Detroit, USA water shutoffs during coronavirus pandemic


This 13 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Wash Your Hands? Despite Pandemic, Thousands Still Have No Water in Detroit, a Coronavirus Hot Spot

Water shutoffs continue amid the coronavirus pandemic in Detroit, despite a moratorium and a program to help thousands of residents restore service last month. The lack of water access comes as nearly 1,500 people in Michigan have died from COVID-19, and 40% of those who have died are African-American, despite making up just 14% of the state’s population. We speak with community pastor and activist Rev. Roslyn Bouier, who has been working with residents to restore their water.

Detroit, USA students support General Motors strikers


This 18 September 2019 video from Flint, USA says about itself:

Why GM UAW Workers are on Strike

A look at what’s behind the United Auto Workers nationwide strike against General Motors.

By Genevieve Leigh in the USA:

“The CEOs and Wall Street are trying to take your wages and benefits… Don’t Give in. Stand your ground!”

Detroit college students support striking GM workers

2 October 2019

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality at Wayne State University in Detroit spoke to students Monday about the 48,000 General Motors workers who are entering their third week of strike action against the giant transnational corporation and how students can support them.

The IYSSE explained to students that workers are striking in opposition to the demands by GM for deep increases in workers’ out-of-pocket expenses for health care, from the current three percent to 15 percent, and an expansion of low-paid temporary and contract workers.

One freshman finance student addressed himself to the striking workers, saying, “Do not give up your wages and benefits to the corporations,” and denounced the “war on workers and the new generation of workers.” The CEOs and Wall Street, he said, “are trying to take your wages and your benefits and everything you’ve worked hard for. Don’t let them take it away from you. Don’t give in. Stand your ground.”

Angel, a second-year interior design student, told the IYSSE he thinks every worker deserves “not just a decent job but a good job. One with good healthcare, a livable wage and safe working conditions.” IYSSE members emphasized that among the chief demands raised by the older generation of autoworkers was the abolition of the hated multi-tier wage system, which pays new hires half the wage of senior worker, as well as the conversion into full-time employees of all “Temporary Part-Time” workers or TPTs, who can work for years without any set hours or job security.

Angel told us he supports the autoworkers’ fight and thinks all of the major issues workers and youth face today are related. “I think climate change is a major issue. Sometimes I hear people saying that it’s the people’s fault for not recycling or whatever but then you look at these massive companies like GM and I think c’mon, they are the real problem.”

Angel

Angel also supported the GM workers in Silao, Mexico who have been fired for courageously refusing to take on extra work while GM workers in the US are on strike. “It’s not right that they were fired. Workers should have the right to speak out; the freedom of speech is the most basic of rights, it is fundamental.”

Another second-year WSU student told us she thinks the strike is “an incredible demonstration of bravery and integrity to be standing up, not just for GM workers but for workers all over the world.” She went on to explain that this fight is critical for young people: “It is important that the younger generation be aware of the fact that all the institutions, and everything we have built can be changed and should be changed to better accommodate the future ahead of us.”

Regarding the victimized Mexican workers, she added, “I give twice as much credit to the Mexican workers. I’m not from Mexico but I can imagine how much more pressure is put on them from the US corporations. The fact that they are sticking to their principles really demonstrates a lot of character.”

Two students visited the IYSSE table who live nearby some of the local auto plants: Mohammed is from Warren, Michigan where GM just shut a transmission plant, and Mahnaz is from Hamtramck, home of GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which is slated to close in January.

Both freshmen, the students expressed their full support for the striking autoworkers. Muhammed said, “These big corporations only care about mass production so they can make mass profits. I don’t think they have any idea, or even care what effect it has on the workers.”

Mahnaz and Mohammed

Mahnaz added: “These companies make billions but so many of them pay their workers ridiculously low wages.” After learning about the conditions facing new contract workers in the auto factories, she commented, “What am I going to do with $12 hour? Don’t try to tell me that’s enough to live.” Mahnaz, who is a biology major, agreed that the autoworker struggle would have ramifications for the entire working class. “We need to stop these companies from destroying workers’ lives and the planet.”

The IYSSE members explained that supporting the GM strikes entailed more than just cheering them on. Workers, they said, needed to be told the truth. They were in a fight not only against GM but the capitalist system and both big-business parties, including the Democrats which imposed the conditions GM workers are fighting against during the 2009 restructuring of the auto industry by the Obama administration. …

IYSSE members explained that they were fighting for autoworkers to build rank-and-file strike and factory committees … to break through the isolation, expand the strike throughout the industry, and unify all workers in the US and internationally against capitalist exploitation and social inequality.

K’von is a second-year student from Detroit who has family members who work for the Big Three auto companies. “The tiered system they have is completely unfair. We should all get equal pay for doing the same work. No one should be treated differently when it comes to pay; they are doing the same job!” …

K'Von

K’von added that he felt the working class was the most decisive force in society: “The thing we have to remember is that without us, they’ve got nothing, and they know it.”

AMERICAN WORKERS STRIKING IN HUGE NUMBERS U.S. workers continued to throw their weight around in a healthy economy in 2019, recording the largest number of major strikes in the decade. The U.S. saw 25 work stoppages involving at least 1,000 workers last year. That was the most of any year between 2010 and 2019, a time span in which the average was 15. [HuffPost]

According to a report released Tuesday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), working class struggles in the US are at their highest levels in decades. There were 25 work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers in 2019. This is the largest number in nearly two decades. Ten of these strikes involved 20,000 or more workers, the largest number since at least 1993, when data on the size of walkouts began to be systematically tracked by the BLS: here.

Dodgy facial recognition in Detroit, USA


This 9 July 2019 video from the USA is called Criticism mounts over Detroit Police Department’s facial recognition software.

By Kevin Reed in the USA:

Building the infrastructure of a police state

Detroit’s facial recognition surveillance system exposed

9 July 2019

The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners decided on June 29 to postpone a vote on the expansion of its use of camera and facial recognition technology amid growing public outrage over the system that has been in place since 2016.

The decision to delay the vote followed a report the previous day in the Detroit Metro Times that the core surveillance technology—which is scanning and recording the activity of everyone in the city within sight of its extensive camera network at all times—was purchased for $1 million and installed without any public review or discussion let alone a vote of the Detroit City Council or the Police Commission.

Earlier reports in the Metro Times exposed the use of the high-definition video cameras and face-scanning software by the Detroit Police Department (DPD) to identify and track the movements of individuals at “parks, schools, immigration centers, gas stations, churches, abortion clinics, hotels, apartments, fast-food restaurants, and addiction treatment centers.” The article also said that police can identify people in real time using “databases containing hundreds of thousands of photos, including mugshots, driver’s licenses, and images scraped from social media.”

Additionally, the report said the system is integrated with Detroit police body cams and the city’s highly touted “ground-breaking and crime-fighting” public-private-community partnership called Project Green Light Detroit. The program involves placing cameras—at a cost of $4,000 per location—that stream live video to the DPD’s Real Time Crime Center at its downtown headquarters.

A web page at detroitmi.gov dedicated to the Project Green Light hosts a map showing the location of nearly 600 surveillance cameras and says this infrastructure is for “improving neighborhood safety, promoting the revitalization and growth of local businesses, and strengthening DPD’s efforts to deter, identify, and solve crime.”

After the extent of the surveillance was exposed and public anger began to rise, Detroit Police Chief James Craig hastily called a press conference on June 27 in an effort to downplay the invasive nature of the system and justify its implementation.

Forced to admit that the artificial intelligence and biometrics system had been in place for the past two years without review, Craig became irritated. When questioned by the media about its legality, he said, “How come we never talk about the criminals?” Chief Craig also said that the department had the right to detain people based on the technology because it constitutes “reasonable suspicion” that an individual identified by the system had committed a crime.

When asked about it, Democratic Mayor Mike Duggan has repeatedly refused to comment, even though he was a key decision-maker in signing the three-year contract with DataWorks Plus. The firm, located in Greenville, South Carolina, provides technology to more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies in North America and New Zealand.

DataWorks Plus specializes in hardware and software systems that integrate traditional police identification databases like mug shots and fingerprints with more-advanced biometric data such as iris- and tattoo-matching and voice and facial recognition analytics. According to the Metro Times, the city contract also allows for thousands of hours of surveillance video to be shared with third-party law enforcement vendors.

While the smaller circulation alternative weekly Metro Times has played a role in questioning the city’s surveillance operation, the two major daily publications—the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News—have engaged in a campaign to cover up the anti-democratic implications of the police program. Both papers have published multiple articles extolling the benefits of the system to the public and just recently began reporting on growing public concerns.

Among these Free Press and News coverage have been public relations pieces promoting the crime-fighting potential of Project Green Light and quoting Mayor Duggan and the president of the Black McDonald’s Operators Association on how it will bring a “safer environment” and “make criminals think twice before committing a crime” at a participating business.

Detroit’s 24-hour live video surveillance system was initially exposed on May 16 when Georgetown Law School’s Center on Privacy & Technology published a study called “America Under Watch: Face Surveillance in the United States.” This report compared pilot facial recognition programs in Detroit and Chicago to similar systems operated in the Southwest China city of Guiyang where “police are purportedly able to locate and identify anyone who shows their face in public—in a matter of minutes.”

The Georgetown Law report explains that Detroit signed a contract for the “FACE Watch Plus real-time video surveillance software” that operates “not less than 100 concurrent video feeds.” The DPD’s face recognition policy, which was approved by the Board of Police Commissioners and went into effect on July 1, 2018, “may connect the face recognition system to any interface that performs live video, including cameras, drone footage, and body-worn cameras.”

The city contract with DataWorks Plus also includes a mobile app that Detroit police officers may use to run facial recognition searches on the city’s 500,000 mug shots. The system also provides access to Michigan’s Statewide Network of Agency Photos (SNAP), a database that includes driver’s license photographs.

In their analysis of the Detroit system, Georgetown Law explains that Project Green Light was essentially a Trojan Horse used to pitch businesses that are open late at night “as a way to deter crime and improve police response times to incidents at locales across the city.” However, by April 2019 the number of Green Light Partners had been expanded to many other locations including churches, schools and support centers that “reveal deeply personal information” about “religious, political or social views or activities” of people in a “noncriminal organization or lawful event.”

It was Georgetown Law that brought to light efforts by Detroit city officials to obscure the facial recognition aspects of the Project Green Light program. The study points out that neither the application to participate nor the agreement signed by private business partners with the city mention “the use of real-time face surveillance.”

The Georgetown Law study also reviewed the democratic and constitutional issues raised by video-based facial recognition technology in general, writing, “By enabling the secret and mass identification of anyone enrolled in a police—or other government—database, it risks fundamentally changing the nature of our public spaces.”

Among the constitutional violations of these technologies is a “chilling effect” on First Amendment free speech and peaceful assembly rights in public places under video surveillance and the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures by secretly monitoring and cataloging “every single movement” of someone across time.

The fact that Detroit’s secret surveillance system has been in place for two years and plans were well advanced for a major expansion behind the backs of city residents is a political warning to the working class about the complicity of the local media and Democratic Party in the buildup of the infrastructure of a police state. Not a word would have been said about the issue if the public had not been informed about it and begun demanding that the program be stopped.

For example, Police Commissioner from the Fifth District Willie E. Burton—who is an up-and-coming figure of Detroit Democratic Party politics with connections to Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders—is just now calling for public hearings and a referendum on the facial recognition system following his enthusiastic endorsement of Project Green Light over the past two years.

Meanwhile, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Democratic congresswoman from Michigan’s 13th District, which includes much of Detroit, had said nothing about police surveillance of the city’s citizens until the Georgetown study was published.

Starting with a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on May 22, Tlaib has been calling for a moratorium on the use of the technology “until we do something about it at a federal level.” In other words, she would approve the use of facial recognition systems under US government regulations approved by congressional Democrats and Republicans.

The selection of Detroit as a testing location for advanced systems of facial recognition has both a political and historical significance. Despite the decimation of its industrial base, Detroit remains a center of the American working class with a long history of class struggle against big business and the state. Detroit is the location of an urban uprising in the summer of 1967 in which federal troops and tanks were mobilized for the first time against the population of a major American city. …

The ruling class are well aware of the seething anger and fighting capacity of the working class and youth today in Detroit and other cities and growing opposition to capitalism more generally. It is to this threat that the system of facial recognition software tied to real-time video surveillance of the public is being developed and deployed.

Detroit, USA against Trump’s prisons for immigrating


The protest on the Fourth of July at ICE office in downtown Detroit, USA

By Zac Corrigan in Detroit, USA:

“We can definitely unite with Central American workers!”

Detroiters oppose Trump’s war on immigrants at Fourth of July protest

5 July 2019

“Screw the BBQ and Fireworks this 4th!”, autoworker Melissa Crook wrote Tuesday evening in a Facebook event announcement. “We have a government kidnapping children and locking them up in cages […] Make no mistake, these are Concentration Camps! This is a crime against humanity and we cannot and should not stand for this.”

Thirty-six hours later, on the morning of July 4, over 150 people joined her in front of the ICE Enforcement & Removal Operations Field Office in downtown Detroit to register their opposition to the most recent wave of horrific attacks on immigrants by the Trump administration.

The spontaneous protest follows a number of provocative developments in the war being waged against immigrant workers by Trump and his fascistic immigration and border forces, including: the drowning of a Honduran father and his infant daughter in the Rio Grande after the family was denied asylum in Brownsville, Texas; new revelations of the abusive and unsanitary conditions, tantamount to torture, which children and adults are being subjected to inside a massive network of concentration camps; and the taunting of members of congress by ICE officers during a visit to camps in Texas, during which fascistic border guards openly denied detainees access to water and told them to drink from the toilet.

Protesters in front of the Detroit ICE office

“On Tuesday, I was at work listening to news stories about the border”, Melissa told the WSWS at the protest, “and I was hearing about the children with no access to toilets, no showers for days on end, women being told to drink out of the toilet. I didn’t think it was right to celebrate Independence Day when migrants aren’t free. So I urged a protest on the Fourth of July. I got 300 shares in 36 hours. And people showed up! It really restored my faith in humanity. Social media is powerful.”

Asked what message she would send to workers escaping violence and poverty in Mexico and Central America, Melissa said, “I think I speak for the majority of Americans when I say that we support you and we love you. You are welcome here! This is an abhorrent administration enacting inhumane torture policies on people that are fleeing violence—violence created by the US. I am so sorry you have to deal with this, but it’s going to get better.”

Melissa Crook (left) with her sister and nephew

Melissa agreed that national borders are fundamental to the strategy of capitalists to pit workers against one another in a “race to the bottom.” She explained, “I work in the auto industry, and I know that workers in Mexico make far less than we do here. And that means that if we want to keep jobs here, we have to take a cut.” She continued, “My father was a low-wage worker in 1978 here in Detroit. He made $9 an hour, which is the equivalent to $36 an hour today. And they’re demanding a minimum wage now of just $15 an hour? Come on, that’s ridiculous! It should be way more!”

Jacob

Jacob, 24 and Jesse, 22 came from the outer suburb of Waterford Township to attend the protest. They both work as roofers. “I think this protest is great,” said Jacob. “The turnout here really shows that people oppose what’s going on. We should build this up on a national scale.”

Jesse and Jacob both said they thought the attacks on immigrants stemmed from white supremacism, and a government that “doesn’t view other races as people”. This began a discussion of how racism has been consciously cultivated by the ruling class throughout history to keep workers divided against one another, while the process of globalization has integrated workers of all races and nationalities in an international system of production.

Jesse

Jacob said he thought the protest showed that American workers, “can definitely unite with Central American workers. We have much more in common than what separates us.” Jesse added that workers of all races in his generation, “really can’t afford to live anymore. Health care, insurance, being able to afford a home and a family, it’s just not doable.”

As for the way forward, Jacob proposed “we should take over the means of production! I think there needs to be an actual fight. Protests like this can bring awareness to an issue, but then there comes a time in history where things need to change. America needs to have a revolution, for the native workers and the immigrants.” Jesse concluded, “We outnumber them [the ruling class]. And it’s time to get it done.”

A team from the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) attended the rally and handed out the recent WSWS statement “No to concentration camps in America!” The statement explains the crucial role played by the Democrats, who far from organizing mass opposition to attacks on immigrants, last week voted for $4.5 billion to further militarize the border and expand the network of concentration camps.

The statement calls on “workers and students to organize protests, strikes and demonstrations in defense of immigrants,” and for the “formation of defense committees in working-class neighborhoods, at schools and at workplaces to safeguard immigrants and mobilize the working class against the bipartisan assault on democratic rights.”

After the rally, IYSSE member Sam said, “I think there’s something really interesting about this protest being called by someone who doesn’t seem to be part of any particular political group. People are being drawn into political life by events like the attacks on immigrants, the buildup of a police state, and the deterioration of social conditions. And they more and more are coming to see that the entire political establishment … offers no way forward.

“But what is needed,” he concluded, “and this is what the IYSSE has contributed here today—is a socialist perspective and program that can not only stop ICE and guarantee full rights to immigrants, but can also unite workers all over the world in a common struggle for social equality and an end to war and imperialist oppression.”

Detroit, USA autoworkers support Mexican strikers


This 29 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

“I think we should all be united. Us in the US, we should stand firm with them.”

Listen to what Detroit autoworkers had to say about the wildcat strikes by auto parts workers in Matamoros, Mexico.

Autoworkers across the world are fighting back. Join the Feb 9 Detroit rally to stop GM plant closings, layoffs and concessions at General Motors headquarters!

American autoworkers against Trump’s xenophobia


This 13 November 2018 video says about itself:

Migrant Caravans Continue Their Trek North

Several thousand Central American migrants marked a month on the road as they ride toward the U.S. border.

By WSWS Autoworker Newsletter in the USA:

“Someone is getting paid millions to provoke racism and hatred”

US autoworkers oppose anti-immigrant campaign

13 November 2018

Over the weekend, reporters for the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter spoke to Detroit area autoworkers about the fascistic campaign against asylum seekers being fomented by President Trump, a provocation that has been aided and abetted by the Democratic Party, which was deliberately silent on this issue during the midterm elections.

The president ranted against Central American immigrants who are traveling to the US to escape rampant violence in the region long ravaged by American imperialism, calling workers and their families seeking a better life “invaders”. The president has also sent thousands of US troops to the border area and said they should shoot migrants, including children, if they throw stones at the soldiers.

The WSWS Autoworker Newsletter insists that the defense of immigrant workers is a critical task for American workers. The forging of solidarity between workers in the US and workers in Canada and Latin America is essential for a successful struggle against the transnational auto corporations.

Over the weekend, reporters for the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter spoke with Ford workers at the Dearborn Truck Assembly plant south of Detroit, part of the giant River Rouge complex. Names have been altered in some cases to prevent possible … management retaliation.

David, a Ford Dearborn Assembly worker, came to Detroit from another state looking for work a number of years ago. The old neighborhood where he grew up is full of immigrants from all around the world. He spoke eloquently about the unity of workers of all countries.

“We have to be truthful about the situation. It’s about critical thinking”, he reflected. “Someone is getting paid millions to provoke racism and hatred. It’s a war move that goes way back in time: divide and conquer.

“Every group of immigrants in history has faced this. It’s supposed to be the ‘United’ States. But there was splitting before the Civil War. Africans, Irish, Eastern Europeans, the Arabic people. It was always the same; keep the workers divided.”

“Immigrants contribute to society”, he continued. “We are all immigrants really, except the Native Americans.”

As he reflected on the implications of Trump’s sending troops to the border with orders to shoot, it became clear how closely immigrants, both documented and undocumented, are bound up with the lives of American workers and the horror and anger a potential massacre of unarmed families would provoke.

For David, as with most workers we talked to, the attempt to incite a fascist hatred of foreigners evoked revulsion. “Illegal immigrants only want citizenship”, he said. “What’s the problem? That’s all they’re doing is working.”

WSWS reporters recalled the coming to power of fascists in Europe during the 1920s and 1930s and the re-emergence of similar forces today in Germany, France, Brazil and other countries.

“Whenever I see the news, I feel like I’m in a cartoon”, David responded. “It’s unreal. Other countries are horrified at the conditions that are developing in the US.”

He remarked, “I have read Karl Marx. My high school teacher gave me a book of his to read. I knew it was important but I didn’t know why at the time.”

Carmen, another Dearborn Truck worker, was born in Puerto Rico and has family members who survived Hurricane Maria and its aftermath. She strongly identifies with the caravan of asylum seekers who are traveling by foot across Mexico.

“Immigrants receive no help”, she said. “I am from Puerto Rico, and after the hurricane we were abandoned. Puerto Ricans are portrayed as second-class citizens.”

She went on to explain the conditions of intimidation that confront wide layers of the working class as the media and whole political establishment lurch to the right in line with Trump’s fascistic rants. “The Democrats and Republicans both work together”, she said.

“I am afraid to speak Spanish”, she continued. “Trump is inciting the right wing and fascists, and the Democrats go along with it.”

Other workers, readers of the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter contacted by our reporters also spoke out in defense of immigrants.

A Fiat Chrysler worker said, “He (Trump) does not see immigrants as people. They are demanding immigrants have the right paperwork when they apply for asylum, but they know that takes money. So, they are basically only accepting immigrants who have money.”

Mike, a young worker at Ford Sterling Axle plant denounced the Trump administration’s mobilization of troops to the US Mexican border and threats to shoot workers participating in the immigrant caravan. “He is pushing this to the extreme. It is unbelievable.”

Mike continued, “They are seeking asylum. It is not like they are trying to sneak in.

“If they are seeking asylum due to political persecution, it should be granted. All the political problems in Central America over the last 60 years are due to US involvement, either the US overthrowing governments or supporting right-wing death squads.

The US overthrew the government in Chile and installed the Pinochet junta. The death squads in Central America were financed by the US government. We have to let them in. It is the right thing to do.”

He continued, “The GOP claims they are the party of morality and good Christians. It has always been the tactic of the people in power to blame foreigners. They have given the rich so many tax cuts, but everyone else is struggling. I don’t think that is the fault of a Guatemalan refugee. He won’t take your job.”

Singer Aretha Franklin, 1942-2018


This music video from the USA is called Respect by Aretha Franklin.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Aretha Franklin: the caged bird that escaped to sing

March 25 1942 – August 16 2018

ARETHA FRANKLIN, the undoubted Queen of Soul, has died in Detroit at the age of 76 after a long fight with cancer.

Among the myriad tributes from the high and mighty of popular music, others praised her work and continuing commitment to the civil rights movement.

Former president Barack Obama, at whose 2009 inauguration she sang, said Franklin’s music “helped define the American experience.

“In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade — our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace.”

Civil rights campaigners Reverend Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton paid tribute to their friend and political comrade of decades.

The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) also released a statement celebrating her life and contribution cause.

“No-one can discuss the civil rights movement nor music without paying respect to the Queen of Soul”, NAACP chairman Leon W Russell said.

In 1970 it was reported that Franklin offered to post bail for civil rights activist and CPUSA member Angela Davis who was then being held on charges of having assisted a courtroom breakout by George Jackson and the Soledad Brothers.

She told Jet magazine: “Angela Davis must go free. Black people will be free. I’ve been locked up (for disturbing the peace in Detroit) and I know you’ve got to disturb the peace when you can’t get no peace.”

Franklin sang with one of the most distinctive voices in the history of popular music. In a 50-year recording career she racked up 20 Top 10 albums, a dozen million-selling singles and earned no fewer than 18 Grammy awards.

She was an artist of incredible versatility, her powerful voice embracing jazz, soul and rhythm and blues. Rolling Stone magazine rated her as the greatest singer of all time.

Aretha Louise Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 25 1942. She was the daughter of a Baptist minister and his wife Barbara, an accomplished gospel singer.

She was just six when the family moved to Detroit. There the young Franklin learned to play the piano and began singing in her father’s church. When the family broke up, her mother moved to Buffalo, New York, where she died from a heart attack aged 34.

Her father CL became a respected figure among Detroit’s black community and his church a centre for gospel music. At the age of just 14, Franklin released her first record and had her first child, a son, Clarence. She had a second child, Edward, when she was 16. Her grandmother offered to raise the two boys.

Contracts with various companies followed, but it wasn’t until she signed with Atlantic Records in 1966 that she found real direction.

Her first Atlantic release, I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You), proved to be her breakthrough, going to number one in the rhythm and blues charts and reaching number nine in the pop charts.

Her second Atlantic single became her best-known song. Her gospel-tinged rendition of Otis Redding’s Respect went to number one in the US charts and reached number 10 in Britain. The song became a feminist anthem, as well as winning two Grammys.

In 1987 Franklin became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while in 1994 she received a Grammy award for lifetime achievement.

The whole world of popular music is queuing up to pay their tributes but more important is the world of still oppressed black Americans who know Franklin always sang for them.

This 8 June 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

Aretha Franklin unveils street named in her honor

Detroit – Soul legend Aretha Franklin will be recognized for her achievements as a recording artist with a Thursday afternoon ceremony naming a portion of Madison Avenue named in her honor.

Trump deports refugees to Iraq war


Iraqi woman denounces immigration raids in the USA

By Eric London and Niles Niemuth in the USA:

Immigration raids strike Detroit: Dozens rounded up for deportation to Iraq war zone

13 June 2017

In a series of raids Sunday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested as many as 100 Iraqi immigrants in the Detroit metro area, including Muslims and many Chaldean Catholics, some of whom were reportedly captured while leaving church services.

Family members of the arrestees told the World Socialist Web Site that the detainees were sent to a for-profit prison four hours away near Youngstown, Ohio, from where they face immediate risk of deportation to Iraq.

Protesters held a demonstration at the Mother of God Catholic Church in Southfield yesterday, where friends and family of the arrestees wept and screamed denunciations of Trump and immigration officials.

Relatives say that deportation will be a “death sentence” due to the ongoing war and sectarian strife that has enveloped Iraq since the US invasion of 2003. While ICE claims they are only deporting dangerous criminals, relatives say some of the arrestees were convicted for crimes as minor as marijuana possession and that many of the convictions are decades old.

The decision by the Trump administration to deport refugees to Iraq explodes the claims that the US wars in Iraq and Syria are “humanitarian” interventions aimed at protecting the population. In violation of international law, the US government is sending the arrestees into an active warzone in a region that it continues to bomb. Iraq has been laid to waste by 25 years of permanent US-led war. The death toll is in the millions.

As the ICE raids were taking place Sunday, the Department of Defense issued a press release announcing that the US military launched seven air strikes in Iraq, hitting Bayji, Kisik, Mosul, and Tal Afar in recent days.

Family members were informed that their relatives could be sent to the Iraqi city of Erbil, located less than two hours by car from Mosul, a city under active siege where the US has killed thousands of civilians and where the US-backed invasion force has been accused of using the chemical white phosphorous against the population.

Mosul, which has been largely demolished by the US siege, is the seat of a leading Chaldean Catholic Church diocese and the home of ethnic Chaldeans, an Assyrian population whose roots in Iraq date back over 5,500 years.

Although the Chaldean minority in Iraq was not targeted by the secular regime of Saddam Hussein, persecution grew after the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91 as the US stoked sectarian conflict in the country’s northern Kurdish region in an effort to destabilize the Ba’athist government.

A portion of the protest at Mother of God church in Southfield, Michigan

Conditions drastically worsened after the US invasion, which fueled sectarian warfare as the US military mobilized Shi’ite forces against insurgents in the majority Sunni areas, and both Islamic factions persecuted religious minorities like Yazidis and Chaldeans. Over 80 Chaldean churches have been bombed since the US occupation began.

Since the 2003 US invasion, Iraq’s total Christian population has fallen from 1.5 million to 400,000 due to death and emigration. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians fled to Syria after the US invasion, only to now find themselves trapped in the conflict raging there.

In order to stoke civil war and force the ouster of Bashar al-Assad in neighboring Syria, the US has backed an opposition dominated by Syria’s Al Qaeda affiliate, the Al Nusra Front, which has also carried out atrocities against Chaldeans in both Syria and Iraq. Al Qaeda is believed to be responsible for the 2008 assassination of Mosul’s Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahno.

In the last three years, ISIS has routinely destroyed Chaldean churches, killed religious officials, and desecrated ancient ruins. The Islamist group developed in Iraq and emerged in Syria under conditions where the US’s deliberate policy was to fuel violent religious conflict. In Iraq, the purpose is to keep the population divided and more easily dominated by Washington. In Syria, the aim is to bring down Assad.

Sunday’s round-up is the product of a deal made in March by the Trump administration with the Iraqi government that removed the country from the administration’s revised executive order barring travel from seven predominantly-Muslim nations. Under the terms of the deal, Iraq agreed to take deportees from the US, something the country has not done for years.

Many Chaldeans at Monday’s demonstration told the WSWS they voted for Trump because he claimed he would protect Christians in Iraq and Syria. An older Chaldean man whose brother was arrested said, “I voted for Trump, it’s not fair. This is our home, where are we to go in Iraq? We have no country, that’s why we came to America!”

Steve said, 'If they took your brother, father, sister, or mother, how would you feel? What would you do?'

Steve, another Chaldean protester whose brother was arrested, said, “Trump lied, he said he would go after people without legal papers, but everyone they arrested had papers. My brother went in for a regular check-up with immigration authorities, and he got picked up at home one week later. If they took your brother, father, sister, or mother, how would you feel? What would you do?”

Scenes like the one that played out in a church parking lot in Michigan on Monday afternoon are becoming increasingly common in the US. In the first three months following his inauguration, Trump’s administration arrested over 40,000 immigrants, an escalation from the already high numbers deported under Barack Obama.

Across the country, parents of all backgrounds are being torn from their children and from one another. Many, including those from the Middle East, Central America and Southeast Asia, will be sent back to impoverished disaster zones suffering from the impact of US imperialist intervention.

The number of lives shattered by these policies is in the tens of millions, and yet there is near total silence from the Democratic Party on Trump’s mass deportation program.

Instead, the Democratic Party is throwing its entire political energy behind advancing unsubstantiated neo-McCarthyite claims that Trump is an agent of Russia, amplified by highly publicized Senate hearings.

But the Democrats’ attempt to whip up public hysteria over “foreign meddling” may exacerbate xenophobic confusion, further poisoning the political climate and creating conditions in which “foreigners” and immigrants may find themselves the victims of physical attacks. The Democrats’ anti-Russian campaign is providing right-wing paramilitary groups and the Bannon-Miller faction of the Trump White House with a springboard to direct social anger against immigrants.

If public hearings were held on Trump’s deportation program, facts would emerge that would shock tens of millions and educate them on the horrific conditions immigrants face.

For example, the government is setting up a network of camps to house hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including those who have committed no crimes. The government has considered mobilizing 100,000 National Guard troops across 11 western and southwestern states to incarcerate millions of immigrants. ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are filled with thousands of fascistic officers who describe beating and arresting immigrants as “fun”. Violations of immigrants’ due process rights are so routine they are treated as par for the course by immigration attorneys and judges.

The Democrats have not and will not demand hearings to investigate these widespread violations of democratic rights … The task of bringing the Trump administration to justice for the attacks on immigrants therefore falls to the working class.

The deportation of roughly 200 Iraqi nationals, predominantly Chaldeans, in the Detroit area was halted Monday when the Eastern Michigan District Court expanded a Detroit area stay to affect detained Iraqi immigrants nationwide. However, without a further decision deportations will resume on July 6: here.

The number of Christian refugees admitted to the U.S. has fallen by more than 40 percent under the Trump administration.

A federal judge in Detroit, Michigan has halted the deportation of more than 1,400 Iraqi immigrants who were slated for immediate deportation. The ruling came Monday as US District Judge Mark Goldsmith granted a preliminary injunction request by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to block the deportation of any Iraqi citizen who is under a final removal order: here.

US-backed Iraqi forces began their siege of Mosul eight months ago. Since then, thousands of Iraqi civilians have died under US bombs, rockets and shells: here.

Not one Democratic senator sought to question Sessions about the actual policies of the Trump administration toward immigrants or victims of police violence: here.

VERSION OF TRAVEL BAN GOES INTO EFFECT “The Supreme Court has agreed to review President Donald Trump’s travel ban in October, allowing a limited version of the order to go into effect in the meantime. Individuals from the six Muslim-majority countries affected by the ban ― Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen ― who have a bona fide relationship with the United States aren’t blocked from entering the country.” [HuffPost]

The Trump administration is preparing to step up its attacks on immigrant workers, drafting new guidelines under which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would authorize “expedited removals” of hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers without any court proceedings: here.

As President Donald Trump boasted of “American pride and prestige” in a speech to sailors in Virginia on Saturday, an American nightmare was playing out in San Antonio, Texas. Nine immigrants are dead and 19 are in critical condition after being locked in a sealed semitruck trailer for 24 hours. The trailer was parked in the sun in a Wal-Mart parking lot in 100-degree weather: here.

TRUMP BACKS BILL TO DRAMATICALLY SLASH IMMIGRATION President Donald Trump said he supports a Senate bill that would slash the number of legal immigrants in half — including a dramatic cut to the number of refugees the U.S. accepts each year. [HuffPost]

GIVE ME YOUR… OH, NEVER MIND White House aide Stephen Miller argued Wednesday that “The New Colossus” — the famous poem inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty — has no relevance to how the U.S. has typically thought about immigration because it was added after the statue was erected. [HuffPost]

BORDER PATROL TOLD NOT TO TALK TO MEMBERS, LAWYERS, PRESS Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show that high-level Homeland Security officials directed their staff at airports around the country not to talk to congressional representatives, or lawyers, or the press in the hours following the implementation of Trump administration’s travel ban. [Daily Beast]

A FLORIDA DMV IS TURNING AWAY LEGAL IMMIGRANTS The office says they have too many customers and their parking lot is too full, so they can no longer help people who aren’t U.S. citizens. [HuffPost]

ICE agents have shown up at California labor dispute cases looking to apprehend undocumented construction workers who brought claims against their bosses: here.

Having already capped the number of refugees to be admitted to the United States at 50,000—less than half the previous quota—the Trump administration is preparing to slash the number even further as part of its “America First” program promoting right-wing nationalism and xenophobia: here.

TWO WOMEN SAY THEY HAVE LOST PREGNANCIES IN IMMIGRANT DETENTION SINCE JULY “Raising concerns among lawyers and immigrant rights groups that the Trump administration is detaining pregnant women is greater numbers, putting the health of women and the babies they’re carrying at risk in the process.” [HuffPost]

ICE ARRESTS NEARLY 500 IN CRACKDOWN ON SANCTUARY CITIES “In President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, ICE arrested nearly 40 percent more people than it had during the same period the previous year.” [HuffPost]

On December 8, National Public Radio (NPR) ran an episode of This American Life titled “Our Town,” which legitimized workplace raids against immigrants and justified tougher sanctions for employing undocumented workers: here.

A crime against humanity. US to deport 262,000 Salvadoran immigrants: here.

Rosa Parks’ home in Berlin, saving it from destruction by Detroit’s mayor


This video from the USA is called The Rosa Parks Story.

The mayor of Detroit in the USA not only threatens a graffiti artist with fifteen years in prison for graffiti art.

There is also this.

By Mary Papenfuss from the USA:

04/10/2017 03:27 am ET

What Is Rosa Parks’ House Doing In Berlin?

Detroit planned to demolish the home, so now it’s in artist’s yard in Germany.

If you want to visit the home where civil rights legend Rosa Parks lived, you’ve got a trip ahead of you — all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. That’s because her home is in the backyard of an American artist living in Germany.

It seems like back-of-the-bus treatment for the black woman who had the guts in 1955 to refuse to give up her seat to a white man in Alabama and go to the back of the bus. Instead, she gave birth to the civil rights movement.

Why is her home in Berlin? Short answer? Detroit planned to destroy it.

When Parks’ niece Rhea McCauley found out, she purchased the home for $500 and cast around for ways to save it. She reached out to artist Ryan Mendoza, who happened to be in Detroit at the time. Though they both appealed to Detroit’s mayor to protect the building, they said he had no interest. So they dissembled the home, packed it in shipping containers, transported it to Germany, and put it back together in an expensive operation that took several months, reported Deutsche Welle.

“It is something that is precious,” McCauley told The Associated Press. “It is priceless, yet it is being mistreated. That’s what I saw and that’s how it felt. So when I met Ryan and he said, ‘Let’s bring it to Berlin and restore it,’ I said yes.”

Mendoza, who was born in New York, is stunned that Germany ended up with what he considers a treasure. “The Rosa Parks house should actually be a national monument and not a demolition project,” he told Deutsche Welle.

“The basic question, the fundamental question I ask myself: ‘Is the house worthless or is the house  priceless?’ For the American institutions so far the house has been deemed worthless,” he told Agence France-Presse. “It was put on a demolition list; that’s not a detail.”

Mendoza believes it’s apt that the house stands in a country that tore down a wall, and has left a nation planning to build a wall.

Hundreds of people turned out to see the official unveiling of the home in Berlin last week. The interior still needs some work, but Mendoza has installed a sound exhibit for the home including a telephone interview with Parks.

McCauley said she hopes one day the U.S. will “grow up” and ask for its treasure back.

15 years jail for graffiti art in Detroit, USA?


Gabriela June Gibson, graffiti artist

By Tyler Van Dyke in the USA:

Detroit woman faces 15 years in prison over graffiti incident

8 April 2017

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and his administration continue to pursue vindictive penalties in cases involving graffiti. Dozens of charges have been laid against graffiti artists since Duggan, a Democrat, took office in 2014.

In the most recent incident, Gabriela Gibson, 27, faces three felony charges carrying 15-year prison sentences. She is charged with lying under oath when questioned about the tagging of a long abandoned building on Detroit’s east side. Her license plate information was allegedly captured by an eyewitness while driving away from the scene after spray-painting faces on the building.

Prosecutors claim to have found information about other graffiti incidents while searching Gibson’s phone and text messages. Two other individuals, Nathan Koorhan and Craig Kowalski, face similar charges. Both face up to 10 years in prison for breaking and entering, and “malicious destruction” of one of Detroit’s many abandoned schools.

Detroit, America’s largest poor city, has been a target of graffiti for decades.

The three defendants are the latest victims of the crackdown against non-violent crimes by city officials.

The Duggan administration has also been issuing thousands of tickets to property owners in Detroit, giving them only seven days to remove graffiti from their buildings or be fined. Some residents, caught in the bureaucratic morass of the deeply underfunded and understaffed city, have been fined without being adequately warned about removing the graffiti.

Retired postal worker Freddie Jones, Jr. told the Detroit Free Press that the city had sent a crew to remove the tags off the side of his building and fined him $1,121 just three days after being warned.

“They’re doing it to get money,” Jones told the Free Press, “Had I been given an opportunity I would’ve done it no problem. I wasn’t even allotted the opportunity to clean up my own property.”

Another small business owner, Roosevelt Hendrix, barely avoided paying a $1,500 fine. He told the Free Press, “We just got lucky, man. I think we got lucky by doing it ourselves because $1,500–who has $1,500 for some graffiti, man? … $1,500 for nothing?”

Buildings where graffiti has been removed will often be tagged again in a matter of days.

The Duggan administration continues to try and present itself as “returning democracy to Detroit,” while working behind closed doors to turn the city of Detroit into a haven for big investors and speculators.

Duggan is up for re-election this year and will no doubt use his bullying policing tactics as an example of how he has helped the city by cracking down on petty crime. This is known as “broken window policing” or “quality of life policing,” the premise of which is that if small crimes are responded to harshly this will deter more serious crimes from occurring. The unconstitutional “stop-and-frisk” program in New York City is associated with this approach.

Duggan, a longtime proponent of “broken window policing,” said in 2003, when he was Wayne County prosecutor, “I consider these quality-of-life crimes serious issues,” and commented further that “They will have a ripple effect on other crimes.”

The “theory,” of course, is both unfair and anti-democratic and has no essential effect on conditions and crime rates that are the product of the overwhelming decay and devastation of America’s inner cities.

As great numbers of people realize full well, the true “vandals” in Detroit, guilty of “malicious destruction” on a vast scale, are the auto and other giant corporations that have destroyed hundreds of thousands of decent-paying jobs over the past 35 years, reducing the city’s population to levels of misery seen in so-called Third World countries. Duggan and the Democrats have presided over the social carnage, acting with one goal in mind: to suppress popular anger and protect the wealth of the city’s elite.

The imposition of tougher penalties for petty crimes, including the brutal treatment of Gibson, is intended to intimidate the population and muzzle potential opposition. Both the graffiti artists and the property-owners threatened with fines are victims of the same social process.

Duggan has received wide bipartisan support for his re-election bid, with many politicians and corporate figures already announcing support for him.

Health insurance corporation Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s political action committee, BluesPAC, sent out a letter in late February to “more than 1,000 Blue Cross employees … asking for donations of $1,000 for corporate officers, $500 for vice presidents, $250 for directors and $100 from managers and others to support the Mike Duggan for Detroit Committee,” according to Crain’s Detroit Business .

Duggan served as Wayne County Prosecutor from 2001 to 2004. Soon after leaving that office he took a position as president and CEO of the Detroit Medical Center. After DMC was sold to Vanguard Health Systems in 2010, Duggan walked away with more than $2.4 million, along with sizeable stock options.

After an attempt to run for mayor of suburban Livonia in 2011, Duggan decided to campaign for mayor of Detroit in 2014. Because of his reputation as a cost cutter, Duggan secured the backing of major sections of Detroit’s ruling elite.

Among those donating the nearly $2 million to the 2014 Duggan mayoral campaign were political action committees associated with Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert; Ford executive Bill Ford; Compuware founder Peter Karmanos; Roger Penske and executives from Vanguard Health Systems. All of these firms and individuals have continued to prosper under Duggan’s administration.

Victim of police brutality suing Detroit Police Department: here.

TRAPPED IN AN INTERNET DESERT, DETROIT TEENS ARE STRUGGLING TO STAY ONLINE The digital divide may be shutting students out of opportunities they desperately need. [HuffPost]