BTS 9/24/07: UAW Strike; The Shock Doctrine

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Fifty years ago this week, nine brave young African American students – “The Little Rock Nine” – made history by leading the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. They withstood the threats of physical violence and emotional distress to lead a transformation not only in Arkansas, but across the country. The story of the integration of Little Rock Central High School and the courage of the students known as the Little Rock Nine is deeply inspiring and a testament that young people can change the world.

The civil rights movement was marching once more Friday, filling the streets of Jena, Louisiana, a little town that has become a symbol of the racial injustice supposed to have been buried by the protests of previous generations. The reality is that things haven’t changed nearly as much as people think. Racial tension, especially in the South, has never gone away, and has never stopped being important. Race remains one of the defining factors in modern American politics. While African Americans make up a little over 12% of the population is black, they are 45% of the prison population. So while 50 years ago a movement protested being denied access to white only schools or the ballot box today we see thousands marching again –protesting the unequal application of justice that leave black children with a grossly disproportionate chance of ending up in jail.

The Jena Six were initially charged with attempted murder for a high school fight while three white kids who hung nooses in a tree, a reminder of the lynchings of the Jim Crow days – were punished with an in-school suspension for what the education board considered a prank. While we commemorate the anniversary of the Little Rock Nine, the 50 thousand who marched on Friday represent a revival of resistance to blatant racist atrocities and bring hope that once again unequal justice cannot stand.

On tonight’s program we look at the auto strike declared today over stalled contract negotiations as GM demanded concessions and insisted on shifting health care costs to the UAW through the creation of a healthcare trust, or VEBA. Already news stories warn that the UAW auto strike could lead to 100,000 layoffs across Canada. We’ll talk to Jerry Tucker to get the latest.

We then turn to an extended conversation with Naomi Klein about her new book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, a well researched account of how catastrophes, both natural and unnatural become opportunities for a savage capitalism calling itself the ‘free market’ to privatize everything possible, bringing huge profits to some and huge misery to many.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Jerry Tucker is a former International UAW Executive Board Member, a founder of the New Directions Movement, and currently a co-convener of the new Center for Labor Renewal and coordinator of the national Solidarity Education Center.

2. Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the international bestseller No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies. Translated into 28 languages and with more than a million copies in print, The New York Times called No Logo “a movement bible.” In 2000, The Guardian Newspaper short-listed it for its First Book Award, and in 2001, No Logo won the Canadian National Business Book Award, and the French Prix Médiations. Naomi Klein writes a regular column for The Nation that is syndicated internationally by The New York Times Syndicate. A collection of her work, Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate was published in 2002. In 2004, she released The Take, a feature documentary about Argentina’s occupied factories, co-produced with director Avi Lewis. The film was an official selection of the Venice Biennale and won the Best Documentary Jury Prize at the American Film Institute’s Film Festival in Los Angeles. She is a frequent media commentator and a former Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics. Naomi Klein’s new book is The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.