Science Could Serve the World, but Instead It Serves the Rich

By Nathalie Clarke

Through the development of science, humans have become capable of producing more than enough food every year for every single human being—without risk of ecological disaster. Yet the World Health Organization estimates that one in six children worldwide is underweight due to undernourishment and disease. The scarcity we experience under capitalism is artificial and stems from super-rich billionaires deciding how we practice agriculture, science, and pretty much everything else. Science has become a tool that elites use to get richer and hoard more resources and wealth.

As we are faced with impending environmental catastrophes, federal and private grants continue to disproportionately favor research in fields that benefit the ruling class. According to the National Science Foundation, in 2017, universities in the United States spent only $686,729 on natural resources and conservation. Meanwhile, geological and earth sciences, which largely research ways of drilling and mining for oil and minerals, was allocated over $1,086,382. Electrical engineering, a field where research is often directed towards the production of weapons for the United States military, received a whopping $2,727,498—over half of which came from the federal government.

As they send us into their wars and into their oilfields and their mines, the billionaires who profit off the pillage and plunder of the planet make clear that they do not care about the lives of working people. This is no news—time and time again the ruling class has shown that they view us as worthless (except for the wealth that we produce for them). Science will not be the solution to any of our problems until we have successfully overthrown capitalism, the current system that rewards bosses who maximize profits regardless of the cost to workers. Only with socialism can we finally direct scientific research to solve the urgent problems of hunger, disease, and climate change.

Species Extinctions Threaten Us All

Declining populations of pollinators such as bees threaten global food production.

By LaVonna Varnado-Brown

Writer Nikita Gill states that, “We have calcium in our bones, iron in our veins, carbon in our souls, and nitrogen in our brains.” Composed of the stuff of stars, we see patterns and designs replicated in the human body and in organisms and creatures in nature. We are all connected. We must prioritize our deep connection to all inhabitants of the earth before it’s too late.

According to a recently released report, nearly one million species risk becoming extinct within decades, while current efforts to conserve the earth’s lifeforms will likely fail without radical action. On at-risk fauna and flora, the study asserts that human activities “threaten more species now than ever before” – a finding based on the fact that around 25 percent of species in plant and animal groups are vulnerable.

What is radical action? They want us to believe that use of paper straws and hemp grocery bags will make a difference, but the real difference can only come once the masses force the mammoth capitalist industries and the military to end their greedy tactics. This would greatly impact the health of the Earth. The U.S. military admits to using 395,000 barrels of oil per day. The coral reefs are dying. Nature is becoming overwhelmed by our never-ending output of poisonous waste matter. “Marine plastic pollution in particular has increased tenfold since 1980, affecting at least 267 species”, the report says, including 86 percent of marine turtles, 44 percent of seabirds and 43 percent of marine mammals.

Those effects do not end within the habitats of those species. We all coexist. There is no “my air, your dirt.” It is our water. We must realign to acknowledge this truth. During a speech at Morgan State in 1967, Kwame Ture quoted the poet John Donne: “the death of any man diminishes me because I am involved in mankind”. We must see it as our duty to get involved. We must not allow the capitalist ruling class to kill everything and anything that gets in their way. We must not fall into rank with the machine—no, we must organize ourselves to dismantle the capitalist apparatus and become active members in cultivating the society we know should already be.

Gordon Plaza Residents Suffer Second Highest Cancer Rate in LA

New Orleans, Louisiana– On September 8, tens of thousands of people gathered for a major climate mobilization across the U.S. and the world. People around the world joined more than 830 events in 91 countries under the “Rise for Climate” banner. In the U.S., over 300 events took place in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The “Rise for Climate Jobs, and Justice” events in the US highlighted the need for real climate leadership in the face of intensifying climate impacts and the ongoing assault on climate and communities from the Trump Administration. The actions took place just days before the Global Climate Action Summit in California, demanding a phase-out of fossil fuel extraction and a just transition to a 100% renewable energy economy. Event organizers emphasized community-led solutions, starting in places most impacted by pollution and climate change. Gordon Plaza is a house development that has been designated by the US government as a Superfund site where over 150 toxicities have been documented. Gordon Plaza residents’ only demand for Mayor LaToya Cantrell is: Fully Funded Relocation for all affected residents. Photo by Fernando Lopez | Survival Media Agency

Gordon Plaza residents are fighting for a fully funded relocation from the toxic site the city built their homes on decades ago.

A new report by the Louisiana Tumor Registry confirms the findings of previous studies: Gordon Plaza has the second consistent highest rate of cancer in Louisiana. The study consistently found between 125 and 406 more cases per 100,000 residents than the state average. Gordon Plaza homes were built on a city landfill containing arsenic, lead and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons—all known or probable carcinogens according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Mayor Cantrell:  the time to remedy this injustice is now!

Coalition Against Death Alley

On May 30, Coalition Against Death Alley (CADA) started a 50 mile march from St. John the Baptist Parish to Baton Rouge to protest and demand an end to the poisoning of Black communities by petrochemical companies located throughout Louisiana’s Mississippi River parishes.

Residents of St. John the Baptist Parish decided to organize a fightback after the EPA confirmed that their community and areas surrounding a nearby Denka plant have the highest risk of air pollution-caused cancer in the country.
Governor Edwards illegally blocked the march from crossing the Sunshine Bridge near Donaldsonville and the Mississippi River Bridge over Interstate 10 in Baton Rouge but the fight for justice continues.

St. James Residents, Water Protectors Battle Anti-Protest Laws

Protest at a Bayou Bridge pipeline site in Maurice, LA, May 12, 2018. Photo credit: Julie Dermansky.

By Sasha Irby

Around the country, big energy companies are bribing politicians to pass laws that severely criminalize the protest of dangerous and costly oil and gas projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

These anti-protest laws have gone into effect in eight states already. In Texas, the legislature is currently considering a bill that would that would make the protest of a pipeline a third-degree felony. This means that a peaceful water protector would do the same amount of time as someone convicted of attempted murder. In Louisiana, a law (HB 727) went into effect last year which makes it a felony offense to trespass on “critical infrastructure”—a category that the law expands to include pipelines, any pipeline construction site, and “all structures, equipment, or other immovable or movable property” located within the pipeline site. More than a dozen peaceful protesters have been arrested under the new law.

On May 22 a federal lawsuit was filed by three organizations—RISE St. James, 350 New Orleans, and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade—as well 10 individuals affected by the new law. They argue that the law could be used to criminalize anyone who happens to be near the 125,000 miles of mostly unmarked pipelines that criss-cross the state of Louisiana. St. James residents are concerned the law would prohibit them from speaking out against the petrochemical industries that have turned their home into “Cancer Alley.”

How it is that we live in a state that is willing to spend millions of dollars attacking peaceful water protectors in the name of “critical infrastructure” while New Orleanians live with Sewerage and Water Board infrastructure so broken that we have frequent boil water advisories and pumps that can’t keep our streets from flooding in routine rainstorms? Is a water system that provides safe drinking water not critical infrastructure? Are safely navigable streets not critical infrastructure?

Why aren’t we issuing felonies to the crooked bureaucrats selling our wetlands off to petrochemical companies which are killing local ecosystems and threatening the very existence of our coastal communities? Because the state cares more about protecting the profits of the energy companies than it does about our public health or safety.

Among the many petrochemical and energy companies that pushed HB 727 were Energy Transfer Partners, Embridge, and Transcanada, all of which were involved in the construction of pipelines that have been met with protest in Louisiana. All three of these companies also financially contributed to Louisiana state representatives who co-sponsored the bill. At least 16 of the bill’s co-sponsors are affiliated with ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), a right-wing task-force controlled by billionaires like the Koch brothers. Across the country, ALEC has pushed to enact laws that favor corporations—mainly oil and gas companies—at the expense of the public.

It is obvious that these laws do not protect the people or infrastructure that is “critical” for the public good. The energy companies are buying off politicians and fast-tracking these laws because they hope that they can stop communities from protesting the destruction of their homelands. The politicians are criminalizing free speech while subsidizing the planet-killing corporations. Worse, they are criminalizing those who fight for the future of our planet. We cannot stand by idly while our water protectors are made into criminals. We must unite with other communities in the struggle against the oil and gas executives and the state which is attempting to silence us. We must not let fear swallow our voice.

We Deserve 100% of Hotel Taxes, That’s a “Fair Share!”

By Ashlee Pintos

Mayor Cantrell’s office is claiming a victory for “Fair Share” New Orleans on the issue of what we call the Stolen Tax dollars. This ridiculous months-long negotiation between the Mayor’s office and the Convention Center has resulted in huge benefits for big business with a marginal benefit for the city. While $180 Million is stolen from New Orleans yearly, Cantrell has only asked for a fraction of the money (a one-time $48 Million with an additional $27 Million over the next 5 years). While the remaining yearly $153 Million is forgotten about for a perceived victory for the Cantrell administration, the convention center has been promised $300 Million for a new hotel and a portion of (more) Airbnb taxes among other concessions. How is this a fair share for the workers?

For over two years, the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Alliance and the Peoples’ Assembly have been bringing this issue to light. It was not until this past year that Mayor Cantrell started to acknowledge the $180 Million in tourism taxes (such as the hotel tax) that are collected yearly. NONE of this money touches the city’s general budget: it currently goes to private, non-elected boards composed of big business/corporation owners and politicians who use these millions to further fatten their wallets. $180 Million is a quarter of the city’s general budget. We could use this yearly money to fund healthcare, childcare centers, paid vacation and sick leave, quality transportation, AND fix streets.

Tax money is supposed to be collected to use for goods and services for the benefit of the people. How can it be that politicians are nicely asking for the return of tax money from rich capitalists? This is robbery of the people on behalf of big business. Cantrell is complicit and as Mayor, she should be held accountable. Why does she want to give the people’s money to the same rich capitalists who oppress us workers?

Without hospitality workers who hold up the tourism industry, none of the profits or the tourism taxes would flow into the city. Meanwhile who pays high rents, high property taxes, and high sales taxes, all with a constant boot on our neck? Us workers! Who gets huge tax breaks and also makes away with millions in tourism tax money? The Convention Center! In New Orleans workers would need a quadruple raise to make a living wage as we currently make a base of $7.25 an hour and even less as tipped workers at $2.13.

If someone had been taking a quarter of your already-too-small paycheck, every single month, for years and you found out about it; would you kindly ask them to pay you back? Would you only ask for a fraction of it? Would you negotiate? Absolutely not!

We as workers have consistently maintained our demand that ALL of the money be given back to the people. All tax money should go into the general budget for city council discussion and public input. It is not up to the Mayor to unilaterally decide to give this money to the Sewage and Water Board to pay the extremely high salaries of their administrators. These funds will not be used to lower our rates. In fact, the Mayor has said she supports raising taxes for drainage. This scheme does not insure a properly functioning system. It’s because of a lack of public oversight of the board that millions were stolen from the budget before.

We need all of us workers to come together to continue the struggle, and we must be ready to fight for what is ours in the first place.

Six Companies Control National TV/Cable Media

As of 2019, 90% of the United States’ media is controlled by six media conglomerates: Comcast/NBC; Fox Corporation; Disney/ABC; Viacom; Time Warner Media; and CBS.

118 people who sit on the boards of directors of the 10 biggest media giants are on the corporate boards of 288 national and international corporations, and 8 out of 10 big media giants share common memberships on each other’s boards of directors. (“Big Media Interlocks with Corporate America” by Peter Phillips, CommonDreams.org, June 24, 2005)

This integration occurs at the very pinnacle of corporate power. For instance, board members of ABC/Disney, NBC/GE, CBS/Viacom, CNN/Time Warner, Fox/News Corp., New York Times Co., Washington Post/Newsweek, Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones, Tribune Co., Gannett and Knight-Ridder also sit on the boards of 13 of the Fortune 500’s 25 most profitable companies and have indirect connections to the other 12. This linkage forms a huge matrix of interlocking corporations and monopolies, usually with banks at the center, that control the U.S. and to a large extent the world economy.

Media Monopoly Spins the “News” to Benefit the Rich

John Georges’ pals at his Cypress Lakes Country Club in Destrehan, LA.

The Advocate &  The Times-Picayune merge. Both now owned by wealthy businessman John Georges.

By Gavrielle Gemma

Every newspaper, TV and radio station represents the interests of either the capitalist class or the working class. Workers Voice newspaper represents the interests of the workers, whether employed, unemployed, undocumented or incarcerated. There is another difference in that Workers Voice openly sides with the workers, while the establishment media lie and promote a hidden agenda on behalf of the super-rich.

The two large capitalist newspapers, The Advocate and The Times-Picayune, plus Nola.com (and the Gambit) just merged in the hands of one of Louisiana’s richest businessmen, John Georges.

Georges is CEO of Georges Enterprises, which includes over 50 businesses: Imperial Trading Company (with sales of $1 billion), AMA Distributors, The Advocate newspapers, and numerous restaurants. He made a fortune off of video poker machines across the country, as well as restaurants and an exclusive country club. He is also on the board of First National Bank. From the profit extracted from the labor of workers in those industries, he didn’t raise wages but spent $50 million to buy The Advocate. He pushes alcohol, cigarettes and gambling at truck stops around the country.

Why did King Georges want The Advocate? In that paper’s own words: “His counsel will be sought. He will be courted and schmoozed by every powerful person in the state, sooner or later. What’s more, he will have a forum for his platform should he choose to run again for office. Should he not, he will be in a position to help crown the next king.” So much for “democracy!”

Both newspapers have been around for over 150 years. As recently as 1960, The Times-Picayune used its pages to openly advocate white supremacy and to maintain segregation. In an editorial, they wrote:

“The Orleans Parish School Board, the governor, the attorney-general and members of the Legislature have worked hard to avoid even token integration…[we] regret that their efforts did not achieve complete success.”
The Times-Picayune ended: “So far as we are concerned, we don’t like school integration any better in 1960 than we did in 1954, when we urged a relentless legal fight against it: but it doesn’t do any good to adopt an ostrich attitude and stick our heads in the sands.”

Today, they are more subtle but still uphold “news” and opinions that satisfy the rich white establishment at the expense of working class people, Black and white. They routinely oppose raises for teachers and attack their unions. While in the recent past they promoted outright segregation, today they promote policies that uphold institutional racism like gentrification, the privatization of schools, mass incarceration, low wages and high Black unemployment.

While Workers Voice is written and funded by workers of all nationalities, The Advocate and The Times-Picayune are solely under the editorial control of rich, white people.

As Dwight Ott, one of the first Black reporters with The Times-Picayune, wrote in a 1993 letter entitled “New Orleans’ newspapers give white view of the city”:

“For most of its years, historians and journalists said, the newspaper has been a powerful force in New Orleans, shaping and reflecting racial attitudes and the character of the city. And for the greater part of its years, the newspaper gave readers an image of black people as intellectually and morally inferior, relegated to a lower social caste than white people and often little more than lazy or criminal. It’s that image of black people that many people carry today…

Many people remember a newspaper that fought to keep schools segregated, calling integration ‘evil’ and [Dr. Martin Luther] King a ‘troublemaker.’ The Times-Picayune was a paper with no full-time black reporters until the 1970s, one that rarely wrote about black people unless they committed crimes.”

On May 2, The Times-Picayune bosses notified staffers by email at 2 pm to show up for a 3 pm meeting. At the meeting they were informed that as part of the merge deal, they would all be laid off. They were then told that they could reapply for their jobs.

According to a report in VICE News, “Times-Picayune staffers were shocked.” According to a WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) notice filed with the Louisiana Workforce Commission, 161 staff members are being fired.

Education Not Experimentation

May 18, Erase the Board led a march demanding quality public schools.

By Christina Tareq

“This is our Tuskegee,” shouted Armtrice Cowart, co-founder of Erase the Board, a grassroots coalition of community leaders, parents, and education justice groups. “Our children are being experimented on. This is our civil rights movement.” On Saturday, May 18, Erase the Board, along with the Peoples’ Assembly, Take Em Down NOLA and Step Up Louisiana, took to the streets to demand an end to OneApp, an end to charter school expansion and to demand the re-opening of quality public schools that are adequately resourced with the city’s tax dollars.

Post-Katrina, the New Orleans education system has become a cash cow for private charter school networks. Charter schools are not accountable to parents or children but only to the people who bankroll these education experiments on children through grants. Charter schools are also allowed to use unchecked disciplinary action which traumatizes children through rigid and damaging “behavior rules.” They are increasingly replacing educators, nurses and school social workers with police officers. They’ve also replaced thousands of qualified local educators with unqualified young people through Teach for America.

Currently, nearly 60% of students in the top 6 performing schools in New Orleans are white while 80% of Black students are in failing charter schools. The closure of public schools and the rise of charter schools marks a new era of segregation in education. If you support equitable and quality education in Orleans Parish for ALL children, get involved with Erase the Board. You can find out more on their social media pages @erasetheboardnola.

City Budget Ignores Youth, We Must Fight for Youth Services Not Jails

63% of City Budget goes to cops and jails, only 3% to children and families.

By Malcolm Suber

New Orleans mayor Latoya Cantrell and arch-racist DA Leon Cannizzaro have teamed up to announce yet another scheme to supposedly curb an uptick in crimes committed by youth, especially young Black men. They are using sensational reports of youth crimes to call for more funds for the NOPD, more police patrols and more police contact with our youth (meaning more unwarranted stops and searches).They are also calling for stepped up enforcement of the citywide youth curfew.

The mayor and DA paint a picture of Black youth as predators in need of rounding up and locking away from the majority of law-abiding residents; so they call for an expansion of the juvenile lock-up as well as the trying of more juveniles as adults.

We workers should not be taken in by this ruling class propaganda. Youth crime is tied to the lack of gainful employment opportunities and lack of recreational and cultural programs that provide youth with positive things to do in their non-school hours. Why don’t the Mayor and DA address the root cause of juvenile crime instead of offering a band-aid on the cancerous conditions which exist for New Orleans youth? The working class community is rightly frustrated by the almost nightly barrage of reported criminal activity by alienated youth. But the Mayor and DA are only playing to this frustration in order to get the public to consent to their plan to lock up more youth. These youth in many cases are lashing out against the rich white ruling class and their politicians who have written them off as nothing more than a public nuisance.

Where is the money for more programming at our recreational centers? Where is the money for hiring full-time coaches? Where is the money for counselors and for youth employment? Rather than ‘disrupting’ the pipeline to prison, the Mayor and DA are actually facilitating the mass incarceration of our youth. They would rather spend more money on surveillance cameras and give fat contracts to their friends to monitor ankle bracelets on the growing number of youth arrested by the NOPD.

“What we are seeing and the rhetoric we are hearing from the political elites is because the system continues to fail our communities. We do a great job of holding vulnerable youth and parents accountable, but who will hold the system accountable? WE WILL THAT’S WHO!”
— Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC)

Even though the capitalist media claims the USA economy is robust and nearing full employment, Black youth unemployment is nearly 50%. Many of their parents and guardians are forced to work two jobs and the youth are left to raise themselves. By allowing these conditions to fester, we show that we are not really concerned about saving these youth from the path to enslavement in the USA prison system.

Our task is to help our youth build a movement that champions their demands for a quality of life that gives them the freedom to explore their revolutionary history of struggle for Black liberation. This movement will train our youth to avoid the modern day slave catchers and give real meaning to being woke and the understanding that Black Lives Do Matter.