By Betsey Piette
A runaway train carrying Bakken formation crude oil derailed last year on July 6. The resulting explosion killed 47 people and demolished the town center of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada.
The severity and frequency of crude oil train derailments since then has sparked a call for a week of protests this year beginning July 6, in observance of the anniversary of the Canadian disaster.
At least eight significant incidents involving crude-by-rail have taken place in the U.S. since 2013, resulting in over one million gallons of oil spilled — more than in the previous 38 years combined. (earthfix.opb.org)
Since Lac-Mégantic, fiery derailments of oil trains have occurred in the Canadian province of New Brunswick as well as in Alabama, North Dakota and most recently Lynchburg, Va. Major derailments of crude trains not involving explosions took place in Philadelphia, outside Albany, N.Y., and most recently in Greeley, Colo., on May 12.
These trains carry crude from shale formations in North Dakota, Colorado and Texas. With over 100 cars, each carrying 30,000 gallons or more of highly volatile oil, they have been described as “mile-long bombs.”
They roll through many major U.S. cities around the clock while most residents remain unaware of the imminent danger. A CSX train derailment in Philadelphia this January happened near hospitals, universities and a major residential area and within sight of the city’s business district.
By John Catalinotto
On June 28 just a century ago, Gavrilo Princip, a 19-year-old patriot from the oppressed nation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, assassinated Archduke Ferdinand of Austria. Ferdinand was the symbol of the tyrannical rule of the decadent Habsburg Empire over Princip’s country.
The militarist rulers in Vienna, the capital of the empire, seized on the assassination in Sarajevo as a pretext to declare war on Serbia. This decree essentially launched what was to become World War I. That terrible slaughter killed 20 million people, mostly European workers and farmers.
This is the centennial of the war’s start and the corporate media have already begun to distort the history of the event. The goal is to deflect blame for the disaster away from the capitalist ruling classes, especially in the imperialist countries, whose oppressive and exploitative system made the war inevitable.
The world is shocked and dismayed that in the midst of a civil war in Ukraine, provoked by United States and European Union imperialism, 298 people have died in the crash of a Malaysian airliner on July 18 in the war area.
We at Workers World have no special information at this time — July 19 — about why the plane crashed. We know that Russia has no motive, and it has control of its military. We know that the Ukrainian military is poorly organized and subject to pressure from the murderous fascist forces that have been integrated into the state directed from Kiev; we know that neoconservative elements from the U.S. have strong influence in Washington’s policy in Ukraine and its aggressive hostility toward Russia.
We also believe that the popular resistance forces in southeast Ukraine do not control weapons capable of shooting down a plane flying at that altitude, nor do they have any interest in shooting down a civilian airliner from Malaysia. Only U.S. and EU imperialism can gain and are trying to gain by exploiting the incident and using it against Russia.
President Barack Obama has already blamed Russia, saying that the cause of the shootdown was the war situation in Ukraine and claiming Russia caused that war.
We disagree completely with Obama’s statement that Russian foreign policy is responsible for the war in Ukraine.
On the contrary, it is the aggressive policy of U.S. and EU imperialism that has created a war situation in Ukraine. The U.S. and the EU supported a coup in February that brought to power in Kiev a regime dedicated to bringing Ukraine under the influence of the International Monetary Fund and subjecting the Ukrainian workers to austerity — as has already been done in Greece, Spain and Portugal — and attaching Ukraine to NATO.
To carry out this coup the pro-West Ukrainian oligarchy has leaned on the support of openly pro-fascist forces, such as the Right Sector, who don’t even shy away from identifying with the Nazi occupiers of Ukraine during World War II.
For the people of Ukraine, and especially the workers of the southeast, such a coup in Kiev could only raise resistance — a righteous and heroic, anti-fascist resistance based on the history of resistance to the Nazi occupation. The aggression from Kiev — which now includes the bombing of cities in the southeast, killing civilians and forcing tens of thousands to flee to Russia — makes such a civil war inevitable.
If the plane crash was actually a byproduct of the civil war, it was not Russian foreign policy, but U.S./NATO imperialism — that set up a regime in Kiev filled with fascist sympathizers and forced the people of the southeast Ukraine to resist — that is responsible.
Stop the U.S./EU intervention in Ukraine! Long live the resistance!
Remember the Iranian airliner?
On July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes launched a surface-to-air missile at an Iranian civilian airliner. It was on a scheduled commercial flight from Bandar-Abbas to Dubai. The attack resulted in the deaths of 290 passengers and crew members.
The U.S. proclaimed the whole thing was an “error” by the crew of the Vincennes. But further investigation found no fault and resulted in no punishment. The incident was dismissed and forgotten.”
— Sam Marcy, 1991
Workers World Party founder Sam Marcy on the KAL 007 airline crisis:
Beginning on Thursday evening, Sept. 1, 1983, and lasting for 36 long and almost unendurable hours, a crisis emerged in which it once again seemed that at any moment a nuclear holocaust could develop. What was the nature of the episode?
As the whole world knows now, the U.S. accused the USSR of shooting down a civilian aircraft with 269 passengers aboard. According to the U.S., they were “murdered in cold blood,” ” with premeditation,” “with malice aforethought,” etc., etc. For 36 hours the population of the U.S. was kept hostage to an absolutely coordinated, pre-planned and meticulously executed barrage of media and press saturation.
No opposing view was presented. The capitalist presidential candidates, usually so eager for publicity, were told to either get out of sight or make themselves inconspicuous by their absence.
The Soviet Union was to be convicted of murder. The judge and the jury were to be the U.S. government, that is, the military-industrial complex of bankers, generals, and Big Oil. Swift punishment was demanded. The media, particularly ABC News Nightline, became the voice for the whipped-up elements in the population to demand tough measures for punishment. A so-called scientific poll of the public was said to run as high as 20-to-1 for the tough measures. It appeared to be a buildup to show that the “grass roots” were for harsh measures while a “reluctant,” now moderate-looking, Reagan was to finally give the order to retaliate.
But that did not happen. It still is not clear where the crisis could have gone, how far it would have been permitted to proceed, and what stopped it.
But on January 8, 1984 — four long months after the crisis had subsided — the Washington Post Magazine ran a feature story on the KAL which detailed how the whole incident had been managed by the vast U.S. intelligence gathering system.
The conclusion of the article was that the whole event had been “an intelligence treasure trove” for the U.S. on how to penetrate Soviet air defenses. It listed a few of the many, many times over the last 30 years that U.S. aircraft have been downed over the Soviet Union, showing that violation of Soviet airspace is a deliberate and frequent occurrence and has resulted in 120 U.S. personnel known to be killed.
The article told of the giant U.S. tracking station Cobra Judy aboard the ship Observation Island, which is stationed off the Kamchatka Peninsula and monitors the Soviet Far East. It quoted from two U.S. pilots who had flown scores of missions over the USSR and China, Edward Eskelson and Tom Bernard. Their plane, the RC135, is the type of spy plane that had flown over Soviet territory the night the KAL was shot down. They said that the National Security Agency adjusts the flight plans of these planes so that they deliberately violate Soviet territory, thereby gathering information on the Soviet response. “We believe that the entire sweep of events — from the time the Soviets first began tracking KAL Flight 007 … to the time of the shootdown — was meticulously monitored and analyzed instantaneously by U.S. intelligence,” wrote Eskelson and Bernard.
Such information was not available during those initial days and hours of war hysteria, however. Then all the press would print told of the “innocent lives lost” and Soviet “savagery.”
This incident is like so many in the past which momentarily aroused a great deal of emotional response. Tragic though they may be, it is necessary to know, based on a century of experience that these episodes are mostly of a contrived character. Even when they are not, they have no independent historical significance.
What do PALESTINE, REFUGEE MIGRANT CHILDREN, UKRAINE, & SYRIA have in common?
A Statement and Call to Action from Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST)
When oppression makes life a living hell for those who suffer under it, there can be no end to their resistance, whatever the cost.
This is what the Israeli settler state and its imperialist backers, particularly the U.S. ruling class, fail to take into account as they try to bludgeon and squeeze the people of Gaza until they can take no more.
But millions around the world recognize what is going on in Palestine — whose very name is denied by the settler state of Israel. Their hearts go out to the people of Gaza, who are sacrificing everything rather than submit to Israel’s relentless bombing.
They know that the money and weapons provided by the Pentagon have led to an incredibly one-sided struggle. As of July 14, some 172 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli air strikes, 140 of them civilians. One bombing killed 18 members of the same family. Thousands more were wounded. Not one Israeli had died.
Yet the people of Gaza refuse to surrender — again showing their enormous solidarity and courage.