January 31, 2012

Has Wheeler Closed the Door on a State Bank?

During the last legislative session, Treasurer Wheeler was in full support of what he dubbed a "virtual" State Bank, and what thousands of Oregonians like you supported with your letters, phone calls, and trips to Salem.

However, last week Treasurer Wheeler made a statement that sounds like he's changing his tune, saying that his proposed Oregon Investment Act (OIA) "is not a back-door proposal to create a state bank, as some progressives have called for." [1]

Go here to take action.


To be clear, there ARE some things to like about the Oregon Investment Act.  It has language aimed at helping get loans to Oregon small businesses. However, the bill also places a strong focus on incentivizing so-called "venture capital" expansion, going so far as to create tax advantages for venture capital firms should they bring their money to Oregon.

Right now, 66% of all bank deposits in the state are held by just five out-of-state banks.  We need to be taking steps aimed at breaking our dependence on Wall Street, not further entrenching Oregon's reliance on out-of-state financial institutions.  The OIA doesn't address this fundamental problem.

Go here to take action.

We came close to passing the "virtual" State Bank bill last legislative session and we can't let up now.  The Oregon Investment Act provides an opportunity for the Treasurer to renew his support for state investment practices that focus on helping Oregon's small businesses and family farms - but that's certainly not what it emphasizes now.

Let's tell Treasurer Wheeler it's time to bring our money home and put it back to work for Oregon - not Wall Street.

Thanks for all you do,

Steve Hughes
Oregonians for a State Bank

P.S.  Be sure to join us on Wednesday evening at the Salem Public Library for a forum on the grassroots legislative campaign to create a State Bank in Oregon.  

1. Portland Tribune: Wheeler plan calls for new state economic development ‘powerhouse’

PCASC Anti-Oppression Training - Class Oppression

TUES, Feb 21st
PCASC Anti-Oppression Training - Class Oppression
6-9pm PCASC Office, 2249 E Burnside, Portland
This workshop will be a chance for us to educate ourselves about the class system and how it divides us on a political and personal level. Please RSVP to abigail@pcasc.net if you can attend!

Direct Action Training for Everyone

SAT, Feb 4th
Direct Action Training for Everyone

11am @ St. Francis, 1131 Southeast Oak Street, Portland
Want to learn how to make Civil Disobedience and Direct Action more fun, safer and more productive? Want to plug-in to the upcoming national call out against ALEC on #F29?
Want to plug-in to the action on February 29th? Want to pull-off more fun and more effective direct action? Come for the whole day, choose your favorite workshop, or just come for the benefit party at the Red and Black! Join us in preparation for the F29 Shut Down The Corporations day of action at the Direct Action Training For Everyone!

Schedule:

Non-violent direct action: This workshop is *highly recommended* for activists wanting to engage in civil disobedience and direct action or those new to these tactics. It will cover history of direct action, affinity groups, action planning, conflict management and fun action role plays.11:30 AM - 4PM (with 1-hour lunch break)

Media for direct action: Learn how to get media to your event, create effective press releases, talk to the media and get your message out to the public. 11:30 AM - 12:30PM

Blockades: Forest defenders and climate justice activists share tools to make actions more effective and activists very difficult to remove, from blocking roads to building entrances to... let your imagination run wild. 12:30PM - 1:30PM

Lunch! (donation suggested) 1:30PM - 2:30PM

Strategic Action Planning: Tools to make our actions more effective and achieve our goals with less burnout. This workshop could change your life. 2:30PM - 4PM

Coffee Break + Affinity Group Meet-up: 4PM - 5PM

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC): Why is ALEC the target of this day of action? Learn more about the way they control our democracy behind closed doors and how to stop them! 5PM - 5:30PM

Legal Support For Activist/Know Your Rights! Lead by lawyers supporting the Occupy movement, learn the rights you have when engaging with the police and how to support people risking arrest. People considering engaging in or supporting civil disobedience should attend this workshop. 5:30pm - 6PM

Benefit Party at the Red and Black Cafe! We've got Poor Boy's Soul, Henry Hill and more to stomp our feet to and dance the night away... until 10pm. A great way to unwind after an inspiring day of workshops. (donation supporting F29 suggested) 7PM - 10PM

This will be a day of training in beginning to advanced direct action skills aimed at building capacity and relationships for the national day of action on February 29th. While the thrust of the day will be trainings, we cannot build the world we want to live in without building community. So, there will fun socializing and community time throughout the day as well.
 

January 30, 2012

KANSAS CITY LABOR EDITOR RUMINATES ABOUT A TRUMKA E-MAIL

I would think that the AFL President has been too busy to send out e-mails. He has been busy distancing himself from the most important labor struggle of our era which is shaping up at the Port Of Longview. He has been brushing up on his bureaucrat-eeze to make sure no one would think he is involved in solidarity actions for the ILWU - after all for him it is "merely a jurisdictional dispute". As the conflict was escalating Trumka was heading to Washington to sit in Michelle Obama's "box" for the State Of The Union speech. So I guess he did have time for e-mails.

Bill Onasch has a response:


Is the Era of the One Percent Over?
That was the question asked by AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka in the subject line of a “Dear Bill” e-mail message I received from him the day after the President’s State of the Union Address. He gushed the good news answer in the very first paragraph, “Did you see last night’s State of the Union? It was clear throughout the President’s speech that the era of the 1% is over.” Some Federation members may have missed the televised speech for example, those on picket lines at American Crystal Sugar, Cooper Tire & Rubber, and Fresno County–and undoubtedly appreciated and were relieved to hear this announcement.

Of course, brother Trumka does not make such bold assertions without corroborating evidence. “One big victory—among many—in last night’s speech was President Obama’s announcement of a thorough investigation into the misconduct in the mortgage market that wrecked our economy....Thank President Obama for listening—and urge him to keep it up.” We have heard similar pledges before. So far there are no reports of swarms of GulfStreams carrying the frightened rich to refuge in the Cayman Islands. As we enter Obama’s last year of this term, foreclosures still account for twenty percent of all home sales in the USA. There were, of course, some crooks in the financial sector who played minor supporting roles in triggering the Great Recession. But most of the housing and other bubbles that burst were the result of shenanigans legalized during decades of bipartisan deregulation.The President retained the Fed Chairman upon whose watch the melt down occurred. Chairman Bernanke, who believes public works programs prolonged the Great Depression, is known for the lightest hand on the rudder of all central bank heads. Obama’s Treasury Secretary still shares the same Clubrooms and vacation spots with his “too big to fail” peers who “earned” ten or more-digit bonuses for losing people’s homes and life savings–and Geithner has made clear he is anxious to get back to the private sector. Despite his long experience in financial circles as former AFL secretary-treasurer, Trumka–like every outraged liberal--remains convinced the system is basically good if we’re not victimized by rogue bad guys. They cannot allow themselves to accept the inconvenient truth–this is what capitalism looks like.

But wait, there’s more.“President Obama made it clear that children and our future must be priorities” my leader told me. He then hands off to expert opinion--Randi Weingarten of the AFT. Her joy overfloweth, “Obama also made clear tonight what America’s teachers have long understood: We can’t test our way to a middle class; we must educate our way to a middle class....Respecting public school teachers and providing them with the tools and resources they need to help our children learn and grow are essential to building a strong public education system, competing in a global economy and restoring economic opportunity for all.” When sister Weingarten finally takes her retirement she should consider a second career writing pop fiction. Not since Horace Mann’s fight for Common Schools prevailed in the nineteenth century has public education been under such powerful attack. “Austerity” measures have led to the closings of hundreds of schools, along with firings of tens of thousands of teachers around the country. Adding to the funding crisis, Obama’s “Race to the Top” is promoting privatization in all components of education; has declared war on teacher seniority (tenure); and virtually mandated concessionary renegotiation of a number of teacher union contracts.Back to Trumka: “And Obama demanded investment in good, high-paying jobs—and said he would work to bring manufacturing back to America.”U.S. manufacturing employment peaked in 1979 at about 19.5 million jobs. That has now slumped to about 11.8 million. But over this same period industrial production nearly doubled. Despite the very substantial offshoring of work since NAFTA and the China Trade Agreement, the USA is still an industrial powerhouse. This work is done with far fewer, but much more productive, workers--and mostly at substantially lower real wages. We used to say workers in such dire straits need a union. However, many of them are already paying dues to the AFL or Change to Win.


OCCUPY OAKLAND WILL PARTICIPATE IN MAY DAY GLOBAL GENERAL STRIKE

The Occupy Oakland General Assembly passed the proposal today!
Occupy Oakland Call for Participation in a May 1, 2012
Global General Strike
The general strike is back, retooled for an era of deep budget cuts, extreme anti-immigrant racism, and massive predatory financial speculation. In 2011, the number of unionized workers in the US stood at 11.8%, or approximately 14.8 million people.
What these figures leave out are the growing millions of people in this country who are unemployed and underemployed. The numbers leave out the undocumented, and domestic and manual workers drawn largely from immigrant communities. The numbers leave out workers whose workplace is the home and a whole invisible economy of unwaged reproductive labor. The numbers leave out students who have taken on nearly $1 trillion dollars in debt, and typically work multiple jobs, in order to afford skyrocketing college tuition. The numbers leave out the huge percentage of black Americans that are locked up in prisons or locked out of stable or secure employment because of our racist society.
In December of 2011,Oakland’s official unemployment rate was a devastating 14.1%. As cities like Oakland are ground into the dust by austerity, every last public dollar will be fed to corrupt, militarized police departments in order to contain social unrest. On November 2 of last year, Occupy Oakland carried out the first general strike in the US since the 1946 Oakland general strike,shutting down the center of the city and blockading the Port of Oakland. We must re-imagine a general strike for an age where most workers do not belong to labor unions, and where most of us are fighting for the privilege to work rather than for marginal improvements in working conditions. We must take the struggle into the streets, schools, and offices of corrupt local city governments. A re-imagined general strike means finding immediate solutions for communities impacted by budget cuts and constant police harassment beyond changing government representatives. Occupy Oakland calls for and will participate in a new direction for the Occupy movement based on the recognition that we must not only find new ways to provide for our needs beyond thestate we must also attack the institutions that lock us into an increasingly miserable life of exploitation, debt, and deepening poverty everywhere.
IF WE CAN’T LIVE, WE WON’T WORK.
May Day is an international holiday that commemorates the 1886 Haymarket Massacre, when Chicago police defending, as always, the interests of the 1% attacked and murdered workers participating in a general strike and demanding an 8-hour workday. In the 21st century, despite what politicians tell us, class war is alive and well against workers (rank-and-file and non-unionized), students, people of color, un- and underemployed, immigrants, homeless, women, queer/trans folks, prisoners. Instead of finding common ground with monsters, it’s time we fight them. And it’s time we make fighting back an everyday reality in the Bay Area and beyond.
On May Day 2012, Occupy Oakland will join with people from all walks of life in all parts of the world around the world in a global general strike to shut down the global circulation of capital that every day serves to enrich the ruling classes and impoverish the rest of us. There will be no victory but that which we make for ourselves, reclaiming the means of existence from which we have been and continue to be dispossessed every day.
REVOLT FOR A LIFE WORTH LIVING
STRIKE / BLOCKADE / OCCUPY

Our slavery free world - really?

Click on image to enlarge

Courage to Resist: Campaign to Free Bradley Manning


Courage to Resist is a group of concerned community members, veterans and military families that supports military objectors to illegal war and occupation and the policies of empire. Our People Power strategy weakens the pillars that maintain war and occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere by supporting GI resistance, counter-recruitment and draft resistance, which cuts off the supply of troops. We are autonomous from and independent of any political organization, party or group.

Courage to Resist project director and Bradley Manning Support Network campaign organizer Jeff Paterson will provide multi-media presentations (see Pacific NW schedule below) to include:

---An overview of US v. Bradley Manning
---His report from the Fort Meade courtroom where Bradley had his first court hearing after 18 months of pre-trial confinement
---Updates on the international grassroots campaign
---An opportunity to make a tax-deductible donation to Bradley’s defense fund, which in addition to supporting public education efforts is responsible for 100% of Bradley’s legal expenses
---Introduction to the new Courage to Resist book, About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War—from Army Lt. Ehren Watada to PFC Bradley Manning, and two dozen other stories. Published by PM Press, September 2011.

Pacific Northwest January & February 2012 events presented by Jeff Paterson:

Corvallis, Oregon
- Monday, January 30 at 7:00pm - Odd Fellows Hall, 223 Southwest 2nd Street, Sponsored by Veterans for Peace-Corvallis. With musician David Rovics.

Eugene, Oregon
- Wednesday, February 1 at 7:30pm - First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive St. - Sponsored by Community Alliance of Lane County. With musician David Rovics.

Portland, Oregon
- Thursday, February 2 at 7:00pm - First Unitarian Church, SW 12th and Salmon, Buchan Room, Sponsored by the Alliance for Democracy. With musician David Rovics.

Bellingham, Washington
- Friday, February 3 at 7pm - Whatcom Peace & Justice Center, 1155 N. State Street, Ste. 300, Sponsored by Veterans for Peace-Bellingham

Seattle, Washington
- Saturday, February 4 at 3pm - Revolution Books, 89 S. Washington Street

Seattle, Washington
- Sunday, February 5 at 3pm - University Temple United Methodist Church, 1415 NE 43rd Street, Sponsored by Veterans for Peace-Seattle

Olympia, Washington
- Monday, February 6 at 3:30pm - South Puget Sound Community College, Bldg 26, Rm 102 Lecture Hall

Lakewood, Washington
- Monday, February 6 at 7pm - Coffee Strong Café, 15109 Union Avenue SW

Olympia, Washington
- Tuesday, February 7 at Noon - The Evergreen State College, Lecture Hall 3, Sponsored by SDS and the “Re-Interpreting Liberation” program

Contact Courage to Resist for more information regarding specific events.
For daily updates on the campaign to save Bradley Manning, visit
www.bradleymanning.org

January 26, 2012

Mexico: Non-violent struggle against the drug war; Olga Reyes to present in Portland

Mexican peace leader Olga Reyes will speak in Portland on Saturday, February 4th, 5:00 PM at 1131 SE Oak St. 

Portland Central American Solidarity Committee (PCASC) is co-sponsoring this event with Voz, AFSC, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the Oregon Peace Institute.

Olga is a leader in the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in Mexico, and is a survivor of drug war related violence. Please join us as we listen to her story and learn more about the role of the US in the escalating drug war.

Olga Reyes' Background:

Olga Reyes Salazar comes from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, in Mexico. Her sister, Josefina Reyes, was a prominent activist for human rights and demilitarization in Juarez until she was murdered January 3, 2010, after one of her sons had been jailed and another murdered. In February 2011, Olga’s sister, brother, and sister-in-law were abducted, and subsequently found killed. Olga’s mother Sara issued a remarkable appeal to the kidnappers of her children in February, just before the family house was burned down.

Since the killing of her two siblings and sister-in-law in February, Olga has participated in the two “caravans of consolation” led by poet Javier Sicilia, that traveled from central Mexico to the U.S. border in June and to Chiapas and the Guatemala border in September.

Olga brings a powerful testimony of the human costs of the drug war, militarism and gun trafficking, and of the growing movement to forge a different path in Mexico. The United States plays an important part.

Oregon State Bank Forum February 1, 2012 ---- Salem, Oregon


Oregon New Sanctuary Movement Dinner

ONSM 3rd Annual “Love Has No Borders Celebration Dinner”
Saturday, March 17th, 2012
5:30pm-7pm
First Unitarian Church, Buchan Room
1011 SW 13th Ave, Portland
Tickets are $25. Save the date!

Join the Trust Women March

This week marks the 39th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade ruling and advocates for women’s rights are celebrating an important victory. The Obama administration announced Friday that health insurers must provide free access to birth control as part of the reforms established by the Affordable Healthcare Act.

At the same time we are witnessing the most unprecedented assault on women’s reproductive health and rights.

The 2010 elections swept in anti-abortion and anti-contraceptive state legislatures across the country who quickly got to work attacking everything from women’s insurance coverage of abortion to state funding for birth control and cancer screenings.

135 reproductive rights laws were enacted in 36 states, 68 percent of which restrict access to abortion.

Over 86% of counties do not have an abortion service provider, funding for women's health care is increasingly restricted, and several states are seeking to pass "personhood" statutes which would criminalize abortion and even miscarriage.

It seems each state legislature tries to outdo the next with their war on women.

The US House of Representatives attempted to eliminate Title X, the federal program that helps provide reproductive health services to low-income and uninsured Americans. They are attempting to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding, which is being defunded by some reactionary state legislatures.

And because this is an election year, women's health and reproductive justice are in the spotlight.

All of the Republican presidential candidates are opposed to reproductive and health rights and favor the repeal of Roe vs. Wade and elimination of Title X funding.

This war on women is provoking a big fightback and a commitment to mobilize a massive vote in defense of women’s rights in November.

You can raise your voice today.

Reproductive-rights groups are fighting back with a simple but powerful pro-choice message: Trust women.

We’re joining with scores of organizations in the Trust Women online march. This is a way for us to stand in solidarity, show our numbers, and send a strong message to elected.

Click here to join the march and send your message.

The Trust Women March will deliver your message, along with those of all the other marchers, to Congress and other elected officials to make a difference for women's health and reproductive justice at the national and state level.

Now is the time to speak out.


Esther Moroze
CPUSA National Board

See related articles below:

On Roe vs Wade Anniversary, a big win for women from Obama administration” PeoplesWorld.org, Jan. 23, 2012:

"White House stands firm in birth control battle," The Washington Post, January 20, 2012:

Act NOW to Suspend HEM Surcharges - Update

After the HEM joint labor management committee recommended that HEM surcharges be suspended, SEIU 503’s PEBB representatives brought petitions signed by thousands of us requesting such a suspension to the January PEBB meeting where board members:

*pushed the deadline to fill out the Health Risk Assessment back a month to March 15 and
*agreed to call a special meeting to discuss all of the HEM committee recommendations on Thursday, February 16.

There is still time to sign the petition to suspend the surcharges. If you haven’t had the opportunity to do so already, please click on the following link to add your name:

Suspend HEM Surcharge Petition

As we said in our last email, we have no quarrel with the idea of a health engagement model. Getting people to actively participate in their health should lead to longer and healthier lives and bring down health care costs. However, it’s not clear to the committee that the current HEM model with its punitive surcharges will work and our top recommendation is to suspend the surcharges.

For more details on other recommendations the joint HEM labor management committee made, please see our January 13 email: http://www.seiu503.org/2012/01/pebb-suspend-hem-surcharges/

The PEBB meeting is open to the public so for those who want to attend, the special meeting is scheduled on Thursday, Feb. 16 from 10am – 1pm in the PEBB-OEBB board room at 1225 Ferry St in Salem. We will send a report out afterward to let you know the PEBB board responses to our recommendations.

In unity,

Keary DeBeck, DOJ, Salem
Sabrina Freewynn, OHA, Portland
Wednesday Martin, DHS, Roseburg
Lois Yoshishige, UofO, Eugene
Shaun Parkman, Alternate, OHA, Portland
Siobhan Martin, Staff Advisor

hemcommittee@seiu503.org

AFL-CIO’s Trumka Acknowledges Labor’s Divisions Over Keystone Pipeline

On Thursday January 12, at the UN Investor Summit on Climate Risk, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke publicly about divisions in the labor movement over the proposed Keystone Pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico if built.

Disagreements between unions over the pipeline wasn't news, but the fact that Trumka acknowledged them was. It was the first time I've heard Trumka say that unions that were on different sides of the politically sensitive issue - some for, some against. Several AFL-CIO observers also commented that it was the first time they had a president of the labor federation talk about why unions were divided on key issues. (They declined to speak on the record because of the matter's sensitivity.)

Read more here.

January 24, 2012

INCOME INEQUALITY: NEW STUDY HIGHLIGHTS LGBT STATS

There is a new report from the "Half In Ten" Program. This is a campaign by the Center For American Progress and other groups that aim to reduce poverty by half in ten years. The way things are going they have a tough row to hoe. But according to their latest study there are members of the LGBT community who experience vast income inequality compared to their heterosexual peers. "Lesbian couples tend to have much higher poverty rates than either heterosexual or male couples" according to the report titled, "Restoring Shared Prosperity: Strategies To Cut Poverty And Expand Economic Growth". Older Lesbian couples are twice as likely to live in poverty as straight couples. This is not surprising to our community but seeing the statistics certainly justifies what we already know. These statistics extend to the children of gay couples. Those children are twice as likely to be poor as sons and daughters of straight, married couples.

One of the solutions to start addressing all this disparity is Marriage Equality. However state by state equality won't change these statistics very much. It must be Federal Marriage Equality to make a real difference in our lives. Melissa Boteach who worked with this study explained by the numbers. "A married heterosexual couple with $45,000 in income filing their taxes jointly would get a $50 refund from the federal government. A same sex couple has to file separately and they would owe $2,165 in taxes." She goes on to explain the obvious, "Lesbian couples are especially hard-hit as women continue to make less than men - 78 cents to every dollar. That difference is strongly felt in families where two women are raising children."

But she doesn't continue with looking at the area where there is the most blatant heterosexual privilege, which is in the Social Security system. And unfortunately "Half in Ten" is calling for the passage of Obama's American Jobs Act which includes large cuts to the Medicare Program which will negatively affect all seniors living in poverty.

Canada's Harper government bans Internationale from Labour Temple dedication

By Darrell Rankin
From The People's Voice.

The Winnipeg branch of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians (AUUC) cancelled a ceremony to dedicate its Ukrainian Labour Temple as a National Historic Site. The AUUC made the decision 72 hours before the ceremony, once it was clear that Parks Canada had failed to send invitations or answer a letter about its unilateral demand to ban the hall’s choir from singing The Internationale.

The hall was designated a historic site in 2009. AUUC members were looking forward to the ceremony which included placing a plaque on the building. After months of agreement and rehearsing, Parks Canada informed the AUUC on Oct. 9 that it would not allow the choir to sing the working class anthem.

The choir had voted unanimously that during the scheduled time for the song it would remain silent and explain that the song was banned. The reasons for the ban are unknown, and will likely stay that way unless revealed by an access to information request.

January 23, 2012

How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work

The Sunday New York Times carried an interesting front-page article on why Apple and other companies do not produce products or provide services in the US with American workers, or at least do not hire at the levels they hire in China. It's a fascinating article with a minimum of capitalist double-speak. Read the article here.

Marxists and other socialists can have some fun with this article, reading it and debating it and making it popular. The capitalist doubble-speak in the article consists largely of obscuring the determining factor of wages in production and the tendency of the rate of profit to fall over time. There is also an implication of nationalism in the article. Still, the article states most of the facts bluntly and gives them to us straight from the horse's mouth.

How To Think About Socialism in Korea

At the end of 2011 the Irish and international media had a feeding frenzy about the death of Kim Jong-il, head of state of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).

His death once again presented an opportunity for them to indulge in wholesale anti-communism, equating all the problems, tensions and difficulties on the Korean peninsula with the nature of the political-social system in North Korea and, by extension, with all those who advocate a socialist alternative to moribund monopoly capitalism around the globe.

RTE [Ireland's state radio and broadcasting company] wheeled out the director of Concern [a Third World aid NGO in Ireland] to give his tuppence-worth and his “extensive” knowledge of North Korea and the famine.

He spoke about seeing three young children badly affected by hunger, and he was sure they would have died a few months after he had seen them. No one asked whether this was a fact or just him surmising that to be the case.

The Irish Times had a number of features by experts of various kinds, parading their opinions as facts, most being superficial, vacuous and shallow, while the anti-communist left rowed in behind the official narrative of how we should all view events in that country.

Yes, the regime in the DPRK poses many questions for those of us who belong to the communist tradition within the working-class movement. How can one rationalise such behaviour as the mass weeping at the passing of the “Dear Leader,” and the serried ranks of army generals so prominent in events? But then again there is no such thing as a blueprint or road map or any one way to transform society or to build socialism. All processes are shaped by objective and subjective factors.

Read more here.

About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War--Corvallis

Date: 2012-01-30

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

Location: Corvallis Odd Fellows Hall
223 SW 2ND ST FL 2
CORVALLIS, OR, 97333-4633
2nd floor, to the left

Organization: Veterans for Peace Chapter 132

Description: A public discussion and book signing with Jeff Paterson, project director, Courage to Resist, plus an update on PFC Bradley Manning, the accused Wikileaks whistleblower.

About Face -- a new book by Courage to Resist
Features the voices from the Courage to Resist audio project with exclusive interviews with Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg discussing the history of GI resistance from the Vietnam War to Bradley Manning and the current WikiLeaks revelations.

“About Face gives us important insights into the consciences of women and men who volunteer for the military but find they cannot obey orders to fight in illegal wars.” — Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army colonel and State Dept. diplomat.

A Corvallis World Forum event.

Sponsored by: Corvallis Odd Fellows & Veterans For Peace, Linus Pauling Chapter 132, Corvallis

FMI: Bart Bolger, VFP Corvalis, info@vfpcorvalis.org

January 22, 2012

The 1% In The Pacific Northwest

From Michael Munk:

The New York Times reported recently on what income levels put people in > the top 1% in their cities. Obviously there were wide variations in the > income required to exceed the local 99%, but the national average was  $380,000 a year. Read the story at :
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/business/the-1-percent-paint-a-more-nuanced-portrait-of-the-rich.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=one%20percent,%20many%20variations&st=cse

Here's how NW cities ranked:
Seattle:       $ 408,000
Bremerton: $ 374,000
Bellingham: $ 346,000
Portland:    $ 343,000
Spokane:   $ 341,000
Salem:       $ 316,000
Eugene:     $ 301,000
Medford:   $ 300,000
Richland:   $ 299,000
Tacoma:    $ 287,000
Olympia:   $ 283,000
Yakima:    $ 271,000

Into Sunlight

A performance by Robin Becker Dance, inspired by They Marched Into Sunlight, a book by Pulitzer Prize winning author and Washington Post Senior Editor, David Maraniss. Maraniss' book, nominated for a Pulitzer in nonfiction, encompasses one week in 1967, juxtaposing the ambush of an elite army unit in Vietnam with an anti-war protest that turned violent in Madison, WI.

"Into Sunlight" choreographer Robin Becker recalls her inspiration: "When I read David Maraniss' powerful book on the Vietnam War, I immediately responded to the timelessness and universality of the themes and events he documented. I was deeply moved by the integrity, honor, and commitment of both those who fought the war, and those who fought against it. I embarked upon the creation of this dance, "Into Sunlight," hoping that the universal language of the body would reflect and offer the same sense of healing that David's words evoked in me."

This timely dance premiered at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Hofstra University, New York, where it prompted interdisciplinary conferences exploring themes of cultural embodiment, the impact of war and violence, and the integrative power of art. The 92nd Street Y in New York City hosted additional performances, and the work continues to engage audiences and gain momentum from its impact, with more performances upcoming in 2012.

January 20, 2012

WISCONSIN LABOR COUNCIL TELLS OBAMA TO TELL THE COAST GUARD TO "STAND DOWN"

January 19, 2012

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama:

With over 200 present at our monthly meeting on Monday, January 16, delegates to the South Central Federation of Labor heard a very disturbing report about the planned use of U.S. military to intervene on the side of management in a crucial labor dispute in Washington State, and voted unanimously to condemn such intervention.

The International Longshoremen Workers Union is engaged in a crucial struggle at the Port of Longview, Washington, where a multinational company, EGT, is attempting to operate as the West Coast's only non-ILWU facility, despite promising otherwise when it received millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to build its grain exporting terminal. Now, as the first ship makes its way to the port to fill up with grain bound for Asia, it is reported that Coast Guard ships and helicopters will be used to escort this ship. Use of our tax dollars and our military to assist such union busting is horrifying.

Mr. President, as Commander in Chief, we call upon you to order the Coast Guard to stand down, to not interfere on the side of management in this labor dispute.

Sincerely,


James A. Cavanaugh
President

c: Rich Trumka, Sen. Kohl, Sen. Johnson, Rep. Baldwin, ILWU

Jim Cavanaugh, President
South Central Federation of Labor
1602 S Park St #228
Madison WI 53715 * (608) 256-5111
http://www.SCFL.org

__._,_.___

January 19, 2012

The NDAA: What It Means For Your Freedom--Salem Forum

The Occupy Salem Education Committee presents Willamette Law Professor Susan Smith speaking on the civil liberties implications of the recently-passed National Defense Authorization Act.

This piece of legislation, which recently passed the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly and was subsequently signed by President Obama, despite his earlier vow to veto it, suspends some of our most cherished civil liberties. Learn how it could affect you!


Monday, January 23, 7 p.m. in the Paulus Lecture Hall at Willamette University's Law School (Room E 201). No charge.

Occupy The Courts In Salem Jan. 21

Rally and March for Repeal of Corporate Personhood Followed by a General Assembly of People Representing Various Oregon Occupy Groups

Meet at Salem's First Congregational Church (changed from the Capitol steps due to the weather) at 11:45 a.m. Rally will be followed by a march through Downtown Salem at 1 p.m. After that, members of Occupy Groups from around Oregon will meet to discuss networking and future actions.

Iran solidarity group calls for halt to slide to war

The ongoing killing of Iranian scientists has been condemned as a provocation to war by a leading solidarity organization campaigning for peace in the Middle East. The UK-based Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) last week pointed out that the assassination of 32-year-old chemist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was the fifth time a scientist associated with Iran's nuclear program had been killed in the past two years.
 
CODIR says that if such actions had taken place on U.S. or British soil they would have been seen as tantamount to a declaration of war. The organization warns that there are elements within the Iranian regime which will see these actions in the same way and may foolishly and disastrously respond accordingly.

Read more here.

Hrant Dink And Protests In Turkey

Plaque Installed in Memory of Dink, Crowds Take to the Streets

ISTANBUL (A.W.)–In the morning of Jan. 19, five years after the murder of Hrant Dink, the editor of the Turkish and Armenian weekly Agos, a new plaque was seen on one of the cobblestones of the Agos building in Istanbul. It read, “Hrant Dink was murdered here, January 19, 2007, at 15:05.”
HD Tas 300x276 Plaque Installed in Memory of Dink, Crowds Take to the Streets
“Hrant Dink was murdered here, January 19, 2007, at 15:05”
Meanwhile, an estimated 20,000 people flooded the streets of Istanbul on Jan. 19, marching in remembrance of the murdered journalist, to protest a recent court ruling that set free many of the murder suspects, and denounced the state of affairs in Turkey. They carried signs that read, “We are all Hrant Dink, we are all Armenian.”
Trial a disappointment
The anniversary of Dink’s death came two days after 19 suspects were acquitted of charges of being members of a terrorist organization that plotted the murder. Another suspect, Yasin Hayal, received a life sentence on charges of instigating the premeditated murder.

January 21--the one-year anniversary of Citizens United

January 21 marks the one-year anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s notorious Citizens United decision declaring “corporations are people” and allowing corporations and billionaires to spend unlimited sums of money, without disclosure, in political campaigns.We have seen the results.
Since then a grassroots movement has grown across the country to reverse the decision including by amending the US Constitution.
This is a fundamental battle for democracy. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads has already pledged to spend at least $240 million in the elections of 2012. The extreme right-wing billionaire Koch brothers and other Wall Street corporations will spend hundreds of millions more to influence election outcomes.

The ruling laid out for all to see the corruption of the US Supreme Court and the ruthless goal of the top 1 percent: put a stranglehold on legislative bodies at every level to elect candidates that rubberstamp pro-corporate and rightwing policies.

The anniversary of the Citizens United ruling is a day for the 99 percent to stand up to Wall Street and big money!  Take action with millions to undo the damage, including building the movement to amend the Constitution. 

Move to Amend is planning a National Day of Protest to Occupy the Courts on January 20 at Federal courthouses in 100 cites. Find a local protest here.
United for the People is also organizing demonstrations across the country. Find a local protest here
Common Cause is one of many groups organizing to “pass advisory initiatives or referendums condemning the decision in as many states as possible, slowly creating a groundswell for a constitutional amendment that would make it clear corporations are not people and that congress has the authority to limit campaign spending.” They have tools to get started here.
City councils are already passing resolutions and efforts are being made to get initiatives on state ballots in 2012. The campaign initially will target three states -- Colorado, Massachusetts and Montana. Recently, the Montana high court challenged Citizens United and upheld ban on corporate cash in elections. Read Peoplesworld.org coverage here.
People united can take back our country!
John Bachtell
CPUSA vice chair

Iranian Women: A Film Series In Portland

The Middle East Studies Center and the Persian program in the Department of World Languages & Literatures at Portland State University are pleased to announce Iranian Women: A Film Series.
The series will include the following screenings:

Women Without Men (2010)
Sunday, February 5 | 3 PM
George C. Hoffmann Hall, 1833 SW Eleventh Street
Shirin Neshat’s independent film adaptation of Shahrnush Parsipur’s magic realist novel. The story chronicles the intertwining lives of four Iranian women during the summer of 1953; a cataclysmic moment in Iranian history when an American led, British backed coup d’état brought down the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, and reinstalled the Shah to power.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with Shahrnush Parsipur, author of the book, Women Without Men.

Reception to follow.

Pearls on the Ocean Floor (2011)
Friday, February 10 | 7 PM
5th Avenue Cinema, 510 SW Hall Street
A thought-provoking, feature-length documentary examining the lives and works of Iranian female artists living and working in and outside the Islamic Republic. This unflinching and incisive study, featuring interviews with art luminaries Shadi Ghadirian, Shirin Neshat, Parastou Forouhar and others, captures the uncertainty of this momentous time in Iran’s history. Speaking with grace and honesty, these brave women express what is seldom seen in the western media: unique individual perspectives regarding issues of identity, gender, and the role that art plays in challenging the traditional stereotypes often associated with women in Iran.

20 Fingers (2004)
Saturday, February 11 | 7 PM
5th Avenue Cinema, 510 SW Hall Street
A film in several episodes with Bijan Daneshmand and Mania Akbari, exposing some of the issues of men and women within the confines of tradition and family life in Iran. Each episode is devoted to various life situations and displays a different form of male/female interaction. The placing of the actors in a moving vehicle or against a moving backdrop signifies the movement of life despite all the obstacles in its way. The film deals with the roots of dependencies, limitations, power struggles and conflict that are the familiar stuff of life of couples in the Middle East.

The Unwanted Woman (2005)
Sunday, February 19 | 3 PM
5th Avenue Cinema, 510 SW Hall Street
A woman trapped in an unhappy marriage, Sima must contend with a husband so insensitive that he makes no effort to hide his various sexual indiscretions. He forces her into an even more uncomfortable situation when he asks his wife to pretend she is related to his current girlfriend in order to avoid trouble from a society that punishes unmarried couples for being together in public.

All screenings are free and open the public

Presented with funding from Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute.

TUCSON: MEXICAN AMERICAN STUDIES ENDS, STUDENTS WALKOUT AND TEACHERS MONITORED

I visited Tucson for the first time last week. On my first day there was a student strike as 400 students walked out of Cholla High School to protest the action of the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) to end the Mexican American Studies (MAS) Program. They marched to TUSD headquarters. The State Of Arizona passed a law aimed specifically at the MAS program because they claimed it "promoted one ethnicity over another". Students of any race can and do take these classes. A State Administrative Judge upheld the State School Superintendent, John Huppenthal's decision on ending the program and the TUSD decided to accept that decision and not to appeal.

A spokeswoman for TUSD told the students, "I feel your pain, go back to class". If they think this struggle is over they will be surprised. While the student's determination is clear, their teachers are finding themselves with strange and bizarre instructions for their lesson plans. Curtis Acosta reports that after a meeting with their site administrators they were told that their "entire curriculum and pedagogy must end immediately". The students are asking questions they cannot answer.

The teachers were told they cannot "teach any race, ethnic or oppression themed lessons or units". However they were not given any specific guidance, just that what they were doing is now illegal. When Curtis asked if he could start teaching Shakespeare's "The Tempest" he was told, "No, because due to the themes that are present and the likelihood of avoiding discussions of colonization, enslavement, and racism were remote"..(??) They still do not know if they will be found not in compliance if their students discuss themes of race, ethnicity or oppression. Teachers were also told they will be monitored, student work collected and books confiscated the following day.

We know these students who have now become seasoned activists will continue. But the interesting question is, "What will the teachers do?"

The Occupy Movement: Lessons for Revolutionaries

The Occupy Movement: Lessons for Revolutionaries

January 18, 2012

Join the national call-in to defend Carlos Montes

Carlos Montes appears in court on Tuesday, January 24.

Join the national call-in day to
-- President Obama at 202-456-1111 and
-- Attorney General Holder at 202-514-2001
Demand: “Dismiss the charges against Carlos Montes. There is no evidence!”

Contact us and let us know how your calls went: info@stopFBI.net

Chicano antiwar activist Carlos Montes’ next court hearing is Tuesday, January 24. Attorney Jorge Gonzalez will present and argue a legal motion to dismiss all charges on the grounds of insufficient evidence. This hearing will deal with the FBI-instigated Sheriffs raid, arrest, and prosecution of Carlos. Carlos Montes has declared himself “not guilty” on 6 felony charges, dealing with an alleged 42-year old arrest and firearms code violations. Montes’ arrest is part of the FBI attack on 23 other antiwar and solidarity activists.

Oregon Retirees Face Tough Times

The new EPI report at http://www.epi.org/publication/bp334-oregon-retirement-security-needs-met/ begins:

This paper examines the retirement security of current Oregon retirees and prospects for the retirement security of current workers. By examining the income sources of retirees, we highlight Oregon retirees’ heavy reliance on Social Security income and uncover important, and sometimes dramatic, differences in the reliance on Social Security and retirement funds1 by income, race, and gender. Major findings include the following:

Social Security constitutes nearly half (47.6 percent) of all income for Oregon retirees.
Social Security’s share of income ranges from 26.5 percent for retirees in the top quartile of earners to 85.0 percent for those in the bottom quartile.
Retirement funds account for just 2.2 percent of annual income for retirees in the bottom quartile ($152 on average) but 41.0 percent of income for retirees in the top quartile ($21,511 on average).
White retirees fare better than people of color, and men fare better than women.
Retired Oregonians are less likely than Oregonians overall to live in poverty or extreme poverty, but retired Oregonians are also less likely than Oregonians overall to have incomes at or above 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

Immigrant Action Day in Salem this Saturday!

Join us in Salem this Saturday for our 14th Annual Statewide Immigrant Action Day!

This Saturday , we will hold our 14th Annual Statewide Immigrant Action Day in Salem. The day long event will bring together delegations from Portland, Gresham, Cornelius, Hillsboro, Eugene, Springfield, Beaverton, Bend, Redmond, Madras, Sisters, Woodburn, Independence, Dayton, Dallas, Silverton, Lincoln City and St. Helens and Vancouver, Washington.

Immigrant Action Day 2012
Saturday January 21st, 10am- 2pm
Chemeketa Community College Building 2
4000 Lancaster Dr NE
Salem, Oregon

The focus of this year’s Immigrant Action Day will include the following topics:

• Restoring driver’s licenses for all in Oregon
• Stopping local law enforcement collaboration with ICE
• How to get involved with our children’s education
• Making your voice heard in elections
• Equality for all members of our community

Lunch and childcare will be provided to those attending the event.

Please RSVP with Christian Baeff by contacting him at 503-737-7014 or christian@causaoregon.org. Please also visit our Facebook Event Page by linking here.

Sponsored by the Multicultural Center and the group JUNTOS at Chemeketa Community College, the Salem-Keizer Coalition for Equality and with the support of Voz Hispana and Mujeres Luchadoras Progresistas.
We look forward to seeing you there!

Interest in Communism surges: Where is the CPUSA?

A recent Rasmussen poll published on March 15, 2011 indicates that 11% of Americans favor communism over capitalism. Put that way, it may not sound like much, but if you look at the numbers it is significant in a country totally brainwashed by the capitalist controlled media. Based on a U.S. population estimate of 312,000,000 it means that roughly 34,320,000 people in the U.S. think that communism would be superior to capitalism.

Another poll recently conducted by the Pew Research Center suggests that 31% of people in the U.S. have a positive view of socialism (see article posted on this blog). That would work out to be 96,720,000 people having a positive view of socialism. In certain sectors of the population, this percentage is much higher. Among the 18 to 29 year old age group, 49% had a positive view of socialism. Among African Americans, 55% had a positive view of socialism and among liberal Democrats, 59% had a positive view of socialism.

All these figures add up to the fact that there are a large number of people in the U.S.A. who are open to both communism and socialism. This is truly amazing given the slander and lies hurled at socialists and communists since the horrible days of McCarthyism in the 1950’s. Because of the uninterrupted torrent of abuse from the right wing which has been so well publicized by the mainstream media, most people in this country don’t have a clue as to what are the aims of communists and socialists.

Many people would be shocked to learn that the primary aim of communists is to support working people in their struggle to achieve a better life for themselves. Communists understand that in order for this to happen, the working class must become the ruling class. As long as the ultra-wealthy are the ruling class, the working class will have to struggle for every scrap they get. Communists also understand that only a united working class can achieve the goal of the working class becoming the ruling class. As long as capitalists can divide working people by race, gender, culture, religion and other innumerable wedges that they use so effectively, true democracy of the people cannot happen and the working class will remain the oppressed class.

So, how has the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) leadership responded to this rising tide of interest in communism and socialism?

Read more here.

January 17, 2012

RAHM EMANUEL TRIES TO CRUSH THE BILL OF RIGHTS IN CHICAGO

Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago is attempting to clamp down on First Amendment rights to march and speak out against the NATO and G8 summits in May 2012.


Emanuel is trying to rush through the City Council on January 18th a vote to greatly restrict the right to protest: raising fines for arrests during protests; making unreasonable demands on protest organizers, such as one marshal for every 100 marchers; a list in advance of all signs and banners in a march; and a list of all equipment for amplification of sound one week before any march. Also he wants permits for any sidewalk protest, which would be a major blow to unions and community groups.


Also, while the city has granted permits for a rally and march on the first day of the May 19th – 21st summits, organizers were told that permits could be revoked by the Secret Service.


We are asking supporters of the march against NATO/G8 to call Mayor Rahm Emmanuel on Tuesday January 17th. (If you live in the City of Chicago, please also call your alderperson as well).


Phone number 312-744-5000


Demand the following:


1) Back off the changes to the ordinances covering protests and public assemblies.

2) Publicly call on the Secret Service to permit CANG8 to use the permit sites granted by the city.

Then, report your call afterwards by sending an email to cangate2012@gmail.com


Background:

On January 12, the City of Chicago granted permits to the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda (CANG8) for a rally and march on May 19. CANG8 is mobilizing against the summits of NATO/G8 occurring in Chicago that weekend. The two summits will be overlapping over 3 days.

CANG8 will continue building broad support for their demands for permits and exposing the NATO and G8 agendas of bankers, generals and heads of state of the wealthiest nations.

CANG8 is planning a family-friendly demonstration to take their message to within sight and sound of the McCormick Place where the summits are scheduled.

On the permit letters to the coalition from the City, a brief waiver statement reads:

Please note that the G8/NATO summits have been designated by the Department of Homeland Security as a Nation Special Security Event, which means the U.S. Secret Service is mandated by Federal law to head the design and implementation of an operational security plan for the summits. In the event the Secret Service designates specific security zones or areas that impact your event location, the Public Building Commission will work with you to find an alternate location for your event.

This threat of the Secret Service intervention is real. It appears the joint city-federal agency overseeing the summits might stop protests from reaching the eyes and ears of the rich and powerful who will be at McCormick Place in May.

In mid December Mayor Emanuel proposed the City Council vote to accept what he called temporary changes to city ordinances to make protests harder to organize and to threaten anyone who speaks up with enormous fines and police repression. In early January, the Mayor flipped the script, apologized for any miss understanding and said the ordinance changes would be permanent.

City council leaders were said to be in the “yes” camp, supporting the mayor, but a continuing pressure campaign that drew in Occupy Chicago, SEIU, the Teachers Union and civil liberties advocates softened their outright support. As reported in the press, on Jan. 12, the mayor’s office witnessed a rebellion by alderpersons who, for the first time, have said “no” to Emanuel.

The city council is scheduled to vote on Emanuel's ordinance changes at its meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 18. Two committees of the city council are scheduled to discuss the changes on Jan. 17. CANG8 is calling for a national call in day to demand Emanuel stop his efforts to deny the right to protest, and locally we are asking allies to call their alderperson to say no to the changes in the ordinances.


January 16, 2012

Dialectics and Systems Theory

[Begin Quote]
In a generally sympathetic review of The Dialectical Biologist, and in personal conversation, John Maynard Smith argued that the development of a rigorous, quantitative mathematical systems theory makes dialectics obsolete [footnote to Smith's review]. Engels's awkward "interchange of cause and effect" can be replaced by "feedback" -- the mysterious "transformation of quantity into quality" is now the familiar phase transition or threshold effect. He noted that "even in my most convinced Marxist phase, I could never make much sense of the negation of the negation or the interprenetration of opposites." He could have added that hierarchy theory grasps some of the insights of "integrated levels" or "overdetermination."

Mary Boger, a leader of the New York Marxist school, has been urging me for years not to allow dialectics to be subsumed under system theory. Despite system theory's concern with complexity, interconnection, and process she has argued that it is still fundamentally reductionist and static, and despite the power of its mathematical apparatus it does not deal at all with the richness of dialectical contingency, contradiction, or historicity. Finally, she added that systems-theoretic "interconnection" does not grasp the subtleties of dialectical "mediation."

Here I attempt to systematize my own views as they have evolved in discussions with Mary Boger, Rosario Morales, Richard Lewontin, and other comrades.
[End Quote]

... To read in full see either,

Richard Levins, "Dialectics and Systems Theory," Essay Number 17 in Richard Lewontin's and Richard Levins's Biology Under the Influence: Dialectical Essays on Ecology, Agriculture, and Health. Monthly Review Press, New York, 2007, pages 101-124.

or, "in a slightly different form" (Levins's words) in

Richard Levins, "Dialectics and Systems Theory," Science and Society, volume 62, number 3 (Fall 1998), pages 375-399.

Martin Luther King, Jr. In His Own Words


http://www.democracynow.org/2012/1/16/special_dr_martin_luther_king_jr

REVIEW: Post-Modern Imperialism—Geopolitics and the Great Games, by Eric Walberg

One of the disappointments of recent Marxist thought is a neglect of the theory of imperialism. It is not that imperialism is questioned by Marxists; it would be hard to find an advocate who denied its existence or historical significance. Indeed, few Marxists dispute (since the Lenin-Kautsky debate) the fundamental elements of imperialism as outlined by Lenin and presaged by Hobson; but its historical trajectory -- deflected by wars (hot and cold), shifting balances of forces and alliances, and economic upheaval – has received only cursory attention. All acknowledge that the dominant imperial center of power has shifted from Britain before World War I to the USA after the Second World War. Outside of the bizarre pseudo-Marxism popularized in the post-Soviet period (Hardt and Negri’s Empire and theories of the decline of the nation-state and ascendancy of the trans-national corporation, for example), most left-of-center political thinkers would concede that imperialism – especially, as expressed by US imperialism -- is alive and well today. Yet, Marxist studies have yet to provide a full, overarching account of the material forces that have shaped imperialism’s evolution over the last century and a half. We see this failing in the world-wide confusion and tepid resistance to NATO’s Balkan aggressions, the various contrived color “revolutions,” and the wars and interventions in the Middle East and Central Asia.

  - from Zoltan Zigedy is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/

Marching Today In South Carolina For Social Justice

Each year on this day, we commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – a hero to generations of Americans.

As I prepare to speak today at an NAACP rally in front of South Carolina's state capitol, I reflect on how Dr. King risked everything to advance civil and human rights in America.

Despite repeated threats against his life, he spread the message of non-violent civil disobedience against unjust laws throughout the Jim Crow South and our nation as a whole.

His leadership has inspired Americans to win big victories that have moved our nation closer to the long-expressed, but yet-unrealized ideal that our school children repeat every day: we are "one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all".

Today, one of the greatest victories Dr. King helped win during his lifetime is under withering attack: The Voting Rights Act and the rights it protects – for all Americans to be able to participate in free and fair elections.

South Carolina has become ground zero in this battle that is taking place in state capitols across the nation.

On one side, you have civil rights activists and the U.S. Department of Justice fighting on behalf of thousands upon thousands of voters who would be disenfranchised by laws that introduce the first new financial and literacy-based obstacles to voting since we eliminated the poll tax and voting tests. Fighting on behalf of Americans like the students at South Carolina’s Benedict College, whose student identification cards have been deemed insufficient for use as voter ID.  And we are fighting on behalf of senior citizens like Larry Butler, born here in 1926 when blacks often were not issued birth certificates. Now, for the first time in his life, if Mr. Butler wants to vote it will cost him $150 to obtain the documents required by South Carolina's voter suppression law.

On the other side, you have governors like South Carolina's Nikki Haley suing to gut the Voting Rights Act after the Justice Department blocked the state’s discriminatory voter ID law. I am proud to stand alongside Attorney General Eric Holder today in front of the South Carolina State House and recommit to protecting the right to vote.

Read the speech that I will give today in front of the State House, then share with us how you will help uphold voting rights in 2012:

http://www.naacp.org/KingDay

Today, NAACP State Conference presidents who are leading battles to defend voting rights in South Carolina and several other southern states will lead this march.

We march today to defend our right to vote and to defend our nation’s dream of America as a place where everybody works, everybody contributes, and everybody counts.

We march today for good jobs that can support our families, and an education for our children that will pave the way for them to do the same.

We march today to declare our intent to defeat the deeds of any Governor who would deify our great dreamer, but desecrate his dream.

Join us in making Dr. King's dream a reality– again, please take a moment read today’s speech, then share your plan to help us uphold voting rights in 2012.

http://www.naacp.org/KingDay


Thank you,

Ben

Benjamin Todd Jealous
President & CEO
NAACP

The Campaign To Free Ahmad Sa'adat

January 15, 2012 is the 10th anniversary of the abduction of Palestinian political leader Ahmad Sa'adat by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah at the hands of the PA intelligence services headed by Tawfiq Tirawi. Sa'adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, has been imprisoned for ten years - first by PA security, then under US and British guard in a PA prison in Jericho, and now, for the past six years, inside Israeli jails alongside thousands of other Palestinian political prisoners after a siege on Jericho and the kidnapping of Sa'adat and his comrades in 2006.

The kidnapping of Ahmad Sa'adat on January 15, 2002, was emblematic of the deep damage of the crime of "security cooperation" to the Palestinian people and their national cause. "Security cooperation" has meant nothing but attacks on the Palestinian resistance at the behest of Israel, committed by Palestinian Authority hands. The abduction of Ahmad Sa'adat, and his imprisonment - and that of his comrades - in the PA prison in Jericho, under U.S. and British guard, was a clear example of the PA's status as fundamentally beholden to the interests of Israel, the U.S. and other international powers, at the expense of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance.

The abduction of Ahmad Sa'adat has come to symbolize the thousands of Palestinians who have gone through the jails of the PA because of their loyalty to the Palestinian people, cause and resistance, and the impunity of PA officials - like Tawfiq Tirawi - who continue to find lucrative and influential positions within the Authority despite their shameless acts of betrayal, imprisoning, and abducting Palestinian leaders and activists.

This complicity with Israeli demands for the subjugation and suppression of the Palestinian people led directly to the Israeli assault on Jericho prison in 2006, where Ahmad Sa'adat and his comrades were immobilized in the face of Israeli occupation aggression. Sa'adat had never been charged with a crime throughout his four years in PA prison; his release had been ordered by the PA's highest court. Yet the PA refused to release Sa'adat, respecting the dictates of Israel, the US and Britain above Palestinian legitimacy; it claimed that it "could not guarantee his safety" outside the prison. Yet it simultaneously guaranteed that he and his comrades could not be safe from Israeli aggression, their locations known at all times by Israel and under the watchful eyes of U.S. and British guards, directly in collusion with Israel. (It should be noted that, forewarned of the attack, the U.S. and British guards absented Jericho prison at the request of the Israeli occupation army.)


Since his second kidnapping, from a PA prison to the heart of the occupation's jails, Ahmad Sa'adat has remained a leader of the prisoners' movement. Today, he has spent nearly three full years in isolation at the hands of the occupation. He was an inspiration - and his release from isolation a key demand of the prisoners' hunger strike that galvanized the Palestinian prisoners' movement and the prisoners' cause in October 2011.

Just as Sa'adat's kidnapping is a symbol of the crime of security cooperation, Sa'adat's imprisonment in the hands of the occupation is a symbol of the steadfastness of the nearly 5,000 prisoners inside the jails of the occupation - like his fellow prisoners, resisting isolation, refusing rights violations, and not allowing their will and strength to be broken by the actions of the occupation jailers.

Ten years after the abduction of Ahmad Sa'adat, this anniversary is a reminder that we must continue to organize, act, and demand the freedom of Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian political prisoners, and expose the complicity of the U.S., British, Canadian and other international governments in the enforcement of "security cooperation" and the abuse and mass imprisonment of Palestinian political leaders and activists by the Israeli occupation.
While the Quartet pushes the Palestinian Authority to return to bogus negotiations with the occupation (while the occupation continues settlement expansion, ethnic cleansing, land confiscation, home demolitions, isolation, solitary confinement, and mass imprisonment), it is urgent that we form an international popular basis of support for the Palestinian people and their activists and leaders inside the jails of the occupation, rather than those complicit with the occupation at the table of negotiations.

Take Action!

1. Picket, protest or call the Israeli embassy or consulate in your location and demand the immediate freedom of Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian political prisoners. 

2. Distribute the free downloadable Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat flyer in your community at local events.

3. Write to the International Committee of the Red Cross and other human rights organizations to exercise their responsibilities and act swiftly to demand that prisoners' rights are recognized. Email the ICRC, whose humanitarian mission includes monitoring the conditions of prisoners, at JER_jerusalem@icrc.org, and inform them about the urgent situation of Ahmad Sa'adat. Make it clear that isolation is a human rights violation and a form of torture, and that the ICRC must stand up and play its role to defend prisoners' rights.

4. Email the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat at campaign@freeahmadsaadat.org with announcements, reports and information about your local events, activities and flyer distributions.

WHO IS AHMAD SA'ADAT?
Ahmad Sa'adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was elected to his position in 2001 following the assassination of the previous General Secretary, Abu Ali Mustafa, on August 27, 2001 by a U.S.-made Apache missile shot from an Israeli military helicopter as he sat in his office in Ramallah. PFLP fighters retaliated by assassinating Rehavam Ze'evi, the racist extremist Israeli tourism minister and head of the Moledet party, notorious for his political platform based on the "transfer" or ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, on October 17, 2001.

Sa'adat was abducted by Palestinian Authority security forces after engaging in a meeting with PA officials under false pretenses in February 2002, and was held in the Muqata' PA presidential building in Ramallah until April 2002, when in an agreement with Israel, the U.S. and Britain, he and four of his comrades were held in the Palestinian Authority's Jericho prison, under U.S. and British guard.

He remained in the PA jails, without trial or charge, an imprisonment that was internationally condemned, until March 14, 2006, when the prison itself was besieged by the occupation army and he and his comrades were kidnapped. While imprisoned in the PA jail in Jericho, he was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council. Since that time, he has been held in the prisons of the occupation and continually refused to recognize the illegitimate military courts of the Israeli occupation. He was sentenced to thirty years in prison on December 25, 2008 solely for his political activity, and has spent nearly three years in isolation at the present time.

Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat
January 15, 2012
The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat
http://www.freeahmadsaadat.org/
campaign@freeahmadsaadat.org
Twitter: @FreeAhmadSaadat