The ORGANIZER Weekly Newsletter
Issue No. 66 – June 29, 2022
IN THIS ISSUE
• Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade: What We Can Do – by Mya Shone
• On the Menu of the G7 and NATO Summits: Expand the War – by Alan Benjamin
ABORTION RIGHTS DOSSIER:
• Turning Back the Clock 50 Years! – by Christel Keiser
• The First Victims: Working Class Women
• Model Resolution: Reproductive Rights Are Workers’ Rights
• Women’s Clinic, Houston, Texas: “This Just Can’t Happen in 2022!”
• “It’s Important to Fight”: U.S. Cities Erupt in Protest as Roe v. Wade Falls
• Report from Los Angeles Protest on June 24 – by Chloe Osmer
• Colombia: Victory for the Left-Wing Presidential Candidate
• Fifteen Years of the Gaza Blockade
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Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade: What We Can Do
By Mya Shone
“I never will be silent,” Emma Goldman, the renowned feminist and anarchist declared. “I never will acquiesce or submit to authority, nor will I make peace with a system which degrades woman to a mere incubator and which fattens on her innocent victims.” [“The Social Aspects of Birth Control” April 1916 speech excerpted below]
The foundational struggle for reproductive justice became ever more urgent with the June 24 Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the federal Constitutional protection for abortion. Many of us surged into the streets for protests. We understand that there is no substitute for mobilizing to demand our rights. These mass actions, along with our efforts to build a labor- and community-based independent working-class party, show our affirmation that reproductive rights are inherent to our well-being and emancipation.
What other specific actions can we take as access to essential healthcare is stripped away from 100 million girls and women living in nearly every Southern state and throughout the Midwest? Our February article “Reproductive Rights Under Attack: End the War on Women!” provided information on many efforts underway. Here is further information on how you can become involved.
Helping those with immediate need:
First and foremost is to provide access for women across the country who no longer can obtain abortion services. Abortion providers stopped procedures in states where laws have been triggered already, where legislation is unclear, or in anticipation of new legislation. Donations surged to abortion-rights advocacy groups and abortion clinics within 24 hours of the release of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft ruling overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, with many making donations — small and large — for the first time.
Among those who stepped up with major donations is the R&B superstar Lizzo and the political rockers Rage Against the Machine. They pledged a hefty portion of ticket sales to the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF) and Planned Parenthood. Lizzo’s pledge of $500,000 was matched by Live Nation for a contribution of $1 million. “Black women and women of color,” stated Lizzo, “have historically had disproportionately less access to family planning resources — this is a great loss but not a new one.” Ten15 in San Francisco is leading the way among independent venues with proceeds from specific shows committed to NNAF as well.
This is a beginning. The wave must continue to grow. Musicians and other performers, in particular, have donated their services historically to create in-person and online festivals to raise money – be it for the anti-nuclear movement, homelessness, AIDS, or in response to natural disasters. There is no time to lose in setting this in motion.
Contraceptive pills are a $3 billion annual business in the United States with the two giant pharmaceutical companies — Pfizer and Bayer AG — earning most of the huge profits. Pfizer has a foundation that provides cash grants product donations to humanitarian relief efforts around the world. Bayer, too, has a foundation. There is no doubt that the United States is about to enter into a health emergency and crisis which makes now the perfect time to demand that these exploitative corporate giants donate at least $100 million each to the NNAF and Planned Parenthood.
California will become a reproductive rights sanctuary state as will the states of Washington and New York. We need to ensure that this remains so. It is projected already that up to 30% of U.S. clinic abortions will take place in California. For 1.4 million people in surrounding states, their closest abortion provider will be in California. That represents an almost 3,000% increase in potential demand for California-based services. Planned Parenthood’s 17 Northern California clinics alone are preparing to accommodate another 8,000 patients/year. These clinics have “abortion navigators” on staff who help to arrange for some but not all expenses.
National Network of Abortion Funds
The National Network of Abortion Funds is a coalition of 80 organizations some of whom assist clinics with the cost of an individual’s procedure, while others offer support such as transportation, childcare, translation, doula services, and somewhere to stay if travel is necessary.
Planned Parenthood: https://www.plannedparenthood.org
In the workplace – our healthcare benefits:
“Economic freedom and reproductive freedom are inextricably linked,” declared labor leaders at a rally organized by the San Francisco Bay Area labor councils at the federal building in Oakland, Calif, on May 2. “An attack on women’s reproductive rights,” they asserted, “is a direct attack on all workers.”
Now is the time for each and every union and labor council to address the crisis at hand. Statements aren’t enough. We need health benefits included in our labor contracts that include paid time off (sick leave), cover the cost to travel out of state and childcare if required, as well as pay for the cost of the procedure itself. Only a few major corporations, such as Disney, which has a large operation in Florida, have said that they will cover the cost of employees traveling out of state. It is for us to make this a priority in our unions and labor councils as well as for the AFL-CIO itself.
On the legal challenge and legislative front:
The Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund stepped into action immediately. These organizations have fought consistently against TRAP laws (Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers) and total bans in cities and states across the United States. Lawsuits have been filed in Utah, Louisiana, Texas, and Idaho. State courts have blocked Louisiana’s and Utah’s anti-abortion laws so far — albeit temporarily — as the CRR, ACLU, and Planned Parenthood argue that these anti-abortion laws are unlawful and unenforceable under existing state constitutions.
Your donations have been and continue to be essential to enable these groups to struggle in the legal arena:
Center for Reproductive Rights: https://reproductiverights.org
American Civil Liberties Union: https://www.aclu.org/issues/reproductive-freedom
Planned Parenthood Action Fund https://www.weareplannedparenthoodaction.org
On June 24, before the ink could dry on the Supreme Court decision, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law protecting non-California residents seeking reproductive care in the state. It also protects anyone performing, assisting or receiving an abortion in California from any potential civil action originating outside the state.
New York also fortified its legal protections in mid-June with a six-bill package aimed at protecting those who travel to New York for abortion services and the providers who care for them.
In Michigan, Vermont, and California efforts are underway to enshrine the right to reproductive freedom in their state constitutions.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer filed a lawsuit to block a 1931 law that would make performing an abortion a felony with no exceptions for rape or incest. This law had been set aside only as long as the federal Roe ruling superseded it. The lawsuit, Whitmer stated, “asks the state supreme court to recognize a woman’s right to bodily autonomy under the state constitution.”
State legislatures in Vermont and California have placed changes to their respective state constitutions before voters on this November’s ballot. It is imperative that we are not complacent about these upcoming votes because we can anticipate a barrage of anti-abortion media and protests even though polls show that four out of five Californians were opposed to overturning Roe. Codifying basic rights is crucial for demonstrating throughout the United States that we will not stand idly by.
Mobilizations and swift organizing actions in particular are critical in Kansas and in Kentucky where anti-abortion state constitution amendments are on the ballot as well — August in Kansas and November in Kentucky. The ACLU has set up a protest text alert system: you can sign up to receive alerts at https://action.aclu.org/webform/sign-aclu-action-texts
The Women’s March has a nationwide listing of events and protests at https://map.womensmarch.com/?source=website Included is a planned direct action to take place on July 9th in Washington, D.C. with training for those who would risk arrest at 6:00 pm on July 8th. “We will not be silent. We will not be ignored. And we will not let politicians play games with our lives and our futures.” So reads the statement kicking off a “Summer of Rage.”
We in Socialist Organizer have stated loudly and clearly over the years:
“What has the Democratic Party done to preserve abortion rights during the 49 years since Roe? For the most part, it has stood silently by as access to reproductive care has become difficult and, in many places impossible, for women, particularly women of color without economic resources.”
We hear our concerns echoed now more and more. “Frustration, anger rising among Democrats over caution on abortion” blares the headline of the Washington Post article on June 27 about the reaction to the “passivity of Biden and other party leaders in the face of hard-hitting GOP tactics on abortion and other issues.” “They just aren’t fighting,” Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) said. “We can’t just tell people, ‘Well, just vote — vote your problems away.’ Because they’re looking at us and saying, ‘Well, we already voted for you.’”
The Democratic Party has snookered activists time and again to vote Democratic Party with the expectation that rights or gains such as childcare and universal healthcare would follow. Yet, time and time again, the leadership of the Democratic Party supports the corporate/military agenda and sells us down the river. No more poignant examples than the endorsement and campaign effort of all the top Democratic Party House leadership for the re-election of anti-choice, anti-immigrant Representative Henry Cuellar in Texas. The foremost priority for the major women’s political action committees, Emily’s List and NARAL, was to defeat Cuellar and to elect immigrant rights attorney Jessica Cisneros, who is pro-choice and a supporter of Medicare for All.
Another example is the Democrats’ refusal to set aside the filibuster in the Senate in order to pass the voting rights legislation, Pro-Act and the Women’s Health Protection Act – especially as the Supreme Court guts systematically all the hard-fought-for gains of the working class and oppressed.
No right is guaranteed – it is only our struggle that has ever extracted concessions and moves the arc of history towards our goals.
Creating long-lasting effective struggle:
That is why we in Socialist Organizer have been so persistent in the United States and internationally with our efforts towards the formation of a Labor Party and internationally towards the formation of a Workers’ International. That is why we encourage and organize through Labor and Community for an Independent Party for the development of labor and community coalitions across the country as building blocks towards creation of a working-class party. That is why we have supported the efforts of the Ujima Peoples Progress Party in Maryland to develop a Black working-class party that will be aligned with a working-class party rooted in labor and oppressed communities.
That is why we are participating in and sending a delegation to the International Working Women’s Conference (IWWC) to be held in Paris, October 31.
Please contribute to our travel and conference fund:
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Emma Goldman’s 1916 Speech (excerpt):
In the 1890s, Emma Goldman, the renowned feminist and anarchist, worked as a nurse and midwife among poor immigrants in New York City’s Lower East Side. Goldman became a leading advocate for contraception. Yet, Goldman insisted always that birth control had to be viewed in the context of capitalism. Women would suffer a double yoke of oppression from ruling class social, economic and political forces until they win control over their reproductive choices.
We publish here an excerpt from “The Social Aspects of Birth Control,” Goldman’s speech on the eve of her April 1916 trial during which she was convicted for her birth control lectures and activities and was imprisoned for one year in the Blackwell’s Island Penitentiary (today known as Roosevelt Island in New York City).
“For ages she has been on her knees before the altar of duty as imposed by God, by Capitalism, by the State, and by Morality. Today she has awakened from her age-long sleep. She has shaken herself free from the nightmare of the past; she has turned her face towards the light and its proclaiming in a clarion voice that she will no longer be a party to the crime of bringing hapless children into the world only to be ground into dust by the wheel of capitalism and to be torn into shreds in trenches and battlefields. And who is to say her nay?
“After all it is woman who is risking her health and sacrificing her youth in the reproduction of the race. Surely, she ought to be in a position to decide how many children she should bring into the world, whether they should be brought into the world by the man she loves and because she wants the child, or should be born in hatred and loathing. …
“I stand as one of the sponsors of a worldwide movement, a movement which aims to set woman free from the terrible yoke and bondage of enforced pregnancy; a movement which demands the right for every child to be well born; a movement which shall help free labor from its eternal dependence; a movement which shall usher into the world a new kind of motherhood. …
“I may be arrested, I may be tried and thrown into jail, but I never will be silent; I never will acquiesce or submit to authority, nor will I make peace with a system which degrades woman to a mere incubator and which fattens on her innocent victims. I now and here declare war upon this system and shall not rest until the path has been cleared for a free motherhood and a healthy, joyous and happy childhood.”
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On the Menu of the G7 and NATO Summits: Expand the War
By Alan Benjamin
JUNE 28 – The heads of state of the seven most powerful imperialist countries, joined by top officials of the European Union, gathered at the G7 summit in Germany. The seven are the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Canada, France, Italy and Japan.
President Biden outlined the needs of the U.S. capitalists. The other participants were summoned to support the U.S. directives — which they did.
The G7 voted to decree new sanctions against Russia – which, like the previous ones, will harm the population the most. It also voted to adopt new measures aimed at promoting U.S. interests against China, which remains Wall Street’s favorite target.
Biden urged the G7 to “stand united” with NATO, the armed wing of U.S. imperialism, which also held its summit this week in Madrid, Spain. The top item on the menu of the G7 and NATO summits was unambiguous: Expand the war against Russia in Ukraine and prepare the war against China tomorrow.
The first order of business at the G7 summit was to accept Sweden and Finland into membership in NATO. Turkish President Erdogan had to be pushed into accepting these two countries. He ended up voting for the proposal, putting aside his objection to what he called the G7 countries’ insufficient assistance hunting down Kurdish militants in Turkey and across Europe.
Biden also demanded that all NATO countries increase their military budgets sharply. The unspoken purpose, of course, was to increase the exorbitant profits for U.S. arms manufacturers.
NATO announced on the eve of the Madrid Summit that it will increase its allied forces in “case of conflict” from 40,000 to 300,000 and place them on “standby.” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that the alliance will also expand the size of its deployments in Poland and the Baltic countries “to increase the level of deterrence” against Russia in the countries in closest proximity to it and to Belarus.
In the face of growing concerns among sectors of the ruling class about what appears to be a march to world war, U.S. imperialism has seen the need to issue new provocations aimed at pushing Putin and the oligarchs into a corner. The Lithuanian government’s blockade of the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad (between the Baltic Sea, Lithuania and Poland) is a real declaration of war, thousands of miles from Ukraine. Putin responded by announcing that he would deliver missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to neighboring Belarus.
Four months into the war, UN figures (probably underestimated) report 10,000 civilian casualties killed or wounded in Ukraine, and 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers and 15,000 to 20,000 Russian soldiers killed.
The workers and oppressed people do not want war and its deaths and destruction – not in Ukraine, not in Africa, not in Afghanistan, not in Yemen, not in Palestine. These wars are all being waged exclusively “for the interests of the super-rich,” as jailed Russian activist Mikhail Lobanov declared before his judges.
Lobanov, who is a teacher at Moscow State University and head of the trade union Ouniversitetskaya Solidarnost, was sentenced to 15 days in prison and a fine of 40,000 rubles (US$800) under a new article of the Criminal Code that punishes citizens accused of “discrediting the armed forces of the Russian Federation” – that is, for expressing publicly an antiwar point of view. The sentence could be increased at a second trial. He told the judge:
“Yes, I did say that Putin and his top officials are only defending the interests of their super-rich class. And I will continue to say it. This war is waged by the super-rich to maintain their domination, against the interests and lives of hundreds of millions of Russians and Ukrainians. It is ‘class against class,’ and not nation against nation.”
In order to advance the cause of peace between peoples, it is urgent that the leaders of the parties and organizations that speak in the name of the working class break with the war-mongering governments and with NATO.
• Russian Troops Out of Ukraine!
• US/NATO Troops Out of Ukraine!
• Dismantle NATO!
• No Putin, No Biden!
• No Sanctions
• $Billions for Human Needs, Education & Healthcare, Not War!
 This past week, for example, war-profiteer BAE Systems announced that it is shipping M-777 Howitzers worth $300 million to Ukraine, a shipment paid with our tax dollars. BAE, in fact, spends hundreds of millions of dollars to lobby members of Congress. Among the politicians who receive campaign funds from BAE are Bernie Sanders, Alejandra Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren. Democrats and Republicans all have voted for billions in arms shipments to Ukraine since the war started.
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ABORTION RIGHTS DOSSIER
Turning Back the Clock 50 Years!
By Christel Keiser
On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade recognized the right of U.S. women to have an abortion up to the so-called “viability” stage of the fetus (i.e., approximately 22 weeks) throughout the country. The decision effectively nullified all laws prohibiting or restricting the right to abortion.
Almost 50 years later, on June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court simply overturned this ruling, leaving it up to each state to prohibit or permit abortion. The justices’ argument was that “the Constitution makes no reference to abortion, nor does any section of the Constitution implicitly protect that right.” The Roe decision, the decision affirms, “was totally unfounded from the beginning” and “must be overturned.”
The decision – which was leaked to the press on May 2 and led to massive protests across the country on May 14 [see T.O. Weekly 65] – is a major blow to women’s rights in the United States.
As soon as the Supreme Court decision was announced, states that had passed “trigger laws” (drafted in anticipation of a ruling that would change case law) implemented them. In others, old laws suspended since 1973 have been reinstated.
For example, in eight states (Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah), abortion became illegal as of June 24 and clinics that performed abortions had to close immediately [see below]. In Missouri, performing an abortion is now punishable by 15 years in prison.
It should be noted that in these states, approximately 300,000 abortions were performed each year. In six other states (Texas, Wyoming, Tennessee, North Dakota, Mississippi and Idaho), the ban is expected to take effect within a month.
In all, between 26 and 30 of the 50 states could ban abortion or set very strict limits on its practice (i.e., abortion could be banned even in cases of rape, incest, or fetal malformation).
Several states that allow abortion immediately announced that they would provide “sanctuary” to protect the right to abortion, i.e., welcoming women who want an abortion but cannot have one in the state where they live.
But many women will not be able to travel, partly because they will need the means to travel hundreds of miles and partly because their health insurance will not cover the costs of procedures performed in other states. Already, some states are beginning to develop laws to prohibit people in one state from traveling to other states for abortions.
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The First Victims: Working Class Women
Working class women, poor women, Black women and Latina women will be the first victims of the Supreme Court’s iniquitous decision.
A report published by Caitlin Knowles Myers, a professor of economics at Middlebury college (Vermont), shows that the effects of the legalization of abortion in 1973 were particularly beneficial to the most vulnerable women, including Black women and women from poor backgrounds. The legalization of abortion reduced teenage pregnancy by 34% and lowered the maternal mortality rate by 30% to 40% among Black American women. Those who were able to access abortion were more likely to continue their education, work longer, be paid more and have a better quality of life.
Nicole Bacharan, a historian specializing in the United States, points out that “the poorest women will obviously suffer the most: those who are not medically monitored, those who cannot afford to take time off work and travel 600 miles to have an abortion, and those who do not have insurance when childbirth costs several thousand dollars in the United States. And she adds, “Obviously, women are going to abort with the means at hand.” Means that, as we know, will endanger the health and lives of hundreds of thousands of women. — C.K.
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Model Resolution: REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS ARE WORKERS’ RIGHTS
(excerpts from resolution proposed by US Labor Against Racism and War for adoption by trade union locals, labor councils and state federations)
Whereas, the fundamentally undemocratic reversal of Roe v. Wade is an attack on all working people, and particularly women of color and low-income women; and
Whereas, unions are the largest organizations of women in the United States and pregnancy impacts wages, benefits, and workforce participation. The right of women to control their own bodies cannot be separated from the right of workers to control their own labor; and
Whereas, without access to safe, legal abortions, women will die.
Resolved, that [Name of Labor Union/Org] declares that reproductive rights are workers’ rights and will defend and support all efforts to obtain and maintain health care for working people covering all reproductive rights choices; and
Resolved, that [Name of Labor Union/Org] must demand that President Joe Biden put forward contingency plans such as declaring a public health emergency and taking emergency action to protect abortion access.
Resolved, that [Name of Labor Union/Org] will call upon all of its affiliates, locals and members to urge their legislators, both state and federal, to support statutory and constitutional protection for abortion and oppose any legislation that restricts reproductive rights. The union will organize and mobilize members within its capacity to local reproductive justice demonstrations; and
Be it further resolved, that [Name of Labor Union/Org] will advocate with their Trust administrators to make immediate changes to their health plan to fully cover reproductive health care, including paid leave and travel expenses for abortion care.
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Women’s Clinic, Houston, Texas: “This Just Can’t Happen in 2022!”
(reprinted from Workers Tribune, June 29, 2022)
Inside the clinic, at 9:10 a.m. on June 24 when the decision came down, the nurses and midwives reread the announcement several times. Once all the patients had left, the clinic staff began to cry. The emotion was too strong. Priscilla Hernandez, the head nurse, could not contain her anger. “What are these women going to do now? They already have three or four children. They can’t afford to have another one … . You also have women who are pregnant for the first time and are still in school …. I can’t believe it. This just can’t happen in 2022!”
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“It’s Important to Fight”: U.S. Cities Erupt in Protest as Roe v. Wade Falls
Soon after the supreme court struck down abortion protection, pro-choice demonstrators took to the streets
(reprinted from The Guardian newspaper, June 25, 2022)
Massive protests swept across the U.S. in response to the Supreme Court decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion.
Soon after the decision was released on Friday [June 24], reversing federal reproductive protections that have been in place for half a century, pro-choice demonstrators began gathering in major cities and smaller towns in a wide range of communities and regions.
In addition to the large demonstration outside the Supreme Court in Washington DC – where activists shouted, “This decision must not stand! Legal abortion on demand!” and “We won’t go back!” – protesters rallied in New York City, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco [see article on the T.O. Weekly Special Supplement], Chicago, Austin, Houston, Nashville, Kansas City, Topeka, Tallahassee, Miami, Oklahoma, Boise, New Orleans, Detroit, and countless other cities.
In Washington Square Park in New York, Lucy Schneider, 101, arrived with her granddaughter and carried a sign that said, Centenarian for Choice. “I’m very much opposed to the current Supreme Court and everything they’re doing. It’s just awful,” she said, adding, “I want her to be free to have an abortion if necessary. I hope it won’t come to that, but I want her to be able to.”
Her granddaughter, Emily Savin, 36, said she has been advocating for choice since high school.
“It was important to me to fight for this. I don’t think I could fully grasp that it could really be taken away. … I’m heartbroken and angry.”
Nearby, Kelsey Clough, 29, said, “It wasn’t an option not to be here. It kind of feels like my whole life’s falling apart when I see little kids get shot in a classroom and all I see is politicians trying to control what I do. I feel pretty helpless, but hopefully me being here, holding my sign, is going to help people.”
In Washington, D.C., outside the Supreme Court, where officers in riot gear were deployed, protester Sara Kugler said, “This has been a fight 30 years in the making to overturn women’s and people’s fundamental rights to make decisions about their body. There is no coming back from this. There is no response other than outrage and action.”
In Missouri, one of the states with a “trigger law” to automatically ban abortion after the Roe decision, an abortion clinic escort in the city of Jackson told a reporter, “We are looking at suffering and death. How should we feel? We see what’s coming. Those with means, they will get what they need. Those without it, they will suffer. America is not ready for what’s about to happen.”
Indra Lusero, the director of Elephant Circle, a birth justice organization, who was heading to a protest in Grand Junction, Colorado, was concerned about the disparate harms of the decision as more pregnant people are unable to get abortions: “When people are coerced into carrying a pregnancy to term, that comes with risks, and those risks aren’t equally borne because of inequities built into our system. Black and Indigenous folks in particular are more likely to experience mortality.”
In Boise, Idaho, a demonstrator held a sign that read, “I shouldn’t have to fight a fight my mom already won.” In Charlotte, North Carolina, activists shouted, “My body, my choice!” And in downtown Los Angeles, marchers took over the streets, chanting, “We are not your incubators. Fuck the court and the legislature!”
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Report from Los Angeles Protest on June 24
By Chloe Osmer
The June 24 evening protest in downtown Los Angeles had a couple thousand people and started with Black, Latina, and Muslim youth activists leading the crowd with chants and speeches. They made the connection between abortion rights and the next likely targets of the Supreme Court — such as freedom to marry for LGBTQ people, contraception, sexual relationships of people of the same sex, and other issues of equality.
They also pointed out that this will, and is intended to, impact the working class and poor above all. Their concern for babies, they said, is never what this was about, as children across the country go hungry, suffer from environmental racism and are shot in their classrooms – all without action from these same lawmakers who claim to be concerned with the rights of children. Not to mention the housing crisis in Los Angeles, which has driven thousands of people, children and parents, to live in the streets.
The group then marched and took the streets of Los Angeles. In the evening, as they marched down one of Los Angeles’ main thoroughfares, police attacked the protesters, even beating up a reporter, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. The protests continued throughout the weekend, with hundreds of rallies and marches on Saturday and Sunday.
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Colombia: Victory for the Left-Wing Presidential Candidate
With 50.44% of the votes in the second round of the presidential election, Gustavo Petro won against the “independent” candidate, the billionaire Rodolfo Hernandez, who represented the continuity of the arch-corrupt regime and its pledge to imperialism.
Despite a relatively large abstention, a majority of voters chose Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla leader of a “left” coalition. This was the electoral expression of the workers’ and people’s revolt of May 2021, against a violently anti-worker regime that holds the world record in terms of assassinations of workers’, peasants’ and students’ trade unionists.
Presenting himself as a “moderate,” Petro had pledged before the election not to carry out “any expropriation” in a country where peasants are denied the right to land. In his victory speech, he continued this theme, saying: “We will develop capitalism. Not because we like the system, but because we have to get out of feudalism and into modernity.” This was a speech aimed at reassuring the corrupt and pro-imperialist oligarchy that has ruled Colombia for 70 years.
But those who voted for Petro did so, as his vice-presidential candidate, Francia Márquez, reminded us, so that “a government of the people, a government of those who walk, a government for those who have nothing” could finally be sworn in.
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Fifteen Years of the Gaza Blockade
Fifteen years ago, in June 2007, the State of Israel decreed the blockade of the Gaza Strip (Palestine), with the collaboration of the Egyptian regime and the complicity of the “international community.”
It is a sad anniversary that the academic Jean-Pierre Filiu, in Le Monde (June 19), characterizes as a “collective punishment … for some 2 million inhabitants of this territory.” He adds: “In February 2009, President Nicolas Sarkozy, who can hardly be accused of being hostile towards Israel, described this territory of 360 km2 as ‘the largest open-air prison in the world,’ a description that is still relevant today.
Four conflicts have pitted Israel against the Palestinian resistance, each time causing massive destruction in the Gaza Strip, where, according to Palestinian sources, 1,417 people were killed in December 2008 and January 2009, 166 in November 2012, 2,310 in July and August 2014, and 256 in May 2021.
It is civilians in Gaza who have always paid the highest price for such hostilities. Democracy demands the immediate lifting of the deadly blockade of Gaza.