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Workers at SK Hand Tools were far from lonely in facing the loss of health benefits in the sour economy. According to the Center for American Progress, 2.4 million workers have lost coverage during the recession. Cuts have been most stark in manufacturing, with 733,600 workers losing employer-based coverage between December 2007 and May, when SK Hand Tools quietly stopped paying the bills....Berg says that the national health care debate hit home for Local 743 members. "The workers would look on TV or in the newspaper and only see insurance executives and business people," he said. "Nobody was speaking for working people. When we struck, workers at SK Hand Tools felt that they had become a voice for working people."
While Congress and health care executives played political volleyball with health care reform, workers at SK Hand Tools in Chicago took matters into their own hands.
When their employer unilaterally dropped health insurance and tried to strip pensions and cut pay, 70 members of Teamsters Local 743 struck on August 25.
Now they’re returning to their production lines, where they make wrenches and other tools for Sears, having saved their health care and pensions. They took big pay cuts, but not as deep as what management had demanded: dropping pay from an average $14 to just above Illinois’s minimum wage, $8 an hour.
Although management dumped health care in early May, workers weren’t told. Many had to find out by word of mouth from other workers, or were clued in when hit with surprising medical bills. Workers said managers later told them they’d been too busy to inform employees. Since May, many workers have had to forgo needed medical care or are now amassing debt. Read more.
Virginians For Alternatives to Death Penalty Rally to Prevent Elliott Execution Scheduled for Tuesday, 9 PM
Larry “Bill” Elliott is scheduled to be killed by the Commonwealth of Virginia at 9 p.m. on November 17th. He was convicted of the 2001 murders of Robert A. Finch and Dana Thrall.
Mr. Elliott has a strong claim of innocence. There is no evidence that he was ever inside the house where the murders occurred and there is DNA evidence that someone else was inside the crime scene. The jury was never told that an eyewitness saw a man of a different race running from the crime scene and the prosecution’s star witness failed a polygraph test regarding her involvement in the murders. She only came up with the story implicating Mr. Elliott when police told her that she was going to be charged with the murders. Additionally, Mr. Elliott’s trial attorneys failed to locate an alibi witness who would have testified that he saw Mr. Elliott at his workplace at a time that made it impossible for him to commit the murders.
Please take a few minutes to say "Enough!" and that Virginia should not execute a man where so many questions remain about his guilt remain. Help us stop the cycle of violence that state sanctioned killing perpetuates.
Please take one or more of the following actions - Details below:
The Georgia Supreme Court, in their recent ruling against VoterGA upholding electronic voting in the State of Georgia, implicitly acknowledged that E-voting results cannot be independently audited. At the same time, they emphasized that it's the voter's choice to vote electronically, when paper ballots are available through the absentee process.
"In deciding to forego the privilege of voting early on a paper ballot, voters assume the risk of necessarily different procedures if a recount is required," Judge George Carley ruled, with all justices on the panel concurring, on September 28, 2009.
As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, VoterGA has sued the State of Georgia regarding E-voting, arguing that it is unconstitutional under state and federal law because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Constitution of the US.
As for equal protection, VoterGA has argued that Georgia has created two separate classes of voters: one who has the right to a meaningful recount of their vote if they use a paper ballot to vote absentee, and another who does not have the right to a meaningful recount if they vote electronically on Election Day. Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
As the strike by transit workers in Philadelphia enters its fifth day, it is clear why unions have such a tough time in the United States, where fewer than one in eight workers is covered by a union contract.
Although the average pay of transit workers is just $50,000 a year (that represents take-home pay of less than $35000 take-home after taxes or about $3000 a month to live on for a typical family of four), the suburbanites who feel put out because they have to brave huge traffic jams to get to and from work in the city are grousing that the transit workers are greedy for holding out for a slightly-less-than 4% per year pay increase over the three years of their contract.
I just got into a debate at the local YMCA gym with an older guy who probably makes over $100,000 a year and whose children are already grown, who was incensed that the "greedy bus and subway drivers" were asking for a raise at this time "with the economy in such a mess."
Thousands of people voted to protect nine basic rights, ranging from the right of the environment to exist and flourish to the rights of residents to have a locally based economy and to determine the future of their neighborhoods.
Of all the candidates, bills, and proposals on ballots around the country yesterday, one of the most exciting is a proposition that didn’t pass.
In Spokane, Washington, despite intense opposition from business interests, a coalition of residents succeeded in bringing an innovative “Community Bill of Rights” to the ballot. Proposition 4 would have amended the city’s Home Rule Charter (akin to a local constitution) to recognize nine basic rights, ranging from the right of the environment to exist and flourish to the rights of residents to have a locally based economy and to determine the future of their neighborhoods.
A coalition of the city’s residents drafted the amendments after finding that they didn’t have the legal authority to make decisions about their own neighborhoods; the amendments were debated and fine-tuned in town hall meetings. Read more.
Seven Activists Faced Trial in Philadelphia but Charges are DISMISSED!
By Elaine Brower | Op Ed News
On Monday, November 2nd, seven defendants, flanked by their eye-witnesses and friends, appeared at Philadelphia Municipal Court for trial based on arrests at the “Army Experience Center” on May 2nd of this year. The charges against us stemmed from a protest which began at St. Stevens Church, and followed by a lively and raucous march to the Franklin Mills Mall where the “AEC” is housed. Escorted by Philly Civil Affairs police, and some local PD, hundreds of people gathered outside the storefront violent video gaming center aimed at pre-teen military recruitment, and voiced their dissent.
The hundreds that joined together shouted and chanted “SHUT DOWN THE AEC” and “WAR IS NOT A GAME!” and were determined to stop any of the youngsters trying to enter the center to spend their time playing war games on our tax dollars. Oddly enough, those of us who were arrested, placed ourselves in a silent vigil in front of the AEC, wearing death masks in all black clothing, and hanging around our necks were the names of the dead soldiers and Iraqis killed since the illegal and immoral invasion of that country. Read more.
Even the least of us deserves justice and accountability starts with you. So why don't you send out a reminder. Even Bush deserves all the justice he can get and we should ensure he gets his day in court.
Use these images as a 4 PAK and send 4 different cards to the same person; or, choose your favorite and send the same postcard to 4 different persons.
It's easy. Each individual postcard is formatted to the dimensions of 4.25"x5.5". Quarter a sheet of paper and combine the cards as you like. Don't forget to print the other side. Remember the postage stamps. Then mail one to your best beloved, your friends and neighbors, some acquaintance--your politicians and their parties. Show someone you care about them and about justice. Don’t forget Cheney, Condi, Gonzales and Rove: CCGR 4 PAK.
MAY BE USED AS HANDBILLS W/O REVERSE SIDE.
ScienceDaily (Oct. 16, 2009) — Americans think locally when they consider whether the loss of U.S. troops overseas warrants troop withdrawals, a new nationwide study suggests.
Researchers found that people were more likely to support withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq if one or more soldiers from their home state were killed there within the past two to three weeks.
That was true regardless of how many soldiers from other parts of the country had been killed recently, or how many total national casualties had occurred.
“If you want to gauge public opinion about the war, look at local coverage about the deaths of local soldiers – that seems to be driving opinion more than what’s on national news,” said Andrew Hayes, co-author of the study and associate professor of communication at Ohio State University.
Can the Democrats Avoid a Populist Health Care Rebellion?
By Kevin Zeese, Executive Director | ProsperityAgenda.US
The leadership of the Democratic Party is on the verge of passing health insurance reform. The centerpiece of the “reform” is requiring Americans to buy overpriced insurance from private corporations. But, it is evident that many in the Democratic voting base see the insurance industry as the problem – not the solution – and are getting angry about a new law that will force people to buy from corporations they don’t trust.
Just a few weeks ago the Mobilization for Health Care for All was announced (www.MobilizeForHealthCare.org). The Mobilization focuses on the denial of doctor-recommended care by the insurance industry. Sit-ins were planned at health insurance companies with demands that insurance corporations stop the denials. The Mobilization sought 100 people willing to sit-in at insurance corporations and risk arrest as people sat in at lunch counters two generations ago.
The response has been explosive, nearly 800 have signed up to risk arrest and thousands have signed up to join the protests. In the last 20 days 78 people have been arrested protesting the real death panels – the private insurance industry – who according to a California study deny doctor recommended care 20% of the time.
The Mobilization hoped to have “patients not profits sit-ins” in three cities last week, and instead it had them in nine cities. On the next Mobilization day, October 28th, there is likely to be twice as many cities protesting the insurance industry – just as Congress considers forcing Americans to buy insurance. This may be developing into the largest campaign of non-violent civil resistance since the Civil Rights era.
by Linda Milazzo
Our great buddy Mike is angry. For the past twenty years, Michael Moore, our everyday hero, has worked hard for us. He's documented sadistic acts against us by industry and government. He's exposed case after case of devious schemes that robbed us of our homes and our jobs, sent our children to war, and sacrificed our health. He's given us irrefutable proof that our leaders lied us to war, our insurers denied us care, and our lenders deceived us into hopelessness and destitution.
Mike's been our teacher, our ally and our devoted friend. Few people in recent memory have worked harder to inform us - ALL OF US - of the inhumanity and greed that are decaying our nation, which we perpetuate through apathy and inertia.
FRONT: See a PENNY, pick it up and...That's YOUR GOV'T Bail Out!
BACK: As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. ABRAHAM LINCOLN - Purportedly in a letter to Colonel William F. Elkins (21 November 1864)
It's that time of year and here's a tutorial on how to carve your jack-o-lantern. Use your imagination and produce a powerful People's peace pumpkin for prosecutions, please.
Guest OpEd: If ACORN disappeared, who would aid the poorest of us?
By Rory Lancman, NY State Assemblyman | NY Daily News
Wasn't it odd that so many ACORN workers hardly blinked an eye when a woman identifying herself as a prostitute showed up in their offices ostensibly to ask for guidance on how to buy a house? It's as if such people - prostitutes, people with substance abuse problems, young men with criminal records - show up at ACORN offices all the time asking for help.
Crazy, no? Or maybe that's what ACORN does. That and helping high school dropouts prepare for a job, building affordable housing for single mothers, signing kids up for health insurance, counseling homeowners facing foreclosure, and encouraging every American to exercise their right to vote. The uncomfortable truth is that tens of millions of Americans live the kind of lives where the availability of help from groups like ACORN is the difference between having food on the table or not, having a roof over their heads or not, seeing a doctor or not, and having a voice in the political process or not.
Recent disclosures about certain questionable practices at ACORN, the left-leaning nationwide community advocacy organization, have raised questions about the organization's very legitimacy.
But as ACORN rightly moves to get its house in order and restore its credibility, it might be worth taking a few moments to ask some other questions, not about ACORN but about ourselves, and our commitment to lifting up the millions of our fellow Americans who live in a netherworld of poverty, hopelessness and victimization.
You cannot understand the ACORN videos (understand, not condone), without making some honest effort to understand this netherworld in which ACORN and too few other hardy, modern day missionaries work to improve the lives of people most of us never see and never want to see. Read more.
Lower Your Political Stress Level - excerpt
A constant barrage of political advertising and infighting can raise your anxiety level. Here's how to calm down.
Political ad overexposure
The anxiety that comes from excessive exposure to campaign coverage, negative political advertising, and the inflammatory chatter stirred up by cable TV news and commentary programs as they cover election campaigns and candidates.
Getting sucked in by the media manipulators.
Political spinmeisters and their advertising-industry colleagues have made a real science out of knowing what motivates us to make choices, and which words and images will push our buttons.
Mistaking opinion for information.
Long before two conservative young activists strode into an ACORN office wearing a hidden camera, the grassroots organization had been racking up kills in its decades-long quest to protect working-class people from what it saw as wrongheaded corporate interests.
ACORN - the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now - was founded in 1970 by a 21-year-old organizer who wanted to try a new way of lifting up low- and moderate-income workers.
It grew over the years, mushrooming from a one-man operation in Arkansas to 400,000 members working in 105 cities - the largest community organizing group in the nation. Read more.
By Linda Milazzo
In response to FOX's childish and embarrassing ad in the Washington Post that challenged competitors' coverage of the 9/12 teabaggers in Washington, DC, CNN is airing this equally chilidish and embarrassing ad to prove it did cover the teabaggers in Washington DC.
Oooh-oooh! Did I mention this is childish and embarrassing??
On the evening of Sept. 16, 2009, a protest action was staged at Goucher College in Towson, MD, just north of Baltimore City, with respect to the appearance of Karl Rove on campus, as a guest speaker. Rove, aka “Dubya’s Brain,” was a senior advisor, (2001-07), to then President, George W. Bush. He is suspected of participating in a White House-based cabal, (WHIG), which helped to launch the immoral and illegal Iraq War. Talking on camera and sharing his views of Rove was activist Max Obuszewski. He was sharply critical of Rove for his serial wrong doings, and of Goucher College, too, for giving him a venue to speak. Mr. Obuszewski used to teach a course on “Human Rights” at the Goucher College, in the “Peace Studies Program.” To say he was disappointed with Goucher in this matter would be an understatement. Obuszewski is active with the “Iraq Pledge of Resistance” group. According to a press release of the ANSWER Coalition, Rove “should be on trial,” for not only his role in pushing the Iraq War, but for also implementing “a system of torture and secret prisons; [for]racial and religious profiling; and for massive spying on the people in this country.”
OpedNews Journalist and Protesters Charged With Criminal Conspiracy After Arrest At "Army Experience Center"
By Linda Milazzo
Philadelphia, PA, September 13, 2009: Six members of various anti-war groups, including World Can't Wait and Military Families Speak Out, and an OpedNews journalist, were arrested on Saturday, September 12, 2009, at approximately 3pm (ET) at a protest organized to shut down The Army Experience Center, located in Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia, PA. They were released early Sunday morning and charged with Criminal Conspiracy and Failure To Disperse. Their arraignment is scheduled for September 23, 2009 at 11:30am (ET) at Philadelphia Municipal Court,1301 Filbert Street.
Most of you probably don't know this, but the US military (using well over 15 million of your hard-earned dollars) has recently opened up a center for teenagers to have "the army experience" by playing video games and going through "simulations" of Humvees and "operation centers." It's called The Army Experience Center (AEC), and it's a 14,500 square foot recruiting tool located in the Franklin Mills Mall in northeast Philadelphia. It's something that the military industrial complex - excuse me, I mean the army - wants to replicate across the country.
Today I went to a protest in front of the AEC that was meant to shut it down for the day and hopefully lead to it shutting down for good. Go below the fold to see what happened, how I might be on national television, and some pictures.::::::::Crossposted to Docudharma.com, Dailykos.com, and Greenchange.org
The AEC is just what it sounds like - a rather disgusting military recruiting tool that exists to deceive kids into thinking that war is nothing more than a video game. I'm 16, and I can see how something like this would appeal to friends of mine. If it was just an arcade, I could have a fun time in there. But it's not just an arcade - it is a huge piece of propaganda that doesn't acknowledge the harsh realities of war. Like giving recruiters VIP access to high schools isn't enough, here is yet another attempt by the minions of the military industrial complex to militarize our culture and the nation's youth.
OpedNews Journalist and Six Protesters Arrested At "Army Experience Center" In Philadelphia (Updated 9/13/09)
By Linda Milazzo
UPDATED - 9/13/09: The six women, including OpedNews journalist Cheryl Biren, and one man, who has now been identified as Richard Marini of World Can't Wait, arrested yesterday at the Army Experience Center, were released early this morning, September 13, 2009. All were charged with Criminal Conspiracy and Failure to Disperse. Their arraignment is scheduled for September 23, 2009 at 11:30am (ET).
Philadelphia, PA, September 12, 2009: Six members of various anti-war groups, including World Can't Wait and Military Families Speak Out, and an OpedNews journalist, were arrested today at approximately 3:00pm (ET) at a protest organized to shut down The Army Experience Center, located in Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia, PA.
A Special Walter Reed Vigil this Friday, Sept. 11, 2009
Sisters and brothers,
The Walter Reed Vigil is now more than four and a half years old. We have been there every Friday evening despite rain or shine, ice, sleet, and harassing pro-war elements.
Our message is more important than ever. The wounded continue to pour into the hospital. The government wants to balance its budget on the backs of veterans, and troops are being shuffled back and forth between Iraq and Afghanistan, and we soon may be inside Pakistan.
But the Vigil is under attack from the commander of Walter Reed and this Friday may see the haters of peace out in large numbers. (Interesting that the haters of peace are also the haters of health care for all.)
Even the least of us deserves justice and accountability starts with you. So why don't you send out a reminder. Even Cheney deserves all the justice he can get and we should ensure he gets his day in court.
Use these images as a 4 PAK and send 4 different cards to the same person; or, choose your favorite and send the same postcard to 4 different persons.
It's easy. Each individual postcard is formatted to the dimensions of 4.25"x5.5". Quarter a sheet of paper and combine the cards as you like. Don't forget to print the other side. Remember the postage stamps. Then mail one to your best beloved, your friends and neighbors, some acquaintance--your politicians and their parties. Show someone you care about them and about justice.
By Linda Milazzo
It's a GREAT DAY in America when heralds of hate, specifically Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin, are booted from their Amazon best seller slots on DAY ONE of the publication of progressive leader David Swanson's breakthrough tome, DAYBREAK - now at Number One on Amazon's non-fiction best seller list. From this terrific response to Swanson's new book arises my sincere hope that DAYBREAK attracts a good many of Beck and Malkin's readers, so they, too, will have the opportunity to absorb the depth of information and dedication to solutions that David Swanson offers.
Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts - After spending weeks dogging George W. Bush's presidential vacations, anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan is now trying to make life uncomfortable for President Barack Obama.
Sheehan used to pitch a peace camp near Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, becoming a symbol of the anti-war movement after her son Casey died in action in Iraq.
On Thursday, she and a band of anti-war protesters turned up outside the media center used by journalists covering Obama's vacation on the well-heeled east coast resort island of Martha's Vineyard.
"The reason I am here is because ... even though the facade has changed in Washington DC, the policies are still the same," Sheehan told a handful of journalists, against a backdrop of her "Camp Casey" banner.
She told US peace activists to wake up and protest Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan, and complained that despite the president's anti-war stance, US troops remained in Iraq.
"We have to realize, it is not the president who is power, it is not the party that is in power it is the system that stays the same, no matter who is in charge."
"We are here to make the wars unpopular again," she said. Read more.
The bottom line is that everyone in New England and NYC who is a genuine antiwarrior should join the imaginative effort of Cindy Sheehan in Obamaland this week and weekend. We owe it to the many who will otherwise perish at the hands of the war parties of Bush and Obama.
Cindy Sheehan will be at Martha’s Vineyard beginning August 25 a short way from Obama’s vacation paradise of the celebrity elite but very far from the Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq where the body bags and cemeteries fill up each day as Obama’s wars rage on. She will remain there from August 25 through August 29 and has issued a call for all peace activists to join her there. For those of us close by in the New England states and in New York City, there would seem to be a special obligation to get to Martha’s Vineyard as soon as we can.
A funny thing has happened on Cindy Sheehan’s long road from Crawford, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard. Many of those who claim to lead the peace movement and who so volubly praised her actions in Crawford, TX, are not to be seen. Nor heard. The silence in fact is deafening, or as Cindy put it in an email to this writer, “crashingly deafening.”
Where are the email appeals to join Cindy from The Nation or from AFSC or Peace Action or “Progressive” Democrats of America (PDA) or even Code Pink? Or United for Peace and Justice. (No wonder UFPJ is essentially closing shop, bereft of most of their contributions and shriveling up following the thinly veiled protest behind the “retirement” of Leslie Cagan.) And what about MoveOn although it was long ago thoroughly discredited as principled opponents of war or principled in any way shape or form except slavish loyalty to the “other” War Party. And of course sundry “socialist” organizations are also missing in action since their particular dogma will not be front and center. These worthies and many others have vanished into the fog of Obama’s wars.
Just to be sure, this writer contacted several of the “leaders” of the “official” peace movement in the Boston area – AFSC, Peace Action, Green Party of MA (aka Green Rainbow Party) and some others. Not so much as the courtesy of a reply resulted from this effort - although the GRP at least posted a notice of the action. (It is entirely possible that some of these organizations might mention Cindy’s action late enough and quickly enough so as to cover their derrieres while ensuring that Obama will not be embarrassed by protesting crowds.) We here in the vicinity of Beantown are but a hop, skip and cheap ferry ride from Martha’s Vineyard. Same for NYC. So we have a special obligation to respond to Cindy’s call. Read more.
Crawling through a hole in a fence and walking through an open doorway, Shamus Rohn and Mike Miller lead the way into an abandoned Midcity hospital. They are outreach workers for the New Orleans organization UNITY for the Homeless, and they do this all day long; searching empty houses and buildings for homeless people, so they can offer services and support. “We joke about having turned criminal trespass into a fulltime job,” says Rohn.
Up a darkened stairway and through the detritus of a building that looks like its been scavenged for anything of value to sell, Rohn and Miller enter a sundrenched room. Inside is Michael Palmer, a 57-year-old white former construction worker and merchant seaman who has made a home here. Palmer – his friends call him Mickey – is in some ways lucky. He found a room with a door that locks. He salvaged some furniture from other parts of the hospital, so he has a bed, a couch, and a rug. Best of all, he has a fourth-floor room with a balcony. “Of all the homeless,” he says, “I probably have the best view.”
Mickey has lived here for six months. He’s been homeless since shortly after Katrina, and this is by far the best place he’s stayed in that time. “I’ve lived on the street,” he says. “I’ve slept in a cardboard box.” He is a proud man, thin and muscled with a fresh shave, clean clothes and a trim mustache. He credits a nearby church, which lets him shave and shower. Read more.
By Linda Milazzo
The photo below was taken on Friday, August 21, 2009 in El Segundo, California, outside the office of Congresswoman Jane Harman (36th CD). It shows three adorable children wearing stickers with the word fascism below a supposed image of the President of the United States, fashioned as Batman's malevolent Joker:
All photos by Mike Chickey
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
by Linda Milazzo
On Saturday, August 15, 2009, CNN's Don Lemon angrily confronted America's Town Hall Director Alan Hardage for Hardage's use the term real Americans. Below is the video of Lemon's emotional exchange with Hardage:
Lemon's ire over Hardage's use of real Americans echoes the sentiments of millions in this nation who take umbrage with supremacist and exclusionary characterizations that undermine the Americanism of others.
By Dave Lindorff
Many progressives are getting all bent out of shape over the "brown shirt" rabble organized by health industry PR firms to disrupt the so-called "town meetings" being organized all over the country by Democratic members of Congress.
What they are conveniently forgetting is that these are not really "town meetings" at all, at least in the sense of the town meetings I grew up with, and started out covering as a young journalist in Connecticut--that is, meetings called and run democratically, with leaders elected from the floor, open to all residents of a community.
By Dave Lindorff
OMG! Those protesters showing up at Democratic “town meetings” to promote the president’s health care “reform” program are being bused in from out of town?
Scandal! Que horrible! (Gasp)
But wait! That’s exactly what we on the left always did when we held demonstrations—at least if we could. Who in the trade union movement hasn’t called on fellow workers in other unions to join them in rallies during struggles with an employer, or asked them to join sparse picket-lines? Who hasn’t pulled out the stops trying to get people from other cities to attend a local protest?