June 30, 2012


Why does Corporatism favor Obamacare? Because Obamacare is nothing more than a huge bailout for another failing industry — the health insurance industry. No health insurer could continue to raise premiums at the rate of two to three times inflation, as they have done for at least a decade. No health insurer could continue to pay 200 million dollar plus bonuses to top executives, as they have done repeatedly. No health insurer could continue to restrict Americans’ access to decent health care, in effect creating slow and silent ‘death panels.’ No health insurer could do those things and survive. But with the Obamacare act now firmly in place, health insurers will see a HUGE multibillion dollar windfall in the form of 40 million or more new health insurance customers whose premiums are paid largely by government subsidies. That is the explanation for the numerous expansions and mergers you have seen in the health care industry in the past couple of years. You will see more of the same, and if you are a stock bettor, you would do well to buy stock in smaller health insurers, because they will be snapped up in a wave of consolidation that dwarfs anything yet seen in this country. 

As I write this, I note that health industry stocks have taken a big jump on Wall Street. 

What a surprise!

Dr. Clark Newhall MD JD is Executive director of Health Justice. Please reply to cnewhall@cnewhall.com 

Brigitte Engerer

Brigitte Engerer died on June 23 in Paris. She was 59 years old.

Engerer was a great pianist. She was born in Tunis and was performing publicly by age 6. Her family moved to Paris when she was young and she first studied at the Paris Conservatoire. When she was 17 she moved to the USSR and was awarded a scholarship to the Moscow Conservatory. She lived in the USSR for nine years. She was better known in Europe than in the US, but this was a loss for the US. She played with the New York and Berlin Philarmonics and the Chicago and London Symphonies and worked with some the world's leading conductors.

The New York Times quoted Charles Timbrell speaking about her as follows:

She played with a lot of spontaneity: it was temperamental playing, but it was not overly showy. Like her personality, it was warm and vivacious and very direct.

It sometimes seems to me that this is exactly what we are lacking today, and particularly so since the demise of the USSR---warm and direct cultural workers, people with vivacity and skill who can patiently master spontaneity and use it for a greater good without being showy. For that matter, these are the virtues that every socialist society seeks to inculcate in its people.

Engerer was probably not a communist, but her work and the way she carried it out reflected a spirit of internationalism.

Here is a video of Engerer performing with Boris Berezovsky.

Voice of Art has released Part 1 of its new episode entitled “Iraq Veterans Against the War” on June 29

Voice of Art, the new documentary series on Pharrell Williams' I Am Other YouTube channel, is releasing Part 1 of its new episode entitled “Iraq Veterans Against the War” on Friday, June 29 2012. The episode features the historic march and returning of Global War on Terrorism service medals by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) in Chicago during the May 2012 NATO summit.

The Voice of Art team spent the month of May following members of the Chicago IVAW chapter as they planned and carried out their action, which echoed the throwing back of medals by anti-war Vietnam veterans in Washington DC in 1971. The four featured veterans - Aaron Hughes, Iris Feliciano, Greg Broseus and Alejandro Villatoro - in addition to being peace activists, are also artists who use their creativity to process their wartime experiences.
Also appearing in the episode are Rev. Jesse Jackson, Barry Romo (Vietnam Veterans Against the War member who helped organize the 1971 throwing back of service medals by veterans), and musician Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Nightwatchman).

Link to video: http://bit.ly/MYOpat

The episode will be released in four parts, on the following schedule:
Part 1: 6/29, Part 2: 7/6, Part 3: 7/13, Part 4: 7/20

Voice of Art “Iraq Veterans Against the War” episode synopsis:

Every day 18 veterans commit suicide. One third of female active duty service members are sexually assaulted by their male peers. Millions of service members and veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries. While these warriors struggle to heal, the same military that welcomed them with open arms now neglects them as veterans.
After discharge from service, integrating back into civilian society often comes with crisis. In Chicago, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War are using art to process their experiences and to educate the public about the traumas of war.

As politicians and generals of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) descend on Chicago for a summit meeting, nearly 50 IVAW members lead a march of 20,000 protesters to the police barricades that separate the elite attendees from the public. Once there, the veterans and service members throw back their Global War on Terrorism medals in symbolic protest of the hypocrisy and failed military policies of the US and NATO.

Report from Bil'in, Palestine

29-6-2012 Bil'in -Injury two citizens wounded in addition to dozens of cases of asphyxiation by poison gas in the village of Bil'in west of Ramallah two civilians were injured, Ahmad Bornat 18-years was injured in his leg by rubber bullet , abdallah yaseen 19 years was injured in his back by gas canister as dozens of citizens and peace activists from foreign countries suffered from suffocation caused by poison gas in the weekly march organized by the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Bil'in while participating in the march arranged by the People's Committee, the delegation from the United States and European Union,foreign group from different countries(they known as travel & knowledge program), the people of Bil'in and Israeli and foreign peace activists in solidarity.. The march began after Friday prayers from the center of the village and took place at the land that was liberated. Participants raised Palestinian flags and chanted slogans calling for national unity and calling for the occupation to be dissolved and a destruction of the apartheid wall and give a resounding Palestinian claim to release prisoners. Upon the arrival participants at Abu Lemon managed to break through the barbed wire, then the soldiers behind the concrete wall started shooting rubber bullets, stun grenades, tear gas and waste water mixed with chemicals towards the participants, resulting the injury two civilians , Bornat & Yaseen in addition to dozens of citizens , Israeli and international peace activists who suffered from suffocation and were treated in the field by ambulance crews. Then clashes erupted between the participants and soldiers of the occupation, during which stones were thrown at the soldiers who stood behind the wall. On the other hand, deliberate action of tear gas canisters directed towards the dry lands and olive groves led to huge fires in the field and neighboring areas


Syria: No To Intervention, No To Illusions

By Phyllis Bennis

June 28, 2012


Fifteen months on, the short Syrian spring of 2011 has long since morphed into a harsh winter of discontent. Syria is close to full-scale civil war. If the conflict escalates further, it will have ramifications far outside the country itself. As former UN Secretary-General and current envoy of both the UN and the Arab League Kofi Annan put it, "'Syria is not Libya, it will not implode, it will explode beyond its borders. Syria is not Libya, it will not implode; it will explode beyond its borders."

Like so many other times before, the human cost of this conflict is incalculably high. It's not surprising that the normal human reaction is "we've got to do something!" But exactly what any army or air force might do that would actually help the situation isn't very clear. U.S./NATO military intervention didn't bring stability, democracy or security to Libya, and it certainly is not going to do so in Syria.

The one crucial outside approach that could help resolve at least the immediate conflict - serious negotiations in which both sides are represented - for the moment remains out of
reach. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the joint UN and Arab League envoy in Syria, has proposed at a new diplomatic initiative that would include the Syrian regime's
supporters, Iran and Russia, as well as the U.S.-allied western countries and those Arab and regional governments backing the armed opposition. So far the U.S. has rejected the
proposal, at least regarding Iran, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying that Tehran is part of the problem in Syria and thus can't be part of the solution. The current UN secretary-general, Ban ki-moon, who frequently reflects Washington's interests, further undercut the potential of his own envoy's proposal, saying that Assad has "lost all legitimacy" - diplomatic code for "we don't have to talk to him."

For those eager for analogies or counterparts, this isn't Egypt or Libya, where opposition to the leader was overwhelming. Despite his government's history of brutal repression, Bashar al-Assad still enjoys significant support from parts of Syria's business elites, especially in Damascus and Aleppo, and some in minority communities (Christian, Shi'a, parts of the Druse and even some Kurds) whom the regime had cultivated for many years. The opposition was divided from the beginning over whether massive reform or the end of the Assad regime was their goal. It divided still further when part of the opposition took up arms, and began to call for
international military intervention. The non- violent opposition movement, which still rejects calls for military intervention, survives, but under extraordinary threat.

Go here to read the entire article.

Campaign for Peace & Democracy Gets It Wrong Again

It is vital for the anti-war groups and individuals to know the precise background and funding sources of spokespersons of Havvaar and Raha (Iranian women's group) whom “the Campaign for Peace and Democracy” (CPD) has been promoting.

Who's Who in HAVAAR and RAHA?
Fact Sheet and Research June 28, 2012

On May 16, 2012, the Campaign for Peace and Democracy (CPD) circulated among organizations and groups in the anti-war and peace and justice movement an email with the subject heading:: “Introducing new Iranian anti-war group Havaar, + Iran War Weekly,” with a request to "Forward, Post and Share on Websites, etc.", this 'new' group – Havaar, Iranian initiative against war, sanctions and state repression.

According to CPD, Havaar "is an exciting and inspiring group…a coalition of Iranians, Iranian Americans and allies formed in response to the U.S. government's escalating attacks on Iran and to the 'Iranian government's ongoing repression of grassroots movements." We thought it important to know the background and history of this 'new' group, so a number of progressives did some research and below is what we found out about the leadership of both Havaar and Raha.  It is important for anti-war organizers to know the background and funding sources of spokespersons of Havvaar and Raha (Iranian women's group) who CPD is promoting and to ask "Why?" given the facts we discovered.  All information has links establishing the money and connections underlying this 'new' group. 

At a forum at the anti-Nato People's Summit in Chicago on May    12, 2012, Ali Abdi, with Havaar (the group includes members of Raha) called for the anti-war movement to stand 'with the people of Iran resisting their government'.  What Mr. Abdi omitted from his background is that he received a scholarship from the George Soros founded and funded Central European University, which has used some of Soro's billions to undermine governments around the world who are not acceptable to U.S. Foreign policy objectives.

In Budapest, Abdi delivered presentations on citizen journalism in Iran, staged protests and events, lectured on the treatment of human rights advocates, and is working to further the 'regime change' goals of the neo-con funded Democracy Coalition Project regarding "human rights" in Iran.

These 'civil society' groups interlock with international institutions run from and on behalf of Wall Street and multinational corporations, not on behalf of "oppressed people" in those countries.  Soros' money also funds Avaaz, which has been very active in shaping public opinion for US intervention in the Middle East.  Avaaz convinced 800,000 people to sign a petition for a no-fly zone in Libya, which was the prelude to NATO’s massive air attack on the Libyan people last year. 

Manijeh Nasrabadi—a member of the NYC-based RAHA Iranian Feminist Collective
Manijeh Nasrabadi …..won the City University of New York Arts Gala Memoir Prize in 2005, a Hertog Fellowship that same year.
Roger Hertog—Hertog is an executive committee member at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a member of the U.S. board of trustees of The Israel Center for Social & Economic Progress (ICSEP)] ….
The Hertog Foundation also donated money to the Central Israel Fund, a major organization in the US for transferring money to right-wing groups in Israel. Hertog also donated money to Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign.

Manijeh Moradian is with RAHA
Manijeh Moradian received a C.V. Starr Center for Asian/Pacific/American Studies Conference Grant in 2010
            Maurice Greenberg is the chairman of the Starr Foundation
The Starr Foundation also funds the Center for Strategic and International Studies
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a right-wing, neoconservative think tank.  In the Middle East, CSIS Neocons support the most extremist elements in Israel such as the Likud Party.  Greenberg is also a former director of the Council on Foreign Relations, Elliott Abrams works at the Council on Foreign Relations, as a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies.  Abrams has consistently voiced strong support for Likud positions.

Bitta Mostofi is with Havaar and a speaker at a recent Havaar event
Bitta Mostofi co-founded Where Is My Vote, New York.  Listed as an affiliate on United4Iran’s website is Where Is My Vote New York

            United4Iran—Ms. Dokhi Fassihian, Senior Advisor to United for Iran
Fassihian worked as a research analyst for the CNA Corporation focusing on the Middle East, military operational policy, and civil-military relations.
In an effort to assist US policymakers and inform US expert and academic communities about the objective realities of expanding
open media in the Middle East, the Stanley Foundation, in association with the Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis (INEG- MA) and the CNA Corporation (CNAC), brought together key media and policy elites from the Middle East, the United States, and the United Kingdom to discuss the implications of this Middle East media transformation

Ms. Fassihian is the Executive Director of the Democracy Coalition Project
Other board members of the Democracy Coalition Project:
Robert Herman  the co-founder and co-director of the Democracy Coalition Project…He is presently director of projects for Freedom House
Freedom House’s board included a number of people who have been associated with rightist advocacy endeavors, including Thomas A. Dine, former director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.  its leadership remains heavily represented by individuals affiliated with neoconservatism and it has continued to support projects aimed at bolstering aggressive U.S. foreign policy.

Theodore Piccone  Mr. Piccone is a Senior Fellow and Deputy Director for Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution. Piccone served on the National Security Council, at the State Dept. and Pentagon.
Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Kagan, who has a track record of supporting Mideast policies in line with right-wing hawks in Israel, also a co-founder for the Project For a New American Century

Demonstration co-sponsored by United4iran.
One of the organizers is Ali Afshari, who was a NED fellow
Ali Afshari was a Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy

Deceptive Zionist tactics used in demonstrations
The 2009 demonstration in NY, (and most likely demonstrations to follow) were organized by Zionist groups.

Article from Jewish Forward
Broadened Coalition To Protest Iran This Year at United Nations
By Nathan Guttman
Published September 18,    2009

Also, if you download their flyer, you will see no mention of Israel or that this is a Jewish-led demonstration.  Very deceptive.


Fact Sheet provided by the American Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC)

Ardeshir Ommani, President
American Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC)

June 29, 2012

Wisconsin election post-postmortem

How race baiting, the demonizing of a "largely corporatized research" major university and the unionized state government staff in Madison, and a shift in manufacturing from unionized large cities (primarily Milwaukee) to smaller non-unionized companies in smaller towns all over the state, played a role in the election.

See the article: http://progressive.org/wisconsin_recall_post_mortem.html

June 28, 2012

Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control

Friday, June 29, 2012, 7:00pm

Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control


Saturday, June 30, 2012, 4:00pm

Know Drones Q&A, and Stomp out Drones Dance!

Medea Benjamin is on a speaking tour to promote her new book Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. For more information, please contact CODEPINK coordinator Karen Boyer at emasaal@gmail.com.

What: Talk at the Metanioa Peace House
Where: 2116 Northeast 18th Avenue, Portland, Oregon (corner of NE Tillamook and 18th)
When: June 29, 2012 (Friday), 7:00 pm
Cosponsored by CODEPINK Portland, Occupy PDX, and Portland Veterans for Peace.

What: Know Drones Q&A, and Stomp out Drones Dance!
Where: St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church dining hall, 330 SE 11th, Portland, Oregon 97212.
When: June 30, 2012 (Saturday), from 4:00-7:00 pm

About Medea’s book:
Weeks after the 2002 American invasion of Afghanistan, Medea Benjamin visited that country. There, on the ground, talking with victims of the strikes, she learned the reality behind the “precision bombs” on which U.S. forces were becoming increasingly reliant. Now, with the use of drones escalating at a meteoric pace, Benjamin has written this book as a call to action: “It is meant to wake a sleeping public,” she writes, “lulled into thinking that drones are good, that targeted killings are making us safer.”

Drone Warfare is a comprehensive look at the growing menace of robotic warfare, with an extensive analysis of who is producing the drones, where they are being used, who “pilots” these unmanned planes, who are the victims and what are the legal and moral implications. It also looks at how drones are coming to your local police department, and what that means for your right to privacy. In vivid, readable style, the book also looks at what activists, lawyers and scientists are doing to ground the drones, and ways to move forward.

In reality, writes Benjamin, the assassinations we are carrying out via drones will come back to haunt us when others start doing the same thing—to us.

More of Medea’s speaking tour dates are now posted on the CODEPINK website: http://bit.ly/dronebooktour

Lessons from Wisconsin

The Nation magazine is hosting a great debate about the recent defeat of labor and progressive forces in Wisconsin. Here are some quotes from the debate:

Mike Elk: Organized labor’s current approach is not working, and we need all the critiques of labor leaders and organizing approaches in order to save the labor movement. As a labor movement, would we rather have a few union leaders embarrassed by how much they make, or do we want a serious discussions about how we revive the movement. Accusing pro-union people, who raise serious questions about the strategy, finances and political orientation of unions in effort to save unions of giving ammunition to union’s enemies or being “left anti-union” is more than just absurd. It could kill the labor movement.

Bill Fletcher and Jane McAlevey: Once you get past the reports that Walker outspent the Wisconsin workers by 7:1, the next most startling fact is that 38 percent of union households voted to keep the anti-worker Governor. That’s slightly more than one third, and had the pro-recall forces held the union households, Walker would no longer be Governor. With major media outlets drubbing us with the 38 percent number, the liberal political elite seem stuck on a rhetorical question: why do poor people and workers vote against their material self-interest? Actually, in our own experience, the poor and working class don’t vote against their self-interest—but there’s a precondition: we have to create the space for ordinary people to better understand what their self-interest is, and how it connects with hundreds of millions in the US and globally.

Adolph Reed, Jr.: The problem beneath this debate about the labor movement’s role in Wisconsin is that since the economic crisis we’ve all been confronted by our weakness and irrelevance as a left in American politics. This isn’t really news, or shouldn’t be. The left has been a solipsistic fiction in this country for years. It lives in an echo- chamber universe of actions, critiques and debates that have no institutional connection to anyone outside our own ranks and no capacity to influence the terms of national political debate. Reluctance to face up to that grim reality is understandable, and the relentlessness of the right’s increasingly bloodthirsty attacks – on multiple fronts simultaneously -- also understandably inclines progressives to look ever more desperately for hopeful possibilities. That in turn fuels a tendency to discover magic bullets, single interventions that will knock the shackles from the people’s eyes, spark popular outrage and mobilize it into action. The Democrats’ fecklessness in responding to these attacks and their acquiescence and, often enough, active collusion in supporting a regime of intensifying regressive transfer of income and wealth only exacerbates the problem.

Doug Henwood: The traditional approach towards organizing the private sector—trying to recruit a majority of workers and win a representation election—looks as good as dead. (For example, there were about 6,000 representation elections in 1980 and not quite 1,600 in 2010, the latest year available, a decline of almost 75 percent.) Employers are unfraid of breaking the law, and workers are afraid of losing their jobs. And the traditional approach to organizing the public sector—electing sympathetic politicians—looks seriously ill, if not terminal. Next to this, slow and incremental progress would seem quasi-revolutionary. Though it’s hard to get the likes of Lafer to admit this, business as usual is no longer an option...Lafer, who is not shy about painting others as identifying with power, is certainly embedded in the union status quo himself. Tom Chamberlain, the president of the Oregon AFL-CIO, is the chair of the board of advisors at the University of Oregon’s labor research institute, where Lafer is an associate professor. Its board is full of other union leaders. The institute’s curriculum is heavy with service-y stuff like grievance handling, bargaining technique and even labor-management cooperation. While these aren’t all evil pursuits, they don’t seem the most compelling material for labor’s intellectuals to be concentrating on in a time of institutional crisis.

Gordon Lafer: The Wisconsin movement “began to disintegrate the moment the leaders decided to pour everything into the Democratic Party,” Rothschild explains. That decision, he argues, “destroyed the lesson that you can exercise power outside the electoral arena.” Indeed, Kroll insists that the electoral strategy would have been a “loss” even if Walker had been defeated, since “the Madison movement would have found themselves in…the same broken system, with…little hope.”...Really? The limitations of electoral politics are obvious, but the assumption that electoral strategies per se are always wrong is hard to fathom. The loss in Wisconsin is very serious. But that loss would be the same if unions had forsworn the recall. Around 175,000 employees would still be stripped of union rights, with all that entails for them personally and for the material and organizational basis for progressive mobilization. And while the electoral loss no doubt emboldened anti-union conservatives, not challenging the governor would have conveyed much the same message: It’s politically safe to follow Walker’s example—after all, the unions didn’t even have the guts to take him on! Labor leaders confronted a genuinely hard choice: roll the dice on the recall, which everyone knew would be an expensive and uphill battle, or give up...For that matter, how should we account for last fall’s referendum in Ohio, where voters overturned a copycat law modeled on Wisconsin’s? The Ohio labor movement chose an electoral strategy—and won big. Was that also a “horrible mistake”? If not, what—besides the outcome—makes the Wisconsin choice obviously wrong, a crime instead of a tragedy?...Critics insist that union leaders should have chosen a more radical path, overturning the Walker regime by harnessing the people power of the capitol occupation. Rothschild calls for mass civil disobedience, slowdowns and strikes; Kroll for consumer boycotts and a new political party; Henwood for grassroots education and lobbying...But none of these offers a realistic alternative for restoring labor rights in Wisconsin. At their core, these prescriptions fundamentally misunderstand the reality of how unions generate mass action. Both the tremendous strength and real limitation of the labor movement is that, alone among “left” organizations, it is not a vanguard movement. Unlike the Sierra Club or Occupy, its members do not join based on pre-existing ideological beliefs. Overwhelmingly, they become members because they get a job someplace that happens to have a union. Union members are, almost entirely, exactly the same as any other working-class Americans.

Check the debate out here.

Do elections matter?

To some, it may just seem like choosing the lesser of two evils, or perhaps an exercise in futility. To the 1% they see it as buying a candidate to do their bidding. When it comes to job creation for the 99%, there is a major difference in parties - and several jobs bills are languishing in Congress due to the fact that the Republicans are in control of the House. Of course there are other struggles out there besides the election - and like every other week, we're promoting ways to fight back!
I'm Just a Bill
Since the GOP became the majority in the House, not one jobs bill has passed. Here's a quick list of bills that could make a big difference for millions of unemployed workers if enacted.
  • American Jobs Act - link to information at whitehouse.gov
  • America Needs a Raise - online petition to raise the Federal minimum wage
  • Bring Jobs Home Act & the Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act info
  • Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century - a.k.a. the Transportation Bill
  • Rebuild America Act link - commonly known as the Harkin Jobs Bill
Taking Action for Jobs
Now you know a little more about what jobs bills are out there. How would you like to take part in making sure these bills are discussed in the public arena to help ensure they get passed?
  • Across the country there are local actions for the Bring Jobs Home Act you can participate in, as well as an online tool from the AFL-CIO to tell President Obama: We Need a Trade Policy That Works for Working Families!
  • Postal Workers and the entire Postal Service have been under attack lately, and the workers are fighting back with a hunger strike.
  • And we have initiated an online petition to get the Harkin Jobs Bill passed.
A Tale of Two Tax Plans
A new analysis shows that the Congressional Republicans’ tax plan to extend the Bush tax cuts is a winner for the 1%, but a loser for the rest of us. President Obama’s alternative plan is a more limited proposal that would be far more favorable to those at the opposite end of the income ladder.
Please make sure to visit the People's World online for the best in worker's news!
Other resources to check out:
In solidarity,             
Scott Marshall
Labor Chair, CPUSA

Call in day today: Call witch-hunters Jonas and Fitzgerald. Tell them “Hands off anti-war and international solidarity activists.”

Call in day today:
Call witch-hunters Jonas and Fitzgerald.
Tell them “Hands off anti-war and international solidarity activists.”

1. Call Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas at 312-353-5300 x 68027

2. For Patrick Fitzgerald, call 312-353-5300, then dial 0 (zero) for operator and ask to leave a message with the Duty Clerk.

Suggested text: “My name is __________, I am from _______(city), in ______(state). I am calling Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas [and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald] to demand he call off the investigation of, and stop FBI repression against, the anti-war and international solidarity movements. I oppose U.S. government political repression and support the right to free speech and the right to assembly of the 23 activists subpoenaed. We will not be criminalized. Tell him to stop this McCarthy-type witch-hunt against international solidarity activists!"

3. Email info@stopfbi.net to let us know you called (and what city you called from).

Coming off the victory in the case of veteran Chicano leader Carlos Montes, the Committee to Stop FBI repression is ramping up our campaign to stop the repression against anti-war and international solidarity activists.

During the past 5 weeks, FBI agents have shown up at the homes of anti-war activists in North Carolina and Salt Lake City, where they tried to ask questions about Colombia solidarity work and upcoming protests.

Earlier this year, The Northern Illinois Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas confirmed that the “investigation is continuing” into the case of the 23 anti-war and international solidarity activists hit with FBI raids and grand jury repression in 2010. Barry Jonas, currently in charge, is known for his leading role in prosecuting the leaders of the Holy Land Foundation.

Jonas and Fitzgerald are part of the team that ordered FBI raids on anti-war and solidarity activists' homes. They subpoenaed 23 from Chicago, Minneapolis and Michigan in 2010. All of those subpoenaed refused to speak before the grand jury. The grand jury is a secret and closed inquisition, with no judge and no media. The U.S. Attorney controls the entire proceedings and hand picks the jurors. The anti-war activists would not be allowed a lawyer.

Now we are asking you to call those in charge of the repression aimed against anti-war leaders and the growing international solidarity movement.

On Thursday, June 28, please call Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas and Patrick Fitzgerald.

Also, sign and circulate the Pledge To Resist FBI Repression: **Pledge To Resist at http://www.stopfbi.net/get-involved/pledge-of-resistance

Why I Voted to Authorize the Chicago Teachers' Strike by Lara Lindh

Earlier this month, members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) voted by a nearly 90 percent majority to give the union authorization to call a strike.

Actually, around 8.5 percent of the union membership didn't vote, so they were counted as "no" votes. So among CTU members who voted, 98 percent said "yes" to strike authorization: That's 23,780 yes to 482 no.

The overwhelming support for strike authorization seemed to confuse the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, who likes to assure us that he loves and respects teachers as he destroys our schools and degrades our union. But the vote didn't come as a surprise to me.

Here's why I voted, along with the vast majority my brothers and sisters in the CTU, an enthusiastic "yes" to strike authorization.

Read more here.

From ZZ's Blog: Scoundrel Time-- Again?

A constant of life in the US has been an unrelenting diet of anti-Communism and anti-Sovietism. Even before the Big Mac, children in the US were force-fed lurid stories of Soviet horrors, labor camps, and political liquidations. Popular magazines like Coronet, Readers’ Digest, Look, and Life were a constant source of tales recounting the cruelty and inhumanity of Soviet Communism just as their modern counterparts spew scorn upon Muslims.

Academics and other intellectuals built a scholarly foundation for the popular imagery, allowing media to forego the journalistic niceties of seeking corroboration or entertaining counter-claims—the evils of Communism became articles of faith. We were only to learn later what some suspected, that the much of the academic and intellectual construction was generously funded by the CIA and other government agencies.

After the demise of the Soviet Union and a world-wide retreat from Communism, the anti-Communist campaign took a strange twist. Despite the expected triumphal chest-beating, the most hysterical, wild-eyed anti-Soviet intellectuals like Robert Conquest were thoroughly discredited by newly released archival information. Their victim number-mongering proved wildly and recklessly inflated.

Paradoxically, a new breed of scholar of Soviet history, while not necessarily endorsing the Soviet project, used the evidence to construct an account of Soviet history that cast aside the demonic caricature for a more rational, persuasive depiction of the forces shaping Soviet behavior and development. While these scholars had little influence on the popular vulgar misconceptions, they were able to carve out a significant, credible, but marginal, niche in academic circles.

Read more here.


WHEN: Friday June 29th from 10:00am to 2:00pm

WHERE: Todd Road Exit on the North Bound Side of I5 just south of the town of Kalama, Washington (about 30 miles from Portland)

There is an upcoming proposed $100 million CHS/Temco Grain Silo expansion at the port of Kalama at the Todd Road Exit. Design Build Contracts from 2 General Contractors are currently being reviewed with a tentative awarding date of mid-July 2012. Both General Contractors engage in the practice of hiring visa workers to do the “slip form work” to avoid paying area standard wages, as we have all seen at EGT in Longview, Kalama Export, and most recently at the Port of Vancouver.

This issue affects all labor, and all our community members including our local business who don’t see the $dollars stay in the community. So feel free to bring folks who are tired of seeing our local jobs being outsourced.

We will have signs and informational hand bills available. If you want to bring signs please keep with the theme of “hire local workers” or something similar, because at this point we are only protesting a practice that has not happened at this site yet, even though we know it’s coming.

Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, 27 June 2012 

By Saul Landau

What did Cuba do to the United States to merit 53 years of castigation?

In 1960, those dirty Caribbean Commies joined the “evil” side in the Cold War – the Soviets, one recalls, offered substantial aid, not threats. But in 1991 the USSR disappeared.

So what? Even without the Soviet fa├žade the obsession remained: overthrow the Cuban government with tactics short of war, and some far worse than lies.

In the 1990s, under the FBI’s nose, in south Florida, Cuban exiles organized and financed terrorist acts in Cuba. They paid Salvadoran hirelings to plant bombs in Havana tourist spots.

In the 1990s, Cuba sent agents to infiltrate south Florida terrorist groups. The infiltrators’ information got recycled to the FBI. But in 1998, the FBI busted the Cuban agents, and an intimidated Miami jury convicted them. A judge sentenced the Cuban Five to draconian terms.

By 2001, as Florida Republicans began erasing likely Democratic voters from the registration polls, “democracy” emerged as the official line to replace the Cold War against Cuba. Mandated by Congress (Helms-Burton), USAID – not the CIA – set out on its Cuba ”regime change” plan.

One AID clandestine operation to subvert Cuba led to the 2009 arrest of Alan Gross, a U.S. citizen contracted by a company that had won a USAID job to help overthrow the Cuban government. This plan called for setting up safe Internet technology for small dissident Jewish groups so they could communicate without Cuban State Security tracking or penetration. God forbid Cuba should learn the secret Matzo ball recipe!

A Cuban State Security agent, however, had located Gross early in his endeavor and other agents followed him as he distributed sophisticated equipment. They noted the people he met, the equipment he delivered and, on his fifth trip, arrested him. Gross got tried and convicted of actions subversive to the Cuban state. In 2010, he received 15 years.

Cries of “innocent” arose from the State Department and mainstream Jewish groups. “He was only helping Cuban Jews get better Internet access.” For this “humanitarian gesture” he would receive a fee from a government contract of almost $600,000?

In December 2011, Fulton Armstrong, a former Senate staffer and National Security official, published an op-ed that revealed both the stupidity and illegality of Gross’ mission.

“When a covert action run by the CIA goes bad and a clandestine officer gets arrested, the U.S. government works up a strategy for negotiating his release. When a covert operator working for USAID gets arrested, Washington turns up the rhetoric, throws more money at the compromised program, and refuses to talk…to divulge even basic information about the programs.”

The programs, concluded Armstrong, “did not involve our Intelligence Community, but the secrecy surrounding them, the clandestine tradecraft (including the use of advanced encryption technologies) and the deliberate concealment of the U.S. hand, had all the markings of an intelligence covert operation.”

The Gross case has dramatized, Armstrong concluded, USAID’s role “as a covert warrior to undermine anti-U.S. regimes worldwide.” And, he added, “The regime-change focus of the programs is explicit.” (Miami Herald December 25, 2011)

Surprise! Armstrong’s revelations could have been published only in Sanskrit because afterward neither State officials nor mainstream Jewish community leaders changed a note in their “Alan is innocent” arias.

In February, AP reporter Desmond Butler offered more details of the Gross case based on leaked “trip reports” Gross had filed. “Piece by piece, in backpacks and carry-on bags, American aid contractor Alan Gross made sure laptops, smartphones, hard drives and networking equipment were secreted into Cuba. The most sensitive item, according to official trip reports, was the last one: a specialized mobile phone chip that experts say is often used by the Pentagon and the CIA to make satellite signals virtually impossible to track.”

Butler continued. “Gross said at his trial in Cuba that he was a "trusting fool" who was duped. But his trip reports indicate that he knew his activities were illegal in Cuba and that he worried about the danger, including possible expulsion.

One report quoted a community leader. Gross "made it abundantly clear that we are all 'playing with fire’." On another occasion Gross said: "This is very risky business in no uncertain terms."

Over the past weeks, State Department officials and Gross’ lawyer, ignoring Armstrong’s and Butler’s published pieces, have re-sung the “innocence aria” and complained that Cuba mistreats the ailing Alan.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland claimed she was “extremely concerned” over the state of the “innocent” Gross’ health. “He has degenerative arthritis that has worsened because he is not allowed to walk in his cell.” (Paul Haven, AP, Havana, June 15)

Gross’ attorney, Peter J. Kahn, claimed his client was “having difficulty walking and has developed a mass behind his right shoulder blade.”

Cuba sent Gross’ medical records, claimed he was in good health and regretted “the distortions that are being spread” about his health.

Washington insists that until Cuba frees Gross no bilateral progress is possible. Stalemate! (Haven, June 15)

The U.S. government has thrown Alan Gross under the proverbial bus. Because, as Armstrong points out, Gross was not a CIA official, the U.S. government uses his imprisonment as propaganda against “inhumane” Cuba.

To counter this we could push to “Free The Six,” Alan and the Cuban Five. Cuba has indicated its willingness to negotiate such reciprocal humanitarian gestures.

To convince Obama, Gross’ family could demonstrate for his freedom at the White House. After all, Alan was carrying out U.S. policy.

Saul Landau, an Institute for Policy Studies fellow, produced WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP. (Cinemalibrestore.com)

June 26, 2012

Turkish, US and NATO Hypocrisy

The Turkish government is outraged that one of its jets was shot down in Syrian airspace and another fired upon by Syrian forces in recent days. There is talk of Turkey retaliating against Syria and Turkish troops on the border are on high alert. NATO is supporting Turkey.

According to regional media, supplies for the Free Syrian Army are flowing more-or-less freely across the Turkish border and into Syria.

For some time now the Turkish airforce has been hitting Kurdish enclaves and targets deep in the Qandil mountains where Turkey borders Iraq and Iran. These attacks take Turkey into Iraq. The United States and NATO provide intelligence for these raids. A too-complacent Kurdish leadership in Iraq barely protests these attacks and calls for negotiations. That leadership largely owes its survival to the American invaders.

The hypocritical lesson is clear: Turkey, the US and NATO can cross borders at will and carry out or support bombings but other countries cannot defend their airspace. The Turkish government can act as an imperialist power in regard to the Kurds, but it also serves imperialism when it permits the flow of arms and aid across its borders to the Free Syrian Army.

Life After G.I. War Resistance: Military Resisters 30 Years Later

From In The Mind Field:

Since the start of the Bush era, soldiers and veterans have been a core part of resisting America’s wars for empire.

In 2004, Veterans for Peace sponsored Iraq Veterans Against the War, which began with seven members. IVAW is now an independent organization with hundreds of veterans and active duty members, chapters in all 50 states and overseas, and continues gaining members all the time. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are marching in peace demonstrations, speaking out at public events, giving media interviews, organizing active duty soldiers on military bases, and actively helping GI resisters. Anti-war Iraq veterans were featured in a documentary movie, The Ground Truth, and in several other movies about the war. During the Iraq war, over 2,000 active duty troops signed the “Appeal for Redress” calling on Congress to end the war. At the height of the war, the GI Rights Hotline received up to 3,000 calls a month from GIs wanting out of the wars and the military, and an estimated 200-plus soldiers went AWOL in Canada. Courage to Resist helped many service members publicly refuse military orders, including 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who never served a single day in jail. Now a young PFC, Bradley Manning, stands accused of telling the truth by leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents. All of this combined with the civilian peace movement turned the tide of American public opinion against the Iraq war, and eventually led to bringing the bulk of regular troops home. Thousands of mercenaries remain.

What will happen to the young GIs who refused orders to war or directly resisted the military in other ways? In particular, what will life be like for them afterward? What will their lives be like long after these wars are over, and the country and the world moves on? The experience of the Viet Nam era GI resisters may be very relevant here.

Forty one years ago, I was a soldier in the U. S. Army. I had received orders to Viet Nam, and after much agonized soul searching had decided I wasn’t going to go. I went AWOL for two weeks. I then reported to the Presidio stockade with my lawyer, turned myself in, refused orders, and submitted a limited conscientious objector application (objection to a particular war, not to military service in general or to legitimate military defense of the nation). The Army first pressed three charges against me, for a total of 15 years in prison if convicted. I was prepared to plead guilty to those charges. But the Army instead dropped all the charges, released me from the stockade, and ordered me to report to Oakland Army terminal for shipment to Viet Nam. I escaped and deserted to Canada.

Read more here.

Veterans Forced to Attend Anti-Union Meetings on Army Base

From In These Times:

Jason Croic is a Marine combat veteran who served 28 months in Iraq. When he came home, he found a job working for $18 an hour as a mechanic on Stryker vehicles for General Dynamics Land Systems in Fort Lewis, Washington. Croic now has a new combatant, as his employer is attempting to stop him and his fellow contractors from joining Local 286 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE).

For the last six months, Croic and 120 of his co-workers, nearly half of whom are veterans, have been forced to attend anti-union meetings, in which General Dynamics managers make them watch films about why unions are bad. General Dynamics has routinely told workers that if they vote to join union that it will likely lead to General Dynamics losing their contract with the U.S. Army. On several occasions, General Dynamics has even flown some of their top corporate officials out on Lear jets from their corporate headquarters in Sterling Heights, Michigan, to explain to the workers why they shouldn’t join a union.

“We have had these meetings where they provided one side of the story,” says Croic. “The message is we won’t be as employable to the Army as we are now because we won’t be as versatile. Being non-union, they say we are more attractive to the Army because we can be moved around easier.”

Read more here.

PKK KURDISTAN The Kurdistan Workers Party

June 25, 2012

Let’s STOP the WALMART Invasion!!!

The biggest retailer that eats up our tax dollars…pays poverty wages to their workers and…kills local business and jobs is bringing 17 new stores to P-Town….coming to your neighborhood soon!

Jobs with Justice and UFCW 555 are inviting you to a workshop / discussion on how to build a local campaign to keep Walmart from damaging our community and lowering standards for workers.

When: June 30th from 10:00 to 11:30 am

Where: JWJ / AFSCME building at 6025 E. Burnside, Portland, OR 97215

Did you know that Walmart:

-Costs our nation an estimated $ 1 billion or more per year for publicly- subsidized health care for Walmart workers

-Pays an average of $8.81 hourly wage to sales associates

-killed 196,000 jobs between 2001 and 2006 as a result of Walmart’s imports from China

-Made $408.2 billion as revenue in 2010 as the number one Fortune 100 company

BUT, there is hope! In Massachusetts the community fought back and stopped two Walmarts from opening. Here in Oregon neighborhoods are beginning to organize against the Walmart invasion. Come and find out what is going on locally and what to do about it.

For more info and to let us know that you are coming please e-mail marco@jwjpdx.org or call Marco 503 236-5573 or Bob 503 701-2636

Fighting Student Loan Debt

From the AFT:

The deadline for Congress to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling is almost here, and it's time for Congress to take action. Congress must take action before July 1 to keep interest rates from doubling. Both Democrats and Republicans have supported the one-year extension that would keep interest rates on student loans from doubling; it’s time to get it done.

We’re racing against the clock. Send your members of Congress a message today.

The doubling interest rates on new federal student loans, called Stafford loans, will affect more than 7.4 million students as well as those who are college-bound, increasing their costs by an average of $1,000.

Urge your elected officials to keep college affordable. Write your members of Congress today.

Students are already swimming in a rising sea of debt, graduating from college with an average of $25,000 in loans to repay. For recent grads, the burden is especially daunting. They face higher rates of unemployment because of the current economy, and low entry-level wages if they are lucky enough to find jobs. Most agree that there could hardly be a worse time to double the interest rates on student loans.

The deadline is approaching. Write your members of Congress today!

A high-quality public education is the gateway to the middle class, and preserving the American dream means keeping college affordable and accessible.

In unity,
Tor Cowan
AFT Legislative Director

Sudan: Interview with the Communist Party's new leader, Mohammed al-Khatib

From Links:

By Jaafar al-Sirr

June 21, 2012 -- Al Akhbar English -- Wearing a bright white robe and a friendly smile, the new secretary general of the Sudanese Communist Party, Mohammed Mukhtar al-Khatib, greeted us in central Khartoum a few days ago. [Al-Khatib became leader following the death of Mohammed Ibrahim Nugud.] He told Al-Akhbar that his party and all the opposition are committed to the downfall of the regime.Yesterday he was arrested.

Jaafar al-Sirr: Your new position could lead to you becoming a political detainee or being under surveillance from intelligence services, as with your predecessor Ibrahim Nugud. How have you prepared yourself for this?

Mohammed al-Khatib: The party is already working in unfriendly international, regional and local conditions. Parasitic capitalism inside the country attempts to block the work of our party. [The Sudan government] has become an agent of foreign colonialism, through its totalitarian practices and hindrance of democracy. It is not only standing in our way, but in the way of all political parties who want to express their opinions.

In such circumstances, losing one’s freedom, being arrested and tortured, or even getting killed are all possible. When I joined the party, I expected to be arrested at any time. As a member of the Sudanese Communist Party, I am constantly under threat of arrest and torture.

As a newcomer to the leadership of the opposition, are you convinced of their ability to mobilise the street? Do you present a new outlook?

Certainly. During the last meeting of the opposition, a [political] paper and constitutional declaration were introduced and approved after wide deliberations. The National Umma Party even suggested a paper to be included in the constitutional declaration.

We took a decision for the opposition to take practical steps to mobilise the masses to remove the regime. There is no hope in reforming a regime that has already signed numerous agreements with the opposition and called them to unite in national action.

But experience has shown that the regime uses such calls to weather the storm. Then it breaks the agreement.

The other issue is how to work independently among the masses to mobilise them to overthrow the regime.

The Communist Party’s ability to lead mass opposition movements has become weak. What can you do for the party to regain the leadership of the opposition?

The Communist Party did not lose its ability to mobilise masses, but it lost some of the platforms it used to function through.

The regime neutralised the impact of mass organisations of workers, peasants and parties. It took control and tamed them in order to serve its interests. It put its supporters in control, to allow them to control the country’s power and wealth.
Therefore, the masses, not just the Communist Party, were deprived of popular platforms that used to work for the interests of those segments and intervene politically in a period like this.

But public opinion lost its trust in the opposition’s ability to overthrow the regime. How will you rally the masses?

Recently, even the ruling party witnessed a general internal trend calling for change. This means the powers that be, who control power, believe in change, but within certain limits.

There are others in the regime who believe the regime has failed in its aims. So they want to see it go. They are attempting to do so through media campaigns against influential ruling party figures, hoping to return as saviours, with a new image, and ensure continuity.

One the other hand, some opposition parties believe that overthrowing the government would lead to strife and civil war and turn the country into Somalia. They believe that the solution should be a national [unity] government, and handing over power peacefully.

Another group of opposition parties believe that we tried this regime before and that it cannot be trusted. Therefore, it is imperative to overthrow it and its politics. Participants in the last meeting reached a consensus on overthrowing the regime completely.

What do you think of the South Sudan question? What is the main reason for the crisis?

The problem with the South question is that the Naivasha Comprehensive Peace Agreement [set of agreements concluded in January 2005] was bilateral, in an issue that involves several nationalities living in Sudan. All political factions should have been involved in the solution.

The government in the North deprived populations who are not involved in politics from food sources. It closed the borders with the South although there are common tribes living along that strip of land.The government, nevertheless, did not abide by the agreement and did not make unification an attractive choice. The result was the separation of the South and other issues becoming stuck.

We neither gained unity with the South, nor did we gain peace after separation.

Do you think the two countries are heading for war, especially since economic war has already started between them?

Economic warfare can be immoral. The government in the North deprived populations who are not involved in politics from food sources. It closed the borders with the South although there are common tribes living along that strip of land.

These policies aggravated the situation from the commercial and economic side, instead of solving the issue amicably to allow those tribes to live in peace.

If the South suffers from lack of food security, we cannot deny that the North also suffers from a crushing economic crisis and soaring prices.

The government’s policies would have led to this in any case, by neglecting both agricultural and industrial projects. Money from oil was spent unproductively and squandered in an opulent fashion.

Following separation and the loss of the oil wealth [to the South], the economy began to suffer. There was a dearth of money spent on the functioning of the state and agricultural projects collapsed.

The question cannot be solved by military might. Previously, we had welcomed the Addis Ababa negotiations between the two countries [earlier this month], hoping blood will be spared.

But the breakdown of negotiations shows that the issue is becoming more complicated due to the [North] government’s insistence on imposing its agenda.

It should be noted that the war is no longer with the South, but with the New South in the Kordofan and Blue Nile regions, a result of the non-implementation of the Naivasha protocols.

The government also took economic measures to limit the collapse.

The people should not carry the burden of the regime’s mistakes. People today are in a state of abject poverty. Half of the schoolchildren in the capital and other cities do not have breakfast.

This is the situation of students in cities and urban areas. One can only imagine the situation in Sudan’s remote barren areas.

The government does not allow [non-governmental] organisations to provide relief to these areas. This is at a time when the government’s budget is spent in unproductive areas such as defence, in addition to the deterioration of constitutional and sovereign positions.

The crisis in Darfur led the International Criminal Court to call for the arrest of president [Omar Hassan] al-Bashir. How do you evaluate the issue, especially since the country’s international relations suffered considerably due to the case?

The government is going through a crisis situation. The current situation is a result of the regime’s policies in Darfur, since the beginning of the crisis in 2003.

These practices were even revealed by the Sudanese investigation committee, in addition to the international inquiry which identified crimes against humanity, war crimes, and even genocide.

The crisis is due to the accumulation of government policies that ultimately led to the isolation of its president. This was harmful to Sudan since the president was no longer capable of doing his job or conducting normal international relations.

Bashir remains a suspect and should appear before court to explain his position and defend himself.

Otherwise, the international embargo will continue. If he was truly the president of Sudan, he should have resigned and been replaced with a new president who can move freely.

The uprising of Arab masses led to Islamist governments. Is the opposition worried this will be repeated in Sudan?

MK: First, we need to admit that the Arab mobilization we have witnessed is a step forward against totalitarian regimes, secular and otherwise. The region is witnessing a broad process of change. Seeking democracy was the primary gain of the Arab Spring revolutions.

Following that, forces of international capitalism worked through their allies in the region to contain the Arab revolutions to block any serious change that would intersect with its higher interests.

Powers that were already organised reached power, the Islamist currents. I expect that they will take the same path as the Islamic Front which rules Sudan today. They will not seek to solve the people’s problems.

In the end, revolution is a trial that can keep repeating until it achieves its objectives.