Lessons of the NYC school bus strike: Was it worth it?

first_imgSchool bus workers demonstrate Feb. 10 at New York City Hall Park. WW photo: Brenda RyanThe bourgeois media made a decision to portray the end of the New York City school bus union’s four-week strike as an out-and-out victory for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.There’s no question that Bloomberg intends to entirely eliminate the Employment Protection Provision — the job-protection seniority list at the heart of the strike. The EPP is a clause in the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 contract stating that, no matter what company gets the school bus contract, the workers don’t lose their jobs.But New York’s school bus workers’ union, 80 percent people of color and 60 percent women — who in the coldest days of winter had the courage to go on strike against a billionaire mayor and his media empire — are far from beaten. The EPP remains in nearly 86 percent of K-12 busing contracts. Specific strategies are being developed in the school busing movement to seek remedies to restore the EPP in the other 14 percent.On Feb. 12 some 1,150 routes, which affect 2,300 jobs, were bid upon — in a room full of striking workers and school bus parents who were there to bear witness. But these contracts have not yet been awarded, signed or approved by budget authorities in the city government.WW photo: Brenda RyanOn Feb. 21, when the ARISE (Action for Reform in Special Education) Coalition and the Citywide Council on Special Education sponsored an evening speakout on the bus strike, about 50 parents showed up to blast the city’s attack on school busing.When Sara Catalinotto, a founder of Parents to Improve School Transportation, asked parents, “How many parents here think seniority hiring is bad for busing?” nobody raised their hands.Amalgamated Transit Union matron Jean Dileone — who is also the parent of a student with autism — told the all-news station New York 1 she felt the strike was worth it: “We fought for something that we needed.” (Feb. 16) Dileone added she would strike again if necessary.Was the strike worth it?Behind the bourgeois propaganda of the corporate media is the desire to demoralize the workers, both in the union and in the minds of everyone else. New York papers especially tried to paint the whole strike as a waste of time.These papers obviously never talked to school bus driver Maria Gentile, who agreed with Dileone that the strike was worth it. “We showed the people of New York City that Bloomberg is not going to bully us around,” she told WW.Driver Fran Rodnite agreed. “Most of us feel very positive about it.” Of the decision to end the strike, Rodnite told WW, “It’s a little setback, but in the end, we’re going to win.”Strikes require immense sacrifice and struggle from the workers, and not everyone will view this one the same way. Still, these workers’ appraisal of the struggle differs significantly from the corporate media’s anti-worker version.The local is in a good position to honor its commitment to fight on for EPP (with or without the politicians) because through this struggle, many of the diverse rank-and-file members have emerged as conscious, organized and strong leaders.Also, the benefits of strikes are not necessarily confined to the workers getting what they were fighting for. When the leader of the Russian Revolution, V. I. Lenin, wrote about a wave of strikes in Russia, he said, “Every strike reminds the workers that their position is not hopeless, that they are not alone.”He also wrote, “A strike teaches workers … not to think of their own employer alone and not of their own immediate workmates alone but of all the employers, the whole class of capitalists and the whole class of workers.”Both Gentile and Rodnite related the school bus union’s fight to Bloomberg’s attacks on all city workers, none of whom have a contract, as well as to their class as a whole. “We’re not only fighting for ourselves and our jobs,” Rodnite said. “We’re fighting for every single working person out there.”Strikes also change the consciousness of the workers to see the way the entire system conspires against them. Police were stationed at picket lines as if the workers were criminals. The media covered every utterance of Bloomberg and Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott, but refused to report that there were two non-union school bus accidents during the last week of the strike.Under federal law covering education for students with disabilities, school bus transportation is a “related service” — a necessary part of services required to maximize access to education for every special needs student. Where was the government when it came to exposing Bloomberg’s violation of federal mandates for students with disabilities?Ultimately, strikes teach workers who their true allies are. The government, the media, the police — the entire superstructure of capitalism — sided with Bloomberg. Democratic politicians such as mayoral candidates John Liu and Bill Thompson marched with the school bus workers on Feb. 10 — and then a week later asked them to return to work, objectively siding with the mayor.AFL-CIO state and municipal leaders abdicated their responsibility to get out their members to support the strike. Individual trade unionists came out, reflecting the desire of the rank and file to show solidarity. But where were the considerable resources of the New York labor leadership?True allies were found among those with shared class interests. School bus driver Josephine Guarino told WW that parents who suffered hardships as a result of the strike “didn’t blame us. They blamed Bloomberg.”Parent-union allianceLed by groups that existed before the strike, like PIST and Common Sense Busing, parents became even stronger advocates for children with disabilities — and in the process, advocates for the EPP.In the early days of the strike, both Bloomberg and Walcott publicly repeated the mantra, “The union is striking against the children.”But the city, organized mainly to protect the interests of the wealthy, was simply unable to do what the school bus workers could do. And this was no ordinary strike over the production of cars or iPhones. People’s children were at stake.Before the strike, students with disabilities had been going to school with trained matrons, on buses equipped with seatbelts and first aid kits.Now the city was handing out free MetroCards, many of which didn’t work; putting students on subways, buses and cabs; and requiring parents to lay out cash for cab fare, sometimes hundreds of dollars a week — and not reimbursing them.Parents learned who their true allies were. And this lays the basis for the next stage of the struggle.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Police: California woman impersonated social worker to try and kidnap newborn

first_imgKABC-TV(SANTA ANA, Calif.) — Police have arrested a woman who allegedly impersonated a social worker in an apparent effort to kidnap a California woman’s newborn child.Officers arrested the woman on suspicion of kidnapping after a mom said she showed up to her home in Santa Ana, California, on Friday morning and claimed she was there to take her 1-week-old child into protective custody, authorities said. She allegedly identified herself as a social worker named Mayella Ortega, but she refused to offer any credentials to confirm her identity, according to police. She allegedly threatened to call the sheriff’s department if the victim did not surrender the baby.“I told her if the sheriff comes and he has to arrest me, then he can arrest me. But I am not going to give you my child,” the mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, told ABC’s Los Angeles station KABC-TV.The mom said she offered to go with the woman to the police department, but the woman said there wasn’t room in the vehicle for the mother and quickly left the scene, a spokesperson for the Santa Ana Police Department said.Social workers are typically required to show credentials identifying themselves as government employees.Investigators with the Santa Ana Police Department said a 38-year-old Hispanic female had been arrested in connection with the case, but it declined to release her name or booking photo.The suspect turned herself in following the release of video that identified her as a person of interest, police said.Local detectives are now working in conjunction with the Los Angeles and San Bernardino County sheriff’s departments on “possibly related investigations,” according to police.Police announced the suspect’s arrest on Saturday morning, saying she’d been booked as part of an investigation by homicide detectives and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.She reportedly told police that the situation was a misunderstanding.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Microscopy taps power of programmable DNA

first_imgProteins don’t usually work in isolation, but rather make up larger complexes such as molecular machines that enable cells to communicate with each other, move cargo around in their interiors, or replicate their DNA.Yet even with the advent of super-resolution microscopy, the technology has not been powerful enough to distinguish individual molecular features within those densely packed complexes. Up to now, researchers only have been able to visualize closely positioned molecules or molecular complexes with 10 to 20 nanometer resolution.But by advancing technology, a team at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering has been able to distinguish features 5 nanometers from each other in a densely packed, single-molecular structure, achieving the highest resolution in optical microscopy. The team, led by Wyss core faculty member Peng Yin, used “discrete molecular imaging” (DMI), which enhances its DNA nanotechnology-powered, super-resolution microscopy platform with an integrated set of new imaging methods. The study was reported in Nature Nanotechnology on July 4.Super Resolution Discrete Molecular Imaging Animation <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ChCYOEQwTc” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”https://img.youtube.com/vi/5ChCYOEQwTc/0.jpg” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a> <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLyTEb4qYz8″ rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”https://img.youtube.com/vi/iLyTEb4qYz8/0.jpg” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a> See in this animation how Discrete Molecular Imaging (DMI) uses DNA nanotechnology to reveal densely packed molecular features in structures as similar in size as single protein molecules. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University.“The ultra-high resolution of DMI advances the DNA-PAINT platform one step further towards the vision of providing the ultimate view of biology,” said Peng Yin, who is also professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School.Thee DNA-PAINT technologies developed by Yin and his team are based on the transient binding of two complementary short DNA strands: one attached to the molecular target that the researchers aim to visualize, and the other attached to a fluorescent dye. Repeated cycles of binding and unbinding create a very defined blinking behavior of the dye at the target site, which is highly programmable by the choice of DNA strands and has now been further harnessed by the team’s current work to achieve ultra-high resolution imaging.Discrete Molecular Imaging Wyss Institute Core Faculty member Peng Yin and his co-worker Mingjie Dai explain in this video, how Discrete Molecular Imaging (DMI) can be used to enhance their DNA-PAINT super-resolution imaging platform to visualize features on a single-molecule scale. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University“Peng Yin and his team have yet again broken through barriers never before possible by leveraging the power of programmable DNA, not for information storage, but to create nanoscale ‘molecular instruments’ that carry out defined tasks and read out what they analyze. This new advancement to their DNA-powered super-resolution imaging platform is an amazing feat that has the potential to uncover the inner workings of cells at the single-molecule level using conventional microscopes that are available in common biology laboratories,” said Donald Ingber, Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and professor of bioengineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.The Wyss Institute’s scientists have benchmarked the ultra-high resolution of DMI using synthetic DNA nanostructures. Next, the researchers plan to apply the technology to actual biological complexes such as the protein complex that duplicates DNA in dividing cells or cell surface receptors binding their ligands.To read the full release, visit the Wyss Institute’s website.— Benjamin Boettner, Wyss Institute Communicationslast_img read more

Murderer, Brenton Lee Walker Says He ‘Felt Great’ About Killing Heather Young in 2016 During Sentencing

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisIt was an emotional, shocking, and confusing day inside of the Presque Isle County Courthouse as Brenton Lee Walker was sentenced for murdering 42 year, Heather Young of Marshall.Walker with a smile on his face told the court, and Young’s family that he wasn’t sorry for his actions, but instead he felt great about killing Young.“I’m by no means sorry for what I did. I learned a lot about myself, something i tried to get others to try to figure out and they chose not to. Now when I was given the opportunity to follow through that I’ve known for a long time that I’m capable of doing, it felt great. I feel vindicated because of it; I’ve never felt better in my life. The fact that this happened to this particular individual is because number one she reminded me a lot of my ex–wife and other I’ve been with. A liar, a dope fiend, and a whore, so yes I’m not sorry, I have nothing to be sorry about,” Walker said leaving the entire courtroom in shock.After Walker’s remarks it was time to hear from Young’s family. The victim’s mother spoke first revealing that she was now on medication for the loss and grief of her daughter.“I have to see a physiologist, or something like that. I have to go to a grief group as well.I’m on medication for dealing with losing my daughter to your cold–hearted senseless murderous act. I have nightmares about her dying. How she suffered until her death and how you killed her and what she probably felt in all that was coming right up to the moment of her death,” Gail Walker, Young’s mother said.“You know he says he’s happy now. I would be happy to take him out, if you would let me, and I hope wherever he goes you know they might do that for me,” Young’s ex-husband, Jeff Cunningham said.Young’s father was next pleading with the state to bring back the death penalty.“He stands here with a smirk on his face, that is not right. They need to bring the death penalty back to the state of Michigan. I’m going to try somewhere and somehow to get someone to help me for my daughter and other victims that are out there…this has to stop,” David Dentler, said with emotion.Things turned up a notch when Young’s daughter decided to make a statement.“Please do something. Get rid of this man. My mother was never a whore,” Loree Cunningham yelled to Walker.Walker’s remarks even stunned the judge. Walker was sentenced to 2 years for count 2 of possession of a firearm. He was then sentenced to 45 years to 70 years for count 6 of consecutive 2nd degree murder.The 55-year-old confessed to killing Young, shooting her then disposing the body by burning her in a fire pit. It was revealed in Monday’s court that Walker shot Young in the leg and then was provoked to shoot Young a second time after Young maced him back in August of 2016 in Millersburg. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThis Tags: Brenton Lee Walker, Heather Young, Murder Trial, Presque Isle County CourthouseContinue ReadingPrevious New Temporary Radiation Facility At MidMichigan Medical Center-AlpenaNext Right to Carry Approved By House of Represenativeslast_img read more