Monday, April 28, 2008

Chicago protest condemns "lies" about China

By John Bachtell
Chicago- About 500 residents and students, mainly from Chicago’s Chinese American community protested April 24 in Federal Plaza against what they call “lies and distortions” being broadcast by CNN in its coverage of Chinese government action against protests in Tibet. Chinese communities have held similar protests across the US and internationally in the last few days.

Amid US and Chinese flags and colorful Beijing Olympic mascots, Liu Hong, president of the Chinese American Association of Greater Chicago condemned the way the media was poisoning public opinion by distorting actions by the Chinese government, especially around the March 14 violence in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.

Protesters maintained it was thugs associated with the Dalai Lama who provoked the violence, primarily against civilians and looted and burned buildings. The Chinese government had a right to take action, they said. CNN and other western corporate media are portraying it as an attack by Chinese authorities. Twenty-two people died in the violence.

“Shame on you CNN! We want our American friends to know that Tibet has been a part of China for over 700 years, said Hong. “The March 14 demonstration by the Dalai Lama’s supporters was not a peaceful protest. It was directed against civilians. Any government would take action to stop the violence,” she said.

Liu Hong said CNN and those trying to halt the Olympic Torch relay were trying to whip up hatred against China hoping to provoke a boycott of the Olympic Summer Games in Beijing. This goes against the principals of the Olympics, which stand for peace, friendship, and understanding of nations through sports, said Hong.

CNN reporter Jack Cafferty came under particular criticism for his remark April 9 when he said the Chinese were “the same goons and thugs they’ve always been.” A University of Illinois at Chicago student blasted CNN and Cafferty for this statement. China is imperfect, he said. “But the Olympics show that China is developing and changing. It’s an opportunity to show the world it's achievements. We won’t allow these guys to destroy the Olympics.”

Protesters said scenes of Indian and Nepalese authorities attacking protestors supporting the Dalai Lama, were mixed in to make it appear as if it were really the Chinese government who were attacking protestors.

Many in the crowd felt it was important for people to get more information about the history of Tibet, beginning with its merger into China during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), and the despotic nature of the religious rule of the lamas and nobles before the reforms carried out beginning in 1959 by the socialist oriented Chinese government. Before that time, more than 90% of the Tibetan population was serfs, who lived in extreme poverty and were subject to savage and cruel punishments by the reactionary landowners. The monasteries overseen by the lamas owned most of the land. As a result of this history and many improvements in the life of the people, the current Dalai Lama doesn’t have a mass base of support in Tibet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chicago Teachers Union endorses HR 676

By Lance Cohn

On Wednesday, April 3rd, over 600 members of the Chicago Teachers Union's' House of Delegates by an almost unanmous vote endorsed HR 676; Rep. John Conyer's single payer national health care bill.

Those who spoke for the endorsement pointed out that not only would this bill cover everyone in the Country but would also enable the Union to take health care off the collective bargaining table. It was also mentioned that this bill would help to lower the raising price of health care that Union members are paying despite the fact that they have Health Insurance.

The CTU (AFT loc. 1) presently has over 31,000 members in Chicago and is linked to a 1.5 million "American Federation of Teachers" parent Union which is one of the largest in the Country. They are part of the AFL/CIO.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Chicago students march against gun violence

By John Bachtell
People's Weekly World On-line Xtra

Chicago-Turning grief and shock to anger and action, hundreds of Chicago high school students, teachers, administrators, parents and elected officials rallied here April 1 against the crisis of gun violence plaguing the city. The rally was called in response to the shooting death of the 21st student this school year in the public school system.

“Stop the killing. Pass gun laws!” exhorted Father Michael Pfleger, pastor at St. Sabina Church, as he read the list of all the state senators and representatives who have refused to support state wide gun control laws.

Pfleger spoke in front of rows of empty chairs, each with the name of a student and an empty pair of sneakers who had been killed.

“We want futures, not funerals!” cried Pfleger, a leader in the campaign against gun violence who three weeks ago vowed to hold a rally in front of the Illinois State Building every time a student was killed. So far there have been three rallies.

“No child is safe while guns are accessible in the streets across the city. We need young people to stand up and say enough is enough. We need young people to take the lead. This is a national emergency. We need our voices to be heard over the special interests and the National Rifle Association,” said Pfleger.

Pfleger called for legislation including some introduced by State Representative Harry Osterman D- 14 that would require gun purchasers to have an ID card, limit purchasing of one gun per month, reinstate the assault weapons ban, require universal background check and make crime gun data public.

One of the rally speakers was Ronnie Mosley, a Simeon student. “We the youth are here today. We are fed up and we won’t take it any more. It makes no sense. We can’t go to school without protection.”

Mosley said the Simeon students and the Local School Council had called a public meeting to discuss solutions.

“What’s the reaction? Direct Action! What’s the solution? A youth revolution!” said Mosley.

Many high school students came from Simeon High School. Chavez Clark was killed in the school parking lot while attending Saturday classes this past weekend. Students also attended the rally from Jones College Prep, Ace Tech High and Crane High School, the site of another killing last week. The students, frustrated and fearful over the continuing violence, had many answers in response to a reporter’s question on how to end it.

“Take all the guns away,” said Simeon student Ebonee Robeson, age 14. “You need to have a legal age for buying guns,” said 14-year-old Tierra Morrin, also of Simeon.

Sarah Loed, 15 of Jones College Prep added, “We need to strengthen the laws of how to get guns.” “We’ve got to figure out where these guns are coming from. Then we can start to stop it, said Alicia Holmes, 18, of Ace Tech. “We need to do more to build communication and to talk to each other. The anger and violence often comes from misunderstandings, added Sherise Harper, 18, also of Ace Tech.

Also speaking was Ron Holt, father of Blair Holt, a student slain last spring. “Last year on May 10 we were at 20 students killed. Blair was number 20. These shoes remind me of Blair and the shoes he wore. My heart goes out to all the parents who have lost children. Holt and other parents of slain youth have formed a group called Purpose Over Pain.

Also addressing the rally were Mayor Richard Daley, Governor Rod Blagojevich, CPS CEO Arne Duncan and Rev. Marshall Hatch. After the rally, students marched around the State Building.

While the partial measures are being lobbied for passage, the long-term solutions lie in both restoring funding to schools, after school and community programs and jobs creation and taking on the gun manufacturers.

The rally took place the same day it was reported that half of all students in big city high school don’t graduate. Some observers connect the gun violence in part to the collapsing public school system and related support systems including counseling and mental health services.

“We need to have more programs for children. In my time we had more activities. There were more jobs. Funding for programs and education has fallen,” said Carol Grant, a CPS coordinator. “You used to have truant officers that would reach out to children who had left school. They cut that out about ten years ago. If you are out, you’re out.”

1000 persons die each day globally as a result of gun violence, including 80 in the United States. There are 640 million guns in the world and 8 million new ones manufactured each year. Guns kill, wound or disable about 1 million people a year.

A big battle remains to place some curbs on the gun manufacturers, a multi-billion industry. Sturm, Ruger, Smith and Wesson, Sigarms, Bryco, Remington, and Mossberg are among top US handgun manufacturers. They and their front group, the NRA, have adamantly resisted any form of gun control and wink and nod at the vast illegal and underground trade in weapons. Any other industry whose product caused so much death and destruction would have been regulated or shut down years ago.

In addition, the Bush administration and previous administrations, at the behest of the big gun manufacturers have consistently blocked all efforts to curb illegal trade in guns internationally.