March 31, 2011

A View from the Third World: A letter in response to Michael Moore’s “America is not broke” speech in Wisconsin

Dear Michael Moore,

I had the opportunity to read the text of your March 5, 2011 speech in Madison during the recent events in Wisconsin. I would like to share with you some thoughts regarding your statements.

To begin, I want to tell you that I have a serious respect for you as a person. You have said and done things that, coming from an American, are worthy of respect for both will and intelligence. It is quite uncommon for a citizen of the land of Uncle Sam to dare to confront the corporations that are in power. And you did just that, fearlessly and with talent.

And I also want you to know that you and I have something very important in common: we were both born of the working class. From what I have read of your statements, we are both proud of our parents. In my case, both of my parents worked hand-to-mouth.

As I read your words I can tell the love that you have for your people and how you encourage them and raise their morale with every step you take. This is the attitude that one should expect from an honest politician with a working class background. But I hope that you will accept the fact that I have a different point of view, thanks to the fact that I belong to a country that, like so many others in the Third World, has been a victim of exploitation by U.S. capitalist corporations. And as such I want to share my concerns with you, speaking as a man of the working class.

I want to assure you that if it were otherwise I wouldn’t bother you with my analysis of your words, since very frankly, when it comes to questions of culture and ideology my view of the majority of your compatriots (of course, not of all!) is that of a people that has been dumbed down, manipulated and dehumanized to such a degree that they have become highly dangerous to the rest of humanity.

Perhaps my ideas will seem very simplistic to you, but my working class parents taught me that the fundamental for living in society is respect for human rights. And, that since we humans are material beings, we must “first of all eat, so we can think afterwards.” My parents classified our most fundamental rights in this order: First of all, an economic equity that guarantees enough to eat; and after that, when we can sit down and think about it, political equality and solidarity with others. These ideas, which always seem so simple when they are proposed, turn out to be extremely complex both to understand and to realize in practice.

Read more here.

JIMMY CARTER IN HAVANA: CALLS FOR RELEASE OF THE CUBAN FIVE

Former President Jimmy Carter has split from the Democratic Party on their decades long Cuba Policy. This shows that if Democrats live long enough they can learn to speak the truth about Cuba. This is his second trip to Cuba and this time it was not just a tepid speech about ending the blockade and improving relations between the U.S. and Cuba. It was an indictment of Democratic and Republican policy. And he did it in Cuba.

At a press conference at the Havana Conference Center he began by reminding the Cuban people that the 1996 Helms-Burton Act (which codified the blockade) was enacted after he was President. He attacked the Blockade and in addition he said Cuba should be removed from the U.S. list of countries sponsoring terrorism. He stated that "it is untrue that Cuba collaborates with terrorism".

He called the sentences of the Cuban Five who are in U.S. jails "unfair and unwarranted". While in Cuba, Carter and his wife met with the mothers of two of the Cuban Five and with the wives of three of them. After the visits he called for their "prompt return to their homes in Cuba". Many pundits in the U.S. predicted that he was there to return Alan Gross to the United States. Alan Gross is a USAID Contractor who was arrested as a threat to Cuban National Security. Among other things he was distributing illegal satellite technology and money to individuals which the Congress has appropriated to foment regime change in Cuba. But Carter seemed more interested in release of the Cuban Five than the release of Alan Gross. While he did say he would like him to be released, he noted that Gross's lawyer was pursuing an appeal through the legal system. And repeatedly stated he was not in Cuba to gain his release.

He also met with Fidel Castro for an hour and Raul Castro for 6 hours. Raul accompanied Carter to the airport as he departed. When asked by the press what he thought of the former President he said, "He is an honest man". Hopefully he will continue to speak honestly about Cuba when he returns to the United States as he will be under a lot of pressure to back off.


March 30, 2011

The revolution must stay in Arab hands: a response to Gilbert Achcar

Kevin Ovenden, a member of Britain's Respect Party, the Stop the War Coalition and a leader of the Viva Palestina movement in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, responds to Gilbert Achcar's call for the left to support Western intervention in Libya at the Socialist Worker. Read the article here.

Dosha Salon Spa Workers Vote Union

This is just a quick update. Portland-area Dosha Salon Spa workers voted 79 to 66 after a bitter and very dirty boss fight to form their union with CWA local 7901!!! This is a huge victory for Dosha workers who have spent 18 months to get to this. Union massages and hair cuts can be had at DOSHA Salon and Spa!!!

Communist Party of Egypt resumes open political activities

Communist Party of Egypt resumes open political activities

March 24, 2011 -- People's World -- On March 15, the Communist Party of Egypt announced that after many years underground because of repression, it will be assuming open, public political activities once more. The announcement came after "an extensive meeting with all of its bodies" and was unanimous.

The original Communist Party of Egypt, the Hizb al Shuvuci al-Misri, had been founded in 1922 when Egypt was still a monarchy and very much under the thumb of British imperialism. The last king of Egypt, Farouk, was overthrown by an uprising of young army officers in 1952. Out of that revolution came the 14-year regime of Colonel Gamel Abdel Nasser, a radical nationalist who worked to break Egypt away from subservience to Western capitalist powers. In 1965, the Communist Party of Egypt merged into Nasser's own movement, the Arab Socialist Union.

A number of former Communist Party activists dissented from this merger and formed their own independent journal, Al-Inisar (Victory), starting in 1973, which led to their re-founding the Communist Party in 1975. Under the governments of Anwar Al Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, the re-founded Communist Party of Egypt faced repression and was not allowed to run in elections. However, it did not disappear and did not abandon the struggle for democracy and socialism.

When the demonstrations against the Mubarak regime began earlier this year, the Communist Party of Egypt, working in unity with other left-wing dissident groups, quickly gained public visibility as a key voice in the secular opposition. Its February 1, 2011, proclamation read as follows.

The revolution will continue until the demands of the masses are fulfilled

Statement issued by the Communist Party of Egypt

February 1, 2011 -- The moment of truth is approaching. This is the decisive moment for the Egyptian popular forces for change; to topple the Mubarak regime. It seems that the imperialists, and their American masters in particular, are lifting their hands from him after the continuation of revolution everywhere in Egypt.

Today millions emerge to demand the departure of Mubarak. They will prevent all the conspiracies of the dictator and his gang of spies to thwart the revolution and overcome them.

The formation of a committee, which enjoys the confidence of the people and the demonstrators, is crucial to achieve the demands of the political, economic and social revolution, and we emphasise the basic demands presented by the national forces to the deputies of the people's parliament:

1. Dismissal of Mubarak and the formation of a presidential council for a transitional period of limited duration.

2. Forming a coalition government to administer the country during the transitional period.

3. To convene the election of a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution for the country based on the principle of the sovereignty of the nation and ensure the devolution of power within the framework of a democratic just civil state.

4. Prosecute those responsible for hundreds of deaths and injuries of revolutionary martyrs and victims of oppression as well as ensuring the prosecution of those responsible for plundering the wealth of the Egyptian people.

5. Long live the revolution of the Egyptian people!

Although some of these goals have been achieved, such as the dismissal of Mubarak, obviously others will have to be the focus of intensive struggle, and the situation in Egypt is hardly stable. This is why the party has decided to reorganise itself as a public political force. The Communist Party of Egypt is involved in various discussions with other democratic parties and organisations about the future of the Egyptian nation.

March 29, 2011

April 16: TURN OUT FOR JOBS

Click image to enlarge.

Salem Community Forum On Bullying

The Salem Human Rights & Relations Advisory Commission (HRRAC) will host a Community Meeting on Wednesday, April 13, 2011, on the topic, "Bullying Matters: What Can We Do About It?" The event will be held in the Salem Public Library, 585 Liberty Street SE, in the Anderson Room. The regular business meeting will begin at 6:00 PM, followed by the Community Meeting at 6:45 PM. The public is invited to attend either or both parts of the evening.

This Forum will center on models presently being used to prevent bullying and to respond to bullying in our community. Panelists include representatives from Salem-Keizer Public Schools, PFLAG, Salem Police, Marion County Children & Families Commission, and the Guido Caldarazzo Cultural Consortium.

All members of the community and any interested advocacy groups are invited to attend, as well as to speak out on this issue. Spanish interpreters will be available.

For further information, or to get on the list for future meeting and event notification, please contact the Salem Human Rights & Relations Advisory Commission at PH: 503-540-2371, or Email: mejohnston@cityofsalem.net; Website: www.cityofsalem.net/humanrights

March 28, 2011

Is Democracy Inherent In Socialism?

Sam Webb started the discussion with a piece he wrote in a recent issue of People's World. Among other points made, Sam said the following:

Soviet working people were not the authors of their own lives and the architects of their society in any deep sense. Despite the existence of local councils, trade unions and other organizations, political power wasn't really diffused to the various layers of society. Instead it was concentrated in the hands of the ruling Communist Party, and in too many instances employed arbitrarily. The party's near-monopoly of power foreclosed popular participation in and outside of the institutional structures of Soviet society.

You can read the entire article here.

Gary Hicks said much of what was on my mind when he wrote:

This article contains a lot of 1950s-1960s high-school Democracy versus Communism. I flunked that course and now I remember why. It explained nothing, caused me to zone out, not take notes on something my gut told me reeked of falsity. That being said, I'm willing to go with fighting for democracy and socialism in this bourgeois republic of which Ben Franklin quipped "if you can keep it".........this bourgeois republic of which President Lincoln said that "whenever a people grow weary of their government, they may exercise their democratic right to change it, or their revolutionary right to dismember and overthrow it." This seems to be in sync with Marx and Engels, when they wrote of the need for the revolution to "make despotic inroads" on capitalist property".

Trade unions and other civil society organizations probably do need more autonomy from political parties. Our Communist Party can set an example by advocating a process of dress rehearsal.....the liberation of trade unions, women's organizations, advocacy organizations, racial/ethnic advocacy groups......from the Democratic Party. Like the South African comrades once told their people and the world: socialism is the future, build it now.

Finally, the Soviet Union. This discourse and many others are able to take place because of the victory of the Red Army, and it's Supreme Commander, a certain Uncle of whom so, so many members of our family are embarassed. Those forces that put an end to the nazism on whose shoulders stood Jim Crow. My very ability as a black man to write items like this without penalty of physical extinction for being too uppity and worse still, red............I owe that ability to those folks of whom Bertolt Brecht wrote "in searching for kindness/could not ourselves be kind".


Thomas Kenney also spoke for much of my thinking when he wrote:

Sam Webb shows deep confusion. Here he uses the old social reformist standby of non-class definitions of democracy, that is, of democracy as synonymous with those formal processes (elections, etc.) acceptable to the bourgeoisie under normal conditions.

Sam also yields ground to the anti-Soviet and anti-Communist stereotypes still dominant in US political discourse. He alleges, as if it were self-evident, that deficiencies of Soviet democracy led to the downfall of the USSR.

That view is false and can be shown to be false, and in fact is now rejected by most parties in the world Communist movement.

What brought down the Soviet Union was primarily right opportunism and corruption that took root in Soviet society in the 30 years before 1985.

Books have been written on this, and I could suggest a few titles if asked, but a simple thought experiment suggests how obviously false Webb’s assertion is.

If lack of democracy brought Soviet socialism down, why didn’t the end of socialism and the USSR in 1991 bring about a new, restored "democratic" dispensation? In other words, if it was Soviet socialism holding back democratic development, why did not a sparkling “democracy” arise after 1991?

What did arise? The Soviet downfall brought to power in 1991 despotic, thieving oligarchs whose front men were Yeltsin and later Putin. All these were corrupt products of the dark recesses of the Soviet private, underground economy, which by 1985-91 penetrated even the upper reaches of the CPSU. That is why, after 1991, the former USSR became the heartland of a hideous gangster capitalism. To a great extent, it still is.

Survey after survey, even those conducted by Western conservative publications, suggest the peoples of the former USSR, now in their majority impoverished, know they were deceived. They say so to pollsters. They know their defeat has led to the de-modernization of their once prosperous country and to demographic collapse.

Sam Webb shoud re-read Lenin. Lenin demanded that every discussion of democracy should, for a Marxist, begin with the clarifying question: democracy for which class?

Even in its most hard-pressed moments of encirclement, invasion, and military pressure, the USSR was superior to the USA in real democracy, in class democracy, in worker political power, and in worker political participation.

Socialism means democracy for the many. Capitalism is democracy for the few.


But I'm really interested in what you think. Join the debate!

This Week's PeaceWorker Articles

The Oregon PeaceWorker is still publishing! This week's articles are especially impressive Go here to see the new issue.

MAD AS HELL DOCTORS OREGON TOUR SCHEDULE

MAD AS HELL DOCTORS OREGON TOUR SCHEDULE:

The Oregon Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and Mad As Hell Doctors has organized spirited rallies in Oregon counties during March and April. Their program will feature music by local musicians and the audience (singing); documentary videos by Paul Hochfeld M.D.; testimony by physicians and nurses; and “Mad As Heck Minutes” by audience members on screen.

http://madashelldoctors.com/
http://pnhporegon.org/

Grants Pass
March 26 (Saturday) 6:00-8:00 p.m. (TODAY!!)
Anne Basker Auditorium, 604 NW 6th, Grants Pass, OR 97526
Contact: Jim Woods at 541-956-5287 or Jerry Reed at 541-474-6847.

Medford
March 27 (Sunday) 7:00—9:00 p.m.
Medford Public Library, 205 South Central Ave Medford, OR 97501-7223
Contact: Wes Brain 541-482-6988 Brain@mind.net

Selma
March 28 (Monday) 12 Noon
Selma Center, 18255 Redwood Hwy, Selma, OR
Contact: Mary Dodd 541-956-1513 email patrickdodd@patrickdodd.com

Brookings
March 28 (Monday) 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Chetco Community Library, 405 Alder Street, Brookings, OR 97415-9014
Contact: Linda Bozack 541-469-1970 Lbozack@gmail.com

Bandon
March 29 (Tuesday) 6:30-8:30 p.m. (potluck)
Bandon Public Library Sprague Room 1204 11th St Bandon, OR 97411
Contact: Bob Fischer bobfi1@frontier.com

Coos Bay
March 30 (Wednesday) 7:00-9:00 p.m.
The Green Spot, 181 Anderson Ave, Coos Bay, OR 97420
Contact: Curt Clay curtclay@gmail.com or Rick Staggenborg stagmd@hotmail.com

Roseburg
March 31 (Thursday) 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Douglas County Library, Ford Room, 1409 Northeast Diamond Lake Boulevard, Roseburg, OR 97470-3361
Contact: Sharon Rice (541) 672-7900

Pendleton
April 25 (Monday) TBA
Contact: Frank Erickson MD, dr_erickson@mac.com

La Grande
April 26 (Tuesday) TBA
Contact: Bill Whitaker Cell 541-805-5681, wwhitak@boisestate.edu

Baker City
April 27 (Wednesday) TBA
Contact: Marilyn Dudek clm_marilyn@yahoo.com, 541-523-4421


Bend
April 28 (Thursday) TBA
Contact: David Stranahan david.stranahan@q.com

Madras
April 29 (Friday) TBA
Contact:Beth Ann Beamer BBeamer@mvhd.org

The Dalles
April 30 (Saturday) TBA
Contact: Jesse Papac jpapac@gmail.com

Hood River
May 1 (Sunday) TBA
Contact: Jesse Papac jpapac@gmail.com

Emergency Call By The ASPCA To Be in Salem TOMORROW: Stop "Battery Cages" Now

Dear Oregon Animal Advocates,

A bill has recently been introduced in the Oregon State Legislature that, if passed, will make life more bearable for millions of egg-laying hens by phasing out the use of cramped "battery cages" in your state by the year 2019. Although they are the current egg-industry standard, battery cages are extremely inhumane housing systems that are already being phased out of use throughout the European Union and in several U.S. states.

Unfortunately, agribusiness concerns are proposing changes to the bill (Senate Bill 805) that would seriously weaken it. Certain proposed amendments would allow factory egg farms to keep their birds in cages only slightly larger than they are now-and allow them until the year 2026 to comply with these new standards, which would be little more than a pretense of real reform.

The Oregon Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources is holding a hearing on SB 805 tomorrow (Tuesday, March 29).

What You Can Do
If you live near Salem, please consider attending tomorrow's important hearing at 3:00 P.M. And no matter where in Oregon you live, please call your state senator immediately and ask him or her to support passing SB 805 as it was originally introduced, without the proposed amendments that water it down to the point of uselessness.

Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center online to see details about tomorrow's hearing and to look up your state senator's phone number. We've also provided a few talking points that will assist you when you call.

Thank you, Oregon, for stepping up to defend these under-protected animals.

SEIU Local 503 Says: Support Our Sisters & Brothers At McKenzie Willamette Medical Center In Springfield

The struggle of 330 caregivers who are members of SEIU Local 49 and work at McKenzie Willamette Medical Center in Springfield for quality jobs and quality care continues. For nearly a year, Tennessee-based Community Health Systems CHS—one of the largest for-profit hospital chains in America—has been demanding the near elimination of employees’ 401k benefit and dramatic cuts in their healthcare benefits. For some members, the new health care costs could be thousands of dollars more per year. If you’re the CEO of CHS, Wayne T. Smith who made over $13,340,000 last year—more than the CEO of Wall Street giant JP Morgan Chase—these new costs aren’t a big deal. However, for a Certified Nursing Assistant making $20,000—such new costs can be devastating to your family.

CHS has continued its repeated violations of the law and abuses of workers' rights. The NLRB has found “merit” in multiple Unfair Labor Practice charges filed by Local 49 against CHS. These charges run the gamut from CHS' bad behavior in bargaining to intimidation of and discrimination against, union supporters. CHS has refused to cooperate in the settlement of these charges and a hearing is being scheduled before an Administrative Law Judge, by the NLRB.

Caregivers have also stood up to CHS’ cuts in patient care. In fact, one of our Unfair Labor Practices that the NLRB found to have merit is based upon their unilateral cut in staffing. On one unit—evening shift Certified Nursing Assistants—can now be expected to care for up to 22 patients!

Please Join our sisters and brothers in Local 49 and their community supporters on Thursday from 6:00 to 7:00pm for a Candlelight Vigil for Justice in Springfield (Willamalane Park, Mohawk Blvd and "I" Street, directly across from the Hospital) If we can’t expect the hospital that our community built and supported for generations to provide good jobs here, who can we count on?

March 25, 2011

EGYPTIAN CABINET: ORDERS LAW BANNING STRIKES

On Wednesday (March 23) the Egyptian Cabinet ordered a law criminalizing labor strikes and public protests. Anyone inciting, organizing, promoting or calling for a protest or strike will be sentenced to jail or fined LE500,000 ($84,000). The new law has not yet been approved by the ruling Supreme Council Of The Armed Forces. A major Egyptian youth movement, the Revolutionary Youth Coalition has called on citizens to participate in protests today (March 25) against the new law prohibiting demonstrations and strikes.

The call to action is a good thing but there should be concern about the statement. It did oppose the ban on strikes but the call included a statement "Some of the labor protesters should have given the government a chance to meet their demands in light of the difficult economic situation now facing the country." It is unfortunate that they did not call for an unconditional opposition to the ban on strikes to show that the Revolutionary Youth Coalition is in full solidarity with the unions.

March 24, 2011

Dosha Salon is Organizing!

Dosha Salon is Organizing!

Your next haircut or massage could be from a union member, if Dosha Salon votes to organize. The 155 union eligible employees of Dosha will vote on March 29th and 30th to decide if they will join CWA Local 7901. Read more about Dosha, and about why they want to organize here: http://www.nwlaborpress.org/2011/0318/3-18-11CWA.html.

After a year and a half of organizing efforts, the campaign is heating up. If you’re interested in voicing support for the salon workers who are seeking representation, head to http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dosha-workers-unite/112668432145089 and let them know!

March 23, 2011

Some Notes On The Current Situation In Libya, North Africa And The Arab States

This is not going to be a thorough-going or in-depth analysis of the current situation in Libya and across North Africa and the Arab states. I do want to get down a few random thoughts, however, and help move forward a discussion of what is at stake in the current political crisis.

Obama has had to cut short his three-nation Latin American tour because the hastily created alliance which supposedly favored some level of armed intervention in Libya is falling apart, if it ever existed at all. The US and France ignored the Venezuelan mediation offer and Turkish-Libyan peace overtures and moved into high gear after some initial hesitation. It has been reported that Hilary Clinton and many of her hawkish staff pushed the President to act.

One immediate result of the bombing and blockade campaign has been that the US is now seeking the support of the Qatari government and armed forces while other Arab states which looked like (potential) allies seem to be backing away quickly. While the French seem keen to continue the bombing campaign, the French, Turkish, Norwegian and Italian governments differ on what level of support to give the operation and the US and British attempt to do an end-run around NATO has failed, if only for the moment. The United Arab Emirates is reacting negatively to the quiet-as-a-mouse approach that the Obama administration took with the situation in Bahrain and also seems to be seriously out of step with Washington. Obama claims that the Turkish government is fully supporting intervention in Libya, but leading establishment voices in Turkey are questioning that and the Turkish government is insisting on humanitarian aid while also maintaining its position that foreign forces be pulled out of Bahrain. For Obama, then, whatever alliance he patches together---if one can be patched together---will be shaky, at best. The President returns to what might become a small Constitutional crisis as Congressman Kucinich continues to press the point that he may have committed an impeachable offense and as some leading Republicans falsely pose as antiwar forces and even go far as to say that Ghadafy should not be removed from power.

I wish that Obama and Clinton had shown some backbone in dealing with the Yemeni and Bahraini governments. This odd mix of non-interference and interference across the region has allowed the Iraqi, Saudi, Yemeni, Syrian and UAE governments to take a tougher line against democratic movements than they might otherwise have. I have no doubt that the people of Yemen will eventually win, but their struggle is being made much more difficult as Washington and Paris intervene in the region. The democratic movement in Syria is beginning to win concessions from the Syrian government but at great cost to the people. The movement in Syria has the potential to affect the entire region, and particularly Turkey. Strikes are spreading in Oman and the democratic movement in Bahrain is calling for Friday protests. A certain repositioning has had to take place since Ghadafy's repression and the US/NATO intervention.

As days pass and the attacks on Libya continue we see the Israeli government calling for a wider war against Iran and Syria and perhaps even funding or training sections of the armed Kurdish opposition in Turkey. Israel sees an opportunity to hit Iran and settle scores with the Syrian government, which counts among its friends Hezbollah and the PLO. This call for an expanded war and this possible undercover attack on Turkey are not just additional examples of Israeli opportunism, but they also help to form a dialectic, an opposing tendency to the humanism of Arab, Kurdish and North African revolts. A choice is in the air: war or democratic humanism.

The cynic in me notes that BP said last Thursday that its $900 million exploration and production deal with Libya's National Oil Co. remains in place and the terms of the deal remain unchanged, despite the conflict. Italy's Eni SpA (E) said Wednesday that its own ties with Libya hadn't been compromised as a result of the unrest either. It's clear that the imperialist powers are most interested in maintaining business relationships, or finding new ones when the old ones prove unmanageable or inconvenient. For a good analysis of this see this article in the Socialist Worker.

In that regard, then, it is disappointing that there are voices on the left and in the anti-imperialist movements supporting Ghadafy, the wavering Turkish position, the Syrian government or, on the flipside, supporting intervention in the region. These are blind alleys which have already been rejected by the masses of people across the region. The left should have given more attention to the Venezuelan peace proposal (while criticizing Chavez's support for Ghadafy) or to the Turkish offer to mediate (while criticizing Turkish attempts at building hegemonic regional relationships). Finally, we have to realize that the Chinese government is only thinking strategically about its own long-term interests in not supporting the war effort and is not acting in an internationalist capacity.

Organize, Mobilize & Fight Back In March And April In Salem And Portland

Full Mobilization for April:

Saturday, April 16, Noon, Portland Rising - March and Rally for Jobs and Benefits, Not Cuts! Pioneer Square - 6th and SW Broadway, This is going to be a large, fun action bringing together the demand for a federal jobs program, no cuts to the safety net, and good contracts for thousands of Oregon workers. Don't miss it! More info, RSVP here

Upcoming Actions:

Wednesday, March 30, 11:30am, Support the Oregon State Bank at the Capitol! We need to pack two seperate hearings. Briefing at 11:30, Senate hearing at 1pm, House hearing at 3pm. Portland carpool: at 10am, meet at the Regal Cinemas parking lot near the Lloyd Center at NE 13th Ave and NE Multnomah St.

Saturday, April 2, 2pm, International Solidarity Event at Peace Arch State Park in Blaine, Washington. Join unions from the United States and Canada at the international border to stand in solidarity with workers who are struggling to keep their right to collectively bargain. More info: www.oraflcio.org

Monday, April 4, 5:30pm Keep Dr. King's Dream Alive! Director Park, Downtown Portland: SW 9th and Yamhill, Stand up against the Koch Brothers who helped put Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in office and are holding up contract negotiations for our brothers and sisters in Oregon at Georgia Pacific and at the Wauna paper mill.

May 1st Is Just Around The Corner---March And Rally In Salem

May 1st is just around the corner, so please mark your calendars!

Sunday, May 1, 2011
International Workers Day March and Rally
Oregon State Capitol
900 Court Street NE
Salem, Oregon 97301

Ecumenical Service: 10:30am
March & Rally: 11:30am

TOWN HALL TO STOP WAGE THEFT---SHARE YOUR STORY, HELP END WAGE THEFT IN WOODBURN ON THURSDAY, MARCH 31

TOWN HALL TO STOP WAGE THEFT SHARE YOUR STORY, HELP END WAGE THEFT

PCUN 503-997-4387

www.facebook.com/protectoregonworkers

Wage theft is the pervasive and illegal practice of not paying workers for some or all of their work.

It happens when employers pay less than the minimum wage, don't pay overtime, force employees to work 'off the clock' or ‘under the table’, issue paychecks that bounce, steal tips, deny legally required meal and rest breaks, or don't pay workers at all.

The Oregon Coalition to Stop Wage Theft is fighting to keep cheaters from unfairly circumventing lawful employment practices and to provide workers with more tools to recover unpaid wages.

Come share your story or hear from others!

Sponsored by the Coalition to Stop Wage Theft: Northwest Workers’ Justice Project (NWJP), PCUN, Rural Organizing Project (ROP), Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP), VOZ Workers’ Rights Education Project, Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA), CAUSA, Portland Jobs with Justice, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Economic Fairness Oregon, SEIU Local 503, and SEIU Local 49.

Thursday, March 31st 6-8PM PCUN, 300 Young St. Woodburn, OR

"THE LETTERS OF ROSA LUXEMBURG": AN EXPANDED LOOK AT A REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALIST






This recently published book is an important contribution to Rosa Luxemburg's entire body of work. George Shriver has translated into English the letters she wrote in Polish, Russian, German, French, Latin and Italian. These letters are to friends, lovers and colleagues.

Our knowledge of historical figures is often limited to their writings and what friends and enemies may have written. Reading letters and personal correspondence can give us a more complete picture.

And who would not want to know more about Rosa Luxemburg? A woman born in Poland in 1871 growing up under Russian imperialism and experiencing class and national oppression. She attended University in Zurich and then immigrated to Germany where she took on the male leadership of the Social Democratic Party. She struggled with entrenched leaders and at the age of 28 wrote the classic "Reform Or Revolution".

The first review of this book I have seen is in "The Guardian (UK). It is written by Sheila Rowbotham a British feminist theorist. Her review begins, "George Shriver's new translation of "The Letters Of Rosa Luxemburg" is the most comprehensive collection of her correspondence yet to appear in English. It transports us directly into the private world of a woman who has never lost her inspirational power as an original thinker and courageous activist in first the Marxist Social Democratic Party and then the German revolutionary group, the Sparticist League. She suffered for her convictions, jail sentences in 1904 and 1906 were followed by three and a half years in prison opposing the first world war. Her brutal death at the hands of the militaristic Volunteer Corps during the 1919 worker's uprising in Berlin has added to her mystique. She is revered as a revolutionary who never compromised. The collection of her letters reveals that the woman behind the mythic figure was also a compassionate, teasing, witty human being...."

March 22, 2011

Next Wednesday, March 30th, help us declare independence from Wall Street!

Next Wednesday, March 30th, help us declare independence from Wall Street!

We have two very important hearings coming up about Ted Wheeler's virtual state bank: one in the House Rules committee, and another in the Senate Committee on General Government, Consumer and Small Business Protection.

We need to pack the room. The Wall Street lobbyists will be at the hearings to attack the proposal, and they need to be met with a room full of Oregonians who believe there is a better way.

Please spread the word and try to be at the hearings. We have the opportunity to show the Senate, the House and the big bank lobby that we mean business! If you can, plan to join us for a full day of events. Here's the agenda for WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30th:

11:30 am - 12:30 pm: Pre-hearing briefing

State Capitol, 900 Court Street Northeast, Salem, OR

Conference Room 350

Find out what to expect in the hearing, where the bill stands, and what we plan to do to mobilize support for--and counteract big bank opposition to--the bill.

1:00 pm: Senate Hearing on the Ted Wheeler's "virtual" state bank proposal (SB 889)

State Capitol, 900 Court Street Northeast, Salem, OR

Hearing Room B

We need to PACK the room! We will have expert testimony lined up to discuss the proposal and to represent Oregon's community advocates, small businesses, and family farmers.

3:00 pm: House Hearing on the Ted Wheeler's "virtual" state bank proposal (HB 3452)

State Capitol, 900 Court Street Northeast, Salem, OR

Hearing Room 50

5:30 - 7:30 pm: Social Gathering and De-briefing

The Ram Restaurant and Brewery

515 12th Street, Salem, OR

This will be an informal gathering hosted by the Mid-Valley chapter of the Working Families Party. Everyone is welcome!

NEED A RIDE TO SALEM?

From Eugene--at 10am, meet at Costco in the small parking lot, just south of the gas pumps (2828 Chad Drive, Eugene)

From Portland--at 10am, meet at the Regal Cinemas parking lot near the Lloyd Center at NE 13th Ave and NE Multnomah St.

March 21, 2011

Hanford State of the Site meeting

Action Name: Hanford State of the Site meeting

Date: 2011-03-31

Event Time: 7:00 pm

Organization: Hanford Watch

MORE INFO: http://hanfordwatch.org

Description: Join top Hanford decision makers from U.S. Dept. of Energy, Washington state Dept. of Ecology, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to discuss cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, located in eastern Washington on the Columbia River.

Hanford is the largest nuclear waste dump in the Western Hemisphere and a major Northwest environmental issue. It is a serious long-term threat to the Columbia River, which Oregon depends on for power generation, farm irrigation, fishing, transport and recreation.

Open house - 6 p.m.
Hanford Story video - 6:45
Town Hall - 7 p.m.

Gerardo Torres, independent journalist and youth leader of the resistance in Honduras, to visit Portland

Subject: A chance to celebrate springtime and resistance

Friends and compas,

It's the first day of spring and we're excitedly awaiting the arrival of our spring brunch and a visit by Gerardo Torres, independent journalist and youth leader of the resistance in Honduras. Our theme this year is "they can cut down all the flowers but they cannot stop the spring"- a line from a poem by Pablo Neruda and our homage to the vibrant movement for justice we are witnessing in Honduras.

We've got an great program prepared for you! Gerardo will be our keynote speaker and will be joined by local musician Edna Vasquez. We'll also be unveiling our nine month project to chronicle PCASC's 32 years of solidarity work.

The brunch will be held at SEIU 503 at 6401 SE Foster Rd on Sunday, April 17th. We are holding a welcome reception with Gerardo at 10:30 followed by brunch from 11am-1pm.

We encourage you to purchase your ticket early to reserve a seat. Table sales are available, and we're also accepting purchases of scholarship tickets for students and low-income supporters.

Order tickets directly by clicking below:
http://www.facebook.com/l/e2d19Gp6oOEM9jryP4eBjXOuy1Q/https%3A%2F%2Fpcasc.net%2Fcivicrm%2Fcivicrm%2Fevent%2Finfo%3Freset%3D1%26id%3D3

For more information see: http://www.facebook.com/l/e2d19X7jYeZ-iXJEbRL9TWLolFg/pcascbrunch.tumblr.com

"Little Town of Bethlehem" to show in Corvallis

Action Name: Documentary Film: Little Town of Bethlehem in Corvallis

Date: 2011-03-25

Event Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Location: First Presbyterian Church
114 SW 8TH ST
CORVALLIS, OR, 97333-4546
MAP

Organization: Corvallis-Albany Friends of Middle East Peace

Description: The First Presbyterian Mission Committee and United Campus Ministry present:

"Little Town of Bethlehem"

This bold documentary tells the gripping story of three men--born into the cycle of violence between Palestinians and Israelis--who have chosen to risk everything to bring peace to their homelands. A Palestinian Muslim, a Palestinian Christian and an Israeli Jew, following the example of Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi, join together in a heroic and dangerous cause. Their story of nonviolent struggle brings real hope for this region and provides an inspiring model for peaceful resolution.

Friday, March 25, 2011
7pm-9pm
Dennis Hall
First Presbyterian Church
114 SW 8th St, Corvallis

Palestinian Solidarity In Corvallis

Action Name: Palestinian Land Day Commemoration in Corvallis

Date: 2011-03-30

Event Time: 7:00 pm

Organization: Corvallis-Albany Friends of Middle East Peace

Description: To commemorate Palestinian Land Day and to heed the call by the Palestinian BDS National Committee to unite in a March 30th Day of Action, please join us...

Wednesday, March 30th, 7pm
Corvallis Multicultural Literacy Center
128 SW 9th St, Corvallis

Taste a variety of Canaan Fair Trade (canaanusa.comyour link here...)
organic olive oils, Za'atar (the signature spice blend of Palestine), and hand-rolled Maftoul (couscous)

Hear the inspiring stories of producers in the farmers' cooperatives and the women's cooperatives of the Palestine Fair Trade Association

Learn more about the global BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, plus ways to get involved

Enjoy coffee, sweets and good company

What better way to commemorate Land Day than by honoring and supporting the traditional artisan farmers of Palestine!

Rumi, Nabali and pepper infused olive oils will be available for purchase, as well as Za'atar and Maftoul.

This event is free and open to the public.
Sponsored by Palestine Action Group

March 20, 2011

Libya: Lies and Duplicities

It was about a week ago that the Arab League approved a Western sponsored no-fly zone over Libya. This was a very surprising move on the part of the Arab League.

Why, many of us wondered, would a number of authoritarian Arab states approve a move which might prolong the life of Libya's democratic rebellion? After all, these are the same states that are working overtime to repress democratic rebellions in their own states. Here we are talking about Bahrain's brutal repression of its own pro-democracy demonstrations (backed by Saudi Arabia), Yemen's bloody response to its protesters, Syrian repression, Morocco's absolute monarchy shooting pro-democracy demonstrators. There certainly are other examples as well.

Being a cynic with a mighty distrust of authoritarian states, I figure these authoritarian states found the perfect smokescreen to their problems in the Libya situation. By focusing on Libya and the brutality of the Gadhafi's regime, the Arab League deflected attention away from events in their states. Thus they could paint themselves as responsible and humanitarian leaders and at the same time could ingratiate themselves to the West by allying themselves with the Western no-fly initiative. They could do this with little risk because nobody anywhere likes Gadhafi.

I also have a mighty distrust of the West - America, Britain and France. It has been a long time since the West took a stand on behalf of democracy and self-determination anywhere. As far as I can figure, the West's concerns with Libya has more to do with settling old scores with Gadhafi and at the same time, like the Arab League, a chance to hide the West's alliances with autocrats across the Middle East by focusing on a dictator who has few friends anywhere.

All the same, I support the West's intervention in Libya. I support the no-fly zone because the only other option was the crushing of Libya's opposition with a wholesale bloodbath following.

As I sorted through all the duplicities and probable self-serving motives on the part of the Arab League and the West, it seemed to me that in the end, the forces of popular democracy in Libya and the Middle East are better served with a live and fighting Libyan opposition rather than a bloodbath.

Second, the stated aims of the no-fly zone appear to be in the interests of preventing the military defeat of the very out-classed armed opposition -- a real possibility given Gadhafi's military successes earlier in March. These limited aims on the part of the West seem to indicate an intention of letting democracy move forward in Libya by allowing the opposition to survive and carry the democratic movement forward.

The Intervention Begins:

Military no-fly intervention began on March 19. Initially the attacks launched by French fighters seemed to be within the scope of preserving the Libyan opposition. Attacks were aimed at backing off Gadhafi's tank and artillery forces surrounding Benghazi and a number of smaller towns about to fall to Gadhafi's forces.

And then.....

The West seemed to display its true motives. Fighter attacks against tanks and artillery positions were followed by an all-out attack on the Libyan air defense structure. I always figured that a no-fly zone meant an attack would only happen if "the enemy" attempted to get their planes in the air. Silly me.

Second, as soon as the intervention began, the aims and goals of the no-fly resolution changed. Discussion within the US government and West moved immediately to "regime change" and ousting Gadhafi.

Don't get me wrong here. Gadhafi's fall would probably be a very good thing for the people of Libya. On the other hand, the value of self determination says that it is up to Libyans and only Libyans to choose regime change or not. And if the opposition chooses the option of regime change, it is up to this opposition and the Libyan people to carry it out.

Democracy and self determination means the opposition and people need to be responsible for their own liberation.

The West, in choosing the regime change option have thus reduced the Libyan opposition to bit players in their own country. First, regime change as stated now is without any input or participation from the Libyan opposition. For instance, as of yesterday, US sources said they were able to establish short hourly contacts with the Libyan opposition in Benghazi; this is hardly the kind of contact that leads to meaningful dialogue between the opposition and its allies.

Likewise, after only one day, the Arab League is pulling back on its support of the no-fly zone. Here, the Arab League cites the scope and depth of the Western attack on Libya as being well beyond the stated intentions of the no-fly resolution.

In a further step towards hypocrisy, the Arab League cites the number of civilian deaths occurring in the West's attacks on Libyan air defenses as a reason for backing away from the no-fly resolution. The Arab League's points are valid but hard to believe given the violent treatment of the pro-democracy movements at home.

What Next?

So far, I still support intervention in Libya. This, however, is not a total support.

As of right now, the Libyan opposition seems to be nothing more than a public relations tool of the West's desire to get Gadhafi. Without an active and controlling opposition, Libyan liberation stands a strong risk of being imposed by the West and in conformance with Western standards (highly suspect) of what democracy is. Not to be too cynical, but Hosni Mubarack and his son might yet have a job in Libya if "liberation" goes according to Western standards.

A lot here falls back on the Libyan opposition and the people of Libya. If the opposition refuses to be co-opted by the West and its goals, the Western intervention will be worth it. If the opposition is co-opted? Well, more of the same again.

For those of us who are part of the Western Left, I think our position is one which requires us to embrace values of popular sovereignty and the rights and responsibilities of self determination. Space for popular forces to breath and re-group? Yes, sure... Western imperial policies based on Western self interest? No way!!

March 18, 2011

Egyptian Workers Say No To Amending The Constitution

No For Amending the Constitution

The Center for Trade Union and Worker Services (CTUWS), the voice of independent workers in Egypt, and the newly established Independent Trade Union Federation in Egypt, is calling for a “No” vote in this upcoming referendum. The CTUWS is declaring: “Vote No ... to this constitutional patching effort”. In a statement released today, CTUWS is calling for Egyptian workers to reject the proposed constitutional amendments and to demand a new constitution that lays the foundations for a new Egypt.

Since the outbreak of the 25th January Revolution for freedom and justice, the Egyptian workers played a remarkable role in the massive demonstrations which took place in industrial cities calling to topple the regime. Then came the workers strikes of 9 and 10 February as the death blow which finished Mubarak’s authority.

The Egyptians are invited today to support the powers of the revolution, refuse the constitution amendments and call for a new constitution which establishes new Egypt, freedom and equality.

The reasons to vote No are as follows:

1. These amendments were previously proposed by the deposed President Mubarak so it is unseemly for this glorious revolution to adopt these same proposals. It jeopardizes the revolution’s legitimacy and it is totally unacceptable that the transition period to be administered by the proposals made by Mubarak.

2. The 1971 Constitution has been made null and void by the Egyptian revolution and it no longer has any legitimacy, and the legitimacy belongs to the Egyptian people since January 25.

3. The 1971 Constitution has become null and void with the resignation of the former president and his abdication of power. The power to rule Egypt was not transferred to the President of the People's Assembly, or to the President of the Supreme Constitutional Court, but it was transferred to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and this includes the overriding of the 1971 Constitution.

4. Bringing back to life again the 1971 Constitution and giving it legitimacy through making amendments to the main clauses will lead to many political disasters. Why?

a) We will be back again to the 1971 Constitution that gives enormous powers to the position of the Egyptian President. This cannot be accepted by the people after the 25th January revolution because the revolution did not intend to create another “new pharaoh”.

b) If the results of this referendum are the “approval” of the new constitutional amendments then there would be presidential and parliamentary elections in a time period that is not likely to yield free and fair results when the current security situation in Egypt has collapsed (is being re-built yet this takes time). The political party realities cannot recover so quickly after three decades of authoritarian rule with restrictions, fraud, corruption and lack of free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections and for such elections to be held twice in less than a year [The last elections were held in November 2010].

c) If the 1971 Constitution is restored after these proposed amendments are approved then the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ transitional rule becomes unconstitutional.

d) The referendum on these constitutional amendments all at once and not clause by clause is a form of an imperfect democracy, which is not acceptable. It is the right of every Egyptian citizen to accept or reject each amendment. These amendments are being presented as a “package” and that is not acceptable.

The CTUWS and Egyptian independent labor movement calls on workers to vote "No" to the constitutional amendments and to join all the mainstream revolutionary forces by demanding:

1. A temporary Constitutional declaration to administer the transition period that includes the demands of the revolution and determines the validity of the transitional government and the presidential civil council.

2. The formation of a civilian presidential council composed of 3 members (one should be from the military) and this “transitional government” would manage the affairs of the country and pave the way for legislative and presidential elections.

3. The formation of a committee of experts to draft a new constitution for the country.

4. Amend laws that supplement the Constitution, such as the Law on Political Parties and the Political Rights Law and the Law of the People's Assembly and Shura Council. (The Shura Council is the upper house of Egyptian bicameral Parliament. Its name roughly translates into English as "the Consultative Council". The lower house of parliament is the People's Assembly.)

5. The abolition of the Shura Council that did not have any effective value or role in Egyptian political life.

March 17, 2011

Today's events in Bahrain

The government in Bahrain has arrested at least six opposition leaders and has reportedly cut off access and power to the main hospital as it imposed a nighttime curfew on much of the capital. A group of Bahraini human rights groups has appealed to the United Nations for help and an open letter to President Obama is circulating as well.

The government is charging at least several of those arrested with calling for the downfall of the regime and having intelligence contacts with foreign countries as well as inciting for the killing of citizens and the destruction of public and private property. Many of the arrests took place at night.

Hassan Mashaima, a leader of the Shiite Haq group which is seeking to overthrow the Sunni monarchy that has ruled the Shiite-majority island state for 230 years, was one of those arrested. He returned to Manama from abroad only recently and after terrorism charges against him were dropped as part of an earlier peace offering from the government to the opposition. This once more shows the duplicitous nature of the Bahraini government.

It has seemed from press reports that the leadership of the popular National Democratic Action Society - Wa'ad (Arabic: جمعية العمل الوطني الديمقراطي - وعد‎) has also been targeted by authorities. This is Bahrain's largest left political party, with deep roots and a history in the underground. It might be described as holding a combination of Maoist, socialist and Arab nationalist viewpoints. The party is the first licensed political group in any of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. It draws its strength from the working class.

King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa, who traitorously invited foreign troops in to help suppress the revolution and then declared three months of martial law, today visited the financial district of downtown Manama, the capital, where he publicly praised his troops. The stock market reopened, but most stores remained closed. Most people in Manama stayed home, perhaps in response to the on-going strike call. Police checkpoints have slowed what traffic there is to almost a standstill.

The Obama administration remains committed to the Bahraini royal family. The presence of foreign Gulf state troops on Bahraini soil seems like a calculated and cynical attempt to whip up sectarian strife and perhaps provoke a regional conflict with Iran. So far this has not happened and Shiite and Sunni activists are among those arrested today. Perhaps sensing this, a number of Shiites serving in government resigned in the wake of Wednesday’s violent removal of protesters from Pearl Square, including the health minister, six members of the Shura advisory council and a number of prominent judges. The housing minister promised that he would boycott government meetings but stopped short of resignation. The struggle and the opposition to the government continue on.

Media attention has shifted to fighting in Bahraini villages, where police forces are using shotguns and tear gas to disperse demonstrations and are blocking access to these areas. All protests and gatherings are forbidden under state-of-emergency laws decreed by the authorities. Solidarity demonstrations are being held in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.

Today’s Al Jazeera report is here.

Locations For Friday's US Bank Protests Across Oregon

Friday, March 18 at 12 noon. Locations:


Portland: US Bank Tower, 111 SW 5th (meet between 5th & 6th on SW Oak)

Salem: 3995 Devonshire Ave NE (Lancaster & Devonshire)

Bend: 1442 NE 3rd, Bend

Corvallis: 375 NW Monroe (between 3rd & 4th)

Eugene: 800 Willamette St

Hermiston: 245 SE 2nd

Hillsboro: 210 E Main

Lincoln City: 928 SW 5th & Hwy 101

Medford: E Main & Central

Milton-Freewater: 610 E Broadway

North Bend: 1285 Virginia

Pendleton: 105 SW Court Ave

Roseburg: 2040 NW Stewarts Parkway

St Helens: 58791 Columbia River Highway

Bahraini Protesters To President Obama

[This is a public letter addressed to US President Barack Obama from by protesters in Bahrain under the name “Movement of 14 February.” The letter was circulated on March 15, 2011]

Mr President,

You certainly know about the Saudi and other gulf troops arriving to Bahrain to aid the government in clamping down the peaceful protesters. If you can find any legal, logical or ethical justification for this intervention, can you find any justification as well to them forming thugs attacking peaceful Bahrainis in their own homes and villages, killing them with live rounds, intimidating women and children in these areas, and boasting themselves with a "claimed" American green light!!

Mr President, having listened to your addresses in many occasions, we find it difficult to believe that you and the United States could stand by in such an inhumane and resentful situation that Bahrainis are witnessing today, for the simple sin of peacefully claiming civic, political and human rights. We urge you Mr. President to take a position that will be remembered by your own people as well as the Bahraini people and all peoples in this miserable region of the world.

We ask for a clear and firm stance from the US administration towards the ill-intentioned, arrogant and murderous actions of the Bahraini regime with the help of neighboring Gulf regimes.

This is the outcry of peaceful Bahraini protesters, and we heartily hope that it will meet your wise and just support.

Japan's Communists And The Great East Japan Disaster

People’s lives must be first rescue

March 13, 2011


In a ruling-opposition summit meeting held on March 12 at the prime minister’s official residence following the Great East Japan Disaster, Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo requested that the prime minister give top priority to rescue operations before everything and that the government must do all it can for that. Shii said that the JCP will cooperate in rescue and relief actions.

Regarding the explosion at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, he said, “We are extremely worried about the situation. We hope that the government will take every possible measure to prevent radioactive material from leaking out.”

He also proposed that the government promptly hand out iodine tablets to residents in the damaged areas to prevent radioactivity from entering the thyroid gland.

PM Kan said that the government, in cooperation with the Fukushima prefectural administration, is working to hand out the iodine preparation to the residents.

Shii: Minimize damage from N-plant accidents

On the explosion that took place at around 3:30 p.m. on March 12 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo commented, “The prime minister and the chief cabinet secretary should grasp how things really are, and promptly take measures to protect the people’s lives.”

Asked by reporters for a comment about the government’s responses to the accident, Shii said, “One problem is that the government announced the fact of the explosion to the public two and half hours after the explosion occurred and that the government is not being clear and forthright concerning the entire situation.”

Shii went on to say, “I told the premier’s aide Kato Koichi on the phone that such a response won’t help nearby residents suffering from extreme anxiety. I told him that the prime minister and the chief cabinet secretary are responsible to grasp the entire situation, reveal the facts to the people, and immediately take steps to minimize the damage, including proceeding swiftly with emergency evacuations and handouts of iodine preparation to remove radioactivity from the body.”

JCP proposes election delay to focus on disaster relief

March 15, 2011


Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on March 14 called a press conference in the Diet building and proposed that the government postpone the simultaneous nationwide local elections starting with the official announcement scheduled for March 24 of the Tokyo gubernatorial election campaign.

He emphasized, “We should focus on relief efforts and reconstruction assistance for victims of the Great East Japan Disaster.”

The JCP chair stated, “The government is considering putting off the elections only in the disaster-stricken regions but the JCP calls for postponing the election nationwide.”

“Because,” he argued, “now is the time for the whole nation to concentrate on rescue and recovery, regardless of ideological differences. It’s not a good idea to hold the elections at such a tragic and catastrophic moment.”

Shii went on to say, “Policy options for the next legislative term of four years at each municipality should be discussed during the simultaneous nationwide local election campaigns. However, the present crisis situation makes it difficult for voters to calmly choose between policy options.”

Asked by reporters on proposed length of the postponement period, Shii answered, “Given the seriousness of the aftermath, I think a 6-month suspension may be necessary.”

JCP Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi immediately called on his counterparts in other parties to agree with the proposal.

March 16, 2011

Events In Bahrain Today

This is our fourth posting on recent events in Bahrain.

At least three protesters and three police were killed in clashes between demonstrators and the security forces in Bahrain today. Hundreds of riot police drove demonstrators out of Manama's Pearl Square in a pre-dawn raid on Wednesday. They arrived in tanks, troop transport vehicles, buses and helicopters before moving in on the mainly Shiite Muslim demonstrators, who have been camped out in the square for a month to press for political reform. Some young people hurled petrol bombs at police near the roundabout and scattered as new rounds of teargas hit. The security forces then effectively cleared the area in a two-hour-long operation and struck a blow at the heart of the largely non-violent Bahraini revolution. The protesters' tents were set on fire and explosions were triggered as the protesters' cooking gas canisters ignited.

The forces of law and order were quick to reassert their authority and declared a three-month state of emergency in a bid to quell the uprising. The doors of all government and private universities, schools, nursery and all educational institutions are closed until further notice. Bahrain’s stock market will also remain closed until further notice. Troops later entered the financial center and used a bulldozer to clear it of illegal roadblocks set largely by striking workers and smaller groups of protesters still remaining after clashes there on Sunday. The much-hated major international banks and multinational corporations doing business there seem safe once more, if only temporarily. Still, these closures come a day after Fitch downgraded Bahrain's sovereign ratings by two notches due to the unrest. Bahrain 5-year credit default swaps tightened 7 basis points to 350 basis points on Wednesday, according to Markit data. In London, Standard Chartered and HSBC Holdings -- two of the leading foreign banks in the country -- said they have closed all their branches in Bahrain on Wednesday.

Riot police blocked access to Manama's Salmaniya hospital, where many civilian casualties had previously been treated, and witnesses said access to other health centers was also blocked. Other key areas of the city have been cut off by heavily armed police forces as well.

It did not appear that Gulf Arab forces invited in by the government for support were involved in the operation. The US has pleaded publicly for restraint, as if both sides were equals in their reach and in their violence.

As the opposition withdrew from the streets chants of "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) were heard. According to Reuters, the head of the Shiite Muslim opposition bloc in parliament said at least five protesters have been killed and hundreds wounded in the crackdown by Bahraini forces. "This is a war of annihilation. This does not happen even in wars and this is not acceptable," Abdel Jalil Khalil, a senior politician in Bahrain's largest Shiite party Wefaq, has been quoted as saying. "I saw them fire live rounds, in front of my own eyes."

A resurgent youth movement, which had been leading protests at the Pearl roundabout, quickly called for a mass demonstration from all Manama suburbs to Budaya Street in the north of the capital. Minutes after this call was made, a military official appeared on Bahrain's state television to ban all marches and gatherings and impose a curfew from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. across a large swathe of Manama. A Reuters witness saw Bahraini tanks and armored vehicles move in the direction of Budaya Street.

The Al Jazeera report for the day is here.

Tell Congressman Schrader: No More NAFTAs!

Tell Congressman Schrader: No More NAFTAs!
PICKET AGAINST THE KOREA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT

Tuesday, March 22 * 6:00 - 7:00 pm

Outside Rep. Schrader's $100-a-Plate Re-Election Kickoff
Oswego Heritage House
398 10th Street * Lake Oswego, OR

RSVP for the latest: action@oregonfairtrade.org

Congress will soon be voting on the Korea Free Trade Agreement — the largest FTA since NAFTA. The trade deal is expected to cost Oregon thousands of good-paying jobs; to put the state's public interest laws in jeopardy; and to further preference corporate power over community decision-making.

Congressman Kurt Schrader says he is "leaning in support" of the Korea Free Trade Agreement. Join us in telling him that Oregon has had enough of job-killing, NAFTA-style trade deals that benefit Wall Street at the expense of nearly everyone else. We'll be holding an informational picket outside his $100-a-plate fundraiser, while displaced workers and their representatives attempt to deliver a petition urging the Congressman to oppose the Korea FTA.

Please RSVP at action@oregonfairtrade.org for all the latest on carpooling, parking and sign-making, or call the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign at (503) 736-9777 for more info.

SIGN THE PETITION TO REP. SCHRADER:
Sign the petition urging Congressman Schrader to oppose the Korea Free Trade Agreement, and urge your friends to do the same. It's available online at:
http://action.oregonwfp.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=3632

OTHER OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD:
Please let us know at action@oregonfairtrade.org if you can attend one of Congressman Schrader's upcoming "Town Hall" events and ask him to oppose the Korea Free Trade Agreement. Background info about the FTA is pasted below and we are happy to help you craft a sample question if useful.

LAKE OSWEGO TOWN HALL
(RSVP at 503-636-3800)
Carmen Oaks Senior Living Center
3800 Carmen Drive
Wednesday, March 23rd, 1:00 pm

NEWPORT TOWN HALL
(no RSVP required)
Hatfield Marine Science Center Auditorium
2030 SE Marine Science Drive
Thursday, March 24th, 6:00pm

ROCKAWAY BEACH TOWN HALL
(no RSVP required)
City Hall Civic Facility
276 Highway 101 South
Friday, March 25th, 12:00 pm

Ten Things to Know about the Korea Free Trade Agreement

1.) The Korea Free Trade Agreement is the largest free trade agreement since NAFTA. South Korea is the 12th largest economy in the world, and one of America's largest trading partners.

2.) The Korea FTA would increase the U.S. trade deficit. This is the finding of the U.S. International Trade Commission, a federal agency that has traditionally underestimated the costs of potential trade pacts.

3.) The Korea FTA would cost the U.S. jobs. According to the Economic Policy Institute, imports from South Korea will displace 888,000 American jobs within seven years should the Korea FTA pass, costing the country a net 159,000 jobs.

4.) The Korea FTA would hurt some of America's highest-paying industries. The U.S. International Trade Commission predicts that high-paying industries like motor vehicles and parts, electronics equipment, metal products and other transportation equipment are among those that will fare poorly under the Korea FTA.

5.) The Korea FTA would enable "Korean" goods sold in the United States to be largely made in third-party countries. The rule of origin in the Korea FTA was negotiated at an extraordinarily-low 35% for most products, meaning that up 65% of a Korean good's value (such as a car, television or cell phone) could be in parts made in even lower-wage nations like China, Vietnam and elsewhere.

6.) Products assembled in South Korea with parts from North Korea's Kaesong Industrial Complex would be allowed under the Korea FTA's rules of origin. South Korean firms employ over 40,000 North Koreans in the KIC just 40 miles north of Seoul for approximately 30-cents an hour. There are plans to expand the KIC almost ten-fold. This is a grave human rights and national security concern that the FTA would exacerbate.

7.) The Korea FTA contains language explicitly forbidding enforcement of the International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions. This language was added as a footnote by the Bush administration back in 2007, winning praise from business groups and scorn from labor unions.

8.) The Korea FTA's investment chapter poses a much more significant threat to U.S. public interest policies than most past FTAs. Unlike most developing countries, South Korea is a capital-exporting nation with significant investments throughout the U.S. Under the proposed FTA, Korean investors would be given extraordinary new rights to challenge U.S. laws, regulations and even court decisions as "regulatory takings" in international tribunals that circumvent the U.S. judicial system.

9.) The Korea FTA contains broad provisions encouraging financial deregulation. Written in by the Bush White House prior to the financial crisis, these provisions are privately enforceable, meaning that Wall Street can take steps to enforce them even if the U.S. government doesn't.

10.) The Korea FTA has met massive resistance in South Korea. One demonstration against the FTA included an estimated 700,000 people. Korean unions have repeatedly gone on strike to oppose the deal, and at least one individual has committed self-immolation to oppose it.

Social Leader Opposes Obama Visit to Brazil

Brasilia, Mar 16 (Prensa Latina) The president of the Brazilian Center of Solidarity for the Peoples and Struggle for Peace, Socorro Gomes, said today that the visit of U.S. President Barack Obamas would be met with protests.

"Social movements like Cebrapaz will express their opposition to Obama's visit to Brazil," she said, adding, "His real intentions are to impose an imperialist agenda in the region."

The U.S. president is scheduled to visit Brazil March 19-20 as part of a Latin American tour that includes Chile and El Salvador.

"Experience shows that the United States has never seen Latin America as a friend, but as a land to exploit and dominate, to plunder its natural resources, control its market, and dominate its people," Gomes said in an interview with Vermelho, the website of the Communist Party of Brazil.

"Latin American history is written with much blood and pain, dictatorships, military interventions, CIA-backed conspiracies and presidential assassinations," Gomes said.

"President Obama talks about peace and human rights, but his administration doesn't keep its campaign promises, like the shutdown of the Guantanamo prison," Gomes said.

Hearings On The State Bank In Salem Are On

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30th:

Senate Hearing on the Ted Wheeler's "virtual" state bank proposal (SB 889) 1:00 PM
State Capitol, Hearing Room B


House Hearing on the Ted Wheeler's "virtual" state bank proposal (HB 3452) 3:00 PM
State Capitol, Hearing Room 50


Also, if you can, plan to join us for a full day of events. Here's the agenda:

11:30 am - 12:30 pm: Pre-hearing briefing
State Capitol, Conference Room 350
Find out what to expect in the hearing, where the bill stands, and what we plan to do to mobilize support for--and counteract big bank opposition to--the bill.

1:00 pm: Senate Hearing
State Capitol, Hearing Room B
We need to PACK the room! We will have expert testimony lined up to discuss the proposal and to represent Oregon's community advocates, small businesses, and family farmers.

3:00 pm: House Hearing
State Capitol, Hearing Room 50

5:30 - 7:30 pm: Social Gathering and De-brief
The Ram Restaurant and Brewery (515 12th Street, Salem)
This will be an informal gathering hosted by the Mid-Valley chapter of the Working Families Party. Everyone is welcome!

From CAUSA: Please call TODAY to support Tuition Equity for Oregon!

Senate Bill 742 -- Tuition Equity -- is currently sitting in the Oregon State Senate Education Committee. It has had one public hearing and is waiting for a work session, so that it can be moved to the Senate floor for a vote.

A short public hearing and work session has been scheduled for this Thursday, March 17th at 1:00pm. This means that SB 742 could get out of committee and see a vote in the Senate by the end of next week. We need ALL constituents to call their senators ASAP to support the bill.

Please call your State Senator TODAY and tell them you support Tuition Equity for Oregon and would like them to support it, too. To contact your Senator, go to http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/ or call 1-800-332-2313 and ask for them by name.

Tell them,

"I support Senate Bill 742 Tuition Equity because access to affordable higher education is important for the future of ALL Oregon students and for Oregon's economy. Not only will it capitalize on Oregon's investment in all K-12 students, it will boost the education level of Oregon's Workforce, thereby attracting new businesses and jobs for our state. For this reason, I hope you will support SB 742 and vote "Yes" when it comes up for a vote."

After you call your State Senator, please call one of the undecided Senators listed below and tell them their vote matters for the future of Oregon's young people and our state's economic future.

1. Senator Monnes Anderson (D- Gresham) 503-986-1725
2. Senator Winters (R-Salem) 503-986-1710
3. Senator George (R-Sherwood) 503-986-1713
4. Senator Verger (D-Coos Bay) 503-986-1705
5. Senator Boquist (R-Dallas) 503-986-1712
6. Senator Ferrioli (R-John Day) 503-986-1950
7. Senator Girod (R-Stayton) 503-986-1709
8. Senator Johnson (D-Scappose) 503-986-4046
9. Senator Olsen (R-Albany) 503-986-1415
10. Senator Starr (R-Hillsboro) 503-986-1715
11. Senator Telfer (R-Bend) 503-986-1727
12. Senator Whitsett (R-Klamath Falls) 503-986-1728

We can make Tuition Equity in Oregon a reality TOGETHER! Please make your calls today!

Egyptian CTUWS Statement: No for Foreign Interference in Bahrain .. Yes for Active National Dialogue

No for Foreign Interference in Bahrain

Yes for Active National Dialogue

Cairo,15 March, 2011.

Representatives of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions and the Regional Office of the International Confederation of Trade Unions in the Arab Region participating in the workshop held in Cairo on Building Independent and Democratic Trade Unions follow up with great concern the escalating situation in Bahrain particularly after the armed forces from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates entered Bahrain. They severely denounce this intervention in the internal affairs in Bahrain and imposing the state of emergency in the country. They also announce their full solidarity with the call for general strike as from 13 March as declared by the General Trade Union of the Workers of Bahrain due to the deteriorating security and social conditions where security forces attacked the protestors nearby Al Marfaa Al Maly and the Loulou Square using extreme force; and some unknown persons brought by certain authorities attacked the demonstrators in different parts of the country and several protestors were injured.

While representatives of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions and the Regional Office of the International Confederation of Trade Unions in the Arab Region emphasize the right of the People of Bahrain to self determination through active national dialogue with the participation of all the different political powers including General Trade Union of the Workers of Bahrain, they emphasize that the current attempts to use violence to dissipate this social mobility will cause further deterioration of the situation. They also call upon the League of Arab States to take all the necessary steps immediately to withdraw the troops of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from Bahrain and call upon the Bahraini authorities to stop the emergency case and to enter immediately into active national dialogue.

Interview With Gilbert Achcar, Arab Socialist

From Socialist Worker:

The powers that be in the Arab countries are trying to keep the movement within the limits of political democracy and prevent it from developing beyond that into a social and economic stage.

There is an important potential here, however, and, to repeat my point, we are still in the midst of the process and the fight continues to go on; it may well turn eventually into a big challenge to the neoliberal economic order, especially in Tunisia and Egypt, where the working class is a major factor in the process.


Read more here.

Lobby Day Against Home Foreclosures In Salem On March 21

Greetings!

Join with Economic Fairness Oregon and Good Grief America on the 21st at the Capitol in support of 3 bills going through the Senate. Let’s make lawmakers know how important these bills are for our families facing foreclosure, our communities that are suffering with depressed home values, and our economy.

Here are the details:

When: Monday, March 21 at 12:30 meet inside the main entrance of the Capitol.
Where: Hearing will be in Room B
What: 3 bills related to the foreclosure crisis
1) SB 484--related to MERS. Summary: provide that the beneficiary must show proper hain of title before foreclosing
2) SB 826---related to loan servicers. Summary: regulate the business practices of mortgage servicers.
3) SB 827---related to loan modification review. Summary: gives the homeowner the right to request a loan modification review. The servicer would be prohibited from moving forward with the foreclosure process until they have engaged in a good faith review of the homeowner's qualifications and communicate the results with the homeowner.

Invite your friends and neighbors. Set up a ride share. Get people aware and active. Wear purple if you got it, and meet us at 12:30 at the Capitol!

If you have any questions, please give a call at 505-328-0991 or send an email to kgiombolini@gmail.com.

See you there!

March 15, 2011

Health Care For Oregonians Discussion---Thursday---In Salem

From: Salem Progressive Film Series
Date: March 15, 2011 10:07:14 AM PDT

Subject: Health Care For Oregonians Discussion-Thursday, March 17th-Grand Theatre

Physicians for a National Health Program are coming to Salem.
When: Thursday March 17th 6:45 to 8 pm
Where: Grand Theatre, Downtown Salem- 191 High Street NE
Why: National Health Care, It Isn’t Fixed Yet

These doctors have decades of experience working in our current dysfunctional health care system and are determined to generate public support for a national health program. In September, 2009, five of the doctors toured across the United States as Mad As Hell Doctors, generating 40 rallies in 26 cities including Washington, D.C. In September, 2010, they caravanned the length of California and took part in 26 rallies. The doctors met with thousands of Americans who clearly expressed their dissatisfaction with our health care system and expressed approval for a national health program, also known as Improved Medicare for All. These physicians are traveling around Oregon to promote health care for all.

We hope you can attend this event and hear testimonies of physicians, see the video “Health, Money, and Fear”, and participate in a Question and Answer session

Wisconsin Solidarity--The Next Steps In Portland

Wisconsin Solidarity Follow-Up Meeting
WHEN: Wednesday, March 16th at 7pm.
WHERE: Portland State University, Smith Memorial Student Union, Second Floor

Last Friday nearly 300 students, trade unionists, and antiwar activists walked out, marched, and rallied in Pioneer Square in support of the historic working class struggle breaking out in WI and other states with similar bills. The message was clear: students and other workers are fed up with the attacks on education and worker's rights, and that now is the time to build a strong, Left alternative. Wisconsin is not the only state passing legislation which will strip workers of their rights to collectively bargain. Several other states, including Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana - to name a few - have similar and even worse bills in the works. And with Oregon's embattled economy, we could see similar measures taken here.

Join us on Wednesday as we begin to map out a bold strategy for the new political era of working class struggle that we're now in. Wednesday's meeting agenda: 1) Assess Friday's Portland Rally 2) Wisconsin's historic Saturday Rally & latest developments 3) Ideas for Organizing & Next Steps.

More On Bahrain

Yesterday I blogged about Bahrain and the invasion and occupation of that island country by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Today the situation seems even more serious.

We originally believed that so-called “Peninsula Shield Force” was made up of about 1000 troops. Today that number has been upgraded to 2000 troops. Some reports say that the occupying forces remained stationed in military barracks near the royal palace. If this is indeed the case, the troops may be in Bahrain for a long time. In case, their deployment near the royal palace makes clear who they are there to protect.

The opposition remains in the streets and is capable of mobilizing as many as 10,000 to assemble in Manama and march on the Saudi embassy without much effort. These forces continue to hold Pearl Square, as they have for much of the past month. Manama is said to look like a war zone, with daily conflicts between the people and the police forces and competing institutions of power. The general strike continues.

The king has declared a three-month state of emergency. The statement from Bahrain’s king said the nation’s armed forces chief is authorized to take all measures to stamp out protests that have gripped the island nation for the past month. This declaration seems to effectively nullify the regime’s earlier stated goal of leading a national dialogue and reaching or finding a peaceful national consensus.

Two men were killed and hundreds---and perhaps as many as 1000---people have been injured by security forces in the last 24 hours as the revolution spreads and demonstrations continue. One of the dead was a guest worker from Bangladesh; he was apparently run over by security forces. The demonstrators generally remain unarmed in the face of planned attacks and ambushes by well-armed government forces. It is said that the crowds chant “Peaceful, peaceful!” as they gather. One rumor has it that a Saudi soldier has been killed by protestors. Another rumor has it that crowds have attacked guest workers.

The US is openly intervening and seeking ways to either manipulate or calm the situation while allegedly pressing the government to show restraint. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates visited Bahrain over the weekend and Jeffrey D. Feltman, an assistant secretary of state, was there today. Hilary Clinton has contacted the Saudi government after the invasion in order to “express concern.”

American media highlights the supposed danger of Iranian influence in the Bahraini revolution, but even the US media cannot ignore the strong working-class component present in the uprising. Truck drivers and petroleum workers seem to be in the lead of the action. Women have self-mobilized in the streets to help people resist tear gas attacks. While the people in the streets take inspiration from the Egyptian and Tunisian revolts, the government of Bahrain seems to be taking its cues from the US and the example set by Ghadafy. Meanwhile, oil workers in Oman have begun to strike.

Bahrain has recalled its ambassador to Iran in protest of Tehran’s “blatant interference” in its internal affairs, the state news agency reported. This is a smokescreen and has no basis in fact. Iran’s foreign ministry responded to the withdrawal of the ambassador, saying military intervention by Gulf troops in Bahrain was “unacceptable,” state television’s website reported.

Videos from Bahrain can be viewed here. Today’s Al-Jazeera report can be read here. The excellent report on Bahrain from Democracy Now! can be read here. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights website is here.

Eight Years in Iraq -- Nine Years in Afghanistan: Portland Antiwar Demonstration On Saturday

Eight Years in Iraq -- Nine Years in Afghanistan:

Date: 2011-03-19

Event Time: 12:30 pm

MORE INFO: http://pjw.info

Description: Eight Years in Iraq -- Nine Years in Afghanistan: How is the War Economy Working for You?

Saturday, March 19, 2011
12:30 PM Gathering/Music
1:00 PM Rally 1:30 PM March
To mark the 8th anniversary of the
2003 invasion of Iraq

Pioneer Courthouse Square
SW 6th & Yamhill, Downtown Portland


END THE WARS AND OCCUPATIONS
BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW
FUND JOBS, HEALTH CARE AND HUMAN NEEDS,
NOT THE WAR MACHINE . TAKE ACTION!
STAND FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES AT HOME AND ABROAD

Cosponsors include: Peace and Justice Works Iraq Affinity Group, Portland Peaceful Response Coalition, Portland Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Peace Action Group - First Unitarian Church Portland, Military Families Speak Out-Oregon, War Resisters League-Portland, Portland Labor for Peace and Justice, Portland Area Rethinking Schools, Alliance for Democracy -Portland Chapter, East Timor Action Network/Portland, pdxjustice Media Productions, KBOO 90.7FM Community Radio, Economic Justice Action Group of the First Unitarian Church, Living Earth, Augustana Lutheran Church, People's Activist Cafe, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Families for Peace, American Friends Service Commitee, and others.

Endorsers include: Portland Jobs with Justice, Freedom Socialist Party, Veterans for Peace Chapter 72, Iraq Veterans Against the War-Oregon Chapter, Metanoia Peace Community-United Methodist Church, Northwest Veterans for Peace, Little Light of Mine Friends Worship Group, Women in Black, No War Drum Corps, International Socialist Organization, Sisters of the Road, Jewish Voice for Peace, Flying Focus Video Collective (media endorser), Shelly's Garden, Oregon Wildlife Federation, Back 2 the WALL, Recruiter Watch PDX, Mirador, Five Star Cleaners, Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Community Alliance of Lane County, Progressive Democrats of America, Oregon Progressive Party, and others.

For info or for your organization to get involved, contact Peace and Justice Works: 503-236-3065 or www.pjw.info

Download the event flyer HERE: pjw.info/march2011flyer.pdf

Communist University On Anti-Imperialism, War And Peace

http://groups.google.com/group/communist-university/web/anti-imperialism-war-and-peace---index

March 14, 2011

The Invasion Of Bahrain

More than 1,000 Saudi and Gulf states troops have entered Bahrain. The Saudi government is justifiably worried about the protest movement spreading into its oil fields and eastern provinces and acted under the terms of a newly-signed treaty by the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman and Bahrain which pledges the leadership of these countries to act as one against their own citizens in the event of revolutionary upsurges. This new military, economic and political alliance---with a so-called Peninsula Shield Force---is no doubt drawing strength from the example of Ghadafy in Libya and the US, which tepidly warned the Bahraini ruling circles to tread gently. The Saudi intervention comes just two days after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Manama. He is said to have urged King Hamad to undertake rapid and significant democratic reform, not just “baby steps.”

The opposition movement in Bahrain is rightfully looking at the Saudi-led invasion as a declaration of war and as an occupation.

The Bahraini ruling clique has called in forces from its neighbors to help suppress the protests there and force a social compromise. Resurgent Bahraini protests have increasingly taken on a mass character, especially in Manama, and have proven their effectiveness in overwhelming police forces, blocking the streets and shutting down key sections of the island kingdom. The Bahraini ruling clique is a key U.S. ally; the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet is there.

These invading forces are, in theory, in Bahrain only to protect government facilities, vital public and industrial sites, financial institutions and to insure “law and order.”

The Bahraini opposition must now act carefully, and especially so in clarifying its demands. Important leading forces within the opposition says they are not trying to overthrow the royal family while some Shiite forces have pressed for a republic. Opposition leaders are meeting with the crown prince in a peace bid.

Crown Prince Salman late on Sunday repeated the government’s offer of national dialogue on deep-rooted reforms but not at the expense of security and stability, state news agency BNA reported. This vague call for a “national dialogue” satisfies and reassures no one, but also reflects the contradictory pressures the Bahraini ruling family is feeling.

These meetings between the opposition and Crown Prince Salman come immediately after some of the most violent confrontations since troops killed seven protesters last month. Street barricades from these protests remained in place this morning in Manama, with unarmed protesters checking cars at the entrance to the Pearl roundabout, the vulnerable focal point of weeks of protests. It is near here that many hated and corrupt financial institutions are headquartered and do business. At least 200 people were injured there in clashes between riot police and demonstrators this weekend past. Police disappeared from the area for awhile, ceding the streets to pro-democracy forces.

Most Bahraini workers are following a trade-union call for a general strike to protest repression by the security forces. This general strike and the generalized strength of the opposition in the streets has won a commitment from the prince that a parliament will be created with full powers and a pledge to tackle corruption and sectarian tensions. It is also under these conditions that King Hamad has been forced to offer an unconditional dialogue with the main opposition groups, which have so far refused to negotiate until the government resigns.

Confronting & Challenging Islamophobia: A Conference In Seattle

I Am My Brother's Keeper: Confronting Islamophobia

May 6-7, 2011

St. Mark's Cathedral

1245 10th Avenue East, Seattle, WA

An interfaith conference of Jews, Christians and Muslims presents an opportunity for your organization to show its support for respect and understanding for Americans of all faiths.

How does one assure that "never again" can be a strategy as well as a goal? To consider this questiona coalition of Jewish, Christian and Muslim groups is hosting a conference on Islam and Islamophobia.

When the poison of prejudice infects a society, it is as much at risk as the victims of intolerance. Disdain for, and fear of, Muslims exists among rich and poor, liberal and conservative. Islamophobia has increased in virulence and reminds many of the rise of antisemitism in Germany in the 1930s.

The conference will include outstanding speakers, workshops, and an interfaith prayer service, ending with dinner at one of several mosques. The keynote speaker, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf from New York, will open the conference on Friday evening May 6. Saturday will include speakers, workshops and lunch, ending with an interfaith service including the Muslim evening prayer and a re-commitment to international human rights. The service will be led by Imam Fazal Hassen, Bishop Greg Rickel and Rabbi Jim Mirel.

The evening will end with supper hosted by several local mosques including AbuBakr,Tukwila, Umar al Farooq Montlake, Terrace, MAPS, Redmond, ZIANAB Center Lynwood and others.

With solid resources and time shared, we hope to learn more about Islam, identify prejudice and bias and consider strategies for confronting Islamophobia in our own community. That prejudice is personal, national, and international. It shapes and is shaped by our media. This event will provide strategies and forums for continuing to confront Islamophobia.

Keynote Speakers:

What's Right with Islam IS What's Right with America - Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is an American Sufi imam, author, and activist whose goal is to improve relations between the Muslim world and the West. Since 1983, he has been Imam of Masjid al-Farah, a mosque in New York City. In 2010, Imam Abdul received national attention for his plans to build The Cordoba Center/Park51, an Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan, two blocks away from Ground Zero, and has been in demand as a speaker globally. He is the author of What's Right with Islam Is What's Right with America and What's right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West.

Getting to the Heart of Islam - Jamal Rahman is a Muslim Sufi minister originally from Bangladesh. He is co-founder and co-minister at Interfaith Community Church in Seattle, WA, co-host of Interfaith Talk Radio, and adjunct faculty at Seattle University. Sheik Jamal teaches classes, workshops, and retreats locally, nationally, and internationally. He is the author of The Fragrance of Faith: The Enlightened Heart of Islam

Islam and the West: The Burden of the Past and the Challenge of the Future - Yvonne Haddad is Professor of the History of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at George Washington University. Her fields of expertise include twentieth-century Islam, intellectual, social and political history in the Arab world, and Islam in North America and the West. Currently, Professor Haddad is conducting research on Muslims in the West and on Islamic Revolutionary Movements. She is the author and editor of a number of books, including Muslim Christian Encounters and Islam, Gender, and Social Change.

Workshops include:

The New Fault Line in Encounter Between Muslims and the West - Yvonne Haddad

The Common Word - The Qur'an and the Bible - Andy Larsen

Don't Believe it: Myths about Islam - Arsalan Burkari and Tarek Dawoud

Meeting The Other: the Heart of Interfaith - The Three Amigos - Shaikh Jaman Rahman, Rabbi Arthur Flemming and Rev Bob MeKensie

Building Alliances Across Faith Communities to Protect Civil Liberties - Arsalan Burkari and Marilyn Mayers

Islamophobia in US Middle East Policy - Kathleen Christison

Propaganda in the Digital Age - Abigail Stahl, CAIR Outreach

What does it mean to be an American Muslim? - Jennifer Gist, CAIR Civil Rights Coordinator

Sharia, Canon law, and the Constitution -

And more . . .

Sponsors

Mid East Focus Ministry, Saint Mark's Cathedral;Episcopal Bishop's Committee for Israel/Palestine; Council on American-Islamic Relations, WA; Jewish Voice for Peace; American Muslims of Puget Sound; Sabeel Puget Sound, Palestine Concerns Task Force of the Church Council of Greater Seattle; Middle East Peace Builders; Trinity United Methodist Church of Seattle, Voices of Palestine; and others.