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Tom Conway

NAFTA Is An Accomplice To Murder

Oscar Hernández Romero’s friends searched for him in garbage dumps, ravines and all the other places that could hide what they feared to find—the bullet-riddled body of a Mexican labor activist. But they’ve turned up no trace of Oscar, who disappeared near the open-pit gold mine in southwestern Mexico where workers went on strike two years ago demanding to join the independent labor union Los Mineros. Anti-union thugs murdered three other men involved in the organizing effort by workers at the Media Luna mine, and Oscar is feared dead, too. NAFTA, which siphoned a million jobs from America and mired Mexican workers in poverty, is an accomplice to murder because it incentivized the killing of labor activists. Corporations in Mexico exploit workers and pollute the environment to slash costs, which enables them to undercut U.S. and Canadian competitors. They aggressively thwart unions because their business model requires cheap labor. That puts targets on the backs of labor organizers who work to improve conditions in Mexican factories, mills and mines. If this situation is going to change, NAFTA must change. Strong labor standards and enforcement provisions must be written into the text of the proposed new NAFTA, including an ironclad right to organize and protection for activists, so Mexican workers can join real labor unions like Los Mineros, throw out company-controlled imposter unions like the one at Media Luna and get better wages and working conditions. Without these safeguards in the new NAFTA, formally known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, Mexican labor activists will risk death. And corporations will continue to fire American and Canadian workers and move operations to Mexico.

Tom Conway is president of the United Steelworkers

White House Deleted Parts Of Ukraine Transcript

Vindman says White House deleted Trump’s reference to Biden tapes in transcript of Zelensky call. CNN: “The National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert told House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he tried to make changes to the White House’s rough transcript of the July phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s President, including that Trump mentioned tapes of former Vice President Joe Biden, according to a source familiar with the matter. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that one example of his attempts to change the transcript was to include Trump telling Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky there were tapes of Biden, which The New York Times reported occurred where there’s an ellipsis in the transcript that was released. The change was not made. The assertion that some portion of the conversation was replaced by an ellipsis contradicts the White House’s statement in September that the ellipses in the transcript did not represent missing words or phrases. It also contradicts the President who has insisted the transcript the White House released was an exact depiction of the call, even though the memo itself describes it as rough. Vindman also said that he would have edited the transcript to specifically show that Zelensky mentioned Burisma — the company that hired Hunter Biden — rather than just “the company,” according to sources. “He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue,” the rough transcript cites Zelensky as saying. Vindman’s testimony that some specific details were left out of the rough transcript adds further insight about how the White House handled the call and Democrats’ concerns that the Trump administration engaged in a coverup.”

Dems Lay Out Impeachment Roadmap

House dems unveil resolution for next phase of Trump impeachment inquiry. Daily Beast: “House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a resolution for the forthcoming ‘public phase’ of the impeachment inquiry that would essentially hand House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) the steering wheel. Under the outlined procedures, Schiff would have the ability to organize extended questioning of potential public witnesses that would all take place in front of the intelligence committee. The resolution focuses the public questioning solely under the intelligence committee, as opposed to the three committees—which include Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform—that are conducting closed-door questioning. The resolution appears to be in response to complaints from Republicans to make the impeachment inquiry more open, and for rules to be set regarding the inquiry’s latitudes before moving forward into the public phase. The new procedures would also allow House Republicans to make their own requests for testimony and documents—though those requests would ultimately be subject to a vote of the Democratic-majority committee. Lawmakers are expected to formalize the new procedures with a vote on Thursday.”

Chicago Teachers Strike Enters 10th Day

Chicago Teachers Union walkout to continue as delegates emerge without a deal; classes canceled. Chicago Tribune: “The Chicago teachers strike is headed into a 10th school day after union delegates emerged late Tuesday without any announcement of a contract deal, leading Chicago Public Schools officials to cancel classes again for Wednesday. Hours after the CTU summoned representatives from city schools to discuss negotiations, and following a day the union and city leaders traded barbs over counterproposals, classes finally were called off around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, continuing the city’s longest strike in decades. Chicago Teachers Union officials indicated there’s a possibility that a tentative agreement could emerge as early as Wednesday morning. But President Jesse Sharkey added, ‘We haven’t settled everything.’ There was no immediate comment from the city or CPS officials. Union leaders also said they don’t want to pass up an opportunity to lock in historic provisions for improving conditions in schools. ‘You don’t go on strike this many days to say, ‘I wish I would have,’’ said CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates. The news came despite an apparent push by both sides Tuesday to reach an agreement that could end the walkout and put about 300,000 CPS students and 25,000 teachers back in school for the first time since Oct. 16. Mayor Lori Lightfoot spent about three hours Tuesday afternoon meeting at City Hall with Sharkey and Davis Gates and presented an enhanced offer that met additional – but not all – union demands.”

Town Hall On Mass Incarceration A Missed Opportunity

Presidential Town Hall on mass incarceration was a missed opportunity. The Intercept: “The presidential town hall, the first ever to be hosted by formerly incarcerated people, was a unique opportunity for candidates to speak about the criminal justice system with those who know firsthand its devastating failures. But only three candidates showed up — and while the conversation delved into questions rarely tackled on the campaign trail, some of the candidates’ answers left those in the audience disappointed. The event itself was historic: Formerly incarcerated men and women questioned presidential candidates about their positions on U.S. mass incarceration, for-profit prisons, and post-conviction disenfranchisement, among other issues. The setting, too, was historic: Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, the first modern prison in the United States, a gothic panopticon with rows of dusty cells and rusting bed frames that was used until 1970. The candidates who showed up on Monday — Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, and billionaire Tom Steyer — sat close to a few dozen audience members representing a wide range of justice reform organizations led by those who know the system best. There were hugs, selfies, and some hard questions. But most notable was the absence of most of the presidential candidates, including all the frontrunners, and the sometimes evasive answers of the candidates who did show up. ‘In that room, you had some of the foremost leaders in the country, folks who have been working for decades to lift the systemic oppression of incarcerated people,’ said J. Jondhi Harrell, a Philadelphia activist who spent 25 years in federal prison. ‘To those who say that they want to be president and have specific ideas about how to reform the system, you have the opportunity to speak to the experts in the field. To just wave this off and say it’s not important really speaks to what you feel not only about justice reform, but also about black and brown people.'”

How Dark Money Hides Big Political Donations

The ways people hide big political donations. NPR: “Earlier this month, two business partners of Rudy Giuliani were arrested on their way out of the country. They’re accused of violating federal campaign finance laws. Part of their scheme allegedly involved funneling more than $300,000 from a shell company to a superPAC supporting President Trump. We’ve been talking with some experts in election law, and many of them are surprised not at the size of the donation or the attempt to cover up the source of the funds – those things are actually pretty common. They’re surprised that Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman didn’t cover their tracks better because there are options for people who want to completely obscure big political donations. America First Action, for example, the superPAC they gave to, has a 501(c)(4) social welfare arm that doesn’t have to disclose its donors. It’s run by essentially the same people out of the same address. It is nominally a social welfare organization that’s supposed to do things that benefit the community. But these function, essentially, as stealth political groups that have the benefit of not disclosing their donors. So the easiest way for them to have avoided the situation they now find themselves in is just to have given to that arm of the group.”

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