April 10

  1. Oscars Mask Racism
  2. Arab and Jewish Workers Needs Unity
    Capitalism and Peace Can Never Co-Exist
  3. Pipelines to War
    1. "War against terrorism? Not really. Reminder: it's all about oil.
  4. Wall Street Banker: Founded on Slavery, Built on Prisons
  5. Arab and Jewish Workers: Unite Against All Bosses
  6. Terrorists Can't Sidetrack million marchers in Italy
  7. Pakistan: Steelworkers Occupy Mills
  8. Volkswagen: Fight Against Layoffs Needed
  9. Students Back Workers vs. Million $ Univ Pres.
  10. Fascist Round-Up of Immigrants is Attack on All Workers
  11. Mt. Sinai Cutbacks Are Health Careless
  12. Central America:
    Feast For Bosses, Famine For Workers
  13. Fight For May Day Now Builds the Future
  14. !,000 Students March Against Firings of Counselors
    Workers of the World, Write
    1. Why No Campaign Against U.S. Army Pedophiles?
    2. Learning Through Practice
    3. Make the Bosses
      Mop the Floor
    4. Researchers Lie For Drug Dollars
    5. The Law of
      Class Struggle
    6. No Honesty
      Among Fascists

Oscars Mask Racism

The billion people watching the Oscars were given the message that racism was on the way out in the U.S. Hosted by Whoopie Goldberg, Denzel Washington won best actor, Halle Berry won best actress, and Sidney Poitier received a lifetime achievement award. For the first time in history, a black actor and black actress swept the lead acting awards.

To be sure, these and many more black actors are as "talented" as any. And the treatment of black people in the motion picture industry is a history of racist exclusion and stereotypes. But as with the emergence of extremely talented black sports "superstars," the rulers use the few high profile black "success" stories to mask their racist terror against the masses.

The U.S. has the largest prison population in world history, with 70% black and Latin. Hundreds of thousands are forced into prison labor "earning" a few cents an hour. Black workers suffer double the unemployment rates and one-third less family income than white workers. More black youth are in jail than in college. Black infant mortality rates rival those of the world's poorest countries. No Oscars there.

In U.S. wars, black and Latino youth make up 40% of the front-line combat troops defending the Rockefeller oil billionaires. U.S. rulers are ready to throw a few more crumbs to black superstars to try to win the allegiance of black workers, the very group they oppress and fear the most. The perfume of multi-millionaire "artists" in $20,000 gowns and Armani suits cannot cover this foul odor.


One way to judge a society is how it treats its children. While U.S. rulers spend ONE BILLION DOLLARS PER WEEK to maintain their naval armada protecting Big Oil in the Persian Gulf, consider the following:

* 1.4 million children are homeless in any given year. They make up 40% of the nation's homeless, have more health, hospital and developmental problems than non-homeless kids, and are more likely to be homeless as adults.

* In Chicago there are 6,000 shelter beds for a nightly homeless population of 20,000, half of them families with children. The majority sleeps in cars or abandoned buildings.

* In New York City, 13,000 children slept in homeless shelters or temporary apartments this winter. Families comprise 75% of the city's 32,000 homeless (nightly average), up 23% in one year, the largest one-year increase in the city's history.

* Seventy percent of homeless children suffer chronic illnesses like asthma and anemia.

* Almost half of all school-age homeless children suffer emotional problems like anxiety and depression.

* Currently there are 4.5 million more "extremely low income families" in need of housing than units available. (In 1970 there was a surplus of 300,000 units.)

* From the late 1970s to the late 1990s, New York City's poorest 20% saw their income decline 33%.

* In 1999, more than 25% of New Yorkers paid more than half their income for rent.

[All above information from the Sunday New York Times Magazine (3/24) "The Hidden Lives of Homeless Children" by Jennifer Egan]

This is the "American Way of Life" the ruling class is spreading with its "daisy cutter" bombs. The devastation of generations of children is directly caused by a capitalist profit system that keeps cutting wages and jobs, and waging wars big and small. Its real estate interests reap fortunes from throwing working-class families out on the street to gentrify neighborhoods with luxury housing for the likes of the Oscar crowd.

Arab and Jewish Workers Needs Unity
Capitalism and Peace Can Never Co-Exist

Escalating violence in the Middle East has become a huge stumbling block for U.S. rulers' plan to attack Saddam Hussein. Decades of their backing of Israeli fascists -- supplying them with $3 billion annually, including the weapons with which to slaughter the Palestinians -- has enraged Arab workers in the region and, in turn, impelled criticism from Arab rulers (see below).

The Bush gang wrongly thought it could afford to launch the next phase of its latest oil war while ignoring the increasingly murderous struggle between Palestinian and Israeli bosses. Workers will pay a huge price in blood for the imperialists' miscalculations. We can also turn their quandary to our class's advantage by drawing proper conclusions and acting on them to build our Party.

Peace and imperialism can never co-exist. The Bush crowd has taken the politics of the absurd to a new level, by shamelessly admitting that they need to stop the fighting in the Middle East only to make war in the Persian Gulf. As one Bush administration underling told the New York Times (3/24): "...the key to dealing with the United States' strategic interests, the key to dealing with Iraq is through the peace process." So, according to the White House's twisted capitalist logic, peace equals war. But this is nothing new. Since the Carter administration, U.S. rulers have been trying to force a settlement down the throats of Israeli fascists and Palestinian nationalists. Every one of these deals has exploded in their faces.

The failure of U.S. arm-twisting in the Middle East isn't due to the rulers' incompetence but rather to the profit system's essential nature. The rivalry between Israeli and Palestinian capitalists is a miniature version of the inter-imperialist conflicts that pit the U.S. ruling class against the rest of the world. Israeli moneybags want to be the top dogs in the Middle East. Arafat & Co. wants a bigger piece of the pie for themselves. Within both the Israeli ruling class and the Arafat crew there are also internal contradictions, splits over market share, and divisions over tactics. All this fighting and infighting leads to a mountain of working-class corpses.

Pipelines to War

(The following excerpts of an article written by Pepe Escobar and published in the January 25 OnLine Asia Times confirm CHALLENGE's estimate that U.S. rulers' so-called "War on Terror" is really a cover for their attempt to forge a worldwide energy monopoly.)

"War against terrorism? Not really. Reminder: it's all about oil.

"A quick look at the map is all it takes. It's no coincidence that the map of terror in the Middle East and Central Asia is practically interchangeable with the map of oil. There's Infinite Justice, Enduring Freedom--and Everlasting Profits to be made: not only by the American industrial-military complex, but especially by American and European oil giants...

" ultra-strategic: positioned between the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia, between Turkmenistan and the avid markets of the Indian subcontinent, China and Japan, Afghanistan is at the core of Pipelineistan...

"It's enlightening that all countries or regions which happen to be an impediment to Pipelineistan routes towards the west have been subjected either to a direct interference or to all-out war: Chechnya, Georgia, Kurdistan, Yugoslavia and Macedonia. To the east, the key problems are the Uighurs of China's far-western Xinjiang and, until recently, Afghanistan...

"Central Asia ia crucial to Washington's worldwide petro-strategy. So is a `friendly' government in Afghanistan...

"As for U.S. corporate-controlled media--from TV networks to daily newspapers--they just exercise self-censorship and remain mute about all of these connections."

Wall Street Banker: Founded on Slavery, Built on Prisons

NEW YORK CITY, March 21 -- Bearing a larger-than-life puppet of the biblical Egyptian slave-owning Pharaoh (with a strong resemblance to board member Henry Kaufman), about 50 militant activists picketed Lehman Brothers Investment Bankers' corporate headquarters. They were protesting Lehman's profiteering from racist private prisons.

The demonstrators carried a banner reading "Lehman Brothers: Born on Slavery, Built on Prisons." The company was founded in 1850 in Alabama as a cotton brokerage house profiting from slavery. The family owned slaves and sided with the Confederacy in the Civil War.

Currently Lehman is the lead underwriter of the country's largest private prison deal, refinancing Correction Corporation of America's $1.1 billion debt. It also financed Cornell Corp's $42 million stock offering to finish building a private immigration jail in rural Mississippi. Cornell CEO Steve Logan said, "There are over 900,000 undocumented individuals of Middle Eastern descent [in the U.S.]. That's [equal to] half our entire prison population...The federal business is the best business for us. It's the most consistent business and the events since 9/11 [are] increasing that business."

The U.S. ruling class is using 9/11 to intensify racism against Muslims from the Mid-East and South Asia based on the big lie that they are all tied to the attack on the World Trade Center. Thousands have been detained without charges for minor violations of immigration law, and the government plans to jail thousands more. Lehman Bros. and the private prison industry are making a killing building prisons for immigrants.

We should have no illusions about how the bosses will use anti-immigrant racism and anti-communism to enhance their profit system. In 1920, the infamous Palmer Raids attacked and deported thousands of immigrant workers. This and other government racist actions led immediately to the resurrection and huge growth of the Ku Klux Klan. During World War II, hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans were interned, their land given to the growing West Coast agribusiness. In both cases, it was easier for the ruling class to get away with it because many workers were won to the racist lies, and communist leadership was not strong enough to win workers to fight this attack. Today's incarceration of immigrants based solely on national origin carries on this fascist tradition.

We in PLP must step up our fight to win workers to multi-racial and international unity to defeat this fascist onslaught. We will only eliminate private prisons and the profits from them when we destroy capitalism.

Arab and Jewish Workers: Unite Against All Bosses

NEW YORK CITY, March 5 -- Over 200 Palestinian, Jewish and other workers and students protested the scheduled appearance of Ehud Olmert, mayor of Jerusalem, and former NYC mayor Rudolph Giuliani at Cooper Union. Chanting "Jews and Arabs Unite, End the Occupation," "Giuliani, Olmert, You Can't Hide, We Charge You with Genocide," and carrying a huge puppet of Olmert as the "Butcher of Jerusalem," the demonstrators showed their fierce opposition to the terror against Palestinian refugees, both in the occupied territories and in Israel.

Both mayors were there to share their "fight against terrorism." In reality, they are the terrorists. Olmert supports "ethnic cleansing" in Jerusalem to rid it of all Arabs. Giuliani, whose own racist police force ran amok during his reign, has been a firm supporter of Israel's war of genocide.

Neither Olmert nor Giuliani showed up. Olmert stayed in Israel because suspected Jewish terrorists set off a bomb in a Palestinian grade school in East Jerusalem.

A few militant anti-racists stood up in the audience to reveal T-shirts reading, "We are all Palestinians" in Hebrew, English and Arabic. The ultra-right-wing Zionists weren't able to stop them as they marched out of the hall. Today's militant action followed a conference of over 100 activists concerned about the lack of a unified response here to the Israeli government's collective punishment of Palestinians, demolishing homes, bombing civilians, etc.

Israeli rulers super-exploit Arabs and target Jews of color: Ethiopians, Mizrachim (Arab) and Sephardim (Mediterranean). They have reduced their dependence on Palestinian workers by importing tens of thousands of "guest workers" from Africa and Asia who toil under the most oppressive conditions in the fields and factories. This has created a permanent class of unemployed Palestinian workers in the occupied territories.

Today 5.5 million Palestinian refugees live in overcrowded and deteriorating camps, including 1.4 million living in Israel as second-class citizens. Israeli settlers have taken their homes and land and the Israeli army has destroyed their crops. Over 370 Israeli reservists have refused to participate in this slaughter.

The demand for "right of return" -- the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to the homes (and homeland) they were forced to evacuate in 1948 and 1967, means Arabs and Jews would have to share the land that was once historic Palestine. When Jewish, Palestinian and Arab friends advance this demand, we must take a revolutionary outlook and fight for the unity of Arab and Jewish workers against all capitalist oppressors. We have a big stake in winning workers to reject a nationalist view by putting forward communist ideas and spreading them to our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.

Palestinian and Israeli workers are natural allies, because their common enemy is racism, capitalism and imperialism.

There will be no peace in the Middle East until we unite as one working class and fight to smash all the local and imperialist warmakers. Then, we can build a society where we all share what we produce according to needs. The building of a mass revolutionary communist Party uniting all workers and soldiers in the Middle East is the way to achieve this. That's what we in PLP fight for.

Terrorists Can't Sidetrack million marchers in Italy

Brigate Rose (Red Brigades) has taken responsibility for the March 19 assassination of Marco Biagi in Bologna, Italy. Biagi was an adviser to the Labor Ministry working on a plan to make the labor laws more favorable for the bosses and easier to fire workers. The Red Brigades label Biagi a "representative of the ideas and even the dreams of Cofindustria," the bosses' association representing Italy's main capitalist wing. But does this assassination help the working class or its enemies? It came suspiciously four days before a scheduled mass workers' protest against the right-wing Berlusconi government and his anti-working class policies.

The "Red Brigades for the Construction of a Fighting Communist Party" (the group's official name) was active in the 1970s, kidnapping and murdering Prime Minister Aldo Moro. Many of its leaders were arrested and the movement appeared disbanded.

Ever since the police murdered young Carlo Giuliani during the anti-globalization protests in Genoa last July, the mood of the masses has changed:

* Three hundred thousand turned out for a mass demonstration on July 21, just a few days after that killing (the first murder of a protester in Italy in 25 years), Many were rank-and-file workers.

* On July 24 and 25, about 500,000 protested in 100 towns throughout Italy against Berlusconi and the police.

* Last Nov. 9, to counter a "USA Day" called by Berlusconi backing the U.S. war against Afghanistan, 100,000 demonstrated against the war (compared to 40,000 who turned out for "USA Day").

* A week later, during a nationwide auto and steel workers strike, 150,000 strikers rallied in Rome.

* On Dec. 20, 50,000 students protested in Rome against the so-called educational reforms (an attack on students).

* On January 19, 100,000 demonstrated -- half of them immigrant workers -- against the government's new racist immigration laws.

* Since the beginning of the year there have been several strikes by teachers, airport workers, transport workers, etc., and 80,000 workers rallied in Rome on Feb. 15, organized mainly by Cobas (a dissident "rank-and-file" unionist group).

Shortly after the Biagi murder, the mass march planned for Rome took place. Two million workers and others from all over Italy protested the government plan to suspend Article 18 (which gives workers some protection from unfair firings). The march, the biggest here in recent history, is a build-up for a nationwide general strike scheduled for April 5, also opposed terrorism.

Many workers see the "rebirth" of the Red Brigades serving as provocateurs to deflect the budding mass movement of workers. Three months ago, the government removed bodyguards protecting Biagi and other officials, even though Panorama (a magazine owned by media billionaire Berlusconi) leaked a secret police report warning of possible terrorist attacks against the suspension of Article 18.

Individual acts of terrorism can never replace the mass struggle of workers and their allies. As in this case, they try to hinder those struggles. So even if Red Brigades is not a creation of the government's dirty tricks, it is objectively helping it.

These fake left terrorist groups also sabotage the building of a real fighting communist movement. They give more credibility among the workers to the union reformists and the electoral socialist and fake-communist parties that want a more "humane" capitalism as an alternative to right-wingers like Berlusconi.

Pakistan: Steelworkers Occupy Mills

KARACHI, PAKISTAN--On March 8, production in the Pakistan Steel Mills ceased when workers took control of all the gates, allowing no one in or out. The shocked bosses called the cops, but they couldn't get in either as the workers maintained control of the mill.

The bosses insisted the action was politically motivated, accusing some political parties of joining together to "disturb the industrial peace." They had a point. Pakistan is ruled by a military dictatorship supporting the U.S. oil war in Afghanistan and such open defiance undoubtedly has political implications.

For over two decades, Pakistan Steel bosses have successfully divided the unions and workers along ethnic, nationalist and religious lines. Militant union leaders were systematically fired and barred from entering the mills. But workers' anger grew. Resistance has been building for a long time. On March 8 the volcano erupted.

The workers moved into action without warning. They demanded the immediate firing of company chairman Colonel Afzal -- a corrupt army colonel who put the workers' jobs and safety at risk. They also demanded an investigation into last June's industrial "accident" that left nine workers dead and two crippled for life.

The workers organized with military precision, forming themselves into several battalions to seize the mills. They held clandestine meetings, using numbers instead of names. Different sections of workers picketed and took control of the mills' ten entrances while workers inside occupied their work areas.

The workers who began work the night before had to remain and the morning shift workers were not allowed in. The top bosses, including Afzal, were physically prevented from entering. The managing director and the general manager (both top-ranking military officers) finally got inside but a strike organizer asked their chauffeurs to park on the side and invited them to walk to their offices, where they were immediately locked in. Then 15,000 workers poured out of the main gates and onto the national highway, blocking it for several hours.

The workers charged that the bosses' failure to carry out the required safety maintenance led to even more accidents after the June 2001 disaster. The money saved was being shown as profit. The authorities, clearly rattled by these events, conceded most of the demands and the workers agreed to re-open the national highway and end the siege.

This struggle shows the potential power of the industrial working class. It also shows how the oil war in neighboring Afghanistan is sharpening all contradictions. From Karachi to Rome, from Puebla to S. Korea, industrial workers are beginning to stir. Mass marches, strikes and general strikes are part of the spontaneous upsurge caused by the sharpening contradictions of imperialism.

But neither spontaneity nor reformism will ever defeat imperialism. Only a communist-led working class, consciously fighting for a communist world without borders or bosses, can do that. If that seems a long way off, it may be. But it can only be achieved through the conscious efforts of an international PLP with a mass base among the workers. What we do, or don't do, will play a major role in determining just how far off it is.

Volkswagen: Fight Against Layoffs Needed

PUEBLA, MEXICO, March 22 -- On the same day that Bush, Fox and other "world leaders" were meeting in Monterrey "to help the world's poor," Volkswagen began eliminating 250 jobs here. This followed workers' refusal to accept a wage-cut.

The plant produces 400,000 units annually, mainly for the U.S. market. VW will cut production by 20,000 to 50,000 this year because of low sales, particularly in the U.S. They will also reduce production by closing the plant for periods of time, another way to cut labor costs.

The first out the door are "eventual" (temporary) workers. More than 1,550 eventuals were let go between 2000-2002, while only 130 ever achieved permanent status.

But Eduardo Sotomayor, chief of VW labor relations, warns that the company will gradually eliminate permanent jobs, 1,350 of the 11,500 union jobs at the plant.

VW promises to recall fired workers and restore wage cuts when sales improve. José L. Rodriguez, head of the VW Independent Workers Union is basically supporting VW's claims. But capitalism is based on extracting maximum surplus value from workers, so low wages and increased productivity will likely remain. The sharpening inter-imperialist fight for auto market share is slashing autoworkers' jobs.

The hypocrisy of capitalism knows no bounds. The way to fight poverty and unemployment is to fight the cause: capitalism. A VW strike for jobs, supported by VW workers from Wolfsburg to Sao Paulo, as well as by autoworkers worldwide, is a good beginning. It would inspire all autoworkers who face layoffs and plant closings. The building of a mass revolutionary communist movement among autoworkers is the best victory this struggle can produce.

Students Back Workers vs. Million $ Univ Pres.

TOWSON, MD, March 15 -- Towson University pays its janitors (through its Aramark subcontractor) an average of $6.10 an hour. But this is what it forked over for its new President, Mark L. Perkins:

*$56,000 on his recent inauguration ceremony;

*$1.4 million for renovations on a mansion for him in Guilford, Maryland;

*$25,000 for a new home stereo system;

*$30,000 rugs to adorn the mansion's floors; and,

*An average yearly salary of $208,000.

Meanwhile, students graduate from universities every year with an average debt of $17,000.

The Student Worker Alliance of Towson (SWAT) -- a subdivision of Towson Action Group-- has grown steadily over the past few months, fighting for a higher wage ($8.50/hr) for campus workers, particularly those contracted through Aramark. SWAT visits workers at shift changes, pushes living-wage petitions three days a week (signed recently by more than 1,100 students) and tries to maintain pressure on the administration.

On March 8,, it demonstrated outside the Towson Center, holding signs and banners as faculty, alumni and nearby Maryland governmental representatives filed in. Later SWAT performed street theatre and chanted near their Auburn House reception. This action was broadcast on two Baltimore TV news programs and made several local papers, including the Baltimore Sun.

A letter to the Sun from three SWAT members asked. "Whether this behavior [the inauguration and the mansion] demonstrates maturity or simply a selfish concern for appearances."

"We're against spending for indulgences when workers on campus are living in poverty," a sophomore from Silver Spring told the Sun during the protest.

The cops threatened "to cart us all off to jail," saying they "had a bus ready" if we didn't follow their directives. When we moved, they backed off. The bosses don't feel threatened much by a living-wage campaign. They would from an anti-capitalist, pro-communist action, such as Towson Action Group's September 25th street theatre action which condemned U.S. imperialism's actions following 9/11. Hundreds of right-wing students chanting "U-S-A" threw rocks and spat on us.

Some SWAT members understand reform organizational activities are only minimally effective. We are advancing the idea that communism is the only thing that can emancipate the working class from capitalism's horrors.

SWAT's actions at the inauguration were intended to jumpstart our living-wage campaign, an effort to not only win higher wages for campus workers but also to spread pro-worker sentiment throughout the community.

The potential exists for a community-wide response to our actions. The more we sharpen the struggle, the more our message will spread to the wider Towson and Baltimore areas.

Fascist Round-Up of Immigrants is Attack on All Workers

We were discussing our plans to build May Day. "Fascism?" asked Elmer. "How can you call it fascism? It's not like we're being rounded up and sent off to concentration camps like in Nazi Germany!"

Harold had just said that with the war in Afghanistan, the plans for invasion of Iraq and the Patriot Act, we're in a period of war and fascism and May Day is more important than ever.

"Listen, " Elmer continued, "don't get me wrong. I'm inviting my friends to May Day. But I don't really see how you can call it fascism when we're not being rounded up."

"Well, maybe you and I haven't been rounded up," said Anita, "but they've rounded up a couple of thousand Arab and Muslim young men, and are planning to detain more. They were picked up based on their ethnicity and religion. What do you call that?"

"That's really true," said Hector, getting into the conversation. "It reminds me of the quote in the latest CHALLENGE: "First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew...when they came for me, there was nobody left to speak up for me." If we don't fight it when they come for Muslims and Arabs, then next they'll attack all immigrants. And if they get away with that, they'll attack citizens."

"They've already moved on to attacking other immigrants," said Anita, who is active in an immigrants rights organization. "They've used 9/11 as an excuse to put anyone with a deportation order who hasn't reported to the INS on the FBI's wanted list. And those people were mostly Mexicans, Caribbeans, and Central Americans."

"And teachers who went on strike in New Jersey were called unpatriotic and put in jail," added Harold.

"And the cops who sodomized Abner Louima were let off," said Latrice. "Since 9/11 even the rappers aren't saying anything bad about the cops."

"Well, I see what you mean," said Elmer. "I didn't say things were great! All I said is that they haven't started rounding us up yet."

"Who do you mean by us?" asked Latrice. "OK, they haven't rounded up anybody in this room. But aren't Arab workers and students just as much a part of our class as Central American immigrants or N.J. schoolteachers or Abner Louima? Aren't we one international working class?

"That's how they win workers to accept fascism and soldiers to fight their wars. They want us to think that "we" and "us" are words that apply to citizens of one country or people of one ethnicity. But communists understand that "we" refers to the working class.

"Those kids that are dying in Palestine? That's us! Those Afghan civilians without medical treatment? That's us! The hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians who have died because of the U.S. embargo on medicines? That's us! The soldiers on both sides of their oil wars? US! Our class! Our brothers and sisters! The bosses and their wars and fascism are murdering us around the world. That's why we have to stop them. And they have plans to force more youth from here into the military--sooner than we may think."

"OK," said Elmer. "I get it. We are under attack -- because we're all part of the same class. And I see that we have to take May Day more seriously than ever this year."

"Exactly," said Latrice and Harold together.

"Who's having the next house party?" "Who can we get to help with the leaflets, to bring them to their friends?" "Who can help bring other people as they see the seriousness of the situation?"

Mt. Sinai Cutbacks Are Health Careless

NEW YORK CITY, March 20 -- Over 200 members of the health care workers union (Local 1199, SEIU) protested outside Mount Sinai Hospital, charging that budget cuts and a planned layoff of 300 are why care has been going downhill at this East Harlem institution.

The State Health Department is investigating 17 liver transplants at Mount Sinai following the death of journalist Mike Hurewitz. He died from a bacterial infection Jan. 13, just three days after surgeons successfully transplanted part of his liver into his sick brother. When Hurewitz died (choking on his own blood), an inexperienced doctor-in-training had been left in charge of 34 patients. Only now, after the deaths of five transplant patients at the hospital over the last two years, has the State Health Department been forced to widen their probe.

Mount Sinai spokeswoman Joan Lebow said personnel cuts have not affected the quality of care, claiming they had "minimal impact on bedside care."

But the workers told a different story. They say the problems are absolutely due to personnel cuts and the planned 300 layoffs will just make it worse.

The day before the protest, union head Dennis Rivera officially endorsed Republican Governor Pataki for re-election, breaking ranks with fellow union leaders who usually support the Democratic Party candidate. Rivera himself has long been a big shot in the NY State Democratic Party machine. In January, Rivera made a deal with Pataki, providing a 13% wage increase for Local 1199 members. But, of course, like all deals with politicians and bosses, this doesn't protect patients from lousy health care nor workers from layoffs like those at Mt. Sinai, affecting mostly black and Latin workers.

Rivera and all union leaders have proven able at supporting politicians in exchange for a few crumbs (which usually disappear quickly). But when it comes to fighting for workers' best interests (including opposition to oil wars and fascist attacks), these hacks are mostly on the wrong side -- outright agents of the bosses.

Rulers' War on Terror Murdering Colombian UnionistsCOLOMBIA -- To be a union activist here is to put your life at risk. In 2001, 1,500 were murdered. On March 20, another unionist joined the death list. Rafael Jaimes, treasurer of the USO (the oil workers union) in the refinery at Puerto Petrolero was murdered in Barrancabermeja by the fascist paramilitary death squad AUC, linked to the Army. He was slain a few feet from his house when two men on a high-speed motorcycle drove up to his car and shot him without saying a word. Almost simultaneously two other fascist killers shot at the USO office in the same city.

When workers at the oil refinery heard of the murder they immediately stopped working in protest. The bosses of Ecopetrol (the state-owned oil company) were hard-pressed to keep the refinery operating. Army and police units were sent to the refinery entrance to ward off acts of sabotage by the angry workers.

On March 8, while the USO was negotiating with the government to end a strike protesting the death-squad kidnapping of another union activist, Gilberto Martínez, the union also denounced death-squad threats against other trade unionists. Of course, the government well knows who these murderers are, since they're mostly controlled by the Army, so nothing was done. This is the same government and Army the U.S. is supplying with billions in military aid to expand Bush's misnamed "war against terrorism" (actually terrorism against workers). Ninety-eight million of that aid will go to protect Occidental Petroleum's pipeline here.

We must encourage workers worldwide to show solidarity with our working-class brothers and sisters in Colombia, and oppose U.S. bosses' imperialist war by building a mass communist movement to turn these wars into revolutionary struggle to smash capitalism once and for all.

Central America:
Feast For Bosses, Famine For Workers

Famine has gripped Central America. President Bush visited El Salvador and pushed U.S.-controlled free trade as the answer to this desperate situation. But his proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement is hardly going to remedy the worsening disaster in rural Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. The capitalist market (regulated or unregulated) and resulting crisis of overproduction is leading to starvation for 700,000 Central Americans while another million suffer serious food shortages.

Hardest hit are coffee plantation workers and maize farmers. Coffee prices have spiraled downward since the 1989 collapse of the International Coffee Agreement, which assigned countries production quotas. In recent years prices plummeted further with a surge in exports from Vietnam and Indonesia, where the World Bank encouraged expansion of coffee acreage. With the market glutted, many coffee farmers didn't even bother to harvest this year, causing evictions from plantation housing, increased migration to teeming city slums and severe hunger among the unemployed. (LA Times, 3/22)

Maize farmers, too, have felt the capitalist squeeze. Since 1992, Central America has had intra-regional free trade in grains and almost no tariff protection against low-cost imports. Forced to compete with highly subsidized U.S. farmers, many Central American farmers have abandoned food production, gone bankrupt and lost their land.

Some of Central America's most conservative figures -- Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo and Nicaraguan Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo -- acknowledge that the intensity and suddenness of the food emergency create outright famine, worse than the region's characteristic hunger.

Famine is always rooted in economic policies and political decisions. Washington spent billions of dollars and waged three proxy wars killing hundreds of thousands during the 1980s to guarantee that Central American rulers remained loyal to U.S. imperialism and tied to its World Bank and capitalist market.

Apparently the gap between rulers and ruled in the four affected countries is so large that policymakers feel little pressure to address the crisis. Right now, tens of thousands of Central Americans are heading north. In contrast to the 1980s and early '90s, most are not escaping war and repression. Many are abandoning farms that failed because of capitalist market policies and the dumping of U.S. grain. Others are trying to escape life in the free trade zones, where factory owners enjoy huge public subsidies and workers face immense exploitation.

Central American land could produce decent living standards for all who live there, if they had irrigation systems, shelter from the ravages of global capitalist market forces and distribution according to need. But this requires an anti-capitalist revolution and the building of a society in which workers will be in power: communism. Workers in Central America fought hard for what they believed would be an end to capitalism. Their leadership (Sandinistas, FMLN, etc.) refused to use this tremendous hatred of exploitation and commitment to make an all out-fight for workers' power. Today workers in Central America are paying a terrible price for this failure. We in PLP are trying to win workers to fight to break their chains of oppression. Slowly but sure workers will do it. The future is ours--join us!

Fight For May Day Now Builds the Future

Some of us in our PLP section involved in mass organizations clearly see opportunities for communists to give political leadership to the ideological and class struggle. There are also opportunist dangers, like failing to build a base for communism. May Day always reminds us that there's nothing spontaneous about building our Party. Working together politically with workers and youth and answering their many serious questions requires time and thought.

On the one hand, the U.S. rulers' war for global supremacy is expanding while unchecked racism and fascist rules dominate domestically. The collapse of the old communist movement has left the working class generally rudderless, cynical and passive. On the other hand, below the surface, the working class continues seeking answers on how to move forward. Sooner or later it will absorb the historical lessons about the strengths and weaknesses of socialism and rebuild the movement for working-class power and communism, the only way to eventually destroy imperialism.

Given this outlook, building for May Day 2002 will require a more resolute and positive effort than ever. Hard work may bring only modest results at this time. But this is laying the foundation for younger and newer comrades to fight bigger battles in the future. So we should be more determined to overcome obstacles and struggle against sluggishness and pessimism.

This said, our section has mailed 560 people invitations to this year's May Day march. Two hundred others will receive personal invitations to May Day activities. They will be asked to invite their family, friends and co-workers, as the invitation says, "to advance the cause of the working class around the world for show our commitment to a world free of imperialist wars, free of racist police states, unemployment, profits for the few and misery for the many..."

We will turn Party club meetings, study groups, brunches, dinners and other gatherings into May Day forums and organizing meetings. We can talk about the history of May Day on our jobs, in our classrooms and organizations. Bringing friends from these organizations can advance our political work and leadership. May Day provides the opportunity to talk more about the Party's analysis of the world situation and our strategy, especially with friends, co-workers and students with whom we haven't had these discussions in depth.

As these efforts unfold we'll rely more on newer comrades and new workers and students we know to help circulate CHALLENGE and build for May Day. Their participation and confidence can help re-invigorate others. In turn we will ask these new friends to commit themselves at a higher level to the working class and join the PLP. The results may be small right now, but the effort must be big!

!,000 Students March Against Firings of Counselors

CHICAGO, IL March 25 -- Last week nearly 1,000 students and faculty from the seven City Colleges, black, Latin, Asian, Native American and white, held walkouts and marched on City Hall chanting, "They Say Cut Back, We Say Fight Back!" The protest was a show of solidarity against the firing of the Chicago City Colleges system's entire counseling service, it was the second protest in two weeks.

The first on March 7 was at the meeting where the Board voted to fire the 19 counselors and replace them with untrained, part-time, non-union "registration specialists." Most CCC students are underpaid workers of color; many are single parents. This attack on public education and union workers began last year, when the board "privatized" CCC business offices. It is threatening similar action against the janitors and librarians.

Due to poor organization, our participation from Malcolm X was minimal as compared to the busloads from other schools such as Daley, Wright and Harold Washington. In one-on-one conversations, PLP members linked these firings to the mass layoffs of LTV steelworkers and the funding of the oil war in Afghanistan and the Middle East. We also raised the need to fight for communism and march on May Day.

This struggle, in a period of growing war and fascism, shows the potential for workers and students to struggle around the mass layoffs caused by the crisis of capitalism and imperialist war. It also shows the potential for building a mass PLP. However, the struggle at Malcolm X must be deepened and intensified.u

Workers of the World, Write

Why No Campaign Against U.S. Army Pedophiles?

The sexual abuse of children is not limited to the Catholic Church. On March 22, a child protection agency (Casa Alianza) in Honduras, Central America, denounced the victimization of children in prostitution, pornography and sexual tourism. The agency reported "sexual exploitation of children by members of the U.S. armed forces" in the 1980s.

Since then 400 U.S. soldiers have been stationed in the Palmerola military base 50 miles north of Tegucigalpa, Honduras' capital city. Casa Alianza says the use of boys and girls as prostitutes serving those soldiers continues today.

Why no big campaign against this type of child abuse? Besides the obvious reasons -- perpetrated by the military on poor children in a poor country -- it doesn't serve the interests of U.S. imperialism and its mass media to expose this. Which raises another question: why is the U.S. Catholic Church being attacked for the same perversion committed by U.S. soldiers in Honduras?

CHALLENGE (3/13) says the Boston Globe and the New York Times started the campaign for church reform against the pedophile priests because the main wing of the U.S. ruling class wants to win 64 million U.S. Catholics to the "liberal" cause (primarily, war in the Middle East).

Has the Pope Joined bin Laden on U.S. Rulers' Enemy List?

In addition, the Pope -- on his last legs -- has turned increasingly against U.S. imperialism since the implosion of the former Soviet Union. The same Pope -- who, during the 1980s, worked with Reagan and the CIA to topple the pro-Soviet regime in Poland and even the Soviet regime itself -- is supporting the interests of European imperialists against those of the U.S. The Pope, like Cardinal Egan and other top U.S. church leaders, belongs to the fascist Opus Dei group, begun under Franco's Spain. Its conservative ideas are not compatible with the liberal agenda of the main wing of the U.S. ruling class.

So the Pope et al has sort of become like Osama bin Laden, while during the Cold War they were CIA assets, now they have joined the "enemy camp" as far as U.S. imperialism is concerned

Red and Former Catholic

Learning Through Practice

On March 22, our PLP club held our May Day potluck dinner. We watched and discussed the inspiring Party videos about the Farmworkers' Summer Project and May Day and described past May Days. The turnout was small. I was disappointed, feeling cynical and subjective. After the dinner, my father, a more experienced Party member, said I'll just have to visit people and show them the video at their house. Then I became more self-critical and optimistic.

The small turnout reflects the motto of these times, "Hard Work, Modest Results; Little Work, No Results." Although I struggled with a handful of students in my classes, our friendships are still too superficial. I need deeper ties with them.

One problem is I participate in functions held by groups but haven't seen people outside of school. I haven't become a true friend.

In addition, I haven't guaranteed mass CHALLENGE sales this semester and my hand-to-hand distribution is minimal. However, this morning a student phoned to ask about the dinner and apologized for not coming. I'm sure that by building deeper friendships outside of school, and using CHALLENGE, he and others will come to Party functions and bring their friends.

The potential for building the Party exists. The 1,000 student protesters are one example.[See article next page-Ed] However, the struggle at Malcolm X must be intensified. We're on Spring Break this week and I will be making phone calls and visits. Hopefully, through this struggle many will stand side by side with the inspirational comrades who fought racism at Morristown, march on May Day and eventually join in building a communist world.

More Committed

Make the Bosses
Mop the Floor

Our friend and co-worker Vera has the impossible job of trying to single-handedly keep a 50-bed newborn intensive care unit clean. The other day, there were a bunch of men and women in suits in room 3008 -- always a bad sign in a hospital. They were an inspection team from Vera's department, fingering the tops of shelves looking for dust and the like. This unit used to have two environmental service workers assigned to it, but now one worker must do it alone. Vera furiously tried to scrub some ancient stain off the linoleum, while another supervisor was asking her where her mop was. "Oh," she said, momentarily abandoning the scrubbing, "Just tell me where the problem is. I can get it." She was literally sweating as the bosses poked around looking for more imperfections in her work.

A few minutes later there was a commotion in front of the clerk's desk. I saw Vera on a stretcher. A doctor was starting an I.V. in her arm. She had collapsed right in front of the elevator. Several of us stood there talking under our breath, staring angrily at the suits. What business did they have coming to our unit, harassing our friend until she fell out? If looks could kill, not one of those bosses would have made it off the floor alive.

Later there was a steady stream of workers to Vera's hospital bedside. She was in better spirits by the next day. At one point the meanest boss in housekeeping, Mrs. Hall, came by to "check" on her. After harassing Vera to the point of collapse, now she acted all concerned. What a hypocrite! Posing as a friend and protector for the woman she had pretended to not even know when part of the Gestapo inspection team! These bosses have no shame.

Forget it, Mrs. Hall. The big bosses in Washington say cut Medicaid to pay for their oil war. The state bosses in Springfield make the cuts. Then the county bosses downtown cut the staff, so no more housekeepers can be hired. They tell the little bosses like Mrs. Hall, "Work the ones you've got till they drop." And she does, without batting an eye.

Fortunately for Vera, all the workers and professionals on our unit, one of the biggest in the hospital, love her. If the bosses want to help, they should resign so their fat salaries could be used to hire more people who actually do the work, people like Vera.

When communists ran the hospitals in China 40 years ago, all managers had to spend at least one day a week doing real work, like mopping floors and cleaning toilets. Communists realize that working people create everything of value. Respect for that fact -- and for the working class -- led to their policy of managers wielding mops. Maybe we should try that in our hospital.

A Reader

Researchers Lie For Drug Dollars

Free-market capitalism is promoted as giving the greatest advantage to the greatest number of people. One more arena in which this is clearly false is health care.

The Nation magazine ran a story (1/28) on how big drug companies fund most medical research in the U.S. and keep medical journals alive through their drug advertising. For researchers to maintain this major source of their income, they often publish articles in medical journals that include only those aspects of their research that make the drug appear to be more effective and/or safer than other competing drugs, omitting any information leading to the opposite conclusion, that would tend to undermine drug company profits. In other words, they lie about their data.

This lying has become scandalous enough for the editors of some leading medical journals in the U.S. and England to publicly declare they would deal with this lying (they called it "bias") in their journals. Their plan was to require researchers to disclose their sources of funding and to affirm that the drug companies did not prevent the disclosure of information damaging to their profits. Big deal. Since thousands of researchers have already shown that their research funding takes precedence over honesty, this new policy will make no real difference.

As long as the drug monopolies control billions of dollars, they will be able to control both researchers and journals. If researchers or journals damage drug company profits, they won't survive. Under capitalism being slaves to corporations is a simple matter of life and death. That's how the free market works. It's even more so for the hundreds of millions of people whose doctors prescribe unsafe or ineffective drugs, based on understanding doctors receive from reading medical journals.

The liberals' solution for this problem -- more government funding of research and of medical journals -- masks the fact that government politicians depend just as much on funding from big corporations as do researchers and journals.

No, there's only one escape from free-market capitalism's assault on health: a system based on public need, not private profit, as the determining factor in health care, and in everything else. Then the working class would fund the research and would punish any researchers who lied. It would no longer be to anyone's advantage to pay for lies. On the contrary, it would only be to our advantage for researchers to stick to the truth. Of course, that's true now, but there's nothing we can do about it because the power to control research is not in our hands--yet.

A Doctor in the Dark (at least about some things)

The Law of
Class Struggle

I attended a public seminar on Organized Labor and New York City Politics recently that featured spokespersons for unions representing over 600,000 workers. The speakers debated the merits of traditional Democratic Party-supporting unions endorsing Republicans to gain economic benefits for workers, and whether this fragmented NYC labor, reducing its power to win concessions from employers.

The panel seemed to agree that unions were individual businesses providing benefits for their own members which required making such deals. Some panelists even protested that they were being coerced by labor traditions to support the city's general labor interests -- i.e., health, welfare, housing, community, immigrants, etc. -- when they felt their only responsibility was to their own workers' jobs and paychecks. One panelist felt a union can protest workers' suffering all it wants but if it can't persuade politicians to pass legislation benefiting their union, they're out of business.

When the floor was open, I said I was in the 1966 NYC transit strike which not only won long-denied benefits for transit workers but broke President Johnson's national wage freeze and led the way for other unions to fight back. I said that all the Democrat, Liberal and Republican politicians (who supported the Vietnam War-related wage freeze) turned their backs on our union's needs. But we stayed united and won our demands because we showed the bosses who really produces all the profits and runs the City. Then the City bosses demanded huge fines against our union for breaking the no-strike law. We said we would only return to work if the bosses legislated an exemption for us from the no-strike law. The bosses' politicians all screamed that we had a gun to their heads. We said, "That's right; the gun of organized labor."

So, by staying united and facing jail we won our strike, encouraged other unions to fight back and, most importantly, demonstrated how to win labor legislation without turning our backs on the rest of the working class. I also said that racism, like that exhibited in the Green-Ferer Democratic primary, has always hurt labor while anti-racist struggles like supporting Abner Louima and civil rights have united labor.

Listening to some of today's most influential labor "leaders," I couldn't help feeling they sounded like wage-slavers who are selling off our lives to the highest bidder. Most of labor's gains have been won through mass struggles. But by themselves, they haven't provided justice for workers because we haven't made the real fight, the one against the bosses' "right" to exploit us and use the profits from our labor to build their state power (cops, courts, military) to suppress our needs.

I feel fortunate that workers have a communist party like the PLP to give us political insight and a newspaper like CHALLENGE to get our messages to the working class.

Retired Transit Worker

No Honesty
Among Fascists

A letter (CHALLENGE, 3/27) titled, "What Next? Sainthood for Hitler?" concerning anti-Semitic fascist evangelist Billy Graham, included a line: "Supposedly Graham was more ecumenical than gutter fascists like...Jimmy (I love prostitutes) Swaggart."

A recent funny yet pointed book called The Bush Dyslexicon correctly says it's not a good idea to take George Bush's stupidity as a weakness, since he seems shrewd enough to be getting every fascist policy quickly O.K.'ed by all the Democratic "opposition."

Author Mark Crispin has an interesting insight into the Swaggart story. (Jimmy Swaggart, if you don't recall, suddenly appeared in front of his deceived congregation and cried about how sorry he was for his weaknesses, which turned out to be his going to motels with prostitutes.)

Crispin writes that this latest George Bush "persuaded Dad [George H.W. Bush] to go along with the strategic smear of Jimmy Swaggart just two weeks before the South Carolina primary [in 1988], where Swaggart's man Pat Robertson was threatening Bush's chances; and so Bush/Atwater leaked word of Swaggart's motel assignations to the local press -- a covert op that saved the state for Bush, Sr." Showing, of course, that fascists can't even trust each other.

Interestingly, Crispin goes on to say, "And, crucially, it was W. [the current meathead in the White House] who ensured that the notorious -- and effective -- Willie Horton ads could be blamed plausibly on mavericks unaffiliated with the Bush campaign." These were the infamous racist ads that Bush, Sr. used to win his election over Mike Dukakis.