That 'Cares for All' Not Just the Wealthy Few, Progressives Unveil People's Charter

A coalition of progressive lawmakers, union leaders, and social justice advocates on Thursday unveiled the "People's Charter," a political agenda intended to outline how, in the midst of overlapping public health, economic, policing, and climate crises that have devastated low-income communities of color most of all, working people can come together to transform the United States from a country that works for "the privileged and powerful few" to one that "cares for all of us."

Politico, which first reported on the proposal, characterized the People's Charter as part of a strategy to push Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to the left if he defeats President Donald Trump, calling it "the latest move from progressives as they prepare to wrangle with moderate Democrats over the scale of new government spending and programs if the party wins control of Washington."

CCDS has no Educational Programs in October but, in case you missed it, check these from last month.
Recording of September 28th teleconference

 
Pem Davidson Buck
Professor Emerita, Anthropology

Here is the the recording to CCDS socialist Sunday School on China


Part II. China, socialism and capitalism has been reaschedued from November to December 13th at 4pm. More details to follow.
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Karl Marx's ideas are a common touchstone for many people working for change. His historical materialism, his many contributions to political economy and class analysis, all continue to serve his core values--the self-emancipation of the working class and a vision of a classless society. There are naturally many trends in Marxism that have developed over the years, and new ones are on the rise today. All of them and others who want to see this project succeed are welcome here.

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