Saturday, June 18, 2011

Simon Property Copley Place Owners Involved In Inheritance Litigation

The Indiana-based billionaire Simon Dynasty that wants to build a 47-story luxury residential skyscraper on top of the Copley Place shopping mall that it owns in Boston's Back Bay has apparently been involved in a "Simon vs. Simon" court battle in Indiana in recent years. According to a WISH TV website posting of July 2010:

"NOBLESVILLE (WISH) - Initially we expected the fight over Mel Simon's billions to continue today in Hamilton County Superior Court. Both sides will now be at it again later this month.

"Simon's widow Bren and Simon's children are at war over his $2 billion fortune. 24 Hour News 8 has learned just how explosive the feud is; we obtained a copy of Bren Simon's deposition where she reveals her husband's dying wish -- to fight the kids (from Mel's first marriage) so she could have a 'say' after his passing.

""For three weeks, the last three weeks of his life," Bren tearfully testified: "every night I would sit with him and he would squeeze my hand and say, 'fight 'em Bren, fight 'em.'"

"The Simon kids claim their father was coerced to change his will while on his death bed, drastically reducing their inheritance and upping Bren's by as much as $300 million.

Watch 24 Hour News 8's Brad Edwards' full report (to the right) where in a 5 hour deposition, Bren Simon details her husbands final days and the war with his kids. At one point, tension was so high Bren ordered security to keep the kids out of their $ 50 million Bel Air estate

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Progressive Party of Massachusetts Revisited

If you feel that neither the corporate-sponsored Republicans nor the corporate-sponsored Democrats offer much of an electoral alternative for anti-corporate Massachusetts voters these days, your feeling is not an historically unique one. After World War II, Massachusetts supporters of Henry Wallace's unsuccessful 1948 Progressive Party presidential campaign attempted to provide progressive voters in Massachusetts with an electoral alternative to the Democrats and Republicans by forming the Progressive Party of Massachusetts.

By the mid-1950s, however, the Progressive Party of Massachusetts had pretty much disappeared as a factor in Massachusetts electoral politics. But one of the campaign songs for its 1949 Boston mayoralty candidate, "The MTA Song", was recorded by The Kingston Trio in the late 1950s and remained on Billboard's "Top 40" list of hit records for six weeks during the summer of 1959.

In its 1952 platform, the Progressive Party of Massachusetts characterized the political situation in Massachusetts at that time in the following way:

"Today fear and desperation are in tens and thousands of Massachusetts homes…

"Stop the shameless corruption and chiseling, the politicians' junkets and sheer waste and inefficiency and tens of thousands of dollars would be available for the real needs of the people of Massachusetts.

"Second, end the greater graft and chiseling represented by Massachusetts' outrageous income tax law, under which the man who gets a hundred thousand dollars pays at no higher rate than the worker who earns $2500. The burden of all our state activities is shifted onto the shoulder of our working people. Taxation according to ability to pay thru a graduated income tax law, would make millions of dollars available for state needs…"

In its 1952 platform, the Progressive Party of Massachusetts also called for such things as:

1.a public works program to provide jobs for unemployed Massachusetts residents; end to "Jim Crow policies of public utilities (gas, electric, telephone, etc)" in Massachusetts "who employ the basic minimum number of Negroes;"
3.a stop to police brutality and racist attacks in Massachusetts;
4.a state rent control law; exemption for small homeowners; and state college education for all qualified youth in Massachusetts.

In its November 17, 1952 post-election analysis, however, the Progressive Party of Massachusetts indicated why--despite its visionary platform and its popular anti-war position--it failed to attract many Massachusetts voters during the Korean War era:

"…There is an automatic distrust of the Progressive Party and of everything that they propose.

"…There is considerable isolation between progressives which prevents that all important feeling of oneness.

"These realities are best understood if we delve for a moment on the root causes. Most outstanding is our lack of personal contact in the community. By this is meant that while we take certain issues and enter the community to get petitions signed, distribute leaflets…we lack the all important factor of developing a person-to-person relationship.

"Clearly related to this question is our lack of follow-up on the contacts that we do make…

"Of course not to be overlooked was the general black-out of all news of the Progressive Party in the press, radio and TV. This lack of fair presentation of the fact that there was an opposition party contributed in no small way to the size of our vote and our inability to reach people effectively…"

Four years before, in 1948, the Progressive Party of Massachusetts' executive director, Walter O'Brien, had entered the Democratic Party's primary in Boston's 10th Congressional District and had actually won the Democratic nomination there, by securing 20,000 votes. Although O'Brien subsequently lost in the heavily Republican district to his Republic opponent, Christian Herter, in the general election, 59,000 voters did cast ballots for O'Brien in November 1948.

The following year, O'Brien was the Progressive Party of Massachusetts' candidate for Mayor of Boston. And hopes were initially high among the approximately 1,500 party members in Massachusetts that their executive director might actually win the 1949 Boston mayoralty election. The minutes of the Progressive Party of Massachusetts State Committee meeting of June 24, 1949, for instance, noted how O'Brien summarized the state's political situation at that time:

"Reports opportune year for stepping up activity. Unemployment prime issue in Commonwealth. Lawrence should be major concentration due to mass unemployment there, though Boston has many big problems, such as Nation's worst slums…"

Another party leader, Amos Murphy of Lawrence, also reported that workers in Lawrence were "filled with angry and righteous resentment" and the possibilities were "enormous for placing Lawrence in vanguard of national progressive movement."

Born in Portland, Maine, O'Brien had been a shop steward in the CIO's Industrial Union of Shipbuilding Workers of America, prior to volunteering for the U.S. Merchant Marine in 1943. After World War II, he moved to Boston and was active in the Boston Tenants' Council before first running for Congress in 1948.

At the time of the 1949 Boston mayoralty campaign, 25,000 to 30,000 workers were unemployed in Boston, so O'Brien proposed that a city public works program be established. He also came out in favor of rent control in Boston and in opposition to the MTA fare increase that inspired his campaign's famous "MTA Song".

The "temporary" fare increase on MTA lines was put into effect on August 6, 1949, after its approval by the Department of Public Utilities at a 90-minute closed hearing. Although O'Brien's subsequent stirring speech at an anti-fare increase rally on the Boston Common--that thousands of protesting Boston commuters attended--was well-received, the favorable crowd response did not translate into votes for the Progressive Party of Massachusetts candidate in the 1949 Boston mayoralty election. Less than 3,300 votes were received by O'Brien, while Democratic Mayor Curley received over 126,000 votes and the Boston corporate establishment-backed candidate, Hynes, won the election with over 137,000 votes.

To draw votes away from O'Brien's 1949 campaign, the Democratic Party machine in Boston also entered another candidate whose last name was also "O'Brien". The Democratic Party machine's hope was that the dissatisfied voters who wanted to vote for "Walter O'Brien" would, in this way, get confused and end up casting meaningless votes for "Thomas O'Brien", instead.

The Progressive Party of Massachusetts' 1949 mayoralty candidate in Boston charged that a "generation of misrule in Boston" and an "unholy alliance of State Street and City hall" had "kept Boston a sink-hole of reaction and corruption." O'Brien also accused the Democratic Party's Curley Machine of squeezing people to pay for obtaining city government contracts and leaving most Boston residents poor, while Curley "posed as anti-bankers." Following its 1949 electoral defeat in Boston, the O'Brien for Mayor campaign attributed Hynes' victory to a "deluge of expensive advertising, radio and billboard blurbs and assorted maneuvers" and his endorsement by a "coterie of Republicans" and a Truman Administration cabinet member named Tobin.

Despite its 1949 defeat in the Boston mayoralty election, in December 1949 the Progressive Party of Massachusetts still had 18 genuinely active political clubs in Massachusetts. Its leaders also felt that these clubs should then begin to concentrate their organizing efforts in Worcester, Lawrence, Springfield, Dorchester, Roxbury, East Boston and South Boston. And in 1950, Progressive Party of Massacusetts members were attempting to win the following demands in Boston:

1. better housing in the South End;
2. breaking Jim Crow in city jobs;
3. end to police brutality;
4. increased welfare benefits;
5. more modern fireproof schools and playgrounds; and
6. a better city medical center.

But in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a local Progressive Party of Massachusetts leader complained about the lack of support from Boston members for their party's 1950 campaign to elect Amos Murphy to political office there. In a November 11,1950 letter to Boston party leader O'Brien after the 1950 election, for instance, an Amos Murphy campaign supporter wrote the following:

"Dear Wally,

"To us, Progressives in Lawrence, it is clear that to date Boston Progressives, including yourself, have failed to see the significance of the Murphy campaign in Lawrence. This is apparent from the lack of support from Boston.

"This political blindness must be corrected now…"

The following year, a November 17, 1951 "Report of the Administrative Committee to the State Committee" of the Progressive Party of Massachusetts indicated why the party was generally unsuccessful in attracting African-American voters in Massachusetts, despite its anti-racist political program:

"White supremacy attitudes are latent in the Progressive Party organization, its attitude toward Negro membership and especially toward Negro leadership in the Progressive Party."

Ironically, in the 21st century, some of the same political problems and weaknesses that characterized the Progressive Party of Massachusetts 60 years ago have also plagued some of the third-party alternative groups that are currently seeking to use the Massachusetts electoral process to immediately end poverty and homelessness in Massachusetts in 2011.

Cynthia McKinney Interviewed By RTNews In Libya

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why GE Workers Prepare to Go On Strike At GE

Following video from the United Electrical [UE] Workers labor union youtube channel indicates why the workers at GE (which apparently still owns a large chunk of NBC media stock and pays little in taxes to U.S. government) may soon go on strike again in 2011:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Time To Roll-Back College Tuition Prices & Create A Free Tuition System of Higher Education in USA?

Following video indicates how U.S. students are apparently being ripped-off by the upper-class folks who currently control the U.S. system of higher education that continues to require their students (or their parents) to cough up thousands of dollars per year in college tuition in order to attend their universities and purchase their various university degrees:

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How To Repeal Unemployment

In an article that appeared during the Great Depression of the 1930s in a magazine called The Unemployed, a U.S. left activist named James H. Maurer indicated that unemployment in the United States might be eliminated during endless economic U.S. capitalist economic recessions (like the current one) in the following way:

"Unemployment has become a law, the regular order of things in the United States. Unemployment hit the country hard in 1873 and stayed until 1879; it came back again from 1893 to 1896; it threw millions out of work again in 1908...

"...The plague swept through the states again in 1914, and again in 1921.

"Now the law is working again, more deadly, more devastating than ever before...

"Anything that happens so often must be a law. It's not written down in any law books. But it is the unwritten law of American capitalism. Capitalism is the name of the industrial system we live under. The capitalist system is a profit system. The only reason it operates is to make profit for the owners of industry, the owners of natural resources and the bankers...

"Can this capitalist system right itself? It can not. Just so long as industry is run for profit--just so long will we have unemployment. The owners of industry...produce for profit...In their mad fight for profits, they keep wages down as far as they can. Workers everywhere can not themselves buy back what they themselves have made. Their wages are not high enough.

"What is the result? The result is `Overproduction'--or more goods produced by the workers than the capitalists can sell at a profit; or `Underconsumption'--which means the workers--the same ones who `overproduced'--can't buy back the food, clothing and shelter, necessary for life.

"We do not have to put up with the law of unemployment. We don't have to put up with any law once we get a majority of the people who want to change it...

"How would we repeal unemployment?

"1. First we would repeal unemployment by ending the profit system...Profit would be abolished. The people would own industry. It would be stupid of them to want to make the profit from themselves.

"2. Second, we would repeal unemployment by planning production to meet the needs of the people...

"Where would the government get the money to feed the hungry, to start up public works and to buy out industry?...The root of our trouble today is that a small group of people own the vast industries and resources that all the people need. We would transfer this property back to the people by taxation--by heavy taxes on those who can stand it; by heavy income taxes; and by even heavier inheritance taxes.

"Never mind the cries of big business against taxation. We have paid tribute long enough to big business...

"It's more important to keep unemployment down, than it is to keep taxation down..."

In that same magazine, a U.S. left writer named John M. Work also observed:

"All of the workers could be employed even under capitalism if the hours of labor were short enough. The working time has been greatly reduced...but the owners see to it that it not reduced proportionately with the increased productivity of the workers (due to ever-expanding machinery. The owners frustsrate all attemptes to reduce the working days and weeks to the point where all will be employed. They do this because if they were to permit all the workers to be employed, their `industrial reserve army' of unemployed would disappear, and they would no longer have jobless workers to under-bid those employed and keep wages down.

"There is, however, one way in which the hours of labor can be rreduced until every willing worker, man or woman, will be employed.

"By changing the owners from private to public.

"Let the people own the industries themselves. That is, let them have the collective ownership of the industries. Then the industries will be run for service, not for profit. It will no longer be to the financial interest of the owners to prevent the working time from being reduced to the point where all will be employed. The working time will in fact be reduced to that point, and every willing worker will be guaranteed a job..."

Friday, June 3, 2011

Black Male Worker Jobless Rate Jumps To 17.5 Percent Under Obama & GOP House of Representatives

Between April and May 2011, the official “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for Black male workers over 20 years-of-age in the United States jumped from 17 to 17.5 percent under the Democratic Obama Administration and the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives; while the official unemployment rate for Black female workers over 20 years-of-age was still 13.4 percent, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The number of officially unemployed African-American male workers over 20 years-of age increased by 29,000 (from 1,382,000 to 1,411,000) between April and May 2011; while the number of Black male workers over 20 years-of-age having jobs dropped by 86,000 (from 6,731,000 to 6,645,000) .

The official “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for Black youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age was still 40.7 percent in May 2011, while the official unemployment rate for all Black workers over 16 years-of-age (female, male and youth combined) increased from 16.1 to 16.2 percent between April and May 2011.

The official “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for white male workers over 20 years-of-age was still 7.9 percent in May 2011; while the official jobless rate for all U.S. female white workers over 20 years-of-age increased from 7 to 7.1 percent between April and May 2011. The number of unemployed white female workers over 20 years-of-age increased by 81,000 (from 3,833,010 to 3,914,000) between April and May 2011; while the number of unemployed white male workers over 20-years-of-age increased by 43,000 (from 5,124,000 to 5,167,000) during the same period. The official jobless rate for white youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age was still 20.7 percent in May 2011.

Between April and May 2011, the official “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for Latino or Hispanic workers in the United States also increased from 11.8 to 11.9 percent; while the number of unemployed Latino or Hispanic workers over 20 years-of-age increased by 27,000 (from 2,688,000 to 2,715,000), according to the “not seasonally adjusted” data, during this same period. The number of Latino or Hispanic workers having jobs also dropped by 85,000 (from 20,110,000 to 20,025,000) between April and May 2011, according to the “not seasonally adjusted” data; while the official “not seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for Asian-American workers jumped from 6.4 to 7 percent during the same period. The number of unemployed Asian-American workers increased by 51,000 (from 463,000 to 514,000) between April and May 2011, according to the “not seasonally adjusted” data.

For all U.S. workers (male and female) over 16 years-of-age, the official “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate increased from 9 to 9.1 percent between April and May 2011; while the jobless rate for all male workers over 16 years-of-age increased from 9.4 to 9.5 percent and the unemployment rate for all female workers over 16 years-of-age increased from 8.4 to 8.5 percent during this same period. Between April and May 2011, the official total number of unemployed U.S. workers over 16-years-of-age increased by 167,000 (from 13,747,000 to 13,914,000).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ June 3, 2011 press release:

“…Local government employment continued to decline…

“In May, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) increased by 361,000 to 6.2 million…

“The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was…8.5 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

“In May, 2.2 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force…These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

“Among the marginally attached, there were 822,000 discouraged workers in May…Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them…

“Employment in manufacturing changed little in May (-5,000). Job gains in fabricated metal products and in machinery were offset by losses in transportation equipment, paper and paper products, and printing and related support activities…

“Employment in local government continued to decline over the month (-28,000). Local government has lost 446,000 jobs since…September 2008…”