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Views in brief

August 31, 2007 | Page 6

VIEWS BELOW:
Morocco activists ask for solidarity
Why the East Bay garbage workers did win
Pentagon's spy database closed down
Keep up the good work at SW

Morocco activists ask for solidarity

OUR COMRADES, Yousfi Mohamed, general secretary of the local group in Beni Mellal, and his comrade Aji Abderahmane were handed a one-year prison sentence and a fine at an appeals court hearing in early August for having committed an act of solidarity.

At an earlier court hearing, six activists were acquitted (Abassi Abass, Fadel Mohamed, Aziz Timor, Aji Abderrahmane, Ismail Amrar and Cherki Nabid), and three were convicted to a two-month suspended sentence and fine (Yousfi Mohamed, Ahensal Brahim and Rabaoui Abdelkbir).

Mohamed Bougrine, a 72 year-old activist, was sentenced to one year in prison. This sentence was transformed into a 3-year sentence by the appeals court.

The trial followed a sit-in protest organized in several towns in Morocco, including the town of Beni Mellal, to show solidarity with those arrested on May 1, 2007, and given heavy sentences of two to three years in prison for having acted against the sacred values of the realm. All of these sentences were increased by the court of appeals.

ATTAC Morocco denounces and condemns these sentences as an attack against freedom of expression. They have created a new crime: the crime of solidarity--in a context of increased attacks by neoliberal policies that have disastrous consequences at all levels.

The regime is attempting to use this trial to silence all protesters who might express their opposition to further attacks. This is the real meaning of the repression against the miners who have been on strike for five weeks at Jbel Aoum, and the court cases against certain independent newspapers and their management.

ATTAC Morocco demands the immediate unconditional release of all the activists who have been arrested and an end to people being taken to court for expression of their solidarity. We call for national and international solidarity to confront this repression of freedom of expression in Morocco
ATTAC Morocco, Rabat

Please send messages of protest to the following: Premier Ministre Driss Jettou, fax 011-212-37-768-656, e-mail [email protected]; Ministre de l'Intérieur Chakib Benmoussa, fax 011-212-37-762-056, e-mail [email protected]; Ministre de la Justice Mohamed Bouzoubaa, fax 011-212-37-765-257, e-mail [email protected].

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Why the East Bay garbage workers did win

I DON'T agree with Sid Patel's letter that the Teamsters did not hand Waste Management (WM) a defeat in the recent East Bay labor dispute, but I am glad he wrote the letter, since rebuilding the labor movement requires socialists being able to distinguish between a "step forward" and a "step backward" ("Did the Teamsters win in Oakland?" August 17).

The mistake Patel makes is in too narrowly focusing on the terms of the contract and not considering the balance of forces prior to the struggle--and, more importantly, the effect of the struggle on the workers themselves as well as workers in the Bay Area.

WM is a giant corporation with a war chest and an army of scabs that had been preparing for months for war with the union. Busting the union in Oakland was supposed to set the stage for a larger battle between WM and unions in Los Angeles. The fact that 900 workers fought a national corporation to a standoff on the critical issue of retaining the right to wage solidarity strikes is itself a victory.

The remainder of the contract has both concessions in terms of striking for grievances, health care and progressive discipline issues--while winning advances on wages, but the victory on solidarity strikes means that it will be much more difficult for WM to bust the union in LA.

There were other advances, as well. In the Bay Area, the mood shifted overwhelmingly in favor of the garbage workers. Oakland politicians were forced to side openly with the union (though their actions rarely matched the rhetoric).

The Bay Area press even shifted its coverage of the lockout: they focused on WM profits, reported on the clean upper-class neighborhoods and the dirty streets in the poorer ones, and talked about "union busting" and "scabs" when they had used euphemisms in the past.

These developments reflect growing class-consciousness among Bay Area workers critical for rebuilding the labor movement.

But the biggest issue that Patel downplays is the impact of the struggle on the garbage workers themselves. For four weeks, workers maintained real picket lines, slowed down the trucks and fought their bosses, scabs, the police and often their own demoralization and held their lines throughout.

In the end, solidarity prevailed over corporate greed, and it was WM that buckled by giving in on their central demand of no solidarity strikes.

WM clearly had hoped that it would be able to handily defeat the union. The solidarity of the workers in the Bay Area meant both that the union was able to keep the right to solidarity strikes and give WM something to think about before it attempts to attack unions in other cities.

And, most importantly, the workers going back to work are not the same ones that were locked out. They are wiser and more united after four weeks of successful struggle. Did this fight represent a victory for the garbage workers and step forward for class consciousness in the Bay Area? Definitely.
Andrew Libson, San Francisco

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Pentagon's spy database closed down

ON AUGUST 21, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the Pentagon's controversial Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) system database will be shut down by September 17, 2007. The database came under fire in late 2005 when several pages of classified information from the project were leaked to NBC News.

The Pentagon claimed that TALON was intended to collate data on credible threats to military forces and installations, but instead, it ended up listing activities of antiwar; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender; and women's rights groups. In particular was the listing of the Campus Antiwar Network's chapter at the University of California-Santa Cruz, because of its counter-recruitment action at a career fair.

Subsequent to the public outcry, the Department of Defense tried to limit further criticism by removing all listings of domestic protest groups. After the negative publicity, however, the Pentagon found that investigators had stopped reporting any data of significance.

The existence of this database demonstrates the war makers' fear of the public, and the lengths that they will go to limit the effectiveness of protest. The closing of this database is a victory for those who want to exercise their right to free speech in order to protest the war--but we should also be vigilant for the next scheme that the war makers will come up with to take away our rights.
Josh Karpoff, Rochester, N.Y.

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Keep up the good work at SW

YOU GUYS do a fantastic job on reporting what is really going on in current events. You guys at socialistworker.org are among the most courageous journalists on Earth.

What prompted me to write you after visiting your Web site for at least the last four years is the article you wrote about health care in the U.S. and Michael Moore's film Sicko, which even Fox News declared "brilliant" ("Who's killing health care in America?", June 22).

If I wasn't broke and unemployed, I'd send you a donation. Keep up the great work. I think the leftist viewpoint of what's going on, the continuing war on the middle class, is finally going mainstream. The Democrats on Capitol Hill have proven themselves to be Bush-Cheney Democrats, which most leftists would have guessed to be true once the election results of November 2006 came in.

Unfortunately, Americans have been brainwashed since birth to be suspicious of any communications that use the words "socialist" or "capitalist." Even my wife, with whom I share very close political opinions, will not go to Web sites with the word "socialist" in the title!
Anonymous, from the Internet

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