FIGHTING FOR BREATH BY A DYING SEA

By David Bacon
Sierra Magazine, January/February 2018


IMPERIAL VALLEY, CA – 18AUGUST17 – At the edge of the Salton Sea, in Salton City, the salts dissolved in the sea’s water leave a dry crust on the soil as the sea dries up and the edge recedes. On the hardpan are dead fish, left behind as the water recedes. Copyright David Bacon

Jacqueline is seven years old. “I feel really bad because I can’t do anything for her,” Maria Pozar says. “Even the doctor says he can’t do anything – that she’s suffering from the dust in the air. Most of the children in North Shore have this problem. He just says not to let them play outside.”

The children of North Shore are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, whose sudden illnesses warn of a greater, life-threatening disaster to come. That disaster is the rapidly receding waters of the Salton Sea. As more and more playa – the sea’s mud shoreline – emerges from the water and dries out, fine particles get swept up by the wind and coat everything in its path, including children’s noses.

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The Victory in Alabama

by Bill Fletcher Jr

Well, team, I must confess that i expected Moore to win Alabama’s special Senatorial race.  As a result, I was shocked this morning when I awakened and received a text from one of my best friends celebrating Moore’s defeat.  I immediately went to msn.com to read about the election results.

When I subsequently went to Facebook i saw a posting from an African American who was, in effect, treating the Jones victory as a victory for white people, i.e., that African Americans had placed no demands on the campaign and we gained little from the victory.

I disagree.

What struck me about the results–besides the fact that the election was so close–was that initial analyses indicated that African American turnout was comparable to 2008 and 2012,  In other words, Presidential years when Obama ran (and won).  African Americans in Alabama understood what was at stake in this election and this turnout demonstrates that, under the right circumstances, voters who normally don’t vote in non-Presidential elections can be mobilized.

Is Jones a revolutionary?  Certainly not.  But the election was not a choice between revolution and counter-revolution.  It was an election against misogynism, right-wing populism, irrationalism and racism.  It’s significance cannot be underestimated given Alabama’s history as a home of the former Confederacy and a state that voted for Trump by an overwhelming margin.

Yet the book is not closed, and not simply because there will inevitably be a recount.   What is so essential is the building and strengthening of progressive organizations in Alabama that can take advantage of the voter mobilization toward the achievement of longer term, progressive strategic objectives.  There are organizations popping up all over the country that are advancing progressive electoral work with an "inside/outside the Democratic Party" orientation that are making a difference.  My hope is that such organizations will proliferate in Alabama.

Congratulations to the people of Alabama who have rejected irrationalism!  The war, however, is far from won.

CCDS Statement on Puerto Rico

Deliver Aid to Puerto Rico Now, Remove All Tariffs and Fees!

Puerto Rico is suffering a humanitarian crisis of historic proportions. Hurricanes Maria and Irma left the people of the island without electricity, cell phone connections, clean water, food, medicines, and other items necessary for basic survival. Many communities remain isolated due to destroyed infrastructure. There have been an estimated 400 deaths , and that figure is certain to rise as infections spread from pathogens released by the destruction and the lack of potable water.

Now, over a month after the hurricane, Puerto Ricans are still without basic needs. Federal aid to these American citizens has been criminally slow and inadequate. The neglect of Puerto Ricans today rivals the mistreatment of African Americans in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. There is clearly a racist policy of discrimination in disaster relief. The U.S. Congress has passed a $36 billion disaster relief act but only a portion of that will go to Puerto Rico.

Cuba, which has a long history of international solidarity, offered aid for Puerto Rico but the Trump Administration refused it. Congress lifted the Jones Act for ten days, a token gesture to allow ships under foreign flag to carry goods from US mainland ports to San Juan. Much of those goods remain on the docks unable to reach the devastated communities. The scale of devastation demands a massive response to ferry life-saving goods inland. Hospitals cannot operate due to lack of power and lack of clean water. FEMA must mobilize the resources to address these problems.

The conditions which left Puerto Rico so vulnerable to this disaster are rooted in its colonial status. Years of tax relief schemes for U.S. businesses operating on the island devastated the economy before the hurricanes hit. Puerto Rico is burdened by $123 billion in bond commitments and unfunded pension obligations to banks and speculators

The Puerto Rican economy also suffers from the import fees imposed by the Jones Act. These fees hike the prices for Puerto Rican consumers that no other US resident pays. This practice has resulted in long term economic damage. The Puerto Rican government has sought to declare bankruptcy but was blocked by the federal government. A board was imposed to oversee the budget and force the colony to pay its bond payments by cutting social and infrastructure spending – a Federal collection agency for hedge funds and Wall Street speculators.

CCDS declares its solidarity with the Puerto Rican people and progressive forces who call upon the US government to demand:

1. Full mobilization of required equipment and supplies to Puerto Rico by FEMA

2. Provision of humanitarian aid, not loans, to rebuild the infrastructure.

3. Cancellation of the Puerto Rico debt.

4. Support the protections and rights for maritime workers codified in the Jones Act and remove all tariffs, fees, taxes, customs, and import fees imposed on Puerto Rico by the Jones Act.

10/27/17