You are hereOrganizing Locally
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?
Conservative activists are vowing to keep up their fight against President Barack Obama's health care plans, even as the Democratic Party pushes back hard, accusing Republicans of organizing angry mobs.
Democrats and the White House are claiming that the sometimes rowdy protests that have disrupted Democratic lawmakers' meetings and health care events around the country are largely orchestrated from afar by insurers, lobbyists, Republican Party activists and others.
"This mob activity is straight from the playbook of high-level Republican political operatives," the Democratic National Committee says in a new Web video. "They have no plan for moving our country forward, so they've called out the mob."
Some of the activists who've shown up at town hall meetings held recently by Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Wis., and others are affiliated with loosely connected right-leaning groups, including Conservatives for Patients' Rights and Americans for Prosperity, according to officials at those groups. Some of the activists say they came together during the "Tea Party" anti-big-government protests that happened earlier this year, and they've formed small groups and stayed in touch over e-mail, Facebook and in other ways. Read more.
Dallas: Into the Belly of the Beast
By Ray McGovern | July 23, 2009
Note:AfterDowningStreet's David Swanson will be leading an accountability action in George Bush's Dallas enclave on September 21, 2009. Click here if you're interested in helping with, or participating in, the event. That evening, David Swanson and David Rovics will hold a benefit for Under the Hood Cafe Outreach Center and Cafe serving active duty military personnel and their loved ones.
The hellish-hot weather persuaded me that I was wise to ignore the caution expressed by a close friend who grew up in Dallas, as I set off to give talks there. Better wear a bulletproof vest, he told me.
VIPS Member Ray McGovern and Dallas Peace Center member Hadi Jawad organized and participated in the “Dallas Delegation,” a march in George W. Bush’s Dallas neighborhood. Marchers reminded Bush neighbors that they had living among them a criminal who repeatedly and notoriously broke federal and international laws.
Ray McGovern wrote:
In front of Bush house; we stopped long enough to refresh, in a very serious way, memories—by reading the Declaration of Independence regarding the usurpation of our foremothers' and forefathers' rights by another George.
Then we began to read the sections of our beloved Constitution that were trampled by George W. Bush. There are, though, so many such sections that we were not able to finish reading them all in the hot sun.
We did the sensible thing and began to march slowly and solemnly out of the neighborhood...at which point the Dallas police arrived and gave us an armed escort! Our bannering over the nearby Interstate was cut short by the same police, who told us, in effect, this is not Minnesota. In Texas, they said, It is illegal to banner because a distraction could cause a car wreck. We had no Coleen Rowley with us to give us good legal advice, so we drove off (again with police escort) to that major intersection and witnessed for a good while more. Great use was made of those wonderful banners and orange suits. The banners included "WHAT NOBLE CAUSE?" -- Cindy Sheehan's gutsy question of W four long years ago, as she left Dallas accompanied by some of the women of Code Pink and some Veterans for Peace to set up Camp Casey, in honor of her son Casey, killed on April 4, 2004. A year later, Bush made the glib comment that such deaths were "worth it," for folks like Casey died for what noble cause! Cindy, to her great credit, was not going to sit still for that.
NONE OF US SHOULD. And none of us can keep silent when abuses like torture take place in our name. Otherwise, we are all guilty—like those well mannered, obedient Germans of the Thirties.
It was an invigorating experience. I recommend it, or something like it, to all!
The march was facilitated with the help of the Dallas Peace Center. Pictures of the event are below the fold. Click “Read more” to see them.
August 1st - National Day of Coordinated Action: Stop War on Iran - NYC Action Details & How to Organize in Your Area
In this time of global capitalist crisis, when millions are unemployed and millions more facing evictions and foreclosures, we must demand that the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on current U.S. wars and the trillions that would criminally wasted in a new war be spent for jobs, health care and housing for poor and working people in the U.S. and around the world.
We urge your endorsement and support of these simple demands.
1. We oppose military aggression by the U.S., Britain, or Israel against Iran.
2. We oppose economic, diplomatic or other sanctions against Iran whatever their excuse.
3. We demand an end to subversion, de-stabilization, covert actions instigated by the U.S. and its military or spy agencies directed at Iran.
by Linda Milazzo
This morning I received the following letter from President Barack Obama:
By Linda Milazzo
As a critic of media, in particular of cable/satellite "news," I'm troubled by American corporate-media, specifically CNN's near non-stop coverage of the turmoil in Iran. Not because the story isn't important. It's critically important and warrants the personal coverage it's getting from the Iranian people as they bypass corporate channels to tell their stories on facebook, youtube, flickr and twitter.
Thanks to Iran's tech-savvy society, old-time corporate media is now relegated to the position of new-media aggregator, whoring its visibility to co-opt the Iranian people's new-media messages to America and the world. Old-media, and specifically CNN, are learning the difficult lesson that with or without their vast resources and state of the art studios, the Iranians' stories will be told. And they'll be told to tens of millions more viewers than cable and satellite programs tend to reach.
By Linda Milazzo
As angry uprisings take place in Iran over the questionable "re-election" of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As innocents are murdered at every corner of this planet - indeed at EVERY CORNER - when considering those at its furthest coordinates suffering the effects of global warming brought on by human greed -- there appears on this day a message of hope that can make us ALL smile.
Regardless of ideology, the common denominator I would hope true adults will agree on is that ALL children are OURS to protect. The clear right of passage to be an adult is the knowledge that our principal obligation is to protect and serve the world's children; that ALL children are precious and should be accorded their mutual rights to safety and joy.
By CODEPINK/Linda Milazzo
The women inspired peace group, CODEPINK, in alliance with Israeli feminist group, Coalition of Women For Peace, will host continued human rights protests from June 8th through June 14th at Erez Crossing checkpoint at the Gaza Border in Israel.
EREZ, ISRAEL -- More than three dozen Americans and Israelis rallied today at the border checkpoint here into Gaza, hoping to be let through into the war-torn area with playground building materials, food and other products to delivered to the Gazan people, after Israel authorities barred them from entering.
By Linda Milazzo
The following is an excerpt of an article I published after attending a Sarah Palin rally in Southern California where I witnessed reinvigorated anti-abortion fanatics spurred on by Palin's inflammatory rhetoric. At that time, as evidenced by the text of my earlier article (below), it was clear to me that a similar threat of domestic terrorism to that inflicted on this nation by convicted anti-abortion murderer Eric Rudolph, was probable and undeterred by Sarah Palin -- the latest charismatic leader in the anti-abortion movement.
By Linda Milazzo
On Wednesday evening, in an act of daring befitting a West Point graduate and veteran of Iraq, recently discharged New York National Guard Lieutenant Daniel Choi defied the orders of dozens of crowd control police and stepped into the 'no protest zone' street to ceremoniously salute his Commander in Chief, Barack Obama, out of site at a star-studded fundraiser at the posh Beverly Hilton Hotel.
(Photo by Linda Milazzo)
SECOND ROUND OF HOMELESSNESS FOR KATRINA VICTIMS AS FEMA PREPARES TO ENFORCE JUNE 1 EVICTION DATE | Press Release
US Human Rights Network Condemns Federal Government’s Move to Repossess Trailers and Leave Thousands Homeless
Atlanta, May 29, 2009 - In response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision to repossess temporary housing from survivors of Hurricane Katrina on June 1, the US Human Rights Network issued the following statement:
The move by FEMA to enforce the June 1st eviction date for Gulf Region residents who live in temporary trailers not only lacks basic compassion but is also a derogation of the government’s responsibilities to uphold fundamental human rights. If FEMA moves forward with the Bush administration's plan to forcefully evict people living in temporary housing, it will make a mockery of the Gulf Region recovery promised by President Obama and Congress.
Earnest Hammond is a 70 year-old retired truck driver who received no assistance after Hurricane Katrina destroyed his home. He took matters into his own hands and by collecting aluminum cans, raised thousands of dollars to repair his badly damaged house. He is eager to move back but can’t restore his home by the June 1st deadline, and is facing eviction. “I have nowhere to go if they take my trailer. It’s hard to believe I have to go through this again.”
By Dave Lindorff
A new study of 1004 union organizing drives conducted by the director of labor education research at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations has found that two-third of the companies involved were violating US labor law by holding one-on-one interrogations of workers, by threatening workers about their union support, by firing union organizers or using half a dozen other illegal tactics to defeat unionization campaigns.
Prof. Kate Bronfenbrenner, author of No Holds Barred: The Intensification of Employer Opposition ot Organizing, says that these illegal tactics by employers have been used to drive union representation at American companies down to only 12.4 percent from a level of 22 percent just 30 years ago.
Two Fridays ago on the first day of its release, I went to an early afternoon screening of the film The Soloist. I'd been eager to see it since it focuses on the real life relationship between Los Angeles Times journalist Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a homeless member of Los Angeles' Skid Row community suffering from debilitating mental illness. In the story, as told in Lopez' columns in the LA Times, in his book, and in the screenplay by Susannah Grant, Lopez first meets middle-aged Nathaniel Ayers in downtown Los Angeles in front of a statue of Beethoven where Ayers is playing a two string violin. In that serendipitous meeting Lopez discovers that as a youth Ayers had been a gifted student at Juilliard, New York's prestigious school for the performing arts. This revelation leads Lopez on a personal mission to rehabilitate the troubled man - a mission Lopez is still on today, four years after their first encounter.
My intense desire to see this film had been predicated, foolishly as I have since come to learn, on the romantic notion that viewers would see The Soloist and be moved to help the homeless. But the film I saw, with its cartoon-like unsympathetic portrayal of the people of Skid Row, that displayed none of their individuality, humanity or humor, would never provoke such action. Instead of showing the hearts of the inhabitants and telling a few of their tales, the film portrayed them as a Fellini-esque monolith - a tainted Gomorrah teeming with decadence and dereliction.
Seven Arrested at Philadelphia Mall Over Military Recruiting Practices | Press Release
300 Veterans, military families, religious leaders and voters rallied, marched and closed the "Army Experience Center" to decry the Army pilot program that entices teens with violent video games
Col. Anne Wright, former State Department official of 16 years shouted, "We demand that our policy isn't militarism but diplomacy."
PHILADELPHIA - May 2 - Several hundred demonstrators from a coalition of 30 national and regional veteran, youth and peace groups, including the Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, BuxMont Coalition for Peace Action, Student Peace Action Network, protested what they claimed were unethical military recruitment of teenagers at Franklin Mills Mall in northeast Philadelphia.
The protesters rallied at a church, then marched one mile to the Franklin Mills mall where dozens of police blocked them from entering the "Army Experience Center" (AEC). After nearly an hour of chants of "War is no game, shut down the Army Experience Center" and speeches, Bob Smith of the Brandywine Peace Community (a member of United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of 1,300 national and local organizations) delivered a criminal complaint (4) to a Captain at the AEC and to a representative of the mall's parent company, The Simon Property Group, Inc. After two police warnings, hundreds of protesters continued to chant and listen to speeches by Col. Wright and others, until the police arrested seven conducting civil disobedience by refusing to leave. Forced out of the mall, people continued to vigil and listen to songs by the Granny Peace Brigade outside the "red" entrance to the mall.
By Dave Lindorff
President Barack Obama was so obviously pleased to have five-term Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announce that he was switching party affiliation and joining the Democratic Party that the president missed an opportunity to make sure that his new BFF in the Senate was also a backer of the issues that Obama ran on in the presidential campaign.
Indeed, while President Obama was quick to offer Sen. Specter his backing and even to offer to help him with fund-raising in his quest for re-election in 2010, he said nothing at all about any quid-pro-quo.
This is not only unfortunate. It is irresponsible.
Sen. Specter, for all his claims to be an independent thinker, has over the years voted at lease 65% of the time with his Republican colleagues in the Senate—a support level for Republican positions that exceeds that of two of his Republican colleagues from Maine, Sen. Olympia Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins.
By Dave Lindorff
Back in 1966 when I was a 17-year old and just finished with my junior year in high school, I spent part of the summer working as a dishwasher and busboy at a couple of restaurants on Cape Cod. It was grueling and low-paid work, and by the time I’d done it for about five weeks, I was ready to give it up.
The road beckoned, and so I contacted a friend, Charlie Vidich, and proposed that we hitch-hike to Alaska, it being the most remote place I could think of that we could get to overland without a passport.
The idea didn’t sit well with our two respective mothers, but we prevailed on them with the help of our fathers, who I think were happy to see us out of the house, and so we packed knapsacks and bedrolls, went out on the road, stuck out our thumbs, and headed north and west.
The milk frother screams as a couple of young soldiers in camouflaged combat uniforms peruse the lit table. All around them are the familiar surroundings of a coffeehouse: posters on the wall, tables and chairs, and shelves stuffed with used books. Yet this café, just across the street from the sprawling Ft. Lewis Army Base in Washington, is not your ordinary coffeehouse. "Support War Resisters: Iraq Veterans Against the War," reads a huge banner on the wall. GI Rights handcards sit next to the cash register and manuals about "getting out" cover the lit table. Social movement history books fill the bookshelves, and a picture on the wall shows a soldier throwing a grenade with a caption that reads, "What am I doing here?" The sign on the front window declares "COFFEE STRONG. Veteran Owned and Operated."
The landmark building that was ground zero for the 1934 San Francisco General Strike is targeted for demolition.
On Tuesday, March 17 at 4:00 pm, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has an opportunity to prevent this from happening. Your participation and support is essential. Please attend this session of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and send a message to Supervisor Chris Daly, in whose district the building is located, asking him to overturn the "Negative Determination" of the Planning Commission and save the ILA Hall at 113 Steuart Street, San Francisco.
From 1933 through 1935, the International Longshoremen's Association (now the ILWU) Local 38-79 Hall was located at 113 Steuart Street. The hall was the nerve center of the month-long 1934 Waterfront Maritime Strike. It was ground zero on Bloody Thursday (July 5, 1934) when police and deputies shot on orders scores of union members.
Brother Howard Sperry was martyred in front of the adjoining building, and Brother Nick Bordoise was killed in the next block. Sperry and Bordoise lay in state in the Hall for four days and the massive funeral procession of the ILA Martyrs on Monday, July 9th led from the Hall to Market Street and across the city.
by Linda Milazzo
CODEPINK Women For Peace will be traveling to Gaza on March 6th. The purpose of their mission is to provide "humanitarian and emotional support to women and women's organizations and exert pressure on US, Egyptian and Israeli governments to lift the blockade and promote peace and human rights in the region."
In advance of their trip, CODEPINK has created a petition that asks signers to write President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, to request that he meet with the women of Gaza. As an American Jew who opposes Israel's inhumane treatment of Palestinians, I answered CODEPINK's call, signed the petition, and wrote a letter to Mr. Mitchell. The letter that follows is my personal statement to Mr. Mitchell and not the statement of CODEPINK.
By Dave Lindorff
I can’t count how many people have bombarded me with criticisms, usually laced with insults and often obscenities, when I have written articles calling for pressure on Democratic politicians to do the right thing, whether that is impeaching the last president and vice president for war crimes or in the case of our new president, standing and fighting for a people’s bailout, instead of a Wall Street bailout.
The common refrain I hear is that the Democrats and Republicans are the same, and that we need a third party. Another common refrain is that “all you suckers” who voted for Obama are to blame. We should have voted for Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader, they say.
Now I have nothing against McKinney and Nader. That ticket would make for a wonderful administration, I agree. But I also have to point out that there is zero chance of these two people being elected in my lifetime (I’m 59 and pretty healthy) or theirs.
by Linda Milazzo
In an effort to establish peaceful diplomacy with the government and people of Iran, and to model for the new Obama administration the power of cooperative good will, three highly regarded American peace makers have ventured to Iran. CODEPINK cofounders, Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin, along with former Army Colonel and decorated Foreign Service Diplomat Ann Wright, are visiting Iran on visas coordinated by the Fellowship Of Reconciliation, which similarly organized the September 24th meeting in New York City between civilian leaders of the American peace movement and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In that historic citizen diplomacy gathering, Iranian President Ahmadinejad met with approximately 120 representatives from American peace and social justice organizations, where over the course of two hours, he took unfiltered questions from the groups. The question from the women of Codepink, who travel extensively on missions of peace, addressed why the organization's founders were repeatedly denied visas to Iran. Ahmadinejad promised to remedy the situation and provide the women their visas. Thanks to the efforts of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, working in consort with the government of Iran, visas to Iran were issued on Monday to Benjamin, Evans and Wright. Seventy-two hours later, these intrepid citizen diplomats were packed and on their way.
I caught up with Evans yesterday on her stop-over in Frankfurt and asked her to explain the intent of her mission. She replied:
"We're traveling to Iran to strengthen our connections with as many groups as possible in the areas of government, culture, education, women and, of course, peace. We've come to deepen our work as citizen diplomats to model the type of diplomacy we HOPE to see from our new government."
To underscore that voting third party or not voting at all will help elect McCain and Palin, and thereby re-empower the self-righteous ideologues who berated progressives, liberals, democrats, greens, libertarians, etc., for the past 8 years while their leaders were on board, I've asked my fantastic vlogger collaborator, Sharona L. Smith (VoiceOfAmericans2008), to compile a short video of some of the harassment we've endured.
Before you decide NOT to vote for Barack Obama, who I view as our most realistic HOPE to restore some sense of sanity to our rapidly failing world, I implore you to watch Sharona's masterful 4+minute compilation of pro-Obama/pro-McCain confrontations... and more:
Sister Emmanuelle, a nun who lived for years among scavengers in Cairo's slums and who won wide acclaim for defending the rights of the poor and marginalized, died Monday at age 99.
A spokeswoman for her association, Sandrine de Carlo, said the Belgium-born nun died in her sleep at a retirement home in Callian, a town in southeastern France.
by Linda Milazzo
As corporate media reports obsessively on Joe The Plumber, who misrepresented himself to Barack Obama saying he'd be victimized by Obama's tax plan, Americans more in need than Joe are being victimized for REAL everyday - not in hypothetical ways like Joe's imagined fears of paying rich people's taxes even though he isn't rich. But in ways that jeopardize every aspect of their existence due to the collusion between the American government and the financiers it loves.
And while John McCain and Sarah Palin make this self-serving plumber the cause celebre for their campaign, increasing numbers of Americans less fortunate than Joe are losing their homes, their jobs, their health insurance, and more. Yes, while physically imposing Joe 'Wutchagonnadoforme' Wurtzelbacher, alias "Joe The Plumber," bemoans his fabricated tax burden, Americans in greater need than seemingly healthy Joe, are suffering more burdensome tragedies than his phobia of spreading his wealth. Interestingly, what Joe fears the most - the spreading of wealth (be it real or imagined), may one day be his salvation - just as it was on Friday for Jocelyne Voltaire, whose home was saved by the kindness of strangers who spread THEIR wealth to her. These strangers' generosity toward Jocelyne defines the American spirit far better than the vitriol toward SHARING that defines the McCain campaign.
So who is Jocelyne Voltaire, and why is her story more relevant to America's current crisis than that of plumber Joe?
Please check out and forward the video and other coverage of a groundbreaking presentation of ordinary/extraordinary Americans to the L.A. City Council by "Mad-As-Hell Network" (MAHN).
The group's director Peter Thottam, screen actor Judd Nelson, Code Pink organizer Jodie Evans, and other locals make outraged appeals to Council in response to the crisis unfolding before us.
This is where rubber meets road, folks. This is how we take back our country before it's too late. Please try this at home.
Keep an eye out for MAHN, mon, (http://www.madashellnetwork.org), as it appears to be a powerful, all-inclusive organization that's sure to grow. Since Congress, the Federal Gov, and even the presidential candidates are ignoring the people these days, presenting to City Councils and State Gov's all over the country is a great idea!
Sometimes it's worth a day, or half-day, off from work to take control of our own well-being, economically and otherwise.
Perhaps a bailout of some kind was needed, but will the current administration actually do anything for the people, or will another Trillion Dollars be squandered on fat CEO salaries, bonuses, and golden parachutes for the billionaires, while Americans lose their homes and jobs at the same time?